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! 🙂