First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of February 9-12, 2015

Is there ever a week in January or February when we have all 5 days?  This was another short one (and one filled with a party), so there are only 3 warm-ups this week.  As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re continuing to work on addition within 100, grouping around place value and making sense with our explanations.  Enjoy!







Valentines’ Day Makerspace

I mentioned last time about how amazed I was by the Makerspace I saw at GCAA during EdCampSTL.  Well, as I have done in years’ past (mostly because of the timing), we took advantage of the need to create Valentines’ boxes and did so Makerspace style in Rm. 202!

First I had kiddos plan what they wanted their box (or container, since many where NOT shaped like boxes!) to look like.  Then they wrote down a list of materials they’d need (somethings came from home and many were materials we already had in our classroom).  We collected items for a couple of days, and then we were busy building!

It was fun, but BOY WAS IT MESSY!  But hey, learning is messy, right? Check it out!

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After built our creations, we spent some time on Thursday writing about some details about them.  Together we decided that our readers would need to know: 1) what is it (and what it’s called if it has a name), 2) how you thought of it, 3) how it works, 4) materials you used to make it, and 5) how you made it.  Kiddos used the Notability app on our iPads to work on their paragraphs, and uploaded a picture of their creation to add to their words.  We were able to use our chart from our punctuation study, as well as other writing pieces we’ve made together that are hanging around the room, to make sure we’d gotten our punctuation added correctly so our readers could understand our message.  Like with other things we do as first grade readers and writers, we used each other (as well as the word wall) as spelling resources, and reread our words often to make sure it sounded right.  Once kiddos were finished, they learned how to take a screen shot, then uploaded their paragraph to their blog to share with our blog readers.  Such hard, focused work happened in Rm. 202 on Thursday, friends!

We’re not all finished yet, but we’d love to have you visit our blogs to check out our final products! Leave a comment if you can. 🙂  You can find some Valentines’ Day posts here.  Thank you!

Punctuation Study–First Grade Version

If you’ve been around here for a while, you have read about the punctuation studies I have done in 4th and 5th grades.   And if you’ve read much this year on this blog, then you know that one of my goals (or hopes at least!) for this year was to bring some of the things I did in 5th grade with me and try them in a first grade version.  So far, these kiddos are ROCKING it, and really impressing me with how quickly they catch on and then run with things I show them.  The punctuation study was another protocol that I brought with me and another one that they took and ran with!  Let me tell you more. 🙂

As with other classes, we started with a conversation about how punctuation carries MEANING, and is not just a bunch of rules that you follow (as a reader or writer) because someone tells you to.  This was pretty easy for them to start thinking about because they could tell you what the meaning of a period, question mark and exclamation marks are already.  Then, as with other years, their job was to find as many other punctuation marks as they could and figure out what they mean.  So with a partner and a pile of books, kiddos went to work investigating the work of other authors.  They filled in a chart together where they recorded the mark, an example and their thoughts about what it means for a writer to use it (and a reader to read it!).

After a day or two of gathering info and doing some thinking, we started recording our findings together on a class chart:


Our chart started like this when it was empty, similar to the sheets they filled out with their partners.

Now, what happened after that was super cool.  No really–check out what the first part of our chart looked like when they started putting their smart first grade punctuation thinking on it:

I was a little surprised that they didn't start with periods.  Instead, they started to tell me about what they knew about exclamation points.

I was a little surprised that they didn’t start with periods. Instead, they started to tell me about what they knew about exclamation points.  But then look, instead of just finding one way to use an exclamation point (like 5th graders usually do), these super smart writers found 5 WAYS to use one. AMAZING!

We kept going, adding quotation marks, an ellipsis (which is always a fun one to learn the name for!) and parentheses (I mean come on–are these really first graders??).


Eventually we did get to talking about periods, but even with that one they were able to find 3 different meanings, including how sometimes people use them exaggerate how a. maz. ing. something is! 🙂  Then they blew my mind again and added a hashtag (do you sense a theme here?).  Now I don’t know if it’s just because we’d been talking about Twitter lately, or what the reason was, but my “big” kids never put a hashtag on their charts.  First graders love it when you tell them that, too, by the way. 🙂

CAM01487We had a little big of paper left (although I have a whole new blank one waiting for us to fill up!) and so we started talking about “that little mark that is a line.”  Now, what I knew (but they didn’t yet) is that they could have been either talking about a hyphen or a dash, and that those are actually not little marks at all.  So we did some more work to dig into the meaning.  We started with a hyphen (although at that point they still didn’t have a name for what the mark was).

