I’m Out But I’m Still Teaching

Today was one of those days that I unexpectedly had to be out with a sick kiddo.  😦 It’s always tricky trying to figure out what leave for a guest teacher to do with your class; many lessons just need you to be there to do the teaching.

It being the last week of the quarter, I had a harder time not doing the lessons I already had planned, so I figured I’d do the next best thing to being there: record myself teaching the lesson and leave the video for the guest teacher to play.  I know, it’s not rocket science, but sometimes I forget (or don’t have time to make it happen before my absence).  And honestly, I ambitiously recorded a WHOLE DAY’S worth of learning one year (which literally took me the length of a whole school day at home to make!) only to have not a single second of it watched by the class. Wah, wah….

Fast forward six years (I know, I guess it affected me and took a long time for me to recover LOL) and I tried it again.  Like I mentioned before, some things are just not possible to leave with a guest teacher, often because of craft or style that I add to the lesson, or just because of background knowledge that isn’t there.  Writing is especially tricky, so that’s the lesson I decided to record and leave for my class and the sub (plus, it was a fun lesson I didn’t want to miss teaching!).

The best part?  I heard from my teammate that they WATCHED the video, that it went well and that my writers did a SUPER job with the writing work time that followed. Whew!  That’s so great to hear. :). Also, it featured my own second grade learner, which made the whole thing extra fun. 🙂

And since I know you’re dying to see what it looks like in our room during writing (or at least in our classroom after school when I’m getting ready for a guest teacher!), here’s the video I left for Rm. 111 and 112 writers today. :). Would love to hear what you think!

 

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of October 1, 2018

Remember when I shared the smart story about Jonah’s thinking and how we flip-flopped the display wall?  It’s been great to see how kids have differently interacted with it throughout this past week since the change.  I even had a kiddo put up book covers! Something else exciting happened this week, too. Can you see what it is?

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You do?  YES!!  We made it to 100 books this week!  Well, officially we’ve read 105, but it was a great feeling to watch those 5 rows get put up and know that we’re well on our way to filling it up and sharing SO MANY GREAT BOOKS with this year’s group of amazing first graders!

Here’s what we read this week:

So many good ones–about so many topics! Can you tell what we’re learning about right now?  What titles do you suggest we read this next week? 🙂

What a Great-ISH Day We Had!

We are big fans of Peter H. Reynolds. 🙂  We celebrated Dot Day a couple of weeks ago including singing the Dot Song by Emily Arrow, and we loved every minute of it!  Today we had another great-ISH day as we read Ish and were then inspired to great some ISH art of our own!

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This story is about a kid named Ramon, who LOVES to draw!  He draws anything, everything, all the time and everywhere–including the bathroom.  Until…his brother laughs at something he draws and Ramon decides he. Is. Done.  Done painting.  Done with trying and done with taking risks with his art.  But then, Ramon’s sister, Marisol, shows him her wall in her room…covered by all of his paintings!  They are wrinkly and crumbled but she thinks they are BEAUTIFUL! She convinces Ramon that he should keep trying and that making something that looks kind of like the thing you want (so fish-ish, vase-ish, house-ish, etc.) is perfect!  He tries again and decides that he will indeed try again, take some risks and paint his feelings. :).

What a great message, right?  I mean, who wants to feel pressure to be perfect, never making a mistake, ensuring that your work and your performance is always just right??  I sure don’t!  And this book works so well into conversations we are always having about how making mistakes is a GOOD thing and how it’s OK if things aren’t perfect–you can always try again, making it better next time, Or the next time. 🙂

We decided it would be a great thing to create our own ISH paintings, and so kiddos chose something (anything!) and then followed these directions:

1.) Think and plan

2.) Draw with pencil first

3.) Color with watercolors, colored pencils or crayons

4.) Write on a notecard what your creation is, adding ‘ish’ to the end

Rm. 111 created such beautiful paintings! Most decided to paint (watercolors are a much-loved medium in our class!), but a few chose crayons, and a couple even used more than one of them. :). Everyone had to follow the directions that they were not finished until the WHOLE PAPER was filled up, and they traced their pencil lines with Sharpie to make their picture crisp.

This was the first project that I’ve gotten hung out in the hall (but it’s definitely not the first–I’ve got a huge pile I need to get to–and blog about, too!), and it has definitely made our hallway look so much more beautiful-ISH!! Enjoy!

I feel like I should explain that this started as our back-to-school bulletin board and is only half changed.  It used to say Welcome to Our Family! Not sure what that word is now. 🙂

Thanks for reading!! 🙂

 

Principal Read Alouds: 2018-2019

We have a SUPER principal who LOVES reading and has a passion for getting kids into books.  Several years ago she started offering opportunities for classes to sign-up to hear her read, and we jumped at the chance.  We’re still going strong and ready to enjoy year #3!!

