Reflecting on Data: Rm. 202 BOT Graphs

Last week I shared our story of the tightening up that has happened lately in Rm. 202.  It was based on this picture of our day last Wednesday:

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We decided (ok, well Evan and Emily really had the idea) to keep track of our behavior every day, and to use our Behavior Over Time charts to help better guide our choices.

We started by drawing a blank chart, and then over the last week have gotten in the routine of stopping briefly after each portion of our day to reflect on how it went.  Kiddos think about where they think the dot should go (based on their behavior + or – or so/so) and then I move my finger up the chart and kids raise their hands to show when they think I should stop.  Once we draw the dot, we talk about what evidence they have that supports that choice.  Instead of just saying “It’s good,” they have to provide real reasons why that makes sense.  As a class we come to a consensus about what is the right dot placement.

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Our first day’s try.  We decided after this day that we needed to define the top of the chart so we could show what the highest choice was for our dot.  We were excited that the line on this graph went up throughout the day.

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Sorry about the lighting on this one!  We added the top line, as well as the “so/so” on the side today to help us better define our choices.  We also focused on giving really specific reasons for our dots, as well as positive ones.  Instead of saying we weren’t doing this or we weren’t doing that, we tried to make sure we listed what we WERE doing that helped our behavior be at that particular level on the graph.  This one made us happy because it was straighter than yesterday’s and almost the whole day was at the top of the graph!

We left for the weekend feeling really great about the changes we’d made in our classroom, and agreed during our class meeting that we were on a much better track than we had been even just a few days before.  We had been thinking about how our choices impacted the whole class (not just ourselves!), and how if we certainly can try to influence our friends, we are ultimately only in charge of our own decisions.  When I asked kiddos to tell me what they thought the last two days had been so much better, many said it was our Xs system and their wanting to make sure they got the reward, but I think Sara really nailed it when she said that our BOT graphs help us see how we’re doing.  We are definitely a bunch of visual learners (me included!), and having things around that remind us of what to do or help us better understand what’s going on is extremely helpful.

On Monday, our graph looked like this:

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We noted that something odd much have happened during math, and the data we were keeping was helpful in our seeing how our behavior really trends during the day.

As we started Tuesday, we talked briefly about a goal that we could make for ourselves after looked at the behavior data we had collected the day before.  Many mentioned that we had to do a better job of listening, working hard and cooperating during math so our dot could move up.

Here is our Tuesday BOT graph:

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Notice anything? 

Let me show you again, side-by-side:

We founded it the oddest thing that they were almost identical!  This was puzzling to us, but obviously gave us good data that we had something specific to work on for Wednesday: math time.

As we started our day today, I had them think about goals again, but had them write them down.  This way we could be more clear on what we had decided to work on, and by announcing our intentions, it made it more likely that we would make them happen.

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Another thing that we added to our routine today was that each kiddo got their own BOT graph to mark.  Amber and Millie had started doing this independently the other day, and it seemed like a super idea to share with the whole group.  We us a LMS called eBackpack that allows me to easily push out documents to kiddos, lets them mark them up and then send them back to me.  Easy as pie I took a picture of our blank chart at the beginning of the day and each student was responsible to mark THEIR behavior throughout the day today.  This also added a level of authenticity to our class dots, as kiddos used their personal marks to inform their decision for our collective one.

They were pleased to try this for themselves, and were very motivated to give good evidence for their dot choices, as well as keep their graph up at the top.  I heard lots of kids say things like “Wow, this is a great day!” or “Look at my graph, it’s practically straight!” or “I need to make my dot move up next time.”  It was great to listen to how they were really thinking through the cause and effect of the whole thing, their motivation to do well and how we had good evidence for that description of the day as a “good one.”  We could point to specific things we had done (or not done!) that helped make our day successful.

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Here’s today’s graph:

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We were SO pleased with where our math dot ended up today!

Here are a few of kiddo graphs from the day:

We were also able to have a great conversation about our afternoon today; it was Wednesday last week when this whole mess started anyway.  Reflecting on our behavior using hard data was so helpful!

