Gush, Gush

Or I guess we could call this “Day 33: Ahh!–updated again.” Or even “Isn’t Rm. 202 An Amazing Place to Be?” or “My Students are THE BEST!!”

Ok, I guess you get the picture, right? This post is one of those that I’ve been thinking about writing for a while, mainly because I told my kiddos I needed to tell the rest of the world the amazing things I’ve been telling everyone about them in person lately.

Remember in that “Day 33” post where I was talking about how we have gotten to that place where we can breathe? Let me tell you more.

One thing I remember really appreciating about the class I worked with during my student teaching 16 years ago was how much they got that learning was their job. They were second graders, and granted, it was their second year of a loop (so Heidi Ford had had a whole year already to work her magic with them!!), by regardless they were dedicated to making the most of their time at school. I was amazed every day when kids would whine about going home, lament the fact that they didn’t have homework and delight over every new learning invitation presented to them.

I remember how encouraging the whole class was to each other, how they cheered each other one and how they really helped each other focus on putting their best foot forward and stretching their brains. Pretty sure RM. 107’s motto was “work hard, get smart,” and I love that!

Since I’ve been a teacher, I’ve longed for (and in turn worked towards) a class of eager learners who function with that same fervor.  Over the years, I’ve had clusters of kids in every class, but only once or twice can I remember a class that was really together for each other. Who really were selfish and selfless in their learning at the same time. I mean kids who want the most/best for themselves but also truly want that for everyone else, too.

So…I bring this up because I am getting a distinct feeling that this group I have now is just that class. 😊. It took us a long time (and a lot of work!) to get here, but the place we are now is beyond where I’d thought or even hoped we’d be at this point in the year.

Lately I’ve been hearing and seeing things like this:

*As we are trying to quiet down in order to get outside to test our light/sound inventions and kiddos are not doing so very quickly: “Come on, guys!  Don’t you see that we are wasting our learning time?  If we don’t get outside now we won’t get a chance to try out our inventions and we’ll have to take them apart.  This is important and we can’t miss out on learning!” 

*As I am trying to get attention after a little-too-loud math workshop, the same friend (along with some help from at least 1 or 2 others): “Guys, Mrs. Bearden is waiting!  This is important to listen to her directions.  You can come back to what you’re doing later, but you can’t hear what she’s saying later because she’s only saying it now!” 

*When kiddos heard that someone didn’t get any work done during their whole math workshop rotation, students faces were marked with amazement, wondering “What?  He didn’t do ANYTHING the whole time?  How could he miss out on all that math learning? How sad!”

*When someone had an empty writing folder after almost a whole quarter of school, writers wondered what he had been doing all this time.  They were sad for him because he wouldn’t have anything to share at our writing celebration, and that he had not been practicing all the things we’d been learning in Writer’s Workshop.

*As kiddos yell out during a read aloud, students quickly raise their hands in the shape of a zero, reminding their friends to keep a quiet voice while we read.  Others can be heard saying, “We will take turns” and “We will listen and follow directions,” which are both class norms we’ve agreed upon. 🙂

*During work time this week, I heard a friend say to someone else, “I can’t talk to you right now, I have work to do.”

*That same friend could be heard saying, “Wow, those were sandpaper words when someone said , ‘Those are my crayons!'”

*When a student was trying to talk to me while I was working with another student on an assessment, a friend nearby said, “Remember, she’s not going to talk to you, you’re whining.” Then, as the friend continued working to interrupt, she added, “She’s not going to talk to you, she’s working with that friend.”  

*As I start to remind kiddos of appropriate line behavior (before we leave for recess), I hear someone finish my words my saying, “I will…take you to recess when everyone is in a straight, quiet line!” 

*When a group that was only supposed to have 2 or 3 kiddos in it ended up with 4, the group calmly figured out which friend should move to another group by deciding to play rock/paper/scissors.  When the friend moved to his new group, a friend there said, “Come on over, let’s make a plan!” 

