# How Many Fingers Did We Cross?

Last night I send these tweets to an author friend of Rm. 202’s:

After the conversation ended, I knew I had the plan for what we’d be doing in math this morning. 🙂 #reallifeproblemsolving #wehadtofigureouthowmanyfingerswerecrossed

So…I started by sharing the Twitter thread and telling them all about the conversation I’d had with Ame Dyckman–the one that started with shrimp and chili dogs and ended with unicorns and crossed fingers. LOL  I told them all about how I’d really been wondering how many fingers we would have crossed and that I knew they could help me with that solution.  First we practiced crossing our fingers (and our toes–this was really hard for some kiddos! ha!), and then I reminded them of the problem I needed their help with:

We agreed that we were figuring out the total for 23 people (22 kiddos plus me!) and that our explanations needed the have the criteria on the right side of our chart.  Kiddos worked with their learning partners, and could choose any (or all!) of the parts of the problem the wanted to work on.

Kiddos had time to work, choosing all different parts of the chart to solve.  I’m pretty sure this work went on for about 35 or 40 minutes, with partnerships working pretty steadily and cooperatively together to solve our problem.  As I worked through the room and conferred with each pair, we tweaked some things, I asked questions to help them dig deeper and many groups worked to make sure their posters could be understood without them standing by to explain what the numbers/pictures meant.

Here’s a bit of what that gallery walk looked (and sounded) like:

Once we gathered on the rug, we got to dig into some solutions kiddos had found.

We started with the first one, “How many fingers would we cross if everyone crossed 2 fingers?”  Several teams tossed out their answers and we had everything from 46 and 44 to 24 and 30.  What?? Rather than have every group explain their thinking (and perhaps confuse everyone or make it harder to get to our solution), I went with the two answers closest together–44 and 46.

We started with having Allie and Ayonna share their poster and telling about their thinking:

If you can tell from their poster, A and A decided to organize their thinking by writing everyone’s name so they remembered to include everyone.  Then, as we talked about how to count all the 2s, we decided that we could make groups of 2s to make 10.  10s would make it really easy for us to then count the total number of fingers.  We made an equation at the bottom to show the total of 46.

Callahan and Jesse showed us how they figured out 1o crossed fingers here:

They wrote lots of 10s, and then made sure to label each 10 so they knew they had enough (23).  We talked together to clarify which line of numbers was which (fingers or people), and added labels to make that more clear for readers.  They counted the total number of fingers by making 2 groups of 100 with tens, and then finding 30 leftovers.  Their equation ended up being 100 x 2= 200, then 200 + 30= 230 fingers.  At the bottom they started work to figure out how many it would be if we did the 20 fingers and toes.

Lastly, Jamie and Kaiden showed us how they knew that if we crossed ALL OUR FINGERS AND TOES it would be 460 fingers and toes!! (We were amazed by this number and figured Ame Dyckman would be impressed, too!).

Their thinking looks a little like Callahan and Jesse, with groups of 200 (made of 20s), though, rather than 100 with 10s.

After this one, we realized some connections between our numbers–like that we could have used the 10s numbers to help us with the 20s (because 20 is a double of 10)–and so figured that we could use that same thinking to figure out “how many fingers if we cross 4?”

Johnny helped us think this through and figured that if we counted 46 twice that would the same as doubling.  We drew this to help us figure that out:

Through our discussion and brainstorming we figured we could count by 10s to figure out most of it (and Callahan even found another 10 by using that 4 inside of the bottom 6! This made it SUPER EASY!!).

So…after our work we had decided we’d crossed A LOT of fingers hoping for a new book. 🙂

We ended by noticing (and we’ll come back to this much later) that the 4 is a double of 2, the 20 is a double of 10, and also that the answers doubled as the numbers doubled.  Kaiden added some arrows to show our connections. 🙂

Wow….I’m tired writing about that, but I am pretty sure my kiddos were equally tired working on it!  It’s the kind of math that reminds me that real life problems are the best and that when kiddos have a real reason to figure it out, the motivation is through the roof!  Everyone works hard and stays engaged because they have to know the answer!  Thanks for the inspiration, Ame Dyckman!!

# The Planetarium Came to US!

I’ve posted before about the amazing things we’re able to do because of the many great people and resources we have in our district, and here’s another example of those resources at work. 🙂

Mr. Bartin brought the KSD Planetarium to our school!  First grade classes each scheduled a time with him to visit and it was set up in our library!  We walked in and really had a hard time containing ourselves (which is a little bad since it was a library. LOL).

