Fall Book Fair Preview

We went to the library again today, so that Mrs. Meihaus could give us a preview of the Scholastic Book Fair that’s coming in a couple of weeks.  We watched a video, and talked a a little about what we saw, and then checked out the library commons again in order to check out some new books.

It can sometimes really be annoying  entertaining to watch movies with small children, as they usually say everything that is in their head out loud in the room (this happens in many part of our days right now…).  Well, since the movie they were watching was about books, I listened even closer to what they were saying.

Screenshot 2016-08-26 19.39.21About Dog Man by Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame: “I’m gonna look for that!”

Screenshot 2016-08-26 19.40.28About Magic Puppy: “Aww, that’s so cute!  I’m gonna get that!”

Screenshot 2016-08-26 19.41.21Screenshot 2016-08-26 19.42.01About Lego Dino Safari and Lego Knights and Castles: “YEAH!!!!!!!!!” (yes, they were that excited.🙂  (On a side note, so was I.  These were kind of a cross between Lego, non-fiction, humor and graphic novel.  I want to read one!)

So no one really said anything about these last few, but I was interested in them for our classroom!


After we finished up with our lesson, and had a reminder about how to use the library respectfully, we were off!  And YES, I got pictures this time.  Please check out Rm. 202 kids at work as well as the new Library Commons layout.  It’s a GREAT place to be.🙂

I saved these last two pictures because they are definitely where the energy is with reading in our room right now:


I LOVE that Callahan chose this new classroom favorite as his check out today.  I shared it on one of our very first days, and he thought his brother would like it, too!  Great idea, Cal!


I read My New Friend is So Fun! the other day and WE LOVED IT and since there we’ve ready at least 3 or 4 more, and have now made the goal of READING THEM ALL!!  Um, yeah, we’re kind of Elephant and Piggie fans in Rm. 202–but it’s kind of hard not to be, I guess.🙂

Ok, one more…well, two more.  See what I mean…

I took this picture of our friend Josh today in the library:


Ok, and check this one out from August 26, 2015.  Yep, same day last year:

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WHAT???  It was cute enough that the brothers took the same picture on the same big ‘ole bear, but on the same date???  That’s even better!  Well at least to me.  And to their mom. LOL🙂

Thanks for reading!  Leave us a note about your thoughts, will ya?  Kids LOVE to know you are reading their stories.🙂

#FDOFG: First Grade Menagerie

As I look over the pictures I’ve taken the last 8 days, as well as think about what we’ve been doing during our first days, I’ve found some things that don’t really fit into their own blog post, but are all connected because they’re all about the friends in Rm. 202.  Hope you’ll stay to check out the first grade menagerie I have to share.🙂

First Grade Victory Dances!

If you’ve been here since the beginning of our first grade journey, you’ll remembering reading the welcome post I put up for my new friends.  Well, I got two fabulous videos from two very brave first graders that I keep forgetting to share.  So forget now I no more!



Who’s That Smiley 1st Grader?

I had a picture posted on our welcome screen for a couple of days, with a question of who they thought the smiling face might be.  Strangely (at least I thought!), not many figured out that it was me.  None of them thought it looked like me.  Well, I guess when you add 30 years and change the hair it messes people up. LOL


My favorite part of this picture? It was the year I decided I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up!  My first grade teacher Mrs. LeGrand was pretty much the most amazing lady I had ever met and I wanted to become her some day.  I am not sure I did that–but I think (hope) I have become my own version of a great teacher!🙂

Day 2 Plusses/Deltas Reflection

We don’t have the opportunity to sit down to “officially” reflect (although we almost always talk about how things went), but this was a fun one to talk about.  After we worked super hard on our 2nd day together, we sat down to practice more with “plusses and deltas” and we were SO EXCITED to see the things we were able to write down.  We also talked about how easily we could work the next day to solve the struggles we had on Day 2. To be able to see brand new first graders doing such fabulous things so early in the year together was so commendable.  Way to go, Rm. 202 friends!


Grit and Growth Mindset  AT RECESS!!

The other day at recess, Cal came running to me to show me something he can do now that he couldn’t do before.  He told me he’s been working for a really long time and now he can do it!  Way to keep trying, friend!

Ok…there are other things I could add, but really–what could follow that awesome video?  :)

#FDOFG–Guided Discovery: Pattern Blocks

The last time I was in first grade, I followed suggestions I found in The First Six Weeks of School, and many of the first days started with guided discoveries of materials in the classroom.  I shared the discovery we did with Play-Doh the other day, and this one was very similar, but with pattern blocks and Power Polygons.

