Helping Out for Hands on Kirkwood!

We live in a SUPER community who loves and supports its neighbors and this weekend was another example why that’s true.  Today is the annual event called Hands of Kirkwood.

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First graders, along with our 3rd grade learning buddies from Mrs. Rajab’s class, did our part by passing out bags to our Robinson neighbors.  Much like other drives that happen around town (done by the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts), this one is an invitation to donate food and other necessities to help both Kirkcare and Nurses for Newborns.

Armed with our plastic yellow bags, helping hands and hearts, we were off!

We were hot and sweaty, but we were so glad we got to help out!  The best part was how many kiddos I heard say how happy they were that they got to do this.  Someone was even imagining how much food we’d collect and how many people could benefit.  Way to go Robinson kiddos!

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 8

What a SUPER week for reading in first grade!  Ok, well it’s always great, but when we’re doing #classroombookaday AND the Global Read Aