School Extra by Bob Zimmerman

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Building Volcanoes, Winter Counts, and Assumed Identities are all part of the fourth grade experience at Maple Lake Elementary School as teachers Mrs. Dianne Hertwig and Mr. Tim Staloch guide their students through a variety of subjects. Each instructor has about 1/3 of the 69 4th graders in their home rooms. They had a hard time narrowing down the best thing about teaching the 4th grade and mentioned several factors: watching and helping students develop independence, enjoying the kid’s sense of humor and enthusiasm for learning, youngsters wanting to please their teacher by working up to expectations, and students encouraging each other in the classroom all came to mind. They also expressed pride and appreciation for the near 100% attendance rate of parents at conferences. Instructors noted “it takes a team to teach our students” and the excellent parental support is a key factor in their success. Mr. Staloch teaches the Science curriculum and one of his favorite assignments is to have his students build volcanoes; he is pretty sure that older students looking back to the 4th grade remember what they built and how they did it. The students have to present their creation to the class and Mr. Staloch has seen some creative work trying to replicate Mount Etna. My only thought; what could possibly go wrong? Minnesota history is a big part of the 4th grade curriculum and Mrs. Hertwig has some interesting assignments for the kids, such as being assigned a new name and imagining being part of an immigrant family coming to settle in the state, and the covered wagon race; both sound like fun.

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