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!

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Crew 1 and their tower

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

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Crew 3 and their marshmallow tower

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Crew 4–all smiles about their tower!

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Crew 5 is pretty proud!

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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!

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week 12

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:

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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:

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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! 🙂

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week 11

SO excited to update again with some more great books we’ve been reading!  We’re up to 188 books (what??  How is that possible?), AND we’re about to fill up our door!  I wrote previously about how I think this challenge has changed both me and my students as readers, and that continues to ring true.  SO glad I caught the book-a-day bug and excited to keep scratching the itch to read!!

Check out how we’re doing:

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This week we read 17 books (starting w/ Yard Sale by Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo).fullsizerender-4

Our Global Read Aloud text was Yard Sale, which we loved, and will probably revisit again next week because it’s so good!  We also read a couple of non-fiction texts as part of our study in reading and writing, learning how to teach our writers as well as how to really dig into a teaching text as a reader.  We found a couple of Halloween stories we has missed last week and read them on actual Halloween on Monday.   The Spiderman book, the two “underpants” titles and The Ninjabread Man were requests from kiddos.  I found Gilbert Goldfish and Everyone Loves Cupcake at the library and go them because they were an author we had read during our election reading.  They are both by Kelly DiPucchio and we discovered she has so many great books to enjoy!  The last two on our list were also because of author-love: Lori Degman wrote Norbert’s Big Dream and our friends in Rm. 203 shared it with us because they are having a Skype with her later this year, and Dirk Yeller is a favorite of mine from our friend Mary Casanova.  We also read Curious George Gets a Talker as part of our focus on Disabilities Awareness Month (I hope to share more about this in a later post 🙂 ).

I mentioned that we had been doing some election reading, which is partly because of the election our parents are participating in on Tuesday, but also be WE get to vote as part of Kids Voting on Monday!  We will elect the President at our school, and we will also vote on our Literary Lanterns!  WOOHOO–democracy in action.  🙂  First I shared Vote For Me!, which was a great example of how NOT to encourage someone to vote for you–mudslinging and lots of “vote for me because I’m pretty” and “vote for me because I’m awesome” and “vote for me because I’ll give you something” kinds of reasons.  We had a great conversation about how this was unfortunately how much of our Presidential election has been going this season. 😦  Next we read Grace For President, and got a much better example of how to handle an election.  Grace, the main character in the story, wants to run for President after seeing a poster of all the past presidents and saying, “Where are all the girls?”  This text had a great, kid-friendly example of how the electoral college works, too, which was a great surprise.  After this one, I asked kiddos what they thought was important in a President.  They had some great ideas; I wonder if this is what we will give them on Election Day:

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Rm. 202 kids said things like: nice, polite, trustworthy, someone who cares for us, who will protect us, fair, someone who works hard, who is brave and of course, someone who is 35 years old or older–LOL

Lastly, we read the book If Kids Ran the World, which was another great example of what is really important in this world and is a challenge to all of the adults to think about the big things.  Are we giving our kids what they really need?  Are we focused on the right things?  We didn’t get to it, but I will ask Rm. 202 kids this question: If YOU ran the world, what would you do?  What would you think was important?  Can’t wait to see what they say. 🙂

This was another great week of reading in Rm. 202!!  What will this next week bring?  Please check in next week to find out!! 🙂

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week 10

Sorry–this post is a little late. 😦  I’ve been having printer trouble lately (on a side note, if you know how to get your Canon printer to talk to macOS Sierra 10.12, let me know! Ugh.), and couldn’t get my pictures printed in time to get them on the door until after the weekend (so yes, you’ll get Week 11’s update this week, too!  YAY!).

Last week we read 16 books, and are now up to 177!  I love how we’re so close to filling up the door.  I DON’T love how I didn’t print our pictures on card stock or laminate them or anything and now they’re curling and messy.  Oh well, just don’t pay attention to that part, but instead check out what we read! Please? 🙂

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Last week we added several more Mo Willems books, but they were Pigeon books this week, rather than more (or new) Elephant and Piggie ones.  We were working on a punctuation study, and so were investigating a variety of texts to see what we noticed about how authors use punctuation to create meaning.  I quickly realized that besides being funny and full of speech bubbles (which have been a great addition to writing, too!), they are LOADED with pretty much every punctuation mark, too!  It’s been great to watch how kids’ noticings and wonderings about what they see has changed since we started studying them.  So, thanks, Mo Willems–it’s been great teaching with you lately!

Last week’s total also included a couple of read alouds by Ms. Holzmueller, who works in our room and with our grade level every day.  She shared Where the Wild Things Are, Yoda, and Pete the Cat: A Pet for Pete, and BY GOLLY is she good at it!  Kiddos love to listen to the way she reads (especially because it’s different than listening to me all the time!), and she has a great way of including kiddos in the story, asking them to make faces and movements, answer questions and share their thinking (again, in a different way than I do).  Plus, I forgot how helpful it is to watch someone else teach your class, and how you pick up tips and tricks that others do that work with your students but that you may not have thought of or tried before.

We celebrated Halloween on Friday of this week, so we enjoyed some Halloween-themed books like Pumpkin Heads, The Pumpkin Book, Which Witch is Which, as well as Frankie Stein and Frankie Stein Starts School.  The last two titles are by Lola Schaefer, and were shared with us from our Rm. 203 friends, because they are planning an author Skype with her later this quarter.  We loved them, so maybe we’ll jump onto their Skype plan, too!

Oh, and we were inspired to read our final Ame Dyckman book (Tea Party Rules) when we opened an amazing box of book swag from her on Thursday. 🙂

Can’t wait to share this week’s books with you soon!  I LOVE BOOKS! (can you tell?)

Oh, and if you missed our recent post on our Literary Lanterns, will you check it out, please?  We had so much fun and did so much great thinking through decorating our character pumpkins. 🙂