For the last few years, I’ve started the year with creating beautiful things to hang in our room. It’s so great to watch as our bare walls fill up with amazing creativity that spills out of our first grade minds!
This project is both fun and meaningful as it’s based on helping kiddos see that while we are all different that’s an amazing thing, and that within those differences we can celebrate ways we are also the same.
As with many things, we started our conversation with books. We read Shades of Black by Sandra Pinkney and Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin together.
We talked about how each of us looks different, has different talents to share and brings many different things to our classroom community. Also, we have many things that are the same because we’re all kids. We all want to be loved, to belong, to contribute, to learn.
We wanted to create beautiful images of our unique and different selves to hang on the wall, and we did so with lots of different creative things in our room. We also borrowed a mirror from our friends in Ms. Turken’s room so we could see some of the close-up details of our faces.
Now they hang along the top of our wall and we can see them smiling on us every day! We are definitely learning to celebrate the beautiful skin we live in, and appreciate how different we all are!
I am pretty sure we have the best school ever, with teachers and community members who plan THE BEST things for our kiddos to do. Case in point–last week we participated in a Bike Rodeo during our PE classes, where everybody brought their bikes to school (or shared if they didn’t have one!) and got to ride around the blacktop! There was an obstacle course, and I heard that kids had a GREAT time going down the big hill on the driveway. There were LOADS of kids who learned to ride without their training wheels, too! Officer Stemmler (our School Resource Officer), Mrs. Morgan and Mrs. Moffitt were such troopers as they braved the sun and heat and helped our Roadrunner ride and ride and ride! Thanks to all the parents to helped make it happen, too!
I wish I had pictures of the actual bike riding to share, but these will have to do. Just imagine kids zooming around really fast (see, there’d be blurry pictures anyway) with giant smiles on their faces!
This week we had a class meeting and identified some tricky parts our class was having. I HATE to admit that the list was really long. Like 4 post-it notes long. Big post-it notes. 😦
Well, because we have growth mindsets at our school (and in our room!), and because our tricky parts are things we can TOTALLY fix, we started spending some specific time on Friday working on figuring out what to do.
First we took all of our trouble spots and put them into categories. We quickly realized we had many things that were similar and fit into four categories. Then we saw that in some way these were all related to not following directions. (And I feel like I must say, when I first saw our list I had a bit of trouble with it because it felt a little like our classroom was always in chaos. I promise these things happen in bits and pieces, not all at once, all the time. And honestly, some of them are just what happens when you put lots of 6YOs together in a classroom. But they are indeed things we need to work on, and for which we can find a solution!)
As we continued through the day (and we will continue on Monday–well and probably beyond that, too!) with the focus on both following directions as well as thinking of others. This second focus came because we had had a heart-to-heart about how so many of us of just thinking of ourselves, and so that’s why we’re not following directions in the first place. For example, we are interrupting because we think our ideas are more important than our friends’, we’re leaving messes because we don’t care about our room and our friends, we are making noises during learning times because we are thinking more about ourselves (and what we want to do) than about our friends and their learning environment. You get the idea.
We added that last bubble after we had had a chance to check out a couple of Class Dojo videos to get our minds thinking about how we might fix up our troubles. We even tagged the day “Fix-it-Up Friday.” Here’s one about making mistakes:
And another about having a growth mindset:
Another important part of our day was when Mrs. Cohen came back to our room to teach a lesson. Because she and I had already chatted, we agreed that her lesson about following directions fit in PERFECTLY with what we were already working on.
First she talked with us a little bit about the work we had already done, and we explained our mistakes web to her. She talked a little bit about why following directions is so important, and kiddos shared really smart ideas like how doing so keeps us safe and helps us learn. Next, she gave us a challenge. Everyone got a piece of paper and a crayon and set to listen to her directions. They had to both HEAR and SEE in order to make this happen. I only got part of the activity on video, but you’ll get the idea. And what it showed us when we were finished was that we can, indeed, follow directions! Pay attention to how well friends are listening, looking and quietly working!
Pretty great, right? Look at al those cat pictures!
Well since they proved they could do that amazingness, she gave them another challenge. Only this one wasn’t individual–we would all have to follow directions together to make it work!
They did it! It wasn’t silent, and it wasn’t perfect, but they did a pretty good job, right? We will definitely build on this learning (and progress) as we come back together on Monday. We have work to do, but we know we can do it!