Since we had just gotten our iPads, instead of writing down our examples, we got to work collecting some examples simply using the camera app.  Their directions were to look JUST for that little mark and to take a picture of any examples they find.  Then we would reflect those pictures on our ActivBoard to discuss together what they are used for.   What we quickly found were many examples of how hyphens are word-connectors.  They can be used to put two usually unrelated words together to make new words that describe other things (like full-fledged, top-rate and ex-princesses) or to break up a word when you don’t have enough space to finish the word on the line you’re writing.  They also found this part being used in a dedication page, as well as when I was making a list of our hyphenated words (and I did this without even knowing it–they were definitely paying attention!).   We aren’t even done yet, but our chart is filled up and now looks like this (SUPER sorry for the hard-to-read, end-of-the-day photo):
CAM01602The best part of this study is that our minds are now always thinking about (and noticing) who writers are using punctuation.  We even found it on our friends’ clothes!!

CAM01547  CAM01491

And just as I sat down to write this blog post, I got an email from Charlie’s mom about how he had found a hyphen in the book he was reading.


Can you spot the hyphen? Do you see the dash, too? 🙂

Apparently he stopped in his tracks, made her take a picture and said, “I’m supposed to send this to my teacher!”  I. Love. This.  I mean, what more could I ask for?   Great job, Rm. 202 kiddos!   I’m impressed. 🙂

UPDATE!!:  We added more today…they are tickled that they have so many ways to use a comma, AND that they put a caret (which is yet another thing that 5th graders haven’t mentioned before but 1st graders did!)


Where in the World (Are You)? #wewanttofillupourmap

I have posted a picture much like this for the last several years:


In the past, it’s been a much bigger map on a different wall (that wall is now our word wall so we had to use a different space), but it serves the same purpose: showing kids all of the connections they’re making on their blogs, Twitter and our class blogs.  It’s an amazing feeling to have people you don’t even know read your words and find them interesting enough to talk about.  And somehow this seems even more important and amazing for younger learners.

So I need your help!  When you read our blog, talk to us on Twitter , or comment on our Kid Blogs, could you please tell us where you’re from so we can add you to our map?  We’re excited to start seeing the connections that can be made!

#edcampstl (2015)

This past Saturday I attended my 4th EdCamp.  It was, as expected, a great day of personalized, “me-led” learning.  I’ve written about EdCamp before, and this year was a similar experience.  The highlight for me this time around was getting to see the Makerspace that is present (and very well used!) in Grand Center Arts Academy.  At past Edcamps (last year even, I think), I learned more about how a Makerspace can be a great place for kids to problem-solve, challenge themselves and work on design thinking.  I have even tried it a little bit in my own classroom.  I took lots of pictures of the way GCAA used their space, as well as of the signage they have around their room.  Boring, I know, but this is a way for me to document their learning so that I can find a way to do the same in Rm. 202 (or maybe even some other place in Robinson School!).

I wish there was a way to explain EdCamp in writing.  I am sure there probably is, but for me the best way for you to learn about it is to see for yourself.  The day is what you make of it: the sessions you present, the sessions you participate in, the people you talk to, the connections you make.  And if you’re lucky like me, you can do it all with people you love:

Smile!  This is my amazing brother, Chuck Baker, who is a math teacher extraordinaire and now helps plan EdCampSTL, and my awesome hubby, Grant, who teaches 5th grade and encourages me to do new things with kids.  EdCamp is great, but it's even better with friends!

Smile! This is my amazing brother, Chuck Baker, who is a math teacher extraordinaire and now helps plan EdCampSTL, and my awesome hubby, Grant, who teaches 5th grade and encourages me to do new things with kids. EdCamp is great, but it’s even better with friends!

Happy Valentines’ Day!

This special day brought another special reason to celebrate in Rm. 202!  Thanks to Ms. Ross (Millie’s mom) for coordinating and for the others who came to help us have so much fun!  We even got to meet Evan’s grandparents!  Check out some pictures from our party!

Looks like fun, huh?

I saved a couple more to highlight on their own….

Ms. Ross came prepared with some Valentine stories to share at the end while we were waiting for dismissal.  Amelia Bedelia is a great choice for Valentines' Day!

