#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week 9

This was a short week at school (we only had Weds-Fri), so our list is a little smaller than other weeks. ¬†But believe me it is no less amazing! (Oh, and by the way, I realized that picture looks like we’re a little closer to filling up our door than we actually are….still a couple more weeks away.ūüôā ).


Here’s the close up of the week (which I realized I don’t usually share):


This week we started with another Mo Willems title we hadn’t read, as well as a Kate Klise book that kiddos read last year before she came to visit. ¬†On Thursday we were lucky to have Mrs. Sisul swing by with her brand-spanking new copy of Hotel Bruce, which she had promised to read to us when she came with Mother Bruce earlier this year. ¬†She had a great story about how she had gotten her copy from her favorite local bookstore and had also celebrated Bruce’s book birthday last Tuesday. ¬†We read two Pigeon books for our punctuation study, and The Reader for the Global Read Aloud this week. ¬† Two of our books were recommendations from our friend Rachel, and then lastly we were lucky to have a familiar 4th grade friend come and read to us on Friday. ¬†Remember when Allie came to read Naked to us?¬† Well, during that visit they had asked if Riley could come, too, and Friday he finally came! ¬†His grade was having a whole day reading celebration and so he spent some of his time reading Mustache Baby Meets His Match to us. ¬† We LOVED it!

Another successful reading week! ¬†Our count is up to 161 so far, which is SO AMAZING! ¬†Can’t wait to see what this coming week holds!ūüôā

Global Read Aloud Week 3: The Reader

This week was the half-way point of the Global Read Aloud. ¬†We have so enjoyed the texts we’ve read so far, and this week’s book was no different. ¬†Lauren Castillo has become a new friend to all of Rm. 202 kiddos and we enjoyed interacting with another of her great books: The Reader.


As we read this beautiful story of a boy, his dog, a cold, snowy day and a good book, we discussed many parts and made many predictions. ¬†We talked about who we thought “the reader” was, where we thought they were going, and we even connected a part of the story with the punctuation investigation we started the other day (which OF COURSE I’ll tell you more about later on!).

We got to this page of the book, when the boy heads toward home, and thought that maybe something was missing (sorry, Lauren Castillo!).


So…we added it.ūüôā ¬†And the best part was that Rm. 202 kiddos knew that it needed exclamation points to make it sound exciting, and they also suggested that it be written in all capital letters because that also tells the reader how it should sound.ūüôā


Great, right?  And of course, no disrespect to the way it was actually written.  Reading lots Elephant and Piggie books makes us see speech bubbles EVERYWHERE!!

After we read and talked, we decided to get artistic and kiddos were invited to paint in response to the story.  They were asked to answer one of these two questions: Where is YOUR favorite place to read? or What is YOUR favorite thing to do in the winter?   Once their paintings were complete, they chose a paper to matte their piece, and wrote a card to explain their creation.  We brainstormed words we might want to use and created a chart to use a resource in our writing.  I CANNOT wait to see what these look like altogether on the bulletin board at school, but I had to go ahead and share them individually with you here from home.  They sure are pretty!!

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And I know I have said this every week of the GRA so far, but maybe this is the week that we finally join the slow chat about the books we’re reading. ¬†Maybe. LOLūüôā



Our First Writing Celebration!

We have been working on getting our Writers’ Workshop set up, as well as learning about and writing Small Moments.


We used the analogy of a watermelon and its seeds to help kiddos think about a BIG idea and the SMALL parts of that larger story. ¬†This picture was really helpful for kids to have a concrete idea of what I was talking about. ¬†After I drew my initial picture, writers tried their own watermelons.ūüôā

Wednesday¬†was¬†the day we were finally ready to share our finished writing pieces. ¬†This was our first for the year, and so we did have to start with a few instructions on how it would go. ¬†I also tried something new this time (which, by the way, I SHOULD NOT have done on our first try at a writing celebration…oh well, lessons learned), and had kiddos do writing compliments on their iPads using eBackpack and the MarkIt tool. ¬†Writers circulated and read their friend’s stories, leaving kind words about what they noticed and what they liked.

Great job on your first celebration, Rm. 202 writers, and great job on your first stories! ¬†Way to start the year as writers!ūüôā

Blowing Up Our Word Wall!