We took a minute to chat with us and connect to what we’d already been learning about the sun, moon and stars, and then explained the guidelines for how to act inside the dome.

While inside, Mr. Bartin was able to show us lots of things about sunrise, moonrise and set, how the stars seem to move, what constellations look like–and we even went back in time!! (Ask your kiddo about this one!!).  It was dark in there, and so it was kind of a useless task, but I did try to capture something so you could see what we did.  Here’s a picture and a video (which pretty much just looks like a black screen but you’ll get the idea–you can definitely HEAR the excitement. 🙂 ).

# #classroombookaday UPDATE: WE FILLED UP OUR DOOR!

Many of you have been along for this entire journey so far as we’ve taken on the #classroombookaday challenge, but for those who have not, please check out the links to them here so get caught up before we share this momentous occasion with you. 🙂

Ok…are you ready for the big news??  Take a look (just peek past that super cute kindergartner–she’s really excited for Rm. 202!!):

LOOK!!  WE FILLED UP OUR DOOR!!!  Amazing, right??  And for the record (I’m keeping one, aren’t you??), it happened on Thursday, November 17, after we read our 225th book!!  WAHOO!!

Well, this actually worked out in our favor as her next question was something along the lines of “Well you’re going to celebrate it, right?” Of course I knew that this was a momentous occasion, but I had failed to plan how we would celebrate.  Talk about a right time/right place situation–Mrs. Schuster would come to the rescue and we planned a little ditty for later that afternoon.  In the meantime I had to get the pics on the door and throw together what we’d do at our party. 🙂

So…after we did some heavy work cleaning up our “hot mess” of a room before we got started (thanks for those words, Aadish!), we gathered on the rug to enjoy a special time celebrating some AMAZING work we’d done as readers together.

I wish I had pictures and videos of all that happened, but hey–I’m usually the videographer and photographer capturing all of that, so not this time.  But you what?  It is probably better that way.  When I’m  not looking at the world–and our classroom–through the screen of my iPhone, I can be more present in the moment I’m trying to celebrate.  I can more thoughtfully digest the things they’re saying about how all of these books are making us SUPER READERS and what their favorite titles are, and how Jamie can speak to the exact day and place we read one of her favorite books. “Don’t you remember? We read it outside that day we spent at Meramec under the tree?” was what she reminded us.  Isn’t it a magical example of how this challenge is as much about the EXPERIENCE of reading as it is the number of books or the skills we’re gaining.  I so want for each of my learners to have that same “I remember when I read…” moments–lots of them!–that will carry them far beyond first grade.  Hopefully long into their adult lives when they can begin replicating them in their own families. 🙂

But that’s for later.  For now I can only control the experiences I provide, the titles I choose and the excitement I bring that I hope is contagious and inspires them to do the same.  And as for inspiration, Mrs. Schuster (remember the mom from the beginning who suggested our party?) was inspired to write us a poem to mark the day.  It was pretty great.  But since I wasn’t ready I don’t have a good video of her reading it to us. 😦 Boo.  Here is the text, though, which will soon become a permanent fixture somewhere in our room.

Isn’t that the best?  THANK YOU THANK  YOU THANK YOU for that little gem, Renee, and for letting me share it here.  Only makes sense. 🙂

Oh, and then there were 20something kids eating fruit leather and letting it hang out of their faces like tongues.

And wouldn’t you know it?  They connected this to a book we’d read this week about how a if your tongue was as long as a frog’s tongue, you could like your belly button! These kiddos are in DEEP!!  Love it. 🙂

And a my goodness–what a great way to finish a busy week!  EVERYONE was all smiles as they walked out of Rm. 202 for the weekend.  Here’s to a door-ful of great books to come!!

I love how our school takes an effort to include all parts of a kiddo and their family in our learning!  One thing we do on a regular basis is to host Read With Your Roadrunner, where kiddos are invited to bring in their family (or friends!) to start the day sharing a great book together.

This time we had even MORE guests join us, including moms, dads, sisters, brothers, grandmas and grandpas!  What a blessed group of kiddos we have in Rm. 202 and I love how even the kiddos who didn’t have their own specific guests were included in the other “families.”  Another reason this Robinson community is the best ever. 🙂

Thanks to the adults and siblings who made this day super special for us.  And in case you didn’t get a chance to join us, here’s a little bit of what it was like:

Can’t wait ’til next time!  Maybe you can join us!  Mark your calendars for January 13th, 2017!