I feel like I could probably go on and on with amazing words and actions that kiddos in Rm. 202 are saying and doing right now.  It’s been so beautiful to watch how kids are starting to take care of each other, encourage each other (which is another norm), and remind their friends of what we are all about.  We had a little trouble this afternoon with crayons (and not sharing them correctly and therefore wasting our writing time), and kiddos were able to reflect on what those actions said about us, whether they were what we are all about in Rm. 202 and whether they help us learn.  We agreed and then actually asked me to let them go back to work so they could fix it.

I am loving how kiddos who have previously struggled with distracting behaviors are stepping up and responding positively when their friends ask them to stop, when their friends remind them they quickly change their choices.  I am noticing less waiting time, more learning time and just how the overall feel of our room is so relaxed and comfortable.  It is truly a special and LOVELY place to spend the day.  I am really lucky to be able to work with such an amazing group of kiddos every day.  And if you’re a parent of one of those kiddos–thanks so much for all you did and do to help them be their very best!!  I appreciate you, too! 🙂

 

Stop! Drop! Cover! Roll!

On Monday we were lucky to be visited by the Kirkwood Fire Department, as they taught us how to be safe around fire, and what to do to prevent problems if we encounter one in our house.

First, we watched a video with some friends we know and love:

…and then our beloved firefighters taught us about what to do when we hear the smoke detector.  They even reminded us what it sounds like!

We talked about Stop, Drop, Cover your Face and Roll as well as how to find a safe spot where our family will meet if we have to leave our house (ours is down the street by the speed limit sign!), as well as how every bedroom should have two exits in case one is blocked.  Perhaps the best part was when he put on his gear so we could see what a fireman would look like if we ever encountered one in a rescue!  He sounded like Darth Vader with his mask on!

We knew a lot, learned a lot and feel super safe about fire safety!  Thank you firefighters!! We appreciate you!!  Happy Fire Prevention Week!

 

Are You Registered to Vote??

We are!!

Our school is participating in Kids Vote MO this year and we will all be doing some learning about voting and how we can all make our voices heard.   The first step for us was to have some super smart 5th graders come to teach us about what it means to vote for the President, what the President does, and some general info about how to register to vote.  They brought a really interesting Keynote that they shared with us on our ActivBoard (they reflected it, which is cool and something we know how to do, too!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After we had the basic idea of what voting is all about (well, ok, we actually already know what ti means in our classroom, but our 5th grade friends added a USA layer to it…), we got busy REGISTERING to vote in the election next month.  We got actual voting cards, that we worked to fill out with our information.

Check out our cards!  We are super excited!

img_6129

Now to figure out what we will vote for…I’ve kind of decided that as 6-7y0s we’re a little too young and innocent to learn about what the “big” kids are learning about the actual President, so we are planning on voting on the best book, or for a character for President using books we will enjoy together.  You know, like Elephant or Piggie, or Pigeon or even Duck!  Yep, we are big fans of Mo Willems so that would make sense.  As we get further into the process over the next few weeks, I’ll share more details.  Until then, we’re registered to vote–are you??

Outdoor Adventures: PLTW Design Challenge!

Hopefully you’ve read about how we’re learning about light and sound and how great PLTW is going in our classroom.  (If not, feel free to check it out before you go on with this post–LOL).  On Friday we got to the point where we were ready for the design challenge.

We had learned about the design process earlier on in the unit, and also were then reminded of the problem from the story about Angelina, Mylo and Suzi.

Since we had learned and explored about light and sound already, we were ready to answer that question from the end of our book:

If you were Angelina, Mylo and Suzi, how would you help them communicate over a distance to get help?

Luckily for us, we have a fabulous woods and Naturescape in our backyard in which to actually try out this challenge!  We will do that on Monday, but first we had to figure out how to answer the question.  We got into groups and had a limited list of supplies (which we happened to be carrying in our backpack):

screenshot-2016-10-09-17-55-24

Kiddos had time to design and build their devices and then will test their creations in the woods on Monday.

