Best in Show!

We recently finished a pretty great unit on opinion writing.  I just realized (which happens more than I’d like to admit) that I’ve been collecting lots of photos and teaching moments, but not sharing any of them!  And now what has happened is that there is NO way I could write the whole story in one sitting, and NO way you’d want to read it all in one post!  So I’ll just share bits of it at a time.  That’s ok, right?  Thanks for understanding. 🙂

Ok, so our unit (which was taken from Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study), began with an experience related to dog shows.  Well lots of kinds of shows.  Dinosaur shows, bouncy ball shows, army men shows, writing utensil shows.  Our unit began with kids practicing what it looks (and feels) like to choose the best of something, and give sound reasons as to why that was their choice.  I LOVE how even from day 1, kiddos were doing some of the same thinking and writing they’d be expected to do (on a much deeper level) at the end of the unit.  We had jumped into the deep end with both feet!

Kids were asked to bring in a collection of something beloved from home.  We talked about dog shows and made sure everyone understood the idea of “best in show” and how that works.  We talked about how to judge fairly, and I modeled my very own “best in show.”  I was the one who had a writing utensil show.  I know you’re surprised. 🙂


This is the process we used to choose our Best in Show.


My writing utensil collection. 🙂 I used the “How to Judge Fairly” chart to determine which one was the best. It’s the black Flair pen, by the way. 🙂


You’re convinced, right?

After some modeling, practicing aloud with a partner (with my collection, trying to tell their partner which of my items was the best and why), writers tried out the process on their own collections.  Isn’t it fun how many different kinds of collections we ended up with in our room?:

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As the closure for this first day of opinions, kiddos shared their Best in Show thinking with an elbow partner.

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I have to tell you, I was SUPER impressed with how well they did at their very first try!  I think it was a peek into the great work that was to come.  And I’ll share more of that great work in bits and pieces over the next few days.  You’ll come back, right? 🙂

First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of March 24-27, 2015

I think I mentioned last time that we had been gone for our Spring Break for a while, and this week we were back in the full swing of things!  Vacations are great, but being “home” again in Rm. 202 is also a nice thing. 🙂

This week started on Tuesday, and one afternoon we didn’t get to review the warm-up, so there are only 3 (instead of 5).  Since we’re in a new quarter, we’re also working on a new topic: right now it’s data collection and analysis.  Here we go!


OK, so as soon as I said it, I guess I found a warm-up that didn’t fit–this one was a leftover from last quarter, reviewing how to use groups to add and solve problems.



I probably should have taken a before and after of this chart.  It started out like most of the other warm-ups: a big jumbled mess of post-its.  This was the first survey question of the quarter, and because it was the first, the conversation around it was a little longer than most.  We talked about the definition of the word “survey,” as well as the steps and focus of data–we collect, then organize, analyze and answer questions about the data.  From this day on, we’ll go back to this focus with each set of data we discuss.


This one seemed like an easy question.  Then I realized that I asked it in a confusing way, and many kids didn’t understand what it meant.  I guess I could have just asked “When is your birthday?” instead.  This one was organized going horizontally instead of vertically because we had to many options.

CAM01802What survey questions would you give your kiddos for math warm-ups?  What things do you focus on when talking about data collection and analysis with your students?  Leave us a comment–we’d love to hear about math warm-ups in your class! 🙂


Jokes of the Day: Week of March 24-27, 2015

This was our first week back from Spring Break!  After a day off for students on Monday, we got back into the swing of things on Tuesday and were moving and grooving really quickly.  Welcome to 4th quarter!

The jokes this week come from my friend and teaching neighbor, Ms. Turken, as well as a first grader in Ms. Lewis’ class (LB), and one last one from (which is my original go-to place for jokes when this whole thing started.  Ok, let’s go!


Why did the bird go to the hospital?

He needed a “tweet”ment! 🙂

(Thanks, Ms. Turken!)


What did the turkey say to the crooked table?

Wobble, wobble! 🙂

(another good one, Ms. Turken!)


With what animal would you never want to play cards?

A cheetah! 🙂

We thought this one was really funny!  AND it came from another first grade friend in Ms. Lewis’ class.  So fun!


What kind of key do you need to open a banana?

A mon-key!

Ha, ha, ha, ha!!! Hope your Spring is off to a happy start–ours certainly is!!

Have any jokes to share?  Leave them for us in the comments! 🙂

Sticks and Dots, Compensation and more!