We started by talking about what they might be for, as well as why the pattern blocks, Power Polygons and other items on the shelf  (dice, counters, clocks, square tiles) had in common.  We figured out they were all about math, and that later in the year we would be using them as we learned more about geometry, but for our first “visit” kiddos were supposed to make something, and then write what they made on a card so we would all know what it was.  As with all open-ended activities like this, I was amazed at how each kiddo attacked the assignment–how they started, what they made, how they figured out what to call it, how many different pictures they were able to make (based on the complexity of their design or the speed at which they worked).  If we had already gotten our iPads, we could have practiced taking our own pictures, then uploading them into something and writing about them (or using the recorder and telling about them), but instead we just talked.  And smiled because we were so proud of our creations.  It was easy to tell that kiddos were learning and having fun at the same time!

Check out our creations below!

Students: What did you create with your blocks?  How did you decide what you would make?  What would you do if you were given the assignment again?  What was easy and what was hard?

Parents: What did your kiddo tell you about this experience?  What questions do you have?

Teachers: What explorations/discoveries do you have with pattern blocks?  Other manipulatives? What suggestions do you have?

Please leave us a comment!  We love to be connected!🙂


#FDOFG–Favorite Book Museum!

For many years, I’ve been celebrating reading and helping readers get to know each other better–and therefore build our classroom community–by using a Reading Museum.  While the difficulty and actual procedures are different depending on what grade I’m teaching (I’ve tried this protocol with 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th graders), the purpose is the same: help kids see themselves and their classmates as readers and make connections between interests and books!

Before I even get to the “how-we-did-this” part, I HAVE to share this amazing picture from just before we started.  It’s super cute because it has a carpetful of first graders and gives me chills and makes me want to squeal (yes, actually!) because of all the books!  Just indulge me for a moment then we’ll move on…

IMG_3235See?  What did I tell you??  TOO. MUCH.  Ok, let’s get to the other good stuff.🙂

As a “homework” assignment over the weekend kiddos were asked to find their favorite book and bring it to school with them on Monday.  After we collected them and took this AMAZING picture, we talked about the purpose of our Reading Museum–as well as what in the world a museum even is (for those that might night have ever visited one).  We discussed museum etiquette and then they got busy putting together their “exhibits” (the idea for which came from my friend and teaching partner Ms. Turken who does so many fabulous things in Rm. 203 next door–thanks for sharing your smart thinking friend!), so we could learn from each other.

Kiddos were given a “placemat” and then added their book, their name, and some sort of response to their book: a picture of their favorite character, their favorite part, the reason why they liked it, a picture of the cover, etc.

So I do have to admit…the actual museum visit part was much shorter than I thought that it would have been, but I actually think part of it was my directions (I talked too much and too long so they were confused about what to do), and also because they were so interested in actually READING the books with their friends that they weren’t so much interested in just walking around and just looking at the covers.  #ohwell #lessonslearned #rememberinghowfirstgraderswork #betterlucknexttimemrsbearden #lol

Still, it was a pretty successful time, as books were shared, connections were made and BOOKS WERE READ!!

And since I know you can’t see what we actually shared in those teeny pictures, here are all of our exhibits.  Enjoy the slideshow!

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Ok…one more bunch of pictures, based on another super smart Ms. Turken idea: we took a picture with each kiddo and their book and they now adorn our book boxes! GENIUS!  And nope, no pics of that yet, but here’s what they look like in color on the blog (rather than in black-and-white in our room):

Wow!  That was a lot.  Thanks for hanging in there!  Kiddos were so excited and so cute–they will be so excited I shared this and SO EXCITED that you read about their smart book thinking.🙂

#FDOFG–Library Learning Commons

Ok, so this post feels a little like a tease, but I wanted to at least share the story (so I don’t forget and therefore never post it because I don’t have the right pictures.  I’ve made that mistake before.🙂 ).

This year, our librarian, Mrs. Meihaus, made the jump to turn our library in a learning commons, taking time and care to recreate the space by moving furniture, adding “soft things” like more stuffed animals, bean bags and pillows, and rethinking how we’ll use the communal space for learning.  Kiddos were SO excited when we finally got a chance to visit and see the new space for ourselves last week.

First graders got to spend the first few minutes exploring the new space on their own, and then we met Mrs. Meihaus in the storytelling area for some fun, a story (of course!) and conversation.

Mrs. Meihaus shared Kate Messner’s How to Read a Story, which is a great tool for any aged reader on what readers really do with a book.  I love that Mrs. Meihaus even said it should be a manual that all teachers should read for how to do ELA (she probably said it way more eloquently than that, but I concur. It was pretty great!).

After we read, we played a game to help remind us of “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” things to do in the library or with books…

…and then we had time to check out….the rest of the library AND new books!!  BUT…that’s the part I don’t have pictures of.  As you can imagine, first graders need lots of support as they navigate a giant library and figure out what to read.  I don’t have pictures of the great new layout, or the cozy soft stuff where kiddos snuggled in to read, or the ZERO ZONE, a new space where kids can go if they need absolute silence to work/read, but believe me: it’s awesome!  We’re going back again to visit on Friday, so maybe I’ll have time to snap some then.

