Did You Bring Your GRIT?? WE DID!!

First, a moment of cute that happened last weekend:


Don’t you just wanna squeeze those cheeks??

Ok, so back to that GRIT question…


We are now smack-dab in the midst of state testing, so GRIT, stamina and focus are essential this week!  This is a poster hanging in our room right now to remind us to believe in ourselves, try our best and show what we know.  That’s what assessments are for, after all, right? :)

Here are some other motivators from around our room:


Ms. Shifflett helped us out and got creative with paint the other day. :)


Another one. :)

Covered up some vocabulary words with encouraging ones!

Covered up some vocabulary words with encouraging ones!

There's a calendar under there...

There’s a calendar under there…

Even Mrs. Sisul got in on the fun!  What encouraging words to remind us that we got it!

Even Mrs. Sisul got in on the fun! What encouraging words to remind us that we got it!

I have to say how PROUD I am of how much grit, stamina and focus I am seeing as my kiddos work this week!  I am seeing examples of all of the smart testing strategies we’ve been talking about in action and I KNOW that we are SHOWING WHAT WE KNOW!  PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK, RM. 202!  You are ROCKING this test!

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This is What Teamwork Looks Like!

This is What Teamwork Looks Like!

What a great day in PE yesterday as everyone worked together to create the most amazing pyramid! This can only be done when EVERYONE does their part and works together as a team! Way to go Rm. 202! You rock!

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Nipher Comes to Robinson

I know, I know. You thought I had completely forgotten I had a blog. Because it’s been MONTHS since i have posted anything. No. Instead it has just been another one of those times in life when I have had so much to do that it’s been hard to find time to sleep and breathe, much less blog. :(. So here’s to getting back on the wagon, and back in the saddle again. :)

On Thursday we had some special visitors:

Mrs. Johnson, the counselor at our middle school, came over to give us a taste of the fabulousness that is Nipher, and she brought some important people with her: Mr. Nelson, the Educational Support Counselor; Officer Bonner, the School Resource Officer; and some old Robinson friends that are rockin’ sixth grade (here’s a big shout-out to my pals Devan and Ames who so perfectly represented their school)!

The started by answering some burning questions.

These included things like how much time you get between classes, if there are sports to play, and how much homework to expect. Then we played a trivia game where 5th graders answered questions about their soon-to-be school. Do you know the answers?

1. What is Nipher’s mascot?
2. On what road is Nipher located?
3. How many teams are in 6th grade?
4. What famous museum is located next door to Nipher?
5. Name one core class that 6th graders take and 1 Explo class they take.
(If you know these, or want to play along, leave a comment with your answers!)

Then Mrs. Johnson explained the important job of how to register for classes for next year.


Our time ended with picking up our registration folder, and being treated to a new fancy pencil or eraser. Gotta love that!

Now….the hard part will be staying in 5th grade for a few more months. :) Nipher here we come!

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Say Cheese!

Say Cheese!

It was group picture day today! Ok, so obviously this is a picture of us having our picture taken, but it’s here nonetheless. Say “cheese,” 5th grade!

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Are you down with OBPP?

Ok, so I have to admit making a really old reference to a less-than-great song from the early 90s with that title, but hey, it sounded good. :)

What is OBPP, you probably wondering?  OBPP stands for the Olweus (ohl-vay-us) Bully Prevention Program that we have recently started at our school.  It’s not new–just new to us–and is actually been around for years and based on some great research.

We began our Olweus journey with a very important definition.  Regardless of what we (or our students) thought bullying was, this is now our school-wide, shared definition:

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 2.40.42 PMWe started talking about this definition last fall, after we discussed what we thought it meant.  What we found out was that we were not all on the same page.  How important that we’re all now speaking the same language!

The second part of starting Olweus with our kiddos came by way of learning some new bullying rules.  They are related to the Robinson Road Rules that we already have in place, but are specific to what every kiddo (and adult!) should do if we see bullying happening:


After we’d been working with these two important documents for a little while, and after the staff/teachers had done some learning together about OBPP, we were ready to officially kick this off with our kiddos.  This happened on a really spectacular half-day in January.