Our first PRA of the year was a great one, and I noticed that Mrs. Sisul must have a new focus this year.  After seeing all of her book choices and reading experiences so far, see if you can figure out what it is. 🙂

PRA #1

I’ve Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

PRA #2

If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley

As we prepared for the next PRA, I had a sneaky request for my teammates: what if we had ALL OF FIRST GRADE in the room when Mrs. Sisul came in??  We were all game and so when she walked in, she was greeted by almost 100 smiling faces who were SUPER EXCITED to hear a fun story!  What a sweet surprise and a great way to start the day together!

PRA #3

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library by Julie Gassman

PRA #4

The Truth About My Unbelievable School by Davide Cali

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Somehow I have NO pictures and no video for this one.  What was I thinking?  I really think I was so involved in the story that I was too distracted to record anything. :). This one is a new author to us, and is part of a series.  We’re excited to hear more that are like this one.  The pictures played a big part in telling the story, and if you didn’t pay close attention to them you missed a lot!

Can’t wait for the next one!  Stay tuned to hear more about it! 🙂

 

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Flipped Upside-Down!

Remember in my last update when I mentioned Jonah’s perspective on our display wall? I finally had some time yesterday to flip it upside-down and it makes me wonder why I didn’t do it long ago!  What a great example of how seeing things through a kid’s eyes can make so much of a difference.  It was an unplanned and unexpected change, but was definitely for the better!  Now we can really watch it fill-up (because I guess before it trickled down the wall??)!

It’s a small change but definitely one that will make a difference! I wasn’t at school today so I didn’t see the kids’ response to it–can’t wait to see what they say tomorrow! 🙂

What do you think?  If you have a #classroombookaday display, I’d love to see it!

Robinson University–2018 Edition

I know you already know I work at the best school in Missouri, and perhaps the world. :). We have such an amazing community of families and teachers, and we make things happen for kids.  Last Friday was another example of that amazing community working together to provide priceless experiences for all the kids in our school.  Let me tell you about it. 🙂

I am sure at some point on this blog I’ve written about Robinson University (hereafter called RU), but the version that was unveiled on Friday was even better than ever.  Until now, first graders have not “officially” been involved, but instead we made up our own rotations for kiddos to do, alongside the “real” ones that bigger kids did.  This year it was decided that we could indeed join in with the rest of the school.  Yay for that decision!

In short, RU is a program we run on half-days at our school (which are half-days so that teachers can participate in professional development in the afternoons), which are designed to provide unique and different experiences for students–experiences that they may not normally or otherwise have an opportunity to take part in.  They are available during school hours so that EVERYONE can participate.  We’ve done some version of it for the last 5 or so years, but this was seen as the 2.0; many changes were made with structure and offerings that were an improvement on our original ideas.

Children were given the option of some 30 different classes, and all classes were taught or facilitated by parents, friends and community members of Robinson School.  In the past, students had only 2 or 3 classes, as we stretched them out over the entire semester of half-days. Now kiddos choose their 10 favorites and then are assigned 6 of those–one for each half-day, so that they are able to participate in 6 exciting and different experiences throughout the year.

Teachers were assigned as faculty liaisons to work with one of our presenters, and I got to participate in a session about DNA.  I got to work with a fabulous mom of a fabulous student I had a couple of years ago, who is a real research scientist and came with real science to teach us about what DNA is and how it works.  Cool, right?

I have loads to tell you about that (since I was present in that session), but first I want to share some pictures from the other sessions to give you a little taste of the exciting things our Roadrunners were able to do AT SCHOOL last week! :). Check it out. 🙂

Aikido

  • Aikido (a different style of martial arts) is “The way of harmonizing energy,” known as the art of peace.

Let’s Make Breakfast!

  • Come and have fun mixing and making a delicious breakfast of Dollar Pancakes, cheesy scrambled eggs and Island Smoothies. Breakfast always tastes better when you make it yourself! 

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Creative Writing

  • Have you ever dreamed of writing and illustrating your very own picture book?  If so, this course will teach you all about the creative writing process from a published children’s book author.

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Food Science

  • Let’s make gummy worms! Come explore the Science of food!

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Happy, Healthy Kids

  • You will learn lots about healthy living and how healthy living makes you feel happier and stronger. We’ll also make fruit ice cream (no sugar/no dairy!) and it is YUMMY!

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Microbiology–Learning about GERMS!

  • Let’s test the 5 second rule in this session that investigates microbiology and our germ-filled world! We will explore what germs are, why they matter, where they are and how experiments and can help us learn more about them. 

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Stop Motion Videos

  • Come and make your very own stop motion video!