Yesterday I was sitting with my friend, Ms. Turken, as we worked on a geometry assessment, figuring out a new schedule and just musing about some first grade topics in general. ¬†I had some ideas to throw at her related to my class library, my classroom layout and most importantly the way our Word Wall is being used–or really NOT being used.

We talked about the purpose of a word wall as we understood it, which is to be words that kiddos are accountable to know how to spell. ¬†Yeah–it’s full of words that most kids know how to spell and read already. ¬†It’s not words that most kids need support with so its use is minimal. ¬†That’s where we were in Rm. 202.

I sat down with my class today (in front of the Word Wall, naturally), and asked them what they were thinking. I asked what a Word Wall is for, and I got two decidedly different answers (which was not very surprising, actually). ¬†I had one friend tell me it was for sight words that we know, and someone else said, no, it’s for words that we need help with. ¬†We talked about how we needed to be clear–and agree upon–what we wanted the wall to be for us. ¬†I asked many kiddos if they personally ever use the wall to help them spell. ¬†Nope. No. Not really. ¬†Yes, but only for names. ¬†We agreed that having words like it, is, it, get, and, am, etc., is not helpful. ¬† I talked with them about what other kinds of things they might want to have on there, and also went to my word wall word stash to make a few suggestions if they needed help. ¬†The word BECAUSE came up (as it has several times in multiple conversations of the last week) as a word that¬†most of us need to reference, and so we agreed it would go up there. ¬†Someone suggested color words, then we also talked about number words and other categories. ¬†This led to the idea that we could organize the words by type, rather than by alphabet.

I gave them a few minutes to work with a friend (or on their own) to suggest categories or specific words that we might want to put up on our wall.  While they worked, I started to take down the letters.

Kids had great ideas for categories of words, like colors, numbers, names (which were already on our Word Wall but that are now in a square together instead of by first letter separately), school words, seasonal words (like Halloween, fall, parade, etc.), and just sight words or other “regular” words that might be tricky.

After school I was able to make a start at putting it back together. ¬†It already looks great, and I am SUPER excited with how the kiddos like it and how they begin to use it differently. ¬†After all, it is THEIR word wall and should be organized and created in a way that makes sense to THEM. ¬†Otherwise it’s just letters that no one pays any attention to.


A fresh start…


Color words and the beginning of “school” words


Number words (yes, I know there’s no eighteen. Somehow I lost it. I’ll fix that.ūüôā


Names. I will add girl once it gets printed.

Can’t wait to share more soon! ¬†Please tell us what you think!ūüôā


#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week 8

It’s the end of the 1st Quarter, and I am SO GLAD I decided to keep track of our books like this! ¬†I know that it has helped us in loads of ways, and has changed some of my thinking as well.

First of all, while it is not hard data, I can tell that the kiddos in my room have gotten more interested in both reading and writing because of the presence of so many great books! ¬†The first few days of school, I remember saying sadly to my friends, “This class doesn’t like to read! ¬†They don’t like books! What is up with that!?” ¬†Honestly, I remembered the sounds of disgust and the moans that emerged from many first grade bodies when I’d announce that we would meet on the rug to share a story, and the mention of having THEM read was like asking them to drink vinegar! ¬†I was seriously worried that we’d be fighting all year about how amazing reading and writing are and how you should do them every day. ¬†To look at them now, you’d never know that was where we had started. ¬†I can say that everyone in my class is a willing reader, and many choose to do so whenever they get a chance to make a free choice. ¬†It has also upped the excitement about writing, as well, since Rm. 202 kiddos understand the connection between reading a great book and where it came from. ¬†They have, on many occasions written their own versions of great stories we’ve read–mainly Elephant and Piggie, but also other Mo Willems books (yep, we’re still HUGE FANS!). ¬†They are then super excited to be able to read those books to the class; this is a new phenomenon in my primary classes–I’ve never had kiddos so eager to read to their friends! ¬†You will notice many of these kid-published titles on our door.ūüôā