I’m not sure how long we will keep this up.  As with most things we do it’ll be around as long as we need it, and usually it’s the kiddos who help me decide when that is.  We’ll try the personal graphs again tomorrow and Friday and maybe even find a way to incorporate them with weekly reflection sheets.  I hope to be able to send them home at some point, too, to help spur conversations around dinner tables about data collection at school!

If you have a second, please leave us a comment and tell us what you think, or better yet, what questions you have.  We LOVE to know that people are reading about our learning!

2nd Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of March 22-25, 2016

We are back from Spring Break!!  We quickly got back into the swing of things with our morning routine, and I was trying to focus on spiraling back around to topics we haven’t touched for a while.  We also had a Mystery Number Skype scheduled for Friday, so the problem that day was specifically designed to help that thinking.

Tuesday

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Thursday

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Friday

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2nd Grade Class Meetings

I’m not sure how this is possible, but it seems that my class just had our first class meeting on Friday. I know that’s really not the case, but I guess all the meetings we have had have been either impromptu or have followed a different protocol than is typical to Rm. 202 because when I opened up our class meeting flipchart the other day the last one was from May 2015!  WHAT?

Well, regardless, we sat down to have a meaningful class meeting, following a protocol that everyone new because even if we didn’t do it this year “officially,” everyone had followed the same procedure in 1st grade.  (In case you don’t remember how we do class meetings in our school and district, check out this post, as well as this one where I wrote about it previously, then keep reading. 🙂 ).

We went around our circle and our chart dots looked like this when we were finished:

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A comment for the sake of transparency: our original chart got lost so I recreated the dots as I remember then.  There may be a few in the wrong place, but this is generally the result after our choices. Sorry, friends!

While often the red dots indicate times where our class was having trouble behaviorally, as we talked through the dots for this class meeting, we figured out that the red dots next to “subtraction in math” were related to the fact that the math we were doing was tricky (more on that later!).  The red dots next to the others were things we had already worked through earlier in the week.  All-in-all, this chart shows a pretty great week for Rm. 202!

As is part of the typical class meeting protocol, the last part of the meeting is having kiddos write me a “Friday note” where they share whatever is on their mind: something from the meeting that they didn’t get to say, something from the week that they think when well (or was hard for them personally), an idea they have for something in our classroom, a question, what they’re doing over the weekend, etc.

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Then I spend time over the weekend answering their notes.  I was SUPER impressed that many of our notes were related to how kiddos knew that they needed to work on not getting Xs next week.  A couple of friends asked for help with certain subjects, and many kiddos told me about weekend plans.  And yes, as happens at least everyone once in a while, someone’s note just told me I was the best teacher EVER.  Loved that one, of course. LOL

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As with any class, the Friday note is perhaps one of my favorite pieces of communication with my students.  I learn something every week, and I find that kiddos share things in this venue that they may not feel safe to say to me or have time to talk to me about during the course of a regular, busy day.  These notes are so personal and give EVERY kid a chance to have a voice in our community.  Friday notes #FTW!

 

Tightening Up

I CANNOT believe that we are already in the 4th quarter of the year.  Well, really I guess it’s the 8th quarter for some of us, since it’s our second year together! LOL  This time of year brings with it warmer weather (followed by colder weather, then warmer, then maybe some snow or ice, then finally Spring for real!), excitement about being outside more, comfort and ease the comes with having a well established community, and sometimes it brings kiddos who are SO comfortable and at ease with things that they forget the rules and start to act like crazy people.  Ok, not really, but everyone teachers can sometimes get lax and kids quickly take advantage of that.  And so this time of year often also brings with it a tightening up of the procedures and routines, reminders of the rules and lots of reteaching and practicing to help ensure we end the year in the best way we can!

“Tightening up” in Rm. 202 looks a little different than it probably does in some other places, mainly because the structure in my classroom looks different from many others to begin with.  I guess what I mean is that there are a few things that I find it necessary to be totally in charge of, and there are many more others that I leave my kids to decide upon or choose for themselves.  In general, students in my room choose their table seats (they are not assigned and are usually very fluid even throughout a school day); choose their carpet spots and  learning partners (unless I deem it necessary for specific learning goals to assign them); make decisions both about how they learn and show their learning; and they are in charge of much of how our classroom runs on a given day (like lunch count, attendance, cleaning, making announcements, using each other as resources for info and answers, etc.).  Most of the time, this works seamlessly, and we all spend our day happily working and learning together, supporting our friends, challenging each other, offering kind words of encouragement and taking care of each others’ needs.  It ‘s a beautiful thing.