Yesterday I posted last week’s (or at least the LAST week that we were in school’s) math warm-ups.  I mentioned that there’d be more about the strategies on which we’ve been focusing.  Well, that time is now.  Hope this makes sense and gives some insight into the work we’ve been doing for the last few months.  Well all quarter, really…but I digress.  Here we go. 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 8.46.12 PMOne thing I wanted to do was to be able to SHOW how these strategies work, and even better, have KIDDOS involved in that work.  So, just before we left for our break, many of them volunteered to help me with a project.   I have a Tweep (that’s a friend you know from Twitter, for those who might not know) named Shannon in Alabama who was interested, too, so this is for you and your friends, lady! 🙂

Ok…so here are some videos of our Rm. 202 kiddos explaining more about how to add 2-digit numbers using place value strategies!  (I will mention, though, that they are a little rough, so ignore the bumpy parts and see the big ideas, ok? THANK YOU!! 🙂 )

Sticks and Dots

Splitting 10s/1s

Keeping 1 Number Whole

(This one’s a little long, and shows more than 1 strategy, so be prepared for that!)


Hope this helps–and WAY TO GO, RM. 202 KIDDOS!!  You are ROCKING mathematicians!! 🙂

First Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of March 9-13, 2015

Sorry, I’m a few days (ok, weeks!) late with these warm-ups.  Spring Break happened and I had forgotten to snap pictures of them before I left for my vacation.  Oops.  But alas, they were still there when I got back today, and so here they are for you.  And man, are they worth the wait. Hee hee. 🙂


This week was the last week before the end of our quarter, and so we were wrapping up our work with addition and subtraction.  There were a couple of things that I wanted to highlight with our problems–the connections between adding and subtracting strategies, and using mental math for quick facts up to 20.  This one again helped lead them to see how what they know about addition can help them with efficient subtraction. More about all of those strategies listed there later…


Yeah, somehow I didn’t get that “y” on the end of strategy in the picture (I promise I wrote it there correctly!)…again, more on that practice we did later…it involves some pretty great explanation videos.  Worth the wait (but isn’t everything I write on this blog?! Kidding, just kidding!).


Again, with our focus on strategies, I wanted to point out that good mathematicians know when to use a strategy as well as why to use it in that situation.  This one didn’t really have a “right” answer (many strategies make sense with these numbers), but it was important for kiddos to explain their reasoning for which strategy they chose to use.


Wanted to get a quick temperature read on kiddos and their ability to do these facts quickly.  Most could do them quick and painlessly, using what they know about other problems to help (like tens and doubles), which is exactly what I was looking for!


This last warm-up before the end of our quarter (and what I considered a well-deserved break for everyone!) gave a sneak peek to next quarter’s work with graphs, charts and measurement.  Needless to say, since it was a preview, not many kiddos knew what to say to this one…

CAM01766You know, seeing all of these charts reminds me of the suggestion I got from a reader once about using Padlet to do this electronically.  Does anybody have any personal experience they can share?  I’d love to hear about how it’s working (or I guess not working would be helpful, too!) for you.  Appreciate the help and advice, friends! 🙂

Losing Yourself

CAM01739While this has always been an important part of my job, it seems like I have much more of an influence and responsibility to start my first grade kiddos off on the right foot.  Many of them begin their life-long reading journey in earnest with me, and I want to help EVERY ONE OF THEM feel what it’s like to be lost in a book.  This is the main reason why read aloud (and good books in general!) are non-negotiables in Rm. 202.   🙂

In what book were you last lost?   Tell us about it! 🙂

Robinson has GRIT! (and drums!)

On one of the last days before our Spring Break started, we were visited by a music teacher from a nearby university, and some of his students.  Best of all, they brought DRUMS with them!  Our kiddos were able to learn about the drums, about the music you could play with them and then they got to try it out, too!

And then, when I came to pick up my class, they asked for teachers to get in on the action, too!  I’m so glad my friend Peyton was up there for that round with me, because he definitely helped me know what to do.  That rhythm was harder to follow than you’d think!  Way to go, Robinson musicians–Robinson does indeed have GRIT!

Jokes of the Day: Week of March 9-13, 2015

Had some great ones this week–from my kids, my mom and 1 from Ellen.  Here you go–happy giggling!


How do you make an orange giggle?

Tickle its navel!

(courtesy of my mom, via some board at her work…)


What did one car say to the other car?

You’re driving me crazy!!

(thanks to Peyton for this one!)


How do you cross Crater Lake?

In a vol-canoe!

(thanks, Jacob, for finding this one in the Volcano Jokes book. Who knew that was a thing, volcano jokes?)


Why did the cowboy get a dachshund for a pet?

He wanted to “get along little doggie!”

(again, from Mom 🙂 )


Why do bees have sticky hair?

Because they use honeycombs!

(had to go to Ellen for one today)

Have a great weekend!  We’re headed to 10 days off for Spring Break, so no jokes next week. Happy Spring, friends! 🙂