# Learning to Draw From an Expert

Remember when Pacifique was here last year and we were SO EXCITED?!  And the year before when we first met them?   Well…since then we’ve developed quite a close relationship with the NIYO Cultural Centre and are lucky to be able to learn from these amazingly talented artists often.  This time Pacifique brought some new friends–Patrick and Figy.  Last time we focused primarily on music and dance, but this time Figy has been able to share his painting talents with us.  WE WERE EXCITED!

First, he did a little bit of pre-planning and basics instruction at the easel.  Everyone really wanted him to start by drawing tigers and lions, but Figy helped us understand that we have to start with simple and THEN we can stretch out and do some harder things.  We were going to start with butterflies.  Just like the lesson Ms. Holzmueller had done with us the previous week, he showed us how butterflies are made of shapes we already know, like ovals.  Easy peasy!

Once we had sketched our butterflies, we gathered for a painting lesson.  Figy is a master with watercolors and had much to teach us.  I was so excited to learn a tip that I had never learned: before you start painting, you “paint” the paper with water!  This helps the paint then “float” around on the water.  SO BEAUTIFUL!

After this next part of the lesson, we tried out hands at adding color to our own creations.

We weren’t finished yet, though!  We would leave them to dry overnight, and then trace the details on top of our paint with permanent marker.  WOW–what a great combination!  Check out Figy’s example he made for us:

AND THEN (as if it hadn’t already been an amazing time together!), he called kiddos to the rug as they finished painting, telling them he had a secret to tell them.  He quickly had a line forming in front of him as he whispered quietly in each kiddo’s ear.  No one except that kiddo had any idea what he was talking about!

We soon found out that was he was talking to each kiddo about was what other animal they might like him to draw and quickly a pretty impressive list started to form on the easel paper.  And then he started drawing them for us!  Right before our eyes they begin to appear on the paper, like a colorful 2D zoo!

Did you notice what started to happen as he added animals to the paper?  Kiddos were so inspired that a whole new drawing lesson ensued and everyone was trying them out, too! Love it when that happens.  You don’t even have to invite them or suggest that they do it–just showing them is all the invitation that need! So organic. 🙂

So then Friday when we came back, we took our turn with the Sharpies and finished our paintings.  Aren’t they beautiful??

We were so inspired and thankful to Figy for sharing his talents with us!  We have even started another watercolor painting project in math that we’ll finish this coming week, too.  Stay tuned for updates on how we transfer this learning to another situation! 🙂

# Lions, Rectangles and Triangles–Oh My!

We have been on a bit of a geometrical journey as of late.  We’ve studied sides, corners (which we know are called angles), diamonds (which of course are really called rhombuses!), square corners, trapezoids and loads of other things.  We’ve taken pictures, manipulated blocks, read books and even drawn pictures.  Pictures of shapes, and now pictures of lions, too.  Let me explain. 🙂

Well, actually, let me let a guest author explain. 🙂

Hi parents, guardians and friends of Room 202 1st graders! My name is Kate, or Ms. Holzmueller, and I work as a TA at Robinson. I’m one of the TA’s assigned to the 1st grade recess (where I often referee kickball) and lunch (where I help maintain order and pass out napkins and embellish hamburgers with ketchup smiley faces!) I’ve been spending time in Mrs. Bearden’s classroom the past few months, supporting some of the fantastic kiddos and doing a few read alouds, too! 🙂
Last week I spent time during math rotations having discussions with kids about squares and triangles and other shapes. (One of the benchmarks for first grade learners is that they, say, recognize that a square is a square because it has four equal sides and four equal angles.) While playing with the manipulative shapes I thought of one of my favorite authors, Ed Emberley and his books that help children (and adults like me who love to draw!) draw animals and monsters and people and cities, etc. all by drawing simple shapes. I showed Mrs. Bearden an Ed Emberley book and she was kind enough to let me share his work with your students.

So during math centers, we looked at two pictures of a lion, one real, the other drawn. We had conversations about the shapes within the lion–how it’s nose looks like a triangle, how it’s head looks like a rectangle, etc. Then we practiced drawing all the shapes we had identified on white boards with dry erase markers. After that, we followed Mr. Emberley’s tutorial on how to draw his version of a lion, again on the whiteboard. (First by making a rectangle, then another rectangle, then a triangle…)

Today during math time we practiced drawing shapes again on the whiteboard and then we used cardstock and markers to draw our own lions, still using rectangles and triangles and circles, etc.

Students were allowed to use whatever colors they liked and embellish their lion as they best saw fit–some have freckles! Some have angry eyebrows! We had conversations about how many triangles they used to show the teeth, how many triangles to make the mane, etc.

The results are very colorful and scary and fun and are now greeting passers-by in the halls.

(And BOY are they BEAUTIFUL! Sorry–this is Mrs. Bearden.  Had to throw in my two cents about how great they are.  AND how great Ms. Holzmueller did as she taught the lesson! Learned a few things myself that I will incorporate tomorrow. 🙂  Really, I did!  Ok…back to the guest post…:) ).

If your student mentioned drawing a lion today know that Mr. Emberley has lots of other fun books they might like, too! (I found two of them in the Robinson library just today!)  And remember it’s just as easy to play “I Spy” with geometrical shapes as it is colors! “I Spy with my little eye something that is a square…”

# Pumpkin Jack and Rotten Lanterns

Remember when we made Literary Lanterns and Mrs. Meihaus let us display them in the library for all of Robinson to see?  And then we had everyone vote on their favorite one??

Well…the voting window has closed, and the winner is….

Yay! and Congrats to Aadish and Keira!

The vote was very close, so I feel like I should mention that 2nd place was a tie between I Yam a Donkey and Mustache Baby.   Yippee for Allie, Penny and Tanner!

But, of course, the real winners were all of us because we have read LOADS of great books, got to use our creativity to create something amazing, and all of our school (plus our blog readers!) got to share in that fun!

Well, then what happened to all of those fabulous lanterns once we were finished with them (and they were starting to get a little soft and moldy)?  We thought about taking them home, but wasn’t sure that kiddos (or parents!) would want to lug them all home again.  I have to admit that a couple of them had to be tossed because they were wet inside–sorry, friends!–but we ended up with most of them that needed a new home.

So enter Mrs. Meihaus again (she seems to be the solver of all of our problems lately!) who had a SUPER suggestion that we put them somewhere outside.  And she even had a book to help us with this idea: Pumpkin Jack.

The story is about a boy who had a jack-o-lantern that was rotting and his mom made him put it out in the garden.  He was able to watch it run the course of the cycle and see it return to the ground and then grow again as a new pumpkin!  This then became his new Jack the next fall.

We decided we would do just that same thing. 🙂

First we travelled to the library to pick up our pumpkin babies.  It was funny how sad kiddos were that we were finished with these.  I didn’t realize Keira’s face on her Octicorn until I uploaded them.  Super sweet! (Well and sad, too, I guess!).

Then we headed outside to the woods to find a place to “plant” our pumpkins.

We are excited to come back and visit over the next months of the school year to see what happens!  Hope to share some good news and maybe even see some new pumpkins growing that we can turn into Literary Lanterns next year!!

# Marshmallow Challenge 2016

In 2012, Mrs. Hong brought the Marshmallow Challenge to Robinson.  Since then I’ve done it with almost every grade I’ve taught (5th then 2nd and now 1st graders!).  It’s been interesting to see what each group of kiddos excels with and which parts of the challenge are hardest for each group.

Just as a reminder, the rules are as such:

We used these same guidelines, except that kiddos had 25 sticks of spaghetti and we only had 15 minutes.  Otherwise, the challenge was the same.

We worked in our Crews, which are small groups we use throughout the year in different situations, but that stay the same all year long.   It should be noted that we hadn’t worked with this group for a while….

Anyway, groups got started and were off to the races.  For the record, I noticed that only 1 group decided to draw a plan before they got started.

Kids had a variety of ways to tackle the challenge, with many groups thinking about squares as the base of the tower, but not quite figuring out how to connect that idea to the final product.  Many groups seemed to be working individually at the same table, rather than together on the final tower.

And at the end of the 15 minutes, we had these towers:

The only tower that was standing belonged to Crew 6.  And as you can see, there are not squares to be found, but many towers with lots of legs sticking out of the bottom of the marshmallow.

The next morning we debriefed this experience, thinking about things we’d keep the same (plusses) and things that we would change (deltas).  Perhaps it was because of how I asked them to think about the question (or perhaps just because we had a really hard time!), but there were not many plusses, just a team or two that said that Crew 6’s design was a good one.  No one mentioned anything that kiddos had done or how we had worked together that worked to make us successful.  We did, however, have many things to say about what we’d change.  Many kiddos from all the crews gave ideas, but basically the class agreed that we didn’t do a very good job of telling our groups what we were doing.  We didn’t share out ideas with our friends and pretty much were only concerned with our own ideas.  And so as you can guess, it didn’t go so well.

BUT, because we know that FAIL means First Attempt In Learning and because–since we are Roadrunners– we have grit and a growth mindset, we knew we could try again, change somethings and see how what happened differently.

The second go-round I had kids start with a 3-minute talk about what they would specifically do differently.  Most teams decided to draw a plan this time, too.

