Fourth grade, high school students learn together

REED CITY – From learning the Spanish language to experiencing child development, students throughout school buildings within the Reed City Area Public Schools district are helping each other learn.

Every week, fourth-grade students at G.T. Norman Elementary are visited by high school students from various classes. The guests, who are more than five-years older, teach the students new material and help them with their current school work.

Students from the high school child growth and development class visits every other week, members from the Spanish II class comes every Thursday and participants in the Biology class will come occasionally to teach the fourth graders how to grow plants.

“My students look forward to it every week,” said fourth-grade teacher Denise Nelson.

The goal of the partnership is to foster individualized learning through mentoring sessions between younger students and high school students.

Nelson said her students learn well in the sessions with the older students because many of the fourth graders see the high schoolers as “cool.”

“I like that they teach us new things,” said fourth-grader Ian Goltz.

He and his classmate, Darren Halladay, worked with a high school student from the child growth and development class to review math multiplication, division and fractions when the class visited April 25.

Two fourth-grade students are paired with one high school student for the review. Students switch mentors each session, so the high school students can observe multiple students.

Spanish students teach the fourth-graders how to say their name, colors, numbers, animals and short phrases in Spanish. Recently they learned the phrase “my name is,” which is “me llamo” in Spanish.

“They think it’s awesome,” Nelson said. “Now they all call each other by their Spanish names.”

Along with helping the fourth-graders, high school students from the child growth and development class learn in the classroom as well, by observing child behavior and interactions.

“The best way to learn it is to watch,” Kichak said. “It shows them that children are unique.”

The high school class also visits Kiddie Castle, a local daycare center. Observing the intellectual and social differences between fourth graders, kindergartners and children at the daycare center brings their education to life, Kichak said.

“Fourth graders talk more and they actually carry on a conversation,” said Rosa Coccia, RCHS junior. “Kindergartners really don’t talk, they just let me show them whatever we’re doing.”

Interested in working with children in her future career, Coccia said she enjoys visiting the students every week and learning about child development first-hand. She said working with the fourth-graders has also helped her brush up on her own elementary math skills.

After spending about an hour with the younger students, the high school students return to their classroom to discuss what they observed about the children through their interactions. They also discuss what they can do differently to foster better learning and communication with the younger students.

“I can talk about this (material) from a book, but this is where they’re learning,” Kichak said.