Misunderstood Principal Shark?

I love Twitter.  I love Twitter for lots of reasons, but one of them is because things like this pop up sometimes:

And then I’m in the right place at the right time and we win SHARK SWAG for our whole school!!  The WHOLE SCHOOL!?  Pretty cool, right?  And because we’ve gotten book swag from Ame Dyckman before, I knew it was going to be great. 🙂

So after a few messages where we exchanged information and numbers and such we got a super box in the mail:

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I ran right to Ms. Davis to start brainstorming how we’d get all this fabulous stuff into our Roadrunner’s hands, and to open that awesome box!  We found 600 bookmarks and stickers and the nicest note from one of the nicest authors around. 🙂

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We made a plan for something fun, and it included a shark costume, a principal and a read aloud.

In the meantime, my class got busy divvying up the bookmarks and stickers so they’d be ready for everyone on the special day.  All the while I told my first grade friends about part of the plan, but that they had to cross their hearts to NOT TELL ANYONE about the secret book swag.  I also kept the rest of the plan (the shark-principal-read aloud part) a secret and told them they’d find out later.


We had to reschedule once, but finally it worked out for today’s big event.  We sent a generic “tune into Facebook Live at 2:45–it will be worth it!” email to the school and crossed our fingers.  I corralled some of my 1st grade and kindy friends to be present for the actual read aloud and we were set. 🙂 ❤

But when we showed up for the actual read aloud, it was EVEN BETTER THAN I HAD EXPECTED!  I mean I’ve heard our fabulous principal read before, and I know she’s got some mad skills, but this was above and beyond.  I mean–the whole thing in a SHARK COSTUME!  It was just too much. 🙂 .

 

Check out how AMAZING a time it was in our library today!

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After we returned to our classroom, we did a few end-of-day things and then got busy delivering all those book goodies to our Robinson Roadrunner friends!  They were so happy get our (ok, well Ame Dyckman’s) swag and we were SO EXCITED to share it!

Thank you, so much, Ame Dyckman, for writing amazing books that we love to read and thank you, Mrs. Sisul, for being such an amazing ambassador for reading and books and fun in our school!! WE ARE SO LUCKY!!

I am Proud. And I Think That’s Ok.

Compliments are a funny thing, you know? People tell us we’ve done something well, or look nice or whatever, and we’re not really sure what to say or do (or maybe it’s just me).  “Thank you” seems like an ok response, but if you say anything beyond that, you’re headed into funny territory where you’re worried the complimenter is going to think you’re arrogant.  That you’re conceited or full of yourself or maybe just weird and don’t have any social skills.

I was reminded of this very thing the other day when I told my daughter that she looked nice.  She had chosen an outfit for a field trip to the theater the next day and was twirling around in the mirror with a big smile on her face.  I gave her my compliment and her response was “I know, right?” We had the cursory conversation about how she should probably just say thank you.  She said sorry, and told me thank you instead.  In fact, I’ve been teaching her this since she was 3YO and did the same thing when people told her she had pretty eyes.  Her 3YO response was a very honest “I know. :)”

Now I”m rethinking it and I’m not so sure that’s the right thing to do. Ok, look, I’m not saying that being appreciative of the kind words isn’t appropriate, but I’m not sure that you shouldn’t also be able to say “I know!” In my kiddo’s case, she had specifically chosen a dress that she liked, and matched the right shoes and sweater with it, and worked hard to tame her curly hair (which really just means she brushed it–LOL).  She was proud of what she had created, and her response to my kind words was honestly just appreciation, right?  She felt validated that she had done a good job.  She is happy in her skin (ok, in her maxi dress), and she wanted me to know she agreed with me.  I am so glad she has such great ideas about herself!  She has confidence in her abilities (yes, I know in this case it was in dressing herself), she feels good about herself and she has positive self-esteem.  If you ask her, she can tell you other things she does well, and I’m ok with that. I mean we want to have confident daughters, right?

The hard part is that really thin line you have to walk so that you don’t fall into arrogant territory.  Even at 8 it’s a thing, but it seems to me that it is even harder to balance in adulthood.  And especially in education. (Ok, probably in other jobs, too, but education is the one I know best. 🙂 ).