I do actually have some pictures of us reading our new books, though….just not in what would be considered a typical place.  We took a bathroom break after our library visit and took full advantage of the time to sit and enjoy our new gems!  It was such a great sight–had to share!  It was so great to watch them dig in and get busy with a book!

Students: What was your favorite part of our new Learning Commons?  What was different from last year?  What was still the same?  What books did you check out?

Parents:  What did your kiddos tell you about their visit?  What do you know about a Learning Commons v. a “regular” library?  What questions do you have?

Teachers:  What does the Library Learning Commons look like in your school?  How is it utilized by students? by teachers? by administration? by families?  What advice do you have as we transition to a new learning space?


If you’ve read our Robinson Mission Statement (or if you’ve listened to a Robinson kiddo or teacher talking lately), then you know it mentions GRIT:

Screenshot 2016-08-22 21.58.05

and our kiddos know that you gotta have GRIT, make mistakes, try again and work hard in order to learn and be successful.  And so this being true, this is a topic that it is important to start talking about (and practice using!) early in the year.

We started the other day by talking about that the word GRIT meant to my new friends.  I was SUPER impressed with what they already knew; even as kindergarteners, these kiddos were learning about and applying this big deal concept.  Check out what they said during our first conversation:


I was especially impressed by the way Mara explained GRIT as having “enough courage to do something even if it’s hard or you’re scared.”  It’s like being brave!

We used another fabulous classroom tool to practice this idea (and one that my friend and teammate, Mrs. Marks, reminded me about the other day): puzzles!  I had been collecting them all summer with the intention of bringing in new ones for this year’s class, so when I saw the AMAZING job Mrs. Mark’s first graders had done with working hard and being gritty with puzzles, I knew this was the way we’d be gritty, too!

Kiddos were able to choose a partner and a puzzle and they got busy.  We worked for a pretty big chunk of time, and while we worked pretty hard, not many of us finished–which is TOTALLY ok for our first try!

We did have one puzzle that was completed by Kaiden and Jack, though–check it out!


Now, don’t get me wrong–this doesn’t mean the rest of us weren’t being very diligent puzzle-makers and working with our partners well, but I did hear many kiddos say “This is hard!” and “I can’t do this!” or “There are too many pieces in this puzzle!”  It seems like we need to keep working on our self-talk, our problem solving about what to do when things are hard, and even with what we can say instead of those negative explanations.  Later on this week we’ll going to start talking about YET, and I am sure that this will be helpful to my first grade friends.

We also debriefed on the activity, marking what was helpful and what was hard.  This will also guide our thinking the next time we do puzzles (or encounter anything that’s hard!).


I can’t wait to share with you what happens the next time!


#FDOFG–Guided Discovery: Play-Doh

On Open House night, I had up a wish list that families could grab from and donate items to our class if they liked.  One thing on the list was play-doh.  I hadn’t ever asked for it before, but got the idea from another teacher, and thought I’d give it a try. Play-Doh is one of those things (kind of like Legos and blocks) that can be used in so many ways.  Thanks to the Ella and her family, we got a huge box of Play-Doh a couple of days before school started!  THANK YOU, KOHRINGS!!

On Thursday is was time to whip it out and discover what we could do with it!  Part of a guided discovery is for kiddos to just play and have fun, to figure out what they can and want to do with a certain item/manipulative.  So after we went over some basic guidelines (only use the color from your can, keep it on the table, be sure to clean up all the bits and pieces when you’re finished, etc.) Rm. 202 kids got the first 5 or so minutes to do whatever they wanted.  Then we spent some time using the Play-Doh to share some of our thinking.

Kiddos were asked do create something that represented the following things: 1) their FAVORITE thing to do when they aren’t at school (by the way, lots of Rm. 202 kiddos made TVs), and 2) their FAVORITE thing to do at school.

Then I had kiddos make their names.  Not a hard thing, really, but some kiddos needed encouragement with figuring out how to use the amount of Play-Doh they had to make the letters they needed or to shape the “curvy” letters so we knew what they said.  Some kiddos had time to make both their first and last names, and we even had a couple of Rm. 202 friends share tips for how to make their dough super flat (Allie used her forearm, and Peter used his fist and pushed real hard!).

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I was excited for how they were excited, as well as for the things we learned about each other during this seemingly “easy” activity.  It’s a first time I’ve done an intro survey this way, and am glad that I did.  After we had had a chance to investigate and play, then Play-Doh then became a choice during afternoon choice time. I’m excited to see the other ways we’ll use it to represent our learning as we go further into the year, too!

Students: What did you make with your Play-Doh to show what you like to do outside of school?   What did you find that was easy about this?  What was tricky for you?

Parents: What did your kiddos tell you about our Play-Doh investigation?  Were you surprised with what they made? 

Teachers:  What ways have you used Play-Doh in your classroom with your learners?

We’d love to hear from you!!