Secondly, I’d have to say that our excitement with #classroombookaday has changed my intention, purpose and selection of read alouds in our class. ¬†Read aloud has also been a big deal in my classroom, and I completely believe that it is a crucial piece of the puzzle to creating strong readers and writers–and thinkers! ¬†In the past, however, my read alouds have been primarily chapter books. ¬†Even in 1st grade, my book choices were longer texts (often series or other stories) that I know and love that I want to expose my kiddos to so they can love them, too! ¬†First grade read alouds last time included graphic novel series like Lunch Lady and Babymouse, which most kiddos hadn’t yet heard of. ¬†We also enjoyed many authors that wrote a variety of different kinds¬†of books, like Kate DiCamillo. ¬†We have read the Mercy Watson series, the Leroy Ninker series, as well as The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. ¬†While I do believe I will eventually get around to reading longer texts and starting our Read Aloud Timeline (another core part of my literacy instruction), I think this will probably not happen now until after the new year. ¬†Because of my focus on the #classroombookaday challenge, I’ve become more interested and aware of great picture books and picture book authors that I didn’t really know before (it’s weird I know, I am a first grade teacher and I didn’t really read picture books). ¬†This has lead to some new friends and new favorite books and new people to connection with on Twitter with my class. ¬† This whole process has also increased the amount of books that kiddos bring me from home or from the library that we “HAVE TO READ.” ¬†I love that they are being more discriminate about what their friends might like or what a “good” book sounds like. Win/win for everyone, wouldn’t you say?

Ok, so here’s our new door picture, up to date from last Friday. ¬†We’re up to 152 now–which blows my mind! ¬†And we still stop to look at the beautiful book covers (as does almost everyone else who walks by!) every time we’re in the hall. ¬†Check it out!


This week we read many less books than previous weeks. ¬†I’d say it was probably because it was the last week of the quarter and so worked much more on finished up assessments and such instead of gathering together¬†on the rug for a lesson (which is when most of our read alouds happen). ¬†We have 3 kid-written books on our door this week, as well as a Curious George book, a wordless book by Tomie dePaola (which is a new author to us), another Ashlyn Anstee book that also has an Emily Arrow songEmily Arrow song, a Pigeon book¬†we hadn’t read, a Pete the Cat math book and the second book from the Global Read Aloud¬†schedule. ¬†Whew! ¬†Even with less titles, we were busy and engrossed in REALLY GOOD BOOKS!

I do have a couple more pictures to share before I go…

Mara, Kaiden and Aadish are three kiddos that have been most interested in writing their own texts for our class to read. ¬†This week we had one from each of them, but I’m sorry to say I only have a picture of Kaiden’s book–not of him actually reading it. ¬†Sorry buddy!

Ok, one more.ūüôā ¬†Ms. Turken’s class is also on the #classroombookaday journey, and their board looks like this:


Don’t all those books just make you happy?! ¬†Thanks for reading! ¬†As always, if you have a book or author suggestion, please leave us a comment and we’ll definitely try it out!ūüôā

Gush, Gush

Or I guess we could call this “Day 33: Ahh!–updated again.” Or even “Isn’t Rm. 202 An Amazing Place to Be?” or “My Students are THE BEST!!”

Ok, I guess you get the picture, right? This post is one of those that I’ve been thinking about writing for a while, mainly because I told my kiddos I needed to tell the rest of the world the amazing things I’ve been telling everyone about them in person lately.

Remember in that “Day 33” post where I was talking about how we have gotten to that place where we can breathe? Let me tell you more.

One thing I remember really appreciating about the class I worked with during my student teaching 16 years ago was how much they got that learning was their job. They were second graders, and granted, it was¬†their second year of a loop (so Heidi Ford had had a whole year already to work her magic with them!!), by regardless they were dedicated to making the most of their time at school. I was amazed every day when kids would whine about going home, lament the fact that they didn’t have homework and delight over every new learning invitation presented to them.

I remember how encouraging the whole class was to each other, how they cheered each other one and how they really helped each other focus on putting their best foot forward and stretching their brains. Pretty sure RM. 107’s motto was “work hard, get smart,” and I love that!

Since I’ve been a teacher, I’ve longed for (and in turn worked towards) a class of eager learners who function with that same fervor. ¬†Over the years, I’ve had clusters of kids in every class, but only once or twice can I remember a class that was really together for each other. Who really were selfish and selfless in their learning at the same time. I mean kids who want the most/best for themselves but also truly want that for everyone else, too.

So…I bring this up because I am getting a distinct feeling that this group I have now is just that class. ūüėä. It took us a long time (and a lot of work!) to get here, but the place we are now is beyond where I’d thought or even hoped we’d be at this point in the year.

Lately I’ve been hearing and seeing things like this:

*As we are trying to quiet down in order to get outside to test our light/sound inventions and kiddos are not doing so very quickly: “Come on, guys! ¬†Don’t you see that we are wasting our learning time? ¬†If we don’t get outside now we won’t get a chance to try out our inventions and we’ll have to take them apart. ¬†This is important and we can’t miss out on learning!”¬†

*As I am trying to get attention after a little-too-loud math workshop, the same friend (along with some help from at least 1 or 2 others): “Guys, Mrs. Bearden is waiting! ¬†This is important to listen to her directions. ¬†You can come back to what you’re doing later, but you can’t hear what she’s saying later because she’s only saying it now!”¬†

*When kiddos heard that someone didn’t get any work done during their whole math workshop rotation, students faces were marked with amazement, wondering “What? ¬†He didn’t do ANYTHING the whole time? ¬†How could he miss out on all that math learning? How sad!”

*When someone had an empty writing folder after almost a whole quarter of school, writers wondered what he had been doing all this time. ¬†They were sad for him because he wouldn’t have anything to share at our writing celebration, and that he had not been practicing all the things we’d been learning¬†in Writer’s Workshop.

*As kiddos yell out during a read aloud, students quickly raise their hands in the shape of a zero, reminding their friends to keep a quiet voice while we read. ¬†Others can be heard saying, “We will take turns” and “We will listen and follow directions,” which are both class norms we’ve agreed upon.ūüôā

*During work time this week, I heard a friend say to someone else, “I can’t talk to you right now, I have work to do.”

*That same friend could be heard saying, “Wow, those were sandpaper words when someone said , ‘Those are my crayons!'”

*When a student was trying to talk to me while I was working with another student on an assessment, a friend nearby said, “Remember, she’s not going to talk to you, you’re whining.” Then, as the friend continued working to interrupt, she added, “She’s not going to talk to you, she’s working with that friend.” ¬†

*As I start to remind kiddos of appropriate line behavior (before we leave for recess), I hear someone finish my words my saying, “I will…take you to recess when everyone is in a straight, quiet line!”¬†

*When a group that was only supposed to have 2 or 3 kiddos in it ended up with 4, the group calmly figured out which friend should move to another group by deciding to play rock/paper/scissors. ¬†When the friend moved to his new group, a friend there said, “Come on over, let’s make a plan!”¬†

I feel like I could probably go on and on with amazing words and actions that kiddos in Rm. 202 are saying and doing right now. ¬†It’s been so beautiful to watch how kids are starting to take care of each other, encourage each other (which is another norm), and remind their friends of what we are all about. ¬†We had a little trouble this afternoon with crayons (and not sharing them correctly and therefore wasting our writing time), and kiddos were able to reflect on what those actions said about us, whether they were what we are all about in Rm. 202 and whether they help us learn. ¬†We agreed and then actually asked me to let them go back to work so they could fix it.

I am loving how kiddos who have previously struggled with distracting behaviors are stepping up and responding positively when their friends ask them to stop, when their friends remind them they quickly change their choices. ¬†I am noticing less waiting time, more learning time and just how the overall feel of our room is so relaxed and comfortable. ¬†It is truly a special and LOVELY place to spend the day. ¬†I am really lucky to be able to work with such an amazing group of kiddos every day. ¬†And if you’re a parent of one of those kiddos–thanks so much for all you did and do to help them be their very best!! ¬†I appreciate you, too!ūüôā


Stop! Drop! Cover! Roll!

On Monday we were lucky to be visited by the Kirkwood Fire Department, as they taught us how to be safe around fire, and what to do to prevent problems if we encounter one in our house.

First, we watched a video with some friends we know and love:

…and then our beloved firefighters taught us about what to do when we hear the smoke detector. ¬†They even reminded us what it sounds like!

We talked about Stop, Drop, Cover your Face and Roll as well as how to find a safe spot where our family will meet if we have to leave our house (ours is down the street by the speed limit sign!), as well as how every bedroom should have two exits in case one is blocked.  Perhaps the best part was when he put on his gear so we could see what a fireman would look like if we ever encountered one in a rescue!  He sounded like Darth Vader with his mask on!

We knew a lot, learned a lot and feel super safe about fire safety!  Thank you firefighters!! We appreciate you!!  Happy Fire Prevention Week!