I started thinking about this the other day when we were hearing the announcement of the Teacher of the Year (YAY, Shannon! You are an inspiration to us all!).  While I didn’t win, I do know that at least one person nominated me, because I was given the words that had been written about me on the form. I love this, by the way, because it’s good to know that even if you didn’t win that someone saw something great in what you do.  It’s “an-honor-to-be-nominated” kind of thing, I guess here, huh?

But then that took me to the whole idea for this post in the first place.  The words that my friend wrote about me made me feel all kinds of things–so many things that I wanted to share them.  Partly so that other people would read them about me, but also because I think it says loads about my friend that she says such kind things.  But can I do that?  What does it say about me that I post words that someone said about me and what I do well on a public blog for all to read?  Am I a show off?  Am I trying to toot my own horn or make people notice me?

Maybe I’m just proud.  And I want for you to be proud of me, too. Maybe I just like that other people notice that I work really hard to do whatever I can to help my students be their best and learn all they can.  Maybe I appreciate that even though it’s hard, I try and try and try and sometimes things work out well (and of course, sometimes they don’t so I try again).  I try to be an effective teacher, a kind friend, a supportive teammate, a life-long learner, a voracious reader, a thoughtful writer, an encourager….and probably lots of other things I can’t even mention. I say it’s just natural to smile and say “I know,” after your “thank you.”  Maybe the appropriate response is a little tweak of that, and it’s “I agree.”  Maybe that’s the way we can balance the appreciation of the compliment and the pride you feel when you attempt to achieve a goal or do something well and someone notices.

What do you think?  How do you respond when someone gives you a compliment or a kind word?  Do you say “Thank you” but really want to say “I know?”  Maybe you have a suggestion for something else to say, instead of “I agree.”  I’d love to hear your thinking. Leave a comment below, will you?  A kind and positive one, though, please–even if you disagree. 🙂

And, since the original point of this post was to share the amazingly kind words my friends wrote about me, I’m posting them down below this.  Maybe they’re just for me to read and reread, but they’re there for you, too, if you’re so inclined. 🙂

“Jennifer is a very passionate teacher.  She makes special connections with her students and colleagues.  Her love of learning is obvious as soon as you enter her classroom and hear her talking to her students.”

“Jen is an in-house expert on how students learn.  She has spent her career and most of her life studying, reading, experiencing and tirelessly absorbing information in order to support every type of reader, writer and mathematician.  Jen is magical to watch as she marvels at literature, ponders over mathematical development and beautifully demonstrates that any type of instruction is an art and a science.  Every student in Jen’s classroom receives a teacher who cards for their whole self, she perseveres to understand what might be puzzling or challenging and expects the most out of them educationally, socially, and emotionally. Jen, not only represents Robinson, but represents the elite group of outstanding teachers.”

Mrs. Bearden exemplifies what it means to be a dedicated teacher.  She meets each student on their level and works diligently to build relationships with her students.  Her love and extensive knowledge of literature allows her to connect many topics across subjects, tying different content areas together and making great connections.  She never loses her patience and always shows her students kindness.  She gives students opportunities to be their best selves, and takes the time needed to develop social skills.  Being in her classroom has taught me a lot about the type of teacher I hope to be and what it truly means to love what you do.”

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of February 25, 2019

This week we got to 367!  February is a weird month–feels like almost every week we’ve had something extra or surprising with our schedule, and this week as no different–we had a surprise ice day on Thursday.  But then Friday was a 1/2 day, which includes school-wide programming, so it means less reading time for us in Rm. 111.  Anyhow, we did get 7 new titles on our wall, and enjoyed everyone of them!

Here’s our wall currently:

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This week we added these new books!

We have happened in to a Dan Santat study, as he has written and illustrated SO MANY amazing books–most of which become our new favorites!  This week were two I had never even seen before!  Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is an oldie that I had never read, and Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon was a not-so-oldie that I’ve read lots and lots of times and never gets old!  Cows Can Moo! Can You? came as a recommendation from a first grade friend, which always makes for a good read aloud.  Be Kind is a goodie that you can read over and over and over (and connects to our recent Kindness Week activities as well as the Kindness Quilt our school school is working on), and Little Dragon and the New Baby is a sweet story and loads of first graders can make connections with the way Little Dragon didn’t want to have a baby to share his things with–at first. 🙂

Another great week of read alouds in first grade!  Can’t wait to see what this upcoming week brings!

Kindness Quilt MATH

I have shared about how we started building our Kindness Quilt and then an update on how it’s growing!