Callahan and Lucas figured out how to make their device reach higher and shared their thinking:

We also had an unexpected problem-solving situation come up after I talked with my first grade teacher-friend, Ms. Turken.  I asked her how the challenge went with her class, and she told me they had these issues:

  • It was day time, and bright outside, so the light part of the devices didn’t really work
  • It was during recess and so the “outside sounds” made it hard to hear the sound coming from the lost kiddos and their devices.  Also, since our woods are right next to a neighborhood, lawnmowers also made it hard to hear.
  • There were too many groups–her class had 7 groups to “lose” and then “find”
  • Only 2 adults were available during the time of their challenge

We decided to take on this problem and see if we could figure out how to use this knowledge (and their struggles!) to make the challenge work the best for us when we took our turn to try it out.  We headed out to the woods to have a chat, because I figured it might be easier to think about it in the actual setting.

We gathered on the stage (built by the amazing Riggs Construction!) and talked about our options.  I was excited to hear how kiddos were thinking through the problems I presented, thinking about how we could address them with what we know.  We had many great suggestions:

  • Allie thought that we should be sure to focus on the sound part of our devices instead of just the light parts.  She said their group had made sure to put both light and sound on their device. 🙂
  • Many kiddos took the number of groups problem, and thought of ways we could fix it–split our class in half, send one group then another then another to find the “lost” ones, and so one.
  • We noticed that the time of day we were outside (which was later than when Ms. Turken’s class was outside) was not so loud.  There were no kids at recess, no one was mowing and all we heard was the wind in the trees.
  • Aadish suggested that everyone’s groups all go out into the woods to get “lost” at the same time.  We could then try to use our devices to communicate with others, and as we saw each other, groups would join together to look for others.  He suggested that the person who knew the woods the best could be the leader of each group.
  • Keira asked, “But what if everyone wants to be the leader?”
  • Aadish and the class agreed that maybe we could do the challenge more than once, giving more than one kiddo a turn to be in charge.
  • We even thought that we could do our evaluation and redesign right there in the woods before our next try to see if we could make our devices communicate even better.

WHEW!  WOW!  I was tired after all that smart thinking and was super impressed with how they were considering ways to make our experience the best it could be.  I know we’re ALL excited to see how it goes when we’re actually in the woods tomorrow!  Stay tuned and we’ll tell you all about it!

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week 7

Another week, another list of great read alouds!  For some reason we only read 12 (instead of the almost 20 from most weeks so far), but boy were they good ones and man did we have fun!  Here’s what our door looks like as of Friday:

img_4698

Let me tell you about a few of the highlights from this week:

  • We added 3 Piggie and Elephant titles to our door, which we LOVE!!
  • We read another Peter Brown book ( well, 2 of them actually), and we’re becoming fans of another great author.  We loved My Teacher is a Monster and noticed lots of great things happening in the illustrations.  Then we shared The Curious Garden and LOVED it!  And we found The Curious Garden because we’d seen the amazingly beautiful song by Emily Arrow on her YouTube channel.  What a great partnership between music and literature!And speaking of The Curious Garden, we had great conversations about grit and growth mindset from that little city garden and the boy who helped it grow!
  • We added some Olivier Dunrea titles to our list, too, which we found after we first read Ollie the Stomper for shared reading early in the year.  Since the first one, we’ve met Gideon, his octopus buddy Otto and a perfect pair of friends named Jasper and Joop.  This coming week there’s more on the list to explore!
  • Another Ame Dyckman title was enjoyed this week– Wolfie the Bunny!
  • We read our first title for the Global Read Aloud this week and interacted with Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo.  We drew and wrote about how we could be brave in our capes.  We’re excited for next week’s book–The Troublemaker!
  • Lastly, we had a really special mystery reader come to our class and share a funny book with us called Naked by Michael Ian Black–Allison Bearden!  Do you recognize that name?  It’s my cutie-pie kindergarten daughter!  She had been reading and rereading Naked, practicing sounding like a storyteller, and I asked her if she wanted to read it to my first graders.  She was excited about that idea, and when she showed up, my kiddos were, too!

They were great listeners, Allie was a great reader and Rm. 202 kids were impressed that she could read the words in that book!  The next request was that Riley Bearden come down from 4th grade and share a book with them.  He’s ready to take on that challenge, so maybe he’ll be here next week on the 20somethingkids blog!

Another great week of reading, inspiring, thinking and book-loving in Rm. 202!  Thanks for reading!  Do you have a suggestion of a book we could read?  We LOVE recommendations from other readers!