And then days like yesterday happen.  While I know that no kid is perfect, and that everyone has their moments and makes mistakes, our Wednesday was a kind of day which I have not seem in a very long time.  Perhaps never with this class even.  Their behavior was screaming out to me that what we are doing in our room right now is not working.  We were loud, unfriendly, unproductive, messy, disruptive, disrespectful, slow…all words that do not describe a healthy, happy learning environment.

So what was I to do?  I certainly could have gotten really annoyed, mad, frustrated, had hurt feelings, yelled, etc., but obviously none of those options made sense.  They wouldn’t have been good for me or for my friends, and they wouldn’t have solved our problems that had happened during the day.  So instead, I decided to tighten up the reins a little bit.  Since they were showing me that right now they couldn’t handle choice and freedom, I’d give them less until they could prove again that they could.  Makes sense, right?

This meant a couple of new things, then, happened on Thursday.  First of all, kiddos had new table spots (ok, when they had assigned table spots to begin with–which was new) that were chosen by me.  They also had assigned carpet spots–again chosen by me–based on who they could best work with and be quiet and respectful next to.  As we started our day together, Evan made another suggestion that would end up being very helpful to us.  Let me back up for a second–at the end of Wednesday, I drew a graph of what our behavior looked like over the course of the day.  It looked like this:

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Evan’s idea was that we draw a behavior-over-time graph like that at the end of every day so that we could see how we were doing.  Even better than that, Emily suggested that instead we should keep track of our day DURING the day.  Otherwise we would have a hard time changing the way our graph looked; knowing in the moment that we were off track would allow us to fix things.  SUPER IDEAS friends!

One more thing that was a part of our tightening up plan was a little bit of a whole-class  behavior chart system with Xs for misbehavior (based on expectations we already have in place in our classroom) and a reward for friends that fit a certain criteria.  Basically everyone starts with the reward, and it’s up to you to make sure you don’t lose it.  We put together a chart where everyone has a label, and you get an “X” for choices that do not line up with our classroom expectations and Road Rules.  IF you have a certain number (or less) by the end of the time period (which will change as we go along), you can participate in our reward (this will also change with every period).  This first go-round, the Xs is 3 and the time frame was from Thursday morning to Friday afternoon (2 days).  The next chunk starts over on Monday and will go for more days or have less Xs (haven’t decided yet).

So…we put our new things in place and went through our days Thursday and Friday and kept track of our behavior over time.  Here’s what our charts looked like:

AMAZING, right?  One thing I love about Behavior-Over-Time graphs is that you have to justify why you’re putting each dot where it is.  Kids had to really reflect on our choices and evaluate whether our behavior counted as + or -.

At the end of the day on Friday we talked about why we thought that our last two days had been so much improved over what had happened earlier in the week.  Some friends of course pointed out our new reward system, some said it was our spots, but Sara mentioned that she thought it was our system AND our BOT graphs; being able to SEE how we were doing was super helpful in keeping those choices positive.  I agree, friend. 🙂

What stories can you tell about “tightening up?”  Does 4th quarter bring new procedures and routines for you and your kiddos?  How does the end of the year look different than the beginning?  Please comment and let us know!  Here’s to another great week starting tomorrow!

