# 10 Lego Math

Last week during our Bike Rodeo in PE, we did a math investigation around how many wheels were on the bikes in our bike row in the gym (yeah, I know…I should have shared that post first.  Sorry. 🙂 ).

It was our first try with math notebooks and working to communicate our mathematical thinking in words, pictures and numbers.  Kiddos are expected to be able to do that thoughtfully and clearly, based on this rubric:

This is an end-of-year expectation, but we learn about it early and work on it all year in different ways.

As I looked over the work kiddos had recorded in their notebooks, I noticed that kiddos mainly just wrote numbers.  Ok, really a number.  Just the answer to whatever question they were working on.  The words and pictures parts were pretty much MIA.  It’s still early, so this is neither surprising nor worrisome–we just need some work on what it means to clearly and concisely show what we did to solve a problem.

While we could have done this in a variety of ways, I took a super smart suggestion from my friend, Mrs. Marks, (who you might remember inspired this Lego Leading/Following lesson) who thought she would walk a bit backward and have her kiddos work on just representing something really small they that had counted, made, etc.  Perhaps because the first “Mrs. Marks” lesson was using Legos, or maybe because they’re the best tool ever, or we all love them or we have a TON of them….but regardless, I framed our next communication lesson around a Lego creation invitation.

With the goal being using words, pictures and numbers (as necessary) to explain their thinking and making their explanation match their creation, kiddos were given a baggie with 10 random Legos.

Then I gave them these directions:

For the first part, kiddos only worked on steps 1 and 2.

As we moved to the next step, I did a think aloud as I drew and then wrote about my own creation.  We talked about what information would be helpful to know if they were going to build a replica of my tower (because that’s what they will be doing next!).  They gave great suggestions of words to use and we revised and added to the words, also discussing what labels might be helpful.

Somehow I didn’t get a picture of my tower, but I promise it looks just like that drawing. 🙂

Kiddos’ next step was to work on their drawings and writing, with nudges along the way to add or revise to make sure their thinking was clear and complete.

Today we finalized our thinking, took a picture (to compare our drawings and creations) and posted our work on Seesaw.  We used the recording feature to read our writing and add any details we thought were important.  Next step is that we will build each other’s creations and discuss what information in our work was helpful, confusing, and/or missing.  We will then try again with another creation and see if improve.  Kiddos have been so excited about this work and I’m excited to see how it impacts our math work going forward.

How do you use Legos to learn?  We’d love to hear your ideas.  🙂

# The BEAUTIFUL Skin We Live In!

Seems like I have been waiting FOREVER to share this post with you, but I wanted to wait until the final products were hung up before I finally wrote a about it.  Man, it’s been hard!

If you have every visited my classroom, or if you have read this blog before, you hopefully know that diversity and community are two important parts of my classroom.  I have done much over the last year to incorporate more diverse texts into my classroom (and life!), have celebrated cultures of our classroom families, and stressed with my kiddos how amazing it is that we are NOT all the same!  Different is BEAUTIFUL!

I used some similar books from years past, because they are great and still worked to share that diversity, appreciation, celebration, inclusion message I wanted to send.  Kids really enjoyed them. 🙂

I have done portraits many different ways over the years, but wanted to really focus on making them LOOK like us, especially the beautiful COLORS of us.  It was a fun experiment to find just the right combination of paint to represent each kiddos’ face, and we had some great conversations about what we noticed, what we liked and what each color looked like.

The walls in this new room have afforded me the best place so far to display these masterpieces.  They are high and smiling at us and we can see them from everywhere.  I LOVE that you can see each kiddo’s personality in their portrait and even if they weren’t labeled we’d be able to tell who is who because they did such a FABULOUS job creating them.  But most of all I love that they represent how beautifully and wonderfully made  is each and every one of my Rm. 111 kiddos. 🙂

# Our Friend and Counselor, Mrs. Cohen

Last year we were blessed with a new counselor at Robinson (well, she wasn’t new to Robinson, but she was new to this particular job at Robinson!), and she has in many ways become our friend as much as our counselor.  Mrs. Cohen does so much to help kiddos when they are upset, to teach us what to do to help ourselves when we’re upset, to listen when we need an ear, and to be supports for teachers in LOADS of great ways.

Last year I believe she came to visit the first time with her Mr. Potato Head–this time she brought her toolbox.  It’s big and black and yellow and full of so many amazing tools.  Her goal in coming to visit us each week is to share those amazing tools with us and teaching us how we can put them in our OWN toolboxes for when we need them!

