May 15, 2010

4th grade: Cute but totally Clueless

Take a minute to picture me as a 4th grader. Cute, right? :)

When my mom was in town for my graduation from BYU, I started thinking about how amazing it is that I actually graduated! I was never one of those kids who had their life planned out and just knew that they’d graduate college one day. I was reminded of some of the things that I did during my 4th-grade-career and I shared them with my mom and Steve one evening. I might have been kinda cute, but I was totally clueless too.

Here are some examples of me as a 4th-grader that will illustrate this:

It’s a little embarrassing to admit this, but I didn’t learn how to tell time until 4th grade. Actually, it was at the end of 4th grade! Yikes. I remember this one specific time where our teacher let us spend the period in the library finding a book for our book reports. 
“Be back to the classroom by 10:30.” 
Thankfully, all my other classmates seemed to know when the clock read 10:30. I would peek around the bookshelves in the library to see if my classmates were still around looking for their book. And if they started to leave, I would follow them to make sure I was back in class on time. 
Finally, after this happened on several occasions, I think that I admitted to my mom that I didn’t know how to tell time. It was making me anxious all the time! My dad sat me down one evening and taught me how to read the clock. I think it took less than 10 minutes. And I remember thinking “Well that’s not hard at all.” It was the numbers. I let them intimidate me. I’ve always been really bad with numbers.

At that age, it was also chapter books that intimidated me. Pages and pages with only words and no pictures??  How could anyone sit and just read for that long? I literally thought that I just couldn’t do it. 
So, when my 4th grade teacher assigned us to give a book report on a chapter book of our choice, I was stumped. I had no idea what I was going to do. Like I said, I went with my class to the library and picked out a chapter book for myself. It was one of Lois Lowry’s series Anastasia Krupnik, I can still remember that. It was a perfect-for-4th-graders chapter book. 

I think that I did initially have the intention of actually reading the book, or at least trying. But the night before that book report was due, I still hadn’t read any of it. So what did I do? I looked at the cover that had an illustration of Anastasia Krupnik and so beautifully depicted what happened in the book and then I just wrote the entire book report based on the cover. That’s right, I completely judged that book by its cover. What can I say, at least I have an imagination, right?? ;) This book report included a summary, my opinion on the book, and even a cross word puzzle that I drew up on the board when I presented it!  I swear, I was a crazy kid.

It gets crazier, though. At my elementary school in California, all the kids in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade knew that once they got to 4th grade, they would have to write a HUGE report on one of the missions that are scattered across the coast of California. 
I remember absolutely dreading it and not understanding how the teachers could possibly expect something so huge from us little kids! To help us out, my teacher pulled up the overhead-projector (old school…yeahhhh) and she started writing down a ton of information on these different missions in California to get us started. She told us to copy what she wrote. I obediently copied everything down and it was a LOT!
I don’t remember stressing about this report too much during the following weeks before it was due. But the day before, again, I had absolutely nothing to show for this “report.” This was before the days of the internet (especially for a 4th grader) so I went to the information that I had handy: the notes I’d copied from the overhead projector. I remember thinking “Hmmm, I wonder what my teacher wants me to do with these notes…??” Clueless. I was absolutely clueless. 
And this is what I did. I went through those pages of hand-written notes copied from my teacher; I crossed some t’s, dotted some i’s and voila. I was done. And that’s exactly what I turned in to my teacher the next day.
And then my family conveniently moved to Germany. See? I was crazy. The fact that I knew that my family was soon moving to Germany probably played a part in how I handled this assignment.
I always look back on this and cringe a little bit at the thought of my teacher reading my “report.” It would have been something like “heyyyy..this sounds familiar!” Maybe she never did though, since I had moved away. Maybe that’s what I was banking on all along. I can’t really remember WHAT I WAS THINKING???

Well, I can now proudly say that:

I know how to tell time.

* Not only can I read chapter books now but I enjoy it too!

* And I also learned how to write a real report on pretty much anything I’m assigned. (In English and German!)

But seriously, who would have ever thought that this crazy, clueless 4th grader would graduate college one day?


  1. I'm a 4th grade teacher who just Googled "clueless 4th graders" because I had my millionth conversation with a couple of them this morning. So, so frustrating...Thank you for this post. It gives me hope. :-)

  2. You blogger.

    Not a bad read! As an 11th grader, I didn't want to finish reading the second half of harry potter 4, so I cliff noted it!