Here’s another SUPER idea that grew out of it, based on a conversation we had in math a week or so ago. 🙂

Kids had been asking questions about how big the quilt might be, or how many squares we have gotten so far from other classes, and also just “What will it look like?”, so I pulled up this picture for them to reference.

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Then I asked them to think of two things (based on the protocol you might do with a 3 Act Lesson): What do you notice?  What do you wonder?

These were their answers:

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Now…the whole point of the wonderings was to give them some tasks to complete, right? So we then went back through that list of questions and tried to decide which were ones we could actually use math to figure out.  We noted connections, as well as marking off ones that were just interesting, but not “answerable.”

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After we had discussed the ones that we could actually tackle, mathematicians were invited to choose one with which they could get started.  Everyone declared their favorite and went to get started.  There were no “rules” except that they had to find a way to record their thinking so they could show us their answer.  (As a sidenote, as we got started, we had to have a conversation about what “recording” might mean–we use Seesaw so frequently that it only meant “using your voice to tell about your work.”  Oops. Guess we should talk about that more often. )

As kids got started, it was fun to watch the different strategies that they employed, including iPads, number lines, and fingers.

And aside from the different tools they chose to use, it was great to watch how EVERYONE had a place to enter this investigation!  No one felt like they couldn’t do it, like it was too hard or like it was no fun.  This was a highly motivating topic (they had all made the quilt!), with interesting questions (that they had come up with!), and they got to choose which question they wanted to answer (based on any criteria–which was easiest, which was most interesting, which was most challenging, etc.).  EVERYONE was engaged, for the whole time!  Kiddos worked alone and in partners–again, their choice–to answer as many of our wonderings as they could.

Check out what they discovered!

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What questions would you ask about our quilt?  We’d love to hear them–and maybe even try to answer them! 🙂

 

Building Relationships: Lunch Bunch

Last week I posted about how our Morning Meeting Feeling Circle helps build relationships in our classroom.  That same day something else happened that I was reminded of that also does this same thing: Lunch Bunch. 🙂

Several years ago in my classroom I had a routine of inviting kiddos to eat lunch with me–either I would choose a day to come to the cafeteria or they would be invited to come to our room to eat lunch there.  For some reason (I forgot?) I haven’t done this for the last few years on a regular basis.

This year, however, I have several kiddos who regularly ask me if they can eat with me.  This occasional situation turned into something official earlier this year when I had enough different kiddos ask that it just made sense to make it a “thing.”  So, now, on most Tuesdays, anyone from our class is invited to join me in our room after recess for Lunch Bunch.

I remember the first few times we did it, only about 8 or so kiddos came.  That’s still pretty good odds, though, I’d say–about half of our class.  As time has gone one, though, EVERYONE has started to join us!  Now we even look around and figure out who’s not there with us.  Isaac is usually the one who volunteers to go to the cafeteria to get whoever is left.  🙂

I think we had several kiddos missing on this day, so it’s not everyone, but it’s most of us. 🙂  Oh, and Isaac didn’t make it into this selfie, so he wanted one of his own. 🙂

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And then so did a few other friends.  (And I think if we’d have had enough time for me to work my way around the room, everyone would have wanted a selfie with Mrs. Bearden. 🙂

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Lucy and me 

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Makhi and Mrs. Bearden (and a photobomb from Beckett!) 🙂

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Me and Avant 🙂

It’s funny how just a change of place, or a change of thing can impact how you interact with kiddos (and how kiddos interact with each other).  Ok, I guess it’s not really a surprise, though, since food is such a universal thing and breaking bread together helps people of all ages and cultures to get to know each other better–this is true even of first graders!

I love how our conversations run the gamut and how much they are willing to share about themselves, often without even having to ask them anything!  There are usually quick connections made over foods we have that are the same, or a really funny conversation started by someone asking about something I have in my lunch that no one else in the room would eat!

Lunch Bunch has become a staple of life in Rm. 111 and I don’t think I could (or would!) change that.  A couple of times our Tuesday routine has had to adjust because of a meeting or inside recess and kiddos are SO UPSET!  They are always so quick to ask if it can be moved to the next day or the next day.  And you know, if I’d let them, I think most kids would come to eat with me every day!  I know it makes them feel special and a part of something, and you know–I feel that way, too!  Getting to know my students as PEOPLE helps me in so many ways as I help them as learners!  What a super special time we have together. 🙂 . Can’t wait to see what happens this week!

 

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of February 19-22, 2019

Hi and welcome back to the blog!  I’m so glad you keep coming back to check up on what’s going on–because we’re excited to share it with you!

The wall display is up to 360 and looks so amazing!

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Every day that goes by brings more and more interested onlookers to our display!  I think they might be wondering how long will we fill up the wall!  Or maybe where will it go when that happens.  We do have some ideas for where it will go (spoiler–look up!).

This week we added these new titles to the wall:

You’ll see some of our sweet stories from Kindness Week last week, and also a Mo Willems favorite we hadn’t read yet.  My favorites were the two that included diverse characters–Big Hair, Don’t Care and Whoosh! And the best part, those two were probably the kiddos’ favorites, too!

What should we read this week? 🙂

Math Play Day

After the success of Global School Play Day, my first grade team was ALL IN on how to give our kiddos more opportunities to play.  In all the subjects.  On any given day.

And it was incredibly convenient that at the end of Global School Play Day, we had team time to discuss just that topic! #luckyus #firstgradedoubleplanforthewin

After we tossed around several ideas, we landed on trying something in math first.  And we also decided that using The Periodic Table of Play as our resource for ideas would be the best place to start.  Our district has done work with Laura Seargeant Richardson, and has committed to putting play up at the top of a list of priorities for all kids and adults in our district.  We have a deck of Play Possible Schools cards in our library, and they were the perfect place to dig in. 🙂

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While the conversation was long and detailed, the short story is that we decided to take one concept (fractions) and each choose a different way to “play” with that idea.  We chose an element of play and then figured out a way to apply that to fractions.

There are only five of us, and eleven elements, so we tried to have a variety of options.

We decided on:                Screenshot 2019-02-20 20.06.39

Before the chosen date of our Play Day, we planned what part of our element we could focus on, and got ready for our activity.  In order for kiddos to be able to choose their play place (which was another crucial part of our plan–kid choice!!), we put together a Google Slides presentation to invite them to come play with us!

No one knew which teacher they would end up with or really what they would be working on until they showed up–which added to the excitement and motivation!

Here’s what kiddos chose to do.  Check out how much fun they had!!

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This group observed a science experiment that included using different parts of an Alka-Seltzer and predicting/watching what happened.  Kiddos recorded their thinking with words and pictures.

Lucy had some words to explain her math time today:

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Friends in this group worked with Legos to represent different unit fractions in a variety of ways.  What a fun way to use a typical first grade classroom tool!

Screenshot 2019-02-20 20.04.01 Mathematicians in this group worked in a pizza restaurant!  They got to take turns being a chef (and making fraction pizzas), taking orders and also making a menu.  What an authentic and FUN way to apply fraction knowledge!

Check out Ali’s explanation of what she did!

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Screenshot 2019-02-20 20.04.10  Friends that worked in the “feeling” group used their senses of touch and smell to explore fractions.  Listen to Riley explain what she did and why she liked it! Spoiler alert: This was the BEST DAY of math, EVER!

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Screenshot 2019-02-20 20.04.17 This was my group. 🙂 . In this one, mathematicians were invited to plan, create and then play (well we didn’t get to this part, but will do it later!) a game about fractions.  Kiddos chose to work alone, in partnerships and also in groups of 3.

And check out what Hailey had to say about what she did and why she liked math today. 🙂

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So…can you tell that this first ever First Grade Math Play Day was a roaring success??  Everyone involved had fun and we even noticed that there were not any behavior issues during our play time, either. 🙂 . I mean not surprising, though, right–when everyone is having so much fun learning??

After reflecting on the day, we noticed that a large number of our kiddos chose the groups that played with Legos and made games.  And many of the ones who didn’t get to do that today said that they would choose it if they had a chance again.

And now we’re left with some questions to chew on.  When will we do this again?  Will we try math again?  Same topic or another one?  Should we try another subject?  How can we use what we learned about how our kids like to CREATE and MANIPULATE to better meet their needs at mathematicians (even on regular math days)?  We’re excited to think through the answers (and possibilities) and get another play day on the calendar!

Will you join us?  We’d love to hear your thoughts about our try at math play, and also at how you do this in your own classroom!  Leave a comment with your ideas! 🙂