This was really her second visit this past week, but I didn’t get a chance to post about the first one, so today I’ll share two of the things she’s taught us. 🙂

One of the first things we talk about on her visits is what our toolboxes look like, and GOODNESS there are some fancy ones in first grade!  This time she read us a story, as our focus was on kindness and how to treat everyone in a kind a caring way.  We LOVED the story of Nerdy Birdy, and how the characters learned that there are ways to be friends with people who are not just like you.

The tools she’s helped us learn about (and that we are using!) are Take 5 Breathing and Balloon Breathing.  There are times in our day when we get upset (for loads of different reasons) and might need to be able to have a way to feel better so we can get back to learning.  We are also working on a Peace Place for our classroom so that when a friend needs a quiet, still, peaceful place to be for a while, there will be one!  Right now we’re deciding where it should go and are working on what we should add to make it “work” for us.  Can’t wait to share it with you once it’s all finished!

For now, I’ll share two videos so you know what we’ve been learning:

And this one is balloon breathing, which is a new one we’re hoping to put into action soon:

I haven’t done it yet, but I’m thinking that maybe I’ll have kiddos make or draw their toolboxes so we can show them to you.  Ooohh…what a great idea for a post in Seesaw!  Maybe we can share those soon, too.  In the meantime, if you know a Rm. 111 friend, ask them about how Mrs. Cohen is helping them be a better, calmer learner!

# First Read With Your Roadrunner of 2017!

Man, this must have been a busy week because I didn’t blog all week AND I have pictures from things that happened a week ago.  MANY APOLOGIES!  Goodness.  I will try to do better this week. 🙂

But for now, I’ll share pics from our first Read With Your Roadrunner.  We had so many family members representing, and I love that kiddos were willing to share their parents with other kids who didn’t have someone (even with my own kiddo who needed someone since I had to be teacher, not mom–thanks Nicholas!!).  We had several siblings who came to join us, too, and believe me–RWYR is always a GREAT way to start the day!  Can’t wait to see even more next time!

# #classroombookaday UPDATE: Do You See What I See?

So before I even say anything, let me show you a picture. 🙂

Do you see the BIG GIANT thing that happened this week in our #classroombookaday challenge??  WE HIT OUR 100TH BOOK!!  WOOHOO!!

I went back to look and it seems like we hit that mark about week 5 last year (not that it matters, but somehow I’m competitive even with myself!), so we’re a week or so off (this was our 6th week of school).  Regardless of when it happens, though, it seems like such a GREAT accomplishment to have been able to share so many amazing books with these first grade kiddos (and SO MANY words and SO MANY great conversations, too!).  Let me show you what we added this week. 🙂

Wow, right?  15 books is pretty good, I’d say, but didn’t have time for all the ones Ms. Turken and I really want to read (and actually we read more than this but the rule is that we can only hang it up if BOTH of our classes get to hear it).  We had several things happen this week that impacted these choices:

1. Our class focus was on the Robinson Expected Behavior of being kind and caring.  We also talked about being considerate and responsible for our choices.  I love the line in that book We Can Get Along that says “I can choose to walk away, my choices BELONG TO ME.”  It’s so important that kiddos know and understand that they need to OWN their behavior, that THEY are in control of their choices and also that their choices have consequences (both good and bad ones!).  Do Unto Otters was so great, too, as there are so many practical examples of what it looks like when we think of others before ourselves.  And not to leave the other one out, What Does it Mean to Be Kind? was a great one for littles because it’s just so simple: this is kindness and this is not.  Nerdy Birdy was shared with us by Ms. Cohen (our counselor) when she came to talk to us this week.
2. We are also SUPER EXCITED for a visit that Todd Parr is making to a local bookstore near us next week and we are getting ready by reading as many books of his as we can!  We have enjoyed them and even had Mrs. Sisul share one of them with us for her Principal Read Aloud this week.  LOVE that she’s involved in this journey of ours!!
3.  Many first graders have gotten into the read-aloud game and sharing books with us!  This week three of Ms. Turken’s friends and our own Maddie read to us and it was so great!  What amazing readers they already are, with such expressive voices (oh and sorry, Sutton, somehow I didn’t get a picture of you 😦 )!