After 3 minutes, teams got busy building.

This try brought up a really interesting problem.  About 5 minutes in, I started to hear rumblings of teams who were “copying.”  Shortly I had heard from all the crews individually that someone from another team had “copied” their idea and stolen their plan for their tower.

We had to stop the clock and have a quick conference on the rug.  I had kiddos voice their concerns about what was happening and why they were upset.  Someone complained that another group was doing the same thing as they were. “So what?” was my response.  I’m pretty sure they weren’t sure what to say, so I pressed harder.  “Why does that bother you? Say more about why it’s a big deal that another team “stole” your idea.”  We had to then get to an understanding of the challenge, and that everyone could “win,” based on the way the challenge was laid out.  The idea was not for some team to be better than another one, but that it was possible for everyone to have an idea that was successful, resulting in a tower that stood up tall.  We talked about the idea of that old adage: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and how when someone uses an idea you have, you should be proud (rather than mad) because it means they thought it was a good one.  Ms. Mimlitz and I gave honest examples of how many of our best ideas were inspired by things others had done or said.

I wonder if the angst was really because of a mental-model they all have (even at 6 years old) that “copying” is “cheating” and this is inherently BAD.  I would rather them learn that in many cases sharing so that others can be successful is a GREAT thing; when someone else succeeds, it doesn’t mean you have failed.  It actually doesn’t say anything about you at all!

After this little pow-wow, we got back to work, with teams asking each other about what they were doing, and visiting others’ workspaces to see another crew’s plans.  In the end, I believe that everyone had the same design (we’ll work on innovation and differences later, the big lesson this time was about sharing!), but I believe that most tables had a tower that was standing!  For sure we all ended this challenge with smiles on our faces, new understandings about success and excitement about solving our next problem!

Crew 1 and their tower

Crew 2 (I promise it was standing just before this!)

Crew 3 and their marshmallow tower

Crew 4–all smiles about their tower!

Crew 5 is pretty proud!

Crew 6 with smiles and a standing tower!

# Veterans’ Day 2016

Our school knows how to do things right. 🙂   And Veterans’ Day is one of those things that we do that has quickly become a day we look forward to celebrating together with our friends, family and honored guests.

Let me share our day with you. 🙂

First of all, here’s the first grade portion of the program.

Aren’t we a handsome bunch of kiddos?

We’re talented, too. 🙂  Here’s our Veterans’ Day song:

Before we sang, there were some tributes to our honored first grade guests.  It was pretty special. 🙂

Lastly in the program, some Robinson friends (including our RM. 202 friend Kaiden!) read the official Veterans’ Day proclamation:

Now…in case you wanted to see the entire program, it was live-streamed on Periscope and can be viewed in its entirety at these links: Part 1 and Part 2.  Also, Mrs. Sisul has updated Robinson’s Facebook page with pics from the day.  Check it out here.

Another amazing and thoughtful day spent celebrating some really important people and appreciating the freedoms and opportunities we have in America!  Great job, Rm. 202!

Whew!  This was a BUSY week!  We had a day off with Election Day, but then came back and hit the ground running with Veterans’ Day on Friday and our program.  We were really excited about continuing our work with shapes, non-fiction (both in Reading and Writing), as well as some author work with Lauren Castillo as we finished up the Global Read Aloud.  So…that meant that we got 19 books read in 4 days, and we also hit a TREMENDOUS milestone: we passed 200 books!!

First the update of what the door looks like now:

WOWZA!  Look at all those books! (And yes, I did have to fudge that last strip of pictures–didn’t get them on before I left on Friday!)

We are up to 208 now, and reached 200 with this book on Thursday:

We put a star on it, just like when we got to 100. 🙂

This week we read 3 or 4 non-fiction books to help us with our reading and writing work, 5 shape books to go along with our math investigations, 2 books about the sun (the focus in our Science unit right now), and a couple of additional texts by some authors we love but haven’t read yet: The Happiest Book Ever by Bob Shea (we started Wednesday morning with this one!), King Baby by Kate Beaton (we read this one twice because it was so good!), Cat the Cat Who is That? and Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems (all those -et words!!), and Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boelts and Lauren Castillo.  Lastly, we ended the week with a Veterans’ Day tribute as Mrs. Meihaus read America’s White Table to us during our Library visit.

As I always say, I’m excited to see what this next week will bring us (I think there are at least 6 books on the plan for tomorrow already!), and am SO GLAD we are doing this challenge.  Someday soon I plan on having some big-deal math around the work we’ve done here so far, as well as predictions for where we might go.  Can’t wait to share! 🙂