Check it out!

We started the day off together as a whole school in an assembly.  The energy in the gym was so great--wish we could do this every Friday!

We started the day off together as a whole school in an assembly. The energy in the gym was so great–wish we could do this every Friday!

5th Grade sang “Everyday Heroes”

Following our assembly, 3-5 grades rotated through some activities designed to get us motivated and excited about the work ahead.

First, we had a class meeting around our new bullying rules, and our thoughts about them.

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During our 2nd rotation, we got to go to the gym to work with Mr. Lee on some tae kwon do.  He’s been to our school before, and always has a great presentation for us.

Here we’re learning about how bullies are more likely to target people who seem like they don’t have confidence….


Among some other things, we also did some exercises.  In this video, Landry did an AMAZING job of leading us.  He is BEAST!


For our last rotation, we participated in something that teachers around Robinson do all the time–look at data.  As part of the Olweus work from last year, every kiddo in grades 3-5 took a bullying survey and we were looking at the results.  There were graphs up all around the cafe, and our job was to silently comment on what we thought about what we saw. (As a point of clarification–our answers are represented by the 4th grade data.)

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What an amazing day of inspiration and learning!  We are ready and motivated to make a difference in our school and our world!

Categories: Classroom, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 33 Comments

EdcampSTL-take 3!

I went to my first EdcampSTL two years ago.  At that point I was a newbie on Twitter, and although I was excited about learning something new, I let my discomfort of going there by myself get in the way of having a great day.  I didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t make any connections, and can’t even remember walking away with anything.

Then there was last year.  EdcampSTL #2 was about 3000% better than the first go-round.  I know that some of it was because I went with friends–my best friend, my hubby, actually :)–and since I had been on Twitter a year longer, I had some familiar faces I’d “met” online to connect with, as well.  Plus, I guess like with most things, the second time you do something it’s always easier.  I met a great new friend, as well, and have been able to learn and share much with her since then, too.  Much better experience.

This year was the 3rd EdcampSTL, and it had the largest enrollment yet.  We were actually hoping for a record, but I think the weather kept some away from the fun. :( For those of us who were there, though, it was a great day!  I have to give a shoutout to by little bro, Chuck Baker, who is a fabulous teacher/father/tech guru/blogger, who came today for his first time!  He even got in on the fun and presented a session.  Gotta love the initiative there–I haven’t had the courage yet. :)  And then, yep, my more-than-fabulous hubby (who is also an amazing teacher, father and blogger in his own right!)  Grant was in on the fun again, too; I love that we can do this whole teaching thing (as well as our Masters’ program) together.   Adds a different level of help, support and even collaboration when he “gets” what I do.  LOVE YOU, honey!!

While I attended several great sessions this time around, I think I am most excited about the one where I learned more about Makerspaces.  I’ve been looking into Genius Hour for a little while now, and am also interested in problem/project based learning, and this was exciting to hear; two middle school science teachers shared real-life examples from their classrooms.  While it won’t look exactly the same in my situation, I’m interested in getting it all figured out.  I’m thinking about doing a really basic, Valentine’s version of a makerspace this week for Valentine’s boxes.  Not exactly how it’s supposed to work, but I think it could be a good way to introduce it.  Guess we’ll see!

I know to some it seems weird to go to school on a Saturday, to make a choice to get up early to learn on your day off.  Believe me, I wouldn’t do it for everything, but for EdcampSTL, it’s totally worth it!  Join me next year, will ya? :)


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The Kooky Teacher Has Kooky Kids!

This one is just for fun–both for me and because my class requested an Allie video.  We all just needed a laugh.  Hope this will suffice. :)

Oh, and yeah–I know, I sang the words wrong in that first part. Just ignore that line…:)

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How Do You Feel Cared For?