 

Global Read Aloud 2016

Last year I learned about the Global Read Aloud from a Twitter friend of mine named Tam Scharf who lives in Australia.  She is a great collaborator and friend to me, despite the fact that we have never really met, have only spoken in person once (well really it was over Skype), and don’t even live on the same continent or teach the same grade (anymore at least–we both taught 5th grade we first “met” in 2011).  I love that that story actually describes many teachers who are important parts of my professional learning network.

But anyway….the Global Read Aloud 2016 started this week and we are off to a running start already!  We began with a short introduction to what it is,

who we would be studying and what they could look forward to doing over the next 6 weeks. We watched a video and checked out the website of Lauren Castillo, the author and illustrator we’d be studying.  Very shortly they were hooked and SUPER excited to join the almost 900,000 kids who would be studying the same books!

This week’s book (as you can see in the video) is Nana in the City, and is all about bravery.  After we read and discussed the story, we got busy answering this question:

screenshot-2016-10-06-22-01-41

We got busy thinking and drawing and I was really impressed (and a little surprised) with what they came up with.  Check out our work!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We are excited to read more and write more and share our thinking!  There are some other friends in our school who are also participating and we’re hoping to share our thinking with them, as well.  Tomorrow we plan on joining a Twitter chat about Lauren Castillo’s books, too, so we can talk about what we like, what we think and who we are.  We may also build cityscapes to teach others about where we live.  The opportunities are endless!  I’m excited to share more and we go along!! 🙂

Pentominoes!

This week we went to visit Mrs. Berger on Thursday instead of Friday. And this week our Kingore lesson was on pentominoes!!

In case you’ve never heard of them, pentominoes look like this:

screenshot-2016-10-06-20-38-41

Mrs. Berger explained about the pentominoes, and then about our job: use the pieces that are shown and fit them into the outline on each page.  This was a tricky deal, and they got harder on each page.  We had to use our grit (which smells like cookies, remember??) and try, try again if it didn’t work the first time.  We had to turn and rotate our pentominoes so they fit, and often it wasn’t the way we first thought they’d go.  We had to use our positive self-talk to remind ourselves that we could do it, and I thnk at one point I even heard someone growl.  Ok, well, she said “grrr!” which is maybe what her grit sounds like! LOL

After we finished (which was after about 15 minutes), kiddos got to do whatever they wanted with their pentominoes for a little while.  Man, where they creative!  Many noticed that two pieces seemed to stick together and they looked like a microphone.  This was a big hit.

Then I saw lots of animals, people and just creative shapes emerge.

What fun and challenge we had with Mrs. Berger today!  We never cease to stretch our brains when we work with her!

Day 33: Ahhhhh!!

I feel like I owe you an update.  I am pretty sure I haven’t share the amazing things happening in our class since Fix-It-Up Friday when we first got serious about our norms and expectations.

Remember this web of mistakes?

fullsizerender-23

Well we did some work and started creating some “We will…” statements that we are committed to living by.  The rough drafts started like this:

Over the last few weeks we’ve tried them out and been using them in our conversations.  I believe we’ve gotten to our final draft and the norms ended up looking like this:

img_4605Don’t they kind of look like super hero words?  Like POW! BANG! SPLAT!  I’m trying to decide if we should have kiddos illustrate them before we hang them…what do you think?  Just not sure if will help or just hinder the message.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the yellow parts as they highlight the important parts of each statement.

Ok, and so what does the title of this post mean–Day 33:  Ahhh!??   Well every day we keep track of how many days of school we’ve had, connecting to place value and counting.  We add a sticker to a ten-frame that goes on a place value chart and we also write the number of the day.

img_4606

Ok, so I know–not rocket science and not super exciting, but it was here–on Day 33 (which was last Friday)–that I felt like we’d turned a corner.  It was the first day pretty much all year that I felt like we could finally breathe and just say “ahh!!!”  Things seem like they are settling down, we are settling in and are becoming a family.  We’re working together and we’re finally looking (and more importantly sounding) like a community.  It’s pretty great.