Ms. Ross came prepared with some Valentine stories to share at the end while we were waiting for dismissal. Amelia Bedelia is a great choice for Valentines’ Day!

Ok, technically these pics have nothing to do with Rm. 202, but they were cute and fun to share.  Plus I kinda like the kid in the Heartbreaker shirt….

CAM01597              CAM01598

JAM World Record 2015

Remember the other day when I told you about Global School Play Day? It was SO great and I’m so glad we participated.  Well, a few days later, I saw another tweet (I think someone actually sent it to me knowing I’d be game!) about the JAM World Record.   And yep, I was indeed game.  We love to move and groove, and who doesn’t want to break a world record with a million-and-a-half of their closest friends? 🙂  We joined in today and it was such a great time!

We voted and decided to follow the routine they provided on the website, rather than go to our beloved GoNoodle for movement.  The routine was kind of hard, but we were gritty and moved, moved, moved for our participation in the world record.

Yay! Rm. 202 is moving and shaking through 2015!  Did you participate?  We’d love to hear about your JAM day!

Jokes of the Day–Week of February 9-13, 2015

Ok, so this may not end up being a weekly thing like math warm-ups, and it might not be anything that people even want to read, but for those that do–here you go! Last week I FINALLY got to participate in #1stchat on Twitter.  I have wanted to “attend” all year, but the timing had proven to be a really hard one for me to be at my computer (it’s 7 CT on Sunday nights–bedtime!!).  For whatever reason, it worked out for me and boy was I SUPER excited to have been able to learn and grow with my #1stchat friends!  The topics were many, but one theme that came up was Morning Meeting and how we use this tool to set the stage for a positive learning day.  One thing I shared was the in our class we do a joke of the day.  It is just a part of the morning welcome screen I have up on the ActivBoard when my firsties come in, and has easily become part of the routine.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 4.33.47 PM(the punchline is under that rectangle and so I just move it when we’re ready to see the answer!)

I started this earlier this fall after reading much about how important laughter and joy are in the classroom.  I was working on my school improvement project to complete my Masters’ program; the theme was encouraging grit, perseverance and engagement in the classroom.  We’ve found that starting with a good laugh (and then continuing that on throughout the day) is good medicine for all!  So…since many seemed interested in the idea, I figured I’d share what we’re doing in Rm. 202, hoping it would help someone else!  Whether you start this in your classroom–or your house, for that matter!–or not, I appreciate your reading my journey. 🙂

Before I even start, I feel like I should say that most of these jokes are not new, nor or they necessarily funny (I teach 1st graders, remember–their humor is different than most!).  I get most of my jokes from, which is a huge database of kid-friendly riddles, knock-knock jokes and other funny things, but also so from my own kids (who are 4 and 7), or from books we’re reading (and since I started writing this post, I’ve gotten a tip to try out Ellen’s classic jokes–thanks for the recommendation, @amerced!).  I am not, nor will I ever be, funny enough to write any of my own. I’ll leave that job to someone more qualified than I!


What does a teddy bear eat?

Nothing! It’s already stuffed! 

(this one is courtesy of my daughter, Allison–she learned it at school and thinks it’s SUPER funny!!)


What goes up when the rain comes down?


(I have seen this one on jokesbykids, but also from Allie’s school.  Just for the record, my friends DID NOT think this was funny!  Their answers were much better, like FLOODS and RAINBOWS!  So, buyer beware–might not be 1st grade worthy material. LOL)


What’s brown, hairy and wears sunglasses?

A coconut on vacation!

(had to try out the Ellen tip–that’s a pretty good one for kids, I’d say!  Well, except that half of them said, “That’s not funny…”  Tough crowd.  We had a conversation about opinions and how jokes are subjective.)


What’s a frog’s favorite soda?


(ok…so I had to explain this one, too!  Man, I guess I need to get better at my joke choices.)

