Mystery Skype–INSIDE of Robinson?

On of my favorite finds in recent years is Mystery Skype.  I’ve tried it with several classes in several states, and even did a Mystery Skype with my friend Ms. Turken while she was teaching overseas in Ecuador!

As I have written about previously this year, there are many things I have brought from 5th grade with me that I’ve been excited to try with my firsties, and Mystery Skype is one I finally pulled out of the bag this week (mainly because of an invitation from a friend on Twitter to schedule one soon!).

The idea of Mystery Skype is really simple (try to figure out where the other class is located by asking yes/no questions), but it can take some time and practice to get good at it.  I knew I needed to practice with my kiddos before our first “real” MS, so I called on my friend Ms. Turken for help again.  She was totally game.

I asked her to help us by letting us Skype with her class, and at first I was just going to work out the kinks of having kids come up to the camera, making sure we talked loud enough, etc.  Then I thought it could be cool to try to actually do a Mystery Skype…INSIDE of our school!  So I asked Ms. Turken to take her kids to a secret place in our building and we would try to figure out where they were located by asking good questions!

Before they called us, we spent some time working out the logistics of how you would even begin to narrow down someone’s location in this big, wide world of ours.  Using Google Maps and a map of our school, we had some up-front teaching about continents, countries, states, cities and how to narrow down a location by eliminating the possibilities.  We talked about directions and how just asking north, south, east, west can cut out a HUGE part of the world that they are considering.  We also talked about landmarks (both natural and man-made), and how these can be helpful in determining a location, as well.  When we looked at our Robinson maps, we connected these ideas to the floor our friends might be on, as well as our school “landmarks” they might be near, like the gym, cafeteria, library, elevator or bathrooms.  They caught on really quickly, and were excited to get started!

Our friends called us and kiddos got busy!  Rm. 202 kids were paired up with a friend, and they worked together to study the map, consider the clues they got from our friends’ answers, and then decide on our next question.  Pairs took turns coming up to the computer to ask their question and get the answer.

Our questions went like this:

1. Are you in the basement?–NO

2. Are you on the first floor?–NO

3. Are you on the 2nd floor?–YES  (at this point they all knew they could just focus on the sheet that had the 2nd floor on it!)

4. Are you in the NORTH part of the building?–NO (this is the end where we are)

5. Are you in the EAST part of the building?–YES (this part had 5 classrooms in it, so again we narrowed our focus!)

6. Are you near MRS. FRY’S CLASSROOM?–YES

7. Are you in MRS. HONG’S CLASSROOM?–NO (she is next door to Mrs. Fry)


After a bit of cheering and a few high-fives, we debriefed on how the experience went, as well as what we’d do for the “real” Mystery Skype session in a few weeks.  We used the protocol of “plusses” (things we’d do again) and “deltas” (things we’d change).  I’d say they had some pretty great insights!

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 4.31.44 PMI especially thought the one “watch their actions” was a good idea.  It came because of the question we asked about our friends being “near Mrs. Fry’s room.”  Millie noticed that Ms. Turkens’ friends were snickering and covering their mouths when they answered, which told her that they were probably IN her room.  We agreed that often watching how someone reacts can give clues.

I was beyond impressed with how well both classes of firsties did, and am continually amazed at how well “little” kids do with “big” kid things like blogging, Twitter and Mystery Skype.  I’d say it’s proof that you should never underestimate someone because of their size!  WAY TO GO, RM. 202 KIDDOS!

I Hope MY Teeth Don’t Fall Out!

I am pretty sure that we are up to tooth #16 lost in Rm. 202! And yes, I’m starting to get worried that MY teeth will start falling out!   This week has been especially fruitful in the tooth-loosing venue, and yesterday was no different.  C.J. lost one during Read Aloud and so got to join the Lost Tooth Club in the Nurse’s office!


And you know, I’m expecting to hear about another one from the weekend–Amelia was working really hard on a loose one today (big bites in her apple at lunch!).  CRAZY stuff in first grade these days!  I’d forgotten how exciting being 7YO is!!

First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of February 23-28, 2015

More addition this week, friends!  We’re still working on choosing efficient strategies (which actually makes me think of a blog post I need to write about the strategies we’re focusing on!–stay tuned!), so these will look similar to warm-ups we’ve had lately.


The benchmark for subtraction this quarter is the same as last (within 20),  only we’re hoping for kiddos to have some more solid strategies for how to do that subtraction effectively and efficiently.  Using strategies they already have been using for adding (like counting on by 10s or splitting 10s and 1s) can be helpful as they work more on subtracting.  Helping kiddos see the connection between addition and subtraction is also a goal here.   CAM01673Tuesday



One strategy some kiddos have been working on is compensation (in short, it’s moving numbers around to make an easier problem that can be done with very few steps or even in your head).  Even though some kiddos aren’t yet “there” as far as using it independently or correctly, it’s good for all to see/hear the possibilities for putting numbers together.