Lego Challenges With Mrs. Sisul

We had an amazing 1st-day-back-from-Spring-Break today!  Our principal, Mrs. Sisul, has been learning about engineering and STEM with Legos, and volunteered to come set us up with some Lego challenges if we were interested.  Well, yes, of course, Rm. 202 friends were interested!  Luckily she was free this afternoon and came on up with her big ‘ole box of Legos!  Check out what happened! 🙂

She started with a quick reminder of what STEM means (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and then introduced what we would be doing: every kid would get a card with a challenge and they would work to do that challenge with Legos.  Pretty straightforward, right?  Well, they she led us through a great line of thinking about how we work best, and how kiddos would have the choice of how they tackled the challenge: alone, with a partner, a group of 3, a group of 4–whatever worked for each kiddo.  She shared her example that she knows that as a learner she likes to be able to bounce ideas off of another learner, and so she’d focus on finding another person to work with.  She asked me to share my strategy, and I talked about how I knew that that plan would DEFINITELY not work for me.  I am the kind of learner who needs to process and plan by myself first, and then I might want to work with someone else to blend ideas, get a critique or ask a question.  I know that if I went with a partner right off the bat, I wouldn’t have anything to share with them–so if I was Mrs. Sisul’s partner, I wouldn’t be a very helpful partner!  Right off the top I could tell that Rm. 202 kiddos were thinking about what would work for them, and they knew what would be best.  We had all sorts of groups–singles, partners and groups of 3.  Some kiddos worked alone, but right next to another friend so they could get feedback that way.

Ok, once teams were developed, Mrs. Sisul gave the guidelines for how kiddos would get their Legos.  She walked them through a planning session where they were to really think through what kinds of Legos they’d need.  She would call names of kiddos 3-4 at a time, and they’d have 30 seconds to “block shop” and then get started.  Once everyone had an initial visit to the pile, they were free to come back for more.  And since it would be virtually impossible for me to explain the amazingness with which these kiddos followed this protocol, I had to record it.  Check out what it was like when Mrs. Sisul dumped the Legos:

Once we got started, I roamed around and got some footage of them working. I know, kiddos wanted me to do the challenges, too–but I couldn’t document it to share with you if I did that!  Maybe next time. 🙂

Here are some videos that share more of their thinking while they got started:

This one has some great thinking about what happens when things are hard (which this was for some of us!):

There’s one more, and it’s really the one I’m the most tickled about.  It’s an example of what happened in our room when we put 20 kids and 2000 Legos together.  I want you to think about what you see first, but then I’ll tell you why I liked it:

As I watched this video, I noticed these things:

  • quiet voices
  • pleases and thank yous
  • kiddos finding pieces for others
  • sharing
  • everyone just taking what they needed
  • no one grabbing, hogging or arguing
  • kiddos respectfully letting others into the circle
  • focus
  • engagement
  • motivation
  • laughter
  • encouragement
  • respect for self, learning, others and the environment

What did you see? (Please leave us a comment and let us know–Rm. 202 kiddos would LOVE to hear what you thought and would LOVE to know you watched their super hard working!)

Ok, I know you’re wondering what some of those challenges looked like, and how they tackled them.  Here are some examples.  And yes, they told me I could. 🙂

This was definitely one of those touchstone moments in our classroom that we will return to for many days and weeks to come (darn, I only wish we’d done it earlier in the year!).  I know that we walked away with many things (and I hope to share what those were in THEIR WORDS soon), but one of them definitely was that there is not one way to solve a problem.  We could each access each of these challenges in our own way, and use whatever skills, ideas–and Legos!–that we wanted to in order to achieve our goal.  One friend even decided to do the same challenge twice to make it even harder for himself!  We are builders and thinkers and problem-solvers in Rm. 202 and this was definitely right up our alley!  Come back any time, Mrs. Sisul!

Teachable Moments

We had one of “those” moments recently.  One of those moments when we had to stop and deviate a little bit and take a different path.  It was one of those moments when I knew that the lesson I was supposed to teach was bigger than the writing lesson I had planned for the morning.

Let me tell a little bit of a back story.  We had just finished Readers’ Workshop, and were heading towards the rainbow rug to start our Writers’ Workshop mini-lesson.  I had met with three groups, done at least 4 individual conferences and assessments, and the room had been quiet and productive.  At least it looked and sounded productive.