Do you have a funny joke to share with my students?  Perhaps if I used more that were FROM kids, the kids in Rm. 202 would think there were funnier (because apparently the adults who write jokes have no senses of humor)….I’ll keep trying either way. 🙂

We were out of school for a PD day on Friday, so this week there were only 4 jokes.  I’m really loving the ones from Ellen.  There are about 250 of them on there, so it looks like I have at least 2 school years’ worth to work through!  Happy joke telling! 🙂

Global School Play Day 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a tweet about Global School Play Day.  Being one who truly believes in play as an important learning tool for kids (and adults!), and being one who likes to jump in with both feet when I see something that looks like fun (like I did with World Read Aloud Day, for instance), I knew that this was something I wanted to try.  And honestly, we have choice time and recess every day anyway, so it wasn’t that far out of our norm.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 8.11.07 PMBefore the special day, I told kids to bring something they could play with during our time, but the rules were it couldn’t be electronic or have batteries.  There were a couple of “whys?” but really it wasn’t any big deal to them.  I wish I had taken a picture of all of their toys in the bucket when they brought them in, but what I thought was funny was that most everyone brought something stuffed–My Little Ponies, dogs, cats, and all other sorts of animals.  There were some cars, a couple of American Girls and 2 Barbies who attended our GSPD as well. 🙂

We reserved the afternoon for our official time, as we had some exciting and necessary work to do in the morning with our current studies in reading and math.  Before we got started with our fun, we had a little chat about why we were even doing it.  They had great ideas, like for them to learn to take care of their things, as well as how to solve problems and how to play together.  All were right, and I had some additional ideas of my own:

1. Negotiation: By participating in free play, children get to learn how and practice what it is like to initiate play with someone else, as well as negotiate with that playmate about what to do, where to do it and how to do it.  They get to learn give-and-take, as well as how to work with others in a positive way (because unfortunately, if you choose NOT to do it positively, your friend may not want to play with you anymore!).

2. Problem Solving: Much like negotiation with friends, kiddos learn and practice problem solving in many ways when they play.  From what to do when the Legos don’t go together they way you want or you don’t have enough big blocks to build your castle, or even where to put the pieces of the puzzle you’re working on, problem solving is a crucial part of play.  Even choosing what to play at any given moment is a kind of problem solving in itself.  Letting kids figure these things out for themselves helps build and encourage grit and perseverance.

3. Winning (and losing!) Graciously: Child-directed play (including playing games) allows kiddos to learn how to win–and also to lose–graciously.  We all know an adult who didn’t get the chance to learn this when they were younger, and now has such a hard time knowing what to do when things don’t go their way.  That same adult might have a really hard time not being overly proud or boastful when things do.  Allowing (or even planning for) situations where students DON’T win are crucial!  Life is not fair, things don’t always go as planned and sometimes someone else does better than you.  How great that kiddos have a chance to learn to deal with these disappointments when the stakes are low, so that when they are higher, they’ll know the appropriate choices to make.  And yes, winning is a good thing that can happen occasionally, too (and how great that kids can learn how to deal with their happiness without sacrificing the feelings of others).

4. Creativity: A big pile of paper, blocks, Legos, cars or any other open-ended toys allows for such a great development of creativity in kids!  Being able to figure out what that pile of “stuff” can become is a great practice in trial-and-error, trying new things or even working with a friend to put two great ideas together to make an even better one.  This practice of creativity in free play can easily be transferred to learning, then, when a kiddo is given open-ended opportunities for both gaining information and showing what they’ve learned.  When they’ve had a chance to try out new things and take risks in a safe, play environment, many students will be more willing to take the same creative risks with their learning.

5. Beating Boredom: I guess this one is another idea that’s related to some others on this list, but being given free time to play is a great way to figure out how to entertain yourself (either alone or with a friend) and keep a kiddo from being “bored.”  Knowing what to do when there’s [seemingly] nothing to do is a life skill, really.

6. Respect, kindness and including others: Play is a great opportunity for kiddos to practice skills they’re learning about showing others respect, using kind words and helping make sure everyone is included.  Helping kids pay attention to who doesn’t have a playmate is a lesson in empathy and is definitely a bucket-filler for a friend who longs to be involved but is perhaps unable to initiate themselves.  Knowing how to speak to others kindly is a skill that can never be mastered and can always be improved upon.

7. Fun!: Um, how have I not mentioned that playing is TOTALLY FUN!?  Yep.  Should have mentioned that one first. 🙂

8. Organization and Care: Emily was the first to mention it, and I hadn’t really thought of it until she said it, but yes, I think that kiddos can learn about and practice putting things away, organizing and caring for property (theirs and others’) when they’re playing.  Great idea, kiddo!

Ok, so enough of my rambling…I know what you really came to see were the pictures of Rm. 202 kiddos PLAYING!!  Here you go!!

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