BUT I must say it hasn’t come without LOTS of work.  We have put in probably at least an hour or more each day teaching, reteaching and practicing what first grade learners look like and sound like.  We’ve been learning and using the Robinson Mindset, as well as helping solidify the ideas of our class norms.

One of the most helpful things for us right now has been very concrete, visual versions of the expectations we’ve created together.  They hang along the top of our windows, and remind us of what each part of our day LOOKS LIKE and SOUNDS LIKE.  We often stop during the middle of a subject or activity and do a reflection on whether this is truly what someone (including us!) would see in the room at that moment.  If not, no big deal, the invitation is to FIX IT!  Find a way to make things look and sound the right way!  We’re right in the middle of our SCIENCE/SOCIAL STUDIES chart, and even have plans for one that demonstrates the line/hallway as well as other places around school.

img_6078img_6079img_6080img_6082

One more way I know we’re “there?”  Kiddos have started using the words we’re practicing!  The other day when a friend was interrupting on the rug, Xenia turned to her and kindly said, “We will take turns.”  When a friend was not quite with us in a conversation, Ciyah reminded them that “We will listen and follow directions.”  What??  This is happening on a regular basis now, as well as friends kindly reminding their friends of what they should be doing instead of whatever undesirable behavior they are engaged in (because “We will remind our friends.”).  I am loving how calm things feel and how much more we’re laughing and enjoying each other.  The last few days we’ve noted how tired we are at the end of the day–but it’s that good “we’re-pooped-because-we’ve-done-so-many-amazing-learning-things” kind of tried, not the “man-we’re-tired-and-cranky-because-no-one-listened-all-day” kind of tired.  Jack suggested that our days have flown by, too, because we’ve been so busy!  I don’t know about you but this make my HEART HAPPY!!

Cannot wait to see what the remaining 140something days have in store for us as we have set such a strong foundation for our year!  The sky’s the limit in Rm. 202!!  Please be sure to come along for the journey.  It’s bound to be exciting!!

Our First MYSTERY NUMBER SKYPE!!

I was so excited to get my kiddo started on some “techy” type things and so today was a great day–we did our first MYSTERY NUMBER SKYPE!  What’s a Mystery Skype you ask?  What’s a Mystery Number Skype? (Check those out so you can get the big idea–believe me, they are one of the coolest things we do in Rm. 202!

Well today was the day!  I hadn’t really made a big deal about it, which was fine because they didn’t know what it was anyway, but boy did they pick it up quickly!  I explained the general idea (we have a number and the other class has a number and we use a 20-Question type game to figure out each others’ numbers), and then we practiced with the number 18.  We talked about words we might use (like greater than/less than, tens place/ones place), and ways we could cross off the most numbers at once (we kept track together on a hundreds chart) and then matched up with a partner to plan for what we would ask.

img_4531

At 9:30 we were ready, and our Skype phone rang!

img_4540

We answered and got right to work.  Our first point of business (after we said hello, of course!) was to figure out who would ask the first question.  We did so with rock/paper/scissors!

We won (rock over scissors!) and asked the first question.  Eventually we will have jobs for each kiddo, and will keep track of our questions for future reference, but for now we were lucky to have Mrs. Sisul tweet for us! Here’s an example (and you can check out the rest of the session on our class feed at @jbeardensclass) of what happened!

Rm. 202 kiddos did such a great job and were SUPER excited when in just about 5 or 6 questions we got to the point where we could guess their mystery number!

What a great start to our Mystery Skyping journey! We are ready to go and excited for our next call!  Who’s in?  If you’re interested, please leave us a comment so we can get in touch with you!

Grit Smells Like Chocolate Chip Cookies!

What? You didn’t know that?  Well it does when you’re talking about Rm. 2o2 kiddos!!  And we know so because we’ve been using TONS of it while we work with Mrs. Berger on Fridays.

This week’s visit was about patterns.  We met together on the circle rug to try some out together first.  We learned about repeating patterns and growing patterns.

Then we got our spots, our personal office and got BUSY!  This was definitely something that was UP OUR ALLEYS and you could tell by the sound (it was silent!) and the smell (it smelled like cookies!–remember, that’s our grit!?).