And then it all kind of went downhill.  Evidently, there was a group of kiddos who were not, in fact, making an acceptable reading or writing choice during our work time.  They were playing a game.  Oh, and a game that was not appropriate for school, for that matter. 😦

We stopped what we were doing right then and there and talked through all the many layers of what was going on.  First of all, the group of kiddos who had been playing were do so in such a way that NO ONE was the wiser that it wasn’t what they were actually supposed to be doing.  Many kiddos in the room were baffled (ok, as was I!) how that was possible.  Many said they had been sitting right there and didn’t even know.  That’s just it–they were quiet, they were busy and they seemed like they were doing the right thing.  We talked about how and why that could have happened and what we could all do to help ensure that every learner in our room was using their work time in the most useful way at all times.  We agreed that this had been a bad call and everyone should do better to do the right thing next time.

Secondly, there was a layer of “I-saw-it-and-didn’t-join-in-but-also-didn’t-stop-it.”  We had a really heartfelt conversation about why it was important NOT just to NOT join in, but also to be strong enough to say something when they see someone doing something they know isn’t ok.  While I know they don’t truly understand the gravity of this, I have to begin to teach them this skill now, because they will need it for much bigger decisions in their future.  Imagine what middle school would look like for them without being confident enough to stand up for what’s right.  Or high school. Or LIFE for that matter.  Yep, it begins now with these small lessons when they’re 7- and 8-years-old.

Then, there were a couple of friends who actually did wander over and join the fun because it looked really interesting.  They took the “it’s-not-my-fault-because-it-was-my-idea” stance.  Again, we had a great conversation about how this explanation doesn’t make sense because they actually participated in what was going on.  Yeah, I know as adults this is clear, but for these 2nd grade friends, it was really hard for them to understand (or at least accept) that not being the originator of the idea doesn’t make them exempt from the consequence or responsibility.  It wasn’t their idea to start it, but it was their idea and their choice to continue it and join in.

While this was obviously not one of our proudest moments as a group of learners (as far as choices and wise time usage goes), we definitely used the moment to our advantage and had some really important conversations.  I am sure that by the end of the class meeting, everyone walked away learning something, ready to make a different decision next time–even the ones who didn’t really have any part in the trouble of the morning.  Some will be stronger and stand up when they see something go awry, some will be wiser and use their time in a more appropriate way, some will choose to not go along with the crowd, and some will continue to do the right thing as an example to the rest of us.  The best part is that everyone has the choice to do each of those things in whatever situation they find themselves in.  And the even better part is that because of the community of friends and learners we have, we will do well to encourage each other to make the right choice as we go forward.  What better lesson could we have had that day?  Sometimes the best lessons are not the ones you plan for but the ones that just happen instead. 🙂

 

This One’s Just For Fun

I take a lot of pictures.  Most of them are related to what we’re learning, but sometimes there just for fun.  Cute pictures that make us happy or of silly stuff that 2nd graders do.  This is one of those “just for fun” posts. 🙂  And yes, I asked them if I could take these pictures and post them here.  Some of them even asked me to! LOL

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This was actually the photo that inspired this post.  How could you NOT put a picture of twin Darth Vaders on your blog? 🙂

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I tweeted this picture when it happened (yes, with permission!), but didn’t post it here.  As we were making muffins for our 100th Day celebration, I LOL’d when Tyrin brought up a connection to a favorite Fig Pudding character.  He said, “We better be careful or Josh will steal all of our butter and eat it!” LOVE IT!

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This one was posted before when I told the story about our door decoration, but I had to post it again because it just shows how silly some Rm. 202 friends can be, especially when you put another 2nd grader behind the camera! Great job, again, Baron!  You were an excellent photographer!

 Ok, so these are my own kiddos, not my students, but they definitely fit in the category of silly, right?  This is what happens when we’re waiting for daddy and the camera comes out. 🙂

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What’s more fun than taking a picture in a police car?  We went to a pancake fundraiser for the KPD and some nice officers let us take a peek (and a pic!).  Riley got to turn on the lights and siren, too!  WOHOO!

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I think I posted this one before, too, but it just made me laugh at how Jacob is tying himself in a knot to show me his fortune!

Ok, just two more.  Gotta love a squeeze from your teammate, and this picture is just to remember the times when super great kids come up and say “Can I take your picture and print it so I can write about you in my Writer’s Notebook?”  I’d say there’s no greater honor. 🙂

What would you put in a post that was called Just for Fun??  Leave us a comment and tell us about something fun you’ve done lately!  We’d love to read your comments. 🙂