Ropes Course (or “Getting Gritty With It”)

Remember how we’ve been talking about grit? Well shortly after we first talked about it, 5th grade had a perfect situation where they had to dig down deep and find some: the Ropes Course!

Every year, 5th graders spend some time in the Westchester Woods working together on team building exercises.  And this year we did it in 100 degree weather!  YAY!  Just that is gritty in itself, right?


There were many stations, but I was in charge of the most fabulous station: the swinging log. Wanna guess why they call it that?


The goal of the swinging log was to get the team from one end of the log to the other (one at a time) in whatever way makes sense, without touching the log, the person on the log, or the ground.  Go, team!

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And then, on the way home, I was wondering what a teacher looks like after they’ve been standing out in the heat cheering on 5th graders at the Swinging Log.  Here’s the answer:

IMG736Not horrible, right? HA!  Just had to throw this one at ya to make you laugh. 🙂



How GRITTY Are You?

We’ve been working on a new word around our school lately:

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 8.17.49 PM

Grit can be defined as courage and resolve; strength of character.  It’s the “stuff” deep down that keeps you going when things get tough.  It’s what you hold on to when you have to push through something hard and not give up.  Here’s a video that we watched recently that does a better job of explaining it:



We have been talking about it as a staff, but we’ve been talking about it in our classroom, too. Here were our first thoughts on the subject:

The blue words are what we think grit is, and the green is how we think we can "get" it, or where we find it when we need it

The blue words are what we think grit is, and the green are how we think we can “get” it, or where we find it when we need it.

This is a new concept for friends in our class, and honestly, we are not very gritty yet.  But we’re working on it.  We even have a question we end our day with every day to help us reflect on our day:

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 8.38.50 PM

And even better, we’ve been doing lots of things lately (every day, really!) where we have to be gritty, and push through–even when it’s hard.  I’m excited to share our journey this year as we learn to dig down deep and learn to push through no matter what!

How gritty are you?  🙂


Our First Class Meeting!

If you don’t know about how we do Class Meetings around here, be sure to check out the previous posts Lessons in Democracy and Class Pet Petitions for a little background first….go ahead.  I’ll wait for you. 🙂

We had our first real class meeting this past Friday and it went really well!  I say “real” because the week before (our first Friday) I walked them through the process of 5th grade class meetings, to either remind or inform them of how we’d be doing them this year.

Here’s our chart after dots were added: Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 7.28.13 PM

We had a busy week, huh?  The lists at the beginning of the year always seem to be a lot longer because we do many more short activities as we’re getting to know the classroom and each other, as opposed to longer projects as we move further into the year.  And for some reference, SRI is the Scholastic Reading Inventory and helps assess readers.  Students get their Lexile level from this assessment, which helps them as they choose books (which I guess is why so many kiddos gave this a blue dot–signifying that they learned alot from that activity).

I found it really interesting (and surprising, honestly) that so many kiddos chose Appletters as the topic to discuss and problem solve around.  And with that many red dots I was dying to find out their thinking about how we could fix it for next time.

After they shared their concerns, these were the things they mentioned that we could work on:

  • kiddos using really loud voices during the game
  • some just sitting (not participating or waiting for others to come to them)
  • not allowing others to join their words
  • leaving others out on purpose, or replacing their letters with other letters
  • only trying to make words with friends, instead of trying lots of options
  • people stepping on each other, running into each other or shoving as we move around the room

Then we were on to problem solving (we actually had a lunch break in between to do some thinking), and came up with some ideas on how we could improve our game the next time we played it:

  • aim at using a Level 1 or 2 voice (which at our school means whispers or soft voices), so even if we get a little louder we’ll still be at a reasonable volume
  • give kiddos time to think independently before we move together to build words
  • make a rule that you could add letters or rearrange them to make new words, but NOT remove letters once they are there
  • play in another part of our room, or try to use more space instead of clumping together
  • have a place for “odd” letters (like Z, X, Q, etc.) to go if you can’t build a word, then those letters try to build something.
  • I also suggested that I would add some other guidelines for what kinds of words they could build.

These were pretty good, and we were excited for the next time we played!

Little did they know that their next opportunity would come that afternoon!  The “rules” this time was that their words had to be at least 4 letters long, and could not be names (remember GIBY from last time?). We all agreed that the next time we were much improved.  Check out our words the second time around!


Someone said this word was inspired by a book cover they were looking at just before we played our game–funny that they were actually able to find the letters to build it!


Check out the way CAR turned into CRATES--a longer word with more friends involved!  Success!

Check out the way CAR turned into CRATES–a longer word with more friends involved! Success!


All of the "odd" letters met at Table 4 to see what they could come up with...

All of the “odd” letters met at Table 4 to see what they could come up with…


...and many hands made for light work.

…and many hands made for light work.



Definitely not an Appletters “fail” here–that’s a good word!


Check this one out! Another one where someone (Owen!) was just looking at the letters and this came to him! Genius!

What a FABULOUS example about how a group of people with great ideas can change things for the better!  What a great start to the year, and an exciting precedent for class meetings to come. WAY TO GO, RM. 202!! YOU ROCK!