This week we were revisting some EQs from earlier this year as a means of reflecting on our behavior, as well as how we’re doing as a community.  One that was really interesting was “How do you feel cared for?”  There were so many different answers, and I wanted to see them all together, so I made a Tagxedo of our responses.  Here’s how it turned out:


What do you notice?  Do you notice any patterns?  How would YOU answer this question? :)


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40 Book Challenge Revisited

It’s been a while since the excitement of the 4o Book Challenge began.  And I HATE to say that that excitement may have weaned a little bit.  Remember back when I told my class about it, and everyone was really energized by it?  Ready to do it and not at all worried?  And remember how my friend Brittany asked if I would do it, too, and I begrudgingly gladly accepted?  Yes?  Well let me update you on how it’s going.

First of all, I feel like I should share with you what my kiddos are saying about it.  Of course, as with any important thing in our class, it becomes a topic on our blog.  I’m excited to say that the topic has come up multiple times in the “What I liked…” section of their notes for student-led conferences (yes, that is a topic I’m going to add here soon!), and that many have WAY over half of their challenge done already!

As a reminder, the challenge looked like this:

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 8.47.27 PM

Requirements for the 40 Book Challenge, which is inspired by Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer.

Not surprisingly (at least to me), most kiddos started with what they know and what they love: fiction.  Many of them knocked out Realistic Fiction first, then did their chapter book choice, and then tried mystery before they got a little annoyed by my list.  Still, they trudged on, heading towards informational and poetry.  I was noticing, though, that there has been very little traditional literature or biography/autobiography/memoir showing up in the hands of my readers lately (more on that later).

What?  You want to know how I’m doing with the 40 Book Challenge?  Me?  Well….

I’m gonna be really honest with you that I have not been doing my part to keep up with the 40 Book Challenge like I’d hoped and like I’d expected.  I think I am probably at 5 or 6.  I know, right???  YUCK!  I have had very good intentions, and I truly believe in the importance of showing my reading life to my students, but like I mentioned earlier, I’m having a hard time finding  prioritizing time to make it happen.  There always seems to be something else to do, you know?!  But I WANT to make it happen (I really feel like I’m letting my friends down!), and since I don’t make resolutions, I guess it’s time to make a goal and a plan to achieve it.  And I’d love your help!

How do you make time to read inside your busy life?  What do you leave out so that you have that time (there are, after all, only 24 hours in a day!)?  What suggestions do you have for me to achieve my challenge goal by the end of the school year?  Come on, I KNOW a lot of you are readers, and I want to be one, too! :)

Categories: Classroom, Reading | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

You CAN Take it With You!

I love learning.  I am pretty sure that I always have.  There is something really exciting to me about digging in deep to a new topic and learning something new.  Besides being able to chew on new things (and talk about them with other nerds like me!), I love being able to apply that knowledge to things in my classroom the next day.  And the next and the next.  I don’t learn something new and just use it for the next five minutes and then forget it.  I take that learning with me to new places and challenges.

So that takes me to the title of this post.  We’ve been talking a lot (focused in writing for right now) about suitcases.  Yep, you heard me: suitcases.  A couple of weeks ago, during our informational writing unit, we made this chart:

Look at all the things we've learned that we CAN TAKE WITH US to new learning situations in the future!

Look at all the things we’ve learned that we CAN TAKE WITH US to new learning situations in the future!

I’m pretty sure I have even shared this picture before, but it’s so great because it keeps coming up.  Over and over and over again.  Which is kind of the point, right?  You should continually be filling your suitcase so you can take all that fabulous learning with you wherever you go.  Today we talked, too, about how your suitcase can look like whatever you want it to–whether that be Harry Potter’s trunk, Mary Poppins’ carpetbag or Hermione Granger’s magic bag (that she can pull a huge tent out of!  WOW!).  That last visual was really powerful to my friends.

The thing I’m really aiming for, though, is when my friends start using this language for themselves.  That’s really when the evidence is there that they’ve internalized it, right?  When you’ve learned something really well, and understand it deeply, you start to use it in your conversations, applying it and then teaching it to others.  And so that’s what we’re working towards.  Helping our friends both learn to pick up their own suitcases and take them along their journey, as well as encourage their friends (wizards and muggles alike!) to do the same.

Have you talked about filling suitcases with your students?  What about your own kiddos?  Parents–have your kiddos told you about our conversations about taking learning along the journey?  What kind of suitcase would you choose for yourself? :)

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