We have been working with “bare” problems for a bit now, and I wanted to throw another story at them.  I know, this one’s easy. 🙂


Ok, friends, as I finish up, I have a math question that my team and some others have been chewing on this week: is it important that kiddos know the names of the strategies they are using, or just that they understand how those strategies work?  And if the strategies are to be named, does it matter if all kiddos (like in a grade level, for instance) use the same names?  I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂


Jokes of the Day–Week of February 23-27, 2015

Lots of funny ones this week–and a couple that were submitted by kids!  Hope they get your weekend started out on a happy note. 🙂


Why was the broom always late?

He over-swept!

(joke courtesy of


What do you get when you cross a cocker spaniel, a poodle and a ghost?

A cocker-poodle-boo!

(joke courtesy of


This joke was courtesy of Ellen, but in honor of my friend C.J. who I KNEW would laugh at it!  He did, and so did many other friends, including my 7YO.  Gotta love it when I can make those kiddos snicker–they’re hard nuts to crack!

Why shouldn’t you shower with a Pokemon around?

They might Pikachu. 🙂


Peyton submitted this one, and when he told it to us, he even used an accent!  Great delivery, kiddo!

What did one cowboy say to the other cowboy?

Is your refrigerator running?


Well you better go catch it!


Lauren got in on the action today:

What did one duck say to the other duck?

We better get “quackin’!”

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that we start our days around here with a giggle.  Sets the tone for a great time together. 🙂




Toothless First Graders!!–We’re Losing Count Around Here!

Man, oh man–our teeth are falling out left and right around here.  It’s like those movies you have about losing all of your teeth, except this is for real!  Well and that it’s a normal part of first grade life.

Like I said in the title, I really have lost count with what number we’re on.  Here’s what I know. I took this amazingly cute picture yesterday:

CAM01657Ok, so JK looks a little silly, but he had to show you what happened–he lost both of his two front teeth at the SAME TIME!!  What are the chances?  Peyton showed off his new hole on the bottom.  And THEN he told me how special this tooth was and how the Tooth Fairy didn’t come yet because he had to write a note to her to ask her not to take his tooth away because it was his first one and then…WAIT–what?  Your very first tooth?  Well then you deserve your very own picture, buddy! Say cheese!

CAM01658And to top it off, right after this, he went to get one of those little tooth necklaces.  Cuz you just gotta. 🙂

But we weren’t finished yet!  Remember how Evan lost a front tooth last week that had been hanging on for a while?  Well, the other one was just about done so I sent him down to check out getting it pulled out.  ANOTHER lost tooth!!

CAM01660This place is just too much fun!  Happy Tooth-Losing, Rm. 202 friends!!  🙂

First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of February 17-20, 2015

I feel like I keep saying how short the weeks are lately, but hey, I’ll say it again–this week was another short one, where I only have a few warm-ups to share.  They were particularly good ones (in my opinion, of course!) because they really got my kiddos thinking about strategies.  We’re still working on addition, but the focus has now shifted a bit to choosing the strategy most appropriate to the numbers–not just the strategy that is your favorite one.  Compensation was a particular one we worked on over the last few days.


CAM01613Ok, so I misspoke a little bit–we’re mainly focusing on addition, but continuing to tie our work to subtraction, so that kiddos can see the connections.  This one was also meant to introduce them to the word DIFFERENCE (we did SUM last week).


CAM01642We’ve been working on flexibility, too, although for most kiddos, one strategy is as far as they’ve gotten so far.


CAM01643While they only have to add within 100, there are many who are ready to apply their strategies to bigger numbers.  This one gave them the chance to try it out!



I mentioned choosing the strategy for the numbers, and this one was made for using compensation (making one number a “friendly” one–like a 10–so that it’s easier to answer.  Usually you can use mental math.)!  And can you tell I got a new box of markers in the mail this week?  🙂

Also, I’ve been toying the idea of finally moving my warm-ups to Padlet, as we all have iPads now.   I’ve always valued the way we can save the post-its and charts by doing it this way, and refer to the problems again if we need to, but I might be rethinking my previous choice.  With 1st graders, I wonder if less “stuff” around might be a better way to go.  We could still refer, and it might be easier to share with others.  Any ideas, friendly blog readers? 🙂

Jokes of the Day–Week of February 17-20, 2015

This week is another short one, but started out with a funny joke nonetheless!  I even have an extra one that was featured on our schoolwide news broadcast today.  I don’t know who to credit it to besides the super cute 5th graders who present the news–feel free to share if you know the source!


1st grade joke: Why is Peter Pan always flying? He Neverlands!

KROB news joke: Knock, knock. Who’s there? Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln who? What?? You don’t know who who Abraham Lincoln is?


Which state serves the smallest drinks?

Mini-soda! (Get it? Minnesota?)


How do you make an egg laugh?

Tell it a yolk!


Why did Saturn go to the jewelry store?

To buy a new ring!

(This joke came to me via Jacob, who got it from a Magic School Bus book he was reading yesterday.  It was a hit! Thanks for sharing, kiddo!)