4. We started new investigation in counting and organizing and so we read the funny story of the disorganized Masloppy family to set the context for our math work.

Whew!  What a busy reading week!  We’re having so much fun and enjoying so many new stories and authors.  Can’t wait to see what’s on tap for next week!  What have you been reading?  Please leave us a comment and share a great story you have enjoyed lately, or one you recommend that we read! 🙂

# DOT DAY 2017–Another Day of Making our Mark!

We had a SUPER Dot Day this year, and a lot like last year, there was too much fun for just one day! Oh, and I realized that I forgot to mention that in addition to The Dot, we shared many other Peter Reynolds titles, and sang another Emily Arrow song, too!

OK, moving on…If you read the post from Dot Day 2016, you’ll notice a fabulous Skype opportunity we had with Ms. Hachen’s class from Kansas.  This year we were not quite ready to chat with a “stranger” class yet, so Ms. Turken and I figured out a way to have our first graders learn what to do–with each other!

We had a plan to share our dot creations with each other, as well as prep kiddos for our Skype journey for this year.  We started our Friday with a quick flip chart to introduce kiddos to what Skype actually is and how it works.  We practiced how we would have a greeter (we decided the helper for the week could easily do this); how they would come to the computer and what they would say; as well as what everyone else should do while it’s not their turn (spoiler: they should sit quietly and watch and listen!).  I even gave them a few seconds to do that crazy thing that kiddos always do when they first see themselves on the screen; allowing them to make faces and be goofy for a minute helped quell that desire for once we actually got started.

After we had practiced the procedure and were ready to receive our call, the Skype call rang.  But when we answered there was only a black screen on the other end.  Ms. Turken and I troubleshooted for probably close to 10 minutes, and Rm. 111 friends were AMAZING while they waited for us to figure out what to do.  Jeremiah even had some super ideas about how we could fix the problem (great job, kiddo!), but somehow nothing could get our friends’ faces on our screen. 😦  Eventually, since they were just in the classroom next door, we decided to do this Skype in person.  Yep, it was a first for us, too. 🙂

We headed over with our dots in hand and got all set up.

And..perhaps the best part of the whole deal was when Ms. Turken had the brilliant idea of building a computer out of blocks so kiddos would know where to do and what to do.  It was GENIUS and kiddos did a super job!  Check it out (in pictures first and then a rather long, but super cute video!):

I was so impressed with how well they did, how the mostly were quiet and listening, and how I am sure they’ll know what to do when it’s “for real.”  YAY!!

And speaking of Dot Day creations, here they are.  Can’t wait ’til they are up and displayed for us to see!  Of course, I’ll share again once that happens, but they were too good to keep to myself!

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Aren’t those amazing?  And you know, they so inspired me that I had to join in.  I didn’t do it on actual Dot Day (hope that’s ok), but I did indeed make my mark and make a dot creation with my daughter today (who is also a first grader!).

I’m excited to see them all hanging up soon, inspiring us EVERY DAY to make our marks! 🙂

So tell, how did you celebrate Dot Day?? 🙂

# DOT DAY 2017!!

Oh my goodness–one of my FAVORITE DAYS of the whole school year (maybe even the whole year) happened last week: International Dot Day 2017!

We choose to celebrate in first grade on September 14th (Thursday) because of a crazy schedule on Friday that would cut into our time to play and create.  Every year it seems the day gets bigger and bigger (I believe this is my 3rd Dot Day), and this year was no exception.  Check out what we did! (And a little warning that this post might be a wee bit long and meaty!)

We started our day with a reading of the book by Peter H. Reynolds that sparked the whole thing in the first place, The Dot.  And who better to read it to us than Peter himself??  My favorite part of the video we watched was when he read the cover and said, “The Dot. By me. ”  HA!  Bet that’s SO COOL to read a book you wrote.  He also shared the story about how he got the idea for the book (ask your kiddo about that one–I’ll bet they remember it!) Anyhow, moving along…

After we talked about the story, and how the character Vashti used grit and encouragement with her friend, as well as what it means to make your mark, we added in another video—this time a song–that helped us further the idea.  Have you ever met Emily Arrow?  She created a genre of music called “kidtlit tunes” and first grade kiddos met her on Dot Day as they learned her song that she wrote about the book we had just read.  We’ll probably get through ALL of her books and songs by the end of the year because they are just that good.  Check her out on YouTube if you haven’t yet!  Here’s the one we sang together:

After we had sung (and danced!) a couple of times to that catchy tune, we were ready to do our first (of a series) of dot-related activities, and we made our mark with some art.  I shared a flip chart to get the creative juices flowing, if they weren’t already:

Kids got to “shop” from the table filled with LOADS of art materials and then get busy with their creation.