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What Does a Veterinarian Do?

  • We will discuss the skills and tools used in veterinary medicine. We will discuss some fun and interesting cases and work together to learn to think like a veterinarian.

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(This one was taught by a very special Rm. 111 parent!  Thanks for helping out, Mrs. Hendrickson!!)

Yoga

  • Explore how yoga, movement and breath can be both fun and relaxing. 

I would have LOVED to have had pictures from all the sessions (there were also sessions that including geocaching, swimming, Keynote, School of Rock, World Bird Sanctuary, Jedi training [fencing], cake decorating and so many more I can’t even list them all!!), and unfortunately I didn’t get every smiling Rm. 111 faces on this post, but hopefully by the end of the year of RU I will be able to do so. :). Stay tuned.  The next session is on November 2!

Ok…so here’s the details on the session I was in–it was all about What is DNA?  It was led by my friend Dr. Ariel, who is a research scientist.  She came to teach us about what it is, why it’s important, and we even EXTRACTED some DNA from a strawberry!  Emily, a 5th grader who attended the session (and who can be found on this blog from several years ago when she was a first and second grader!) named him Jeff.  Unfortunately, Jeff gave his life for science and we were amazed when the little cotton-like strands actually came out of the test tube right before our very eyes!  Check it out…

(P.S. I have a GREAT video of the whole DNA extraction process but it it turned the wrong way and I can’t get it to rotate!! Ugh.  If you know to do that and want to give me guidance I’ll do it and post it here later!)

 

What Do You Do All Day Anyway?: Phonics

So far in this series, I’ve shared our journey from our first Heggerty lesson through to our 3rd try with getting it right, after doing some reflection and thinking about videos of our lessons.

Kids have been asking about what part of our day we will record next, and that has yet to be determined (there are so many options!), but in the meantime I thought I’d share another part of our day that has been going pretty well.  It’s kind of a big deal in first grade to understand how phonemic awareness and phonics work together to help them understand words and apply that knowledge to reading and writing.

We started a new program this year and I’m excited for how it’s going so far, as well with how it has affected kiddos’ thinking already.  Let me share a little about what we do with phonics every day in Rm. 111.  Oh, and since you may be wondering (because I know for a long time I was unsure, too) about the difference between phonemic awareness and phonics, here is a chart from Heggerty’s website to explain how they are different but related:

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First of all, I feel like I should introduce you to a very good friend of all of us in Rm. 111–Rasheed the Lion!

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Isn’t he fabulous?  He has a SUPER name with lots of interesting features, like a capital letter, a digraph, a long e sound (made with double letters!) and a consonant at the end.  It has 2 syllables, 7 letters, and is a pattern of tall letter, 2 small letters, tall letter, 2 small letters and another tall letter.  We’ve been learning LOTS of things just like that about our own names, too, and have put them all on our word wall.

One important thing we did at the beginning of our study was learn how to correctly write our names AND how to spell and write the names of our friends!  They are important words in our lives and we need to know how to use them quickly and accurately. In our Rug Clubs (which are small groups we work in while we study phonics), we practiced with white boards and markers (which every first grader LOVES) and a “marked-up” version of our name that showed us exactly how to form each letter.

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Each student got their own name written in this form so they could practice how to write it quickly and correctly.  At this point, many first graders were still working on using lower case letters in their names.

See Rasheed’s pencil?  It’s because he knows how to use Professor Words when he studies names, and we do, too!  We looked at our own names and were super-smart professors as we shared our thinking with the rest of the class.  We pointed out vowels (short and long), as well as blends and digraphs, as well as number of syllables and anything else that was interesting.

After we had studied everyone’s names (including names of our friends in Rm. 112), we started to study other words in the same way.  We call these words SNAP words, because we should be able to say them in a “snap.”  Most of them are words that we learned in kindergarten, and we are reviewing them before we begin to learn new first grade words.

Most recently, we’ve been working on sorting words by a variety of features.  Students have worked with their carpet partners to identify vowels (short or long, how many, which ones, etc.), number of letters, number of syllables, etc., and then shared their sorts with the class.

Here’s a fun phonics game for you to play:  can you name the way these words are sorted?  Leave us a comment to tell us what you notice about how we chose to sort each group!  We’d love to hear how smart you are about phonics, too!

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How were these words sorted?  What do you notice?

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Here’s another one.  Look carefully–it’s different than the last one!

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This one looks easier than it is!  How did Rm. 111 friends sort these SNAP words?  Tell us in the comments!

One last thing…check out our word wall as of last week.  We were AMAZED that we added 37 SNAP words to the wall!  Can’t wait to watch it fill up with more words that we can read in a “snap!”  Stay tuned!

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