Flip That Room!

There seems to be a theme in my 5th grade class….(I’m not sure if I should take it personally, or just be really impressed that my kiddos are so creative….).

Today was a day full of lots of things: learning, noise, fun, business, reading, noise, creating, collaborating, noise.  But luckily most of it was not just what I call “noise noise.”  Much of the noise we made today was “learning noise.”  Noise that indicates lots of thinking and creating and sharing is happening.  And yes, it was loud.  But sometimes that’s just how we roll.  Especially when there are 25 of us in the room all talking at once!

So back to the theme I mentioned….we had to stop at one point today and regroup a little bit.  Writer’s Workshop was a wee bit rocky, and so rather than fight against the trouble we were having, we stopped, gathered together and agreed to try that lesson again another day.

Instead, I had them help me with a problem. I told them that I need their help to figure out how I could help them best be learners during our last few days of 5th grade.  We have work left to do, and we want to try to have a little bit of fun, too.  They had some great thinking, which culminated in the idea that parts of our classroom (or how they were using it) were not really working for us.  We agreed that we could work together to fix that problem and create a space that we could do some amazing end-of-the-year work in for a few more weeks.

We started with every kiddo creating their own dream plan of what our classroom would look like.  Then kiddos met in their tribes, presenting their plan to the 4-5 kiddos in their group.  From their, the tribes created a new plan incorporating the best features from each individual plan.  Then we shared out as a class, and voted on the one we thought would work best for us.

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Here’s what is sounded like during that time.  Remember, it’s loud, but it’s not. just. noise.  They are busy solving problems!

Can’t wait to share the final product next week!  Seems like another theme this week is that I forget to take “after” pictures!  Stay tuned!

Geometry Creations with Power Polygons


We were recently working on geometry in Rm. 202, learning some pretty great things about polygons, angles, area and perimeter.  While I have many things I could share (and probably will!), this post is about an art project we made using some pretty cool manipulatives called Power Polygons.  They are similar to pattern blocks, but kind of on steroids.  Each one is labeled with a letter, that makes then easy to identify and talk about with other mathematicians.


We spent a couple of weeks learning about angles and polygons, triangles and quadrilaterals.  After we’d gained some new geometry knowledge, I had them put it to use in a Polygon Picture Project:

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It would be GREAT if I had pictures of the final products, wouldn’t it?  Yep, you guessed it, I don’t.  But I do have some pictures of Rm. 202 mathematicians hard at work creating their fabulous pictures!

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Ever heard of a Squzzle?  I hadn’t either, until earlier this Spring when I was searching for some activities to use to help my kids with GRIT and persistence through struggles.  My friend, Mrs. Berger, who works with our gifted and talented kiddos (but helps us with countless other amazing things, too!), volunteered to share a big, ole crate of problem solving games with us to try, one of them being Squzzles.

Basically, Squzzles are square puzzles, made of 9 smaller squares covered with designs.  The challenge is that they only fit together one way, and the images spread from one piece to another.

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Because there are so many talented Robinson Roadrunners working on Squzzles (Mrs. Berger has shared them with many other classes besides mine!), she started Squzzle Hall of Fame bulletin boards where you can get your picture posted when you finish a Squzzle.  Just thought it would be great to give our Squzzle puzzlers a shout-out here, too!  Check out the smart thinking and GRIT-using that has been happening!

Way to go, Rm. 202 problem solvers!  You are amazing!

Have you ever heard of Squzzles?  What other kinds of puzzles do you like to do?  Tell out about them! 🙂

Can You Tell Me a Story?

The storytellers who visited us last week sure could!  We had the pleasure of being visited by some professional storytellers on Friday, and MAN did they do a great job!  We were amazed by the tales they spun, and everyone–adults and kids alike–were totally engaged!

The first storyteller has some hilarious stories about growing up–which were great, because we could all relate!  The first story was about learning to play the juice harp, and all about the WRONG ways of doing it!  He even played it for us, which was really cool!  We found out that he is responsible for many sounds we hear in cartoons, as well, including the sound of Bullseye galloping in Toy Story 2 (since this is one of my family’s favorite movies, I got an extra kick out of that detail!  Felt like I was in the presence of a legend!).  The other story he told us about were the strange gifts he got from his grandpa, which included a rock and a stick, tied in a fancy red bow.


Our second storyteller came in full costume, which represented his Cherokee ancestry, told some amazing stories about animals, as well as Daniel Boone.  The most unbelievable one was about Daniel Boone’s final hunting trip, where he encountered and then killed a bear, and then “wore” the bear hide to keep warm.  He ended up heading up, crawling right into bed with his wife–still in his bear suit–and scaring her half to death!  He told us it was true, but I have yet to find proof….either way, it was GREAT story that kept us interested until the very end.

I haven’t heard many live storytellers, but in many ways they are like me–lovers of words!  I appreciate performers who can incorporate their words and their voices to weave magical tales for kids and help them want to do the same!

What story can you tell us?  Have you ever heard a great storyteller?  What about their performance was most interesting to you?  Do you know if that Daniel Boone story is true??  We’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Can We Persuade You?

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to attend a very special writing celebration.  Our next-door-neighbors (Ms. Turken’s class) had been working on writing persuasive arguments and wanted to share them with us!


She had kiddos divided into small groups, and everyone went around the circle and read aloud their essays.  Their writing was great!  We heard about a variety of topics, from girls being able to play traditionally “boy” sports, wearing helmets while skateboarding and bike riding, wearing seat belts and many more.  We were definitely treated to many great essays, and are thinking differently about these topics because of the evidence they shared with their opinions.  It was also helpful because we were getting ready to start this unit in our own Writer’s Workshop next!  It has been great to be able to use this day as a touchstone in our own persuasive work.  Great job, Ms. Turken’s class!

Check out a few more pics from this super learning opportunity:

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What do you know about persuasive writing?  What topic would you choose to write about if you had an opportunity to write an opinion essay?  We’d love to hear your ideas–we’re just  about ready to choose the ones we’ll write about! 🙂