Even before they were finished they made me so happy just laying out to dry:

Later, after lunch, we HAD to do math with dots. 🙂  And you know what is shaped like dots? SKITTLES!  We had been working on sorting and graphing anyway, so it just made sense.  And then–there was a Dot Day snack!

Whew!  By that point we had already had LOADS of Dot Day fun, but it wasn’t over yet!  After we came back from specials, we returned to the fun with Dot Day Games!  We had collected Connect 4, checkers and Twister from families and other classes.  Kiddos got to choose which they wanted to do on a chart:

Then they got busy with more Dot Day–even I got in on the fun and played a few rounds of Connect 4 with Celia. 🙂

I have add a couple more pictures–the dots that kiddos WORE for Dot Day!!  I didn’t remember to take it until the very end and so you can’t really see many of them, but trust, me–these kiddos were decked out and READY to celebrate.   Check out Campbell’s shirt–he made it especially for the day, and Sarah who had dots on her dress AND her socks!  Wow!!

Ok…well, our Dot Day was not really over, but there was TOO MUCH FUN for one day, so I’ll share part two in another post.  Whew!  Thanks for lasting all the way to the end! 🙂

# You Can Read EVERYWHERE!

Last week we read a great book called You Can Read by Helaine Becker (as we practiced Read-To-Self and talked about the 3 ways to read) and it was quickly a first grade favorite.  The kids in the story are reading in all sorts of (funny) places, including the bathroom, the backyard, the bus, the car and maybe even in a tree.

If you’ve been around 20somethingkids for a while, you know that reading and books and literacy is a BIG deal for me and my students.  So what better way to spend our first 1/2 day of the year than enforcing that YOU CAN READ EVERYWHERE idea by making take-home t-shirt book bags??

We had been collecting t-shirts for a couple of weeks and finally we were ready to do something with them!  Because we are on this co-teaching journey together, Ms. Turken and I had planned that both rooms would be doing this today, and that we’d use both of our rooms for the work.  Kiddos spread out and got busy knot tying!  Besides being fun, the job of creating this bag for themselves enabled them to practice some important fine-motor skills and also helped get them SUPER EXCITED about filling up their new bag with books to read at home!

The smiles when they were done, as well as the SILENCE in the room as they worked (alone and by helping friends!) was inspiring! 🙂

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# First Grade ABCs

Not surprisingly, the alphabet is an IMPORTANT part of the first days of first grade.  Some kiddos are still learning the letters, some are still connecting the sounds, as well as learning how to correctly form the letters so that we can become efficient and fluent writers (more on that later).

We’re read lots of ABC books:

Every year I like to do some sort of class-made alphabet.  Last time around we drew the pictures, and then I used our creations to make the letter charts for our tables (that kiddos can utilize while they write and read).

This year, instead of just drawing, we decided to use torn paper.  Our focus has been on fine motor work at the same time as letters, sounds and names and so it just made sense.  Kiddos made their image on an index card and then we attached it to the letter.

And even before they were finished they looked AMAZING.  Doesn’t this picture make you happy?

Ok, well then here they are hanging up.  Decided to put them over our cubbies because they are easily seen, as well as because kiddos can reach them if need be.

I love that every year the same activity can be new and different and this year it was because of the vowels.  In the past, there has only been one picture for each one.  This was always confusing when we were actually using the chart or wall letters because somehow the kids always needed the other sound.  So this time we made two. 🙂  Or…in the case of A, we actually made 3 (including the way that a can sound like a u at the beginning–or end–of some words).  I’m super excited about how much more useful (and used!) these letters will be.

Also, because we’re working so hard on forming our letters correctly, we added the directions for how to make them (the red numbers and arrows).  Again, hopefully this will make them ever more helpful!

Here are the rest:

I’m not sure I’ve been so excited about the alphabet before!  GREAT job, Rm. 111 friends!

# First Grade Twins (x3)

Last Friday we had three sets of twins in Rm. 111!

And just because he couldn’t let a selfie happen without him, Mkahi jumped into this one with Makayla and me.

First graders are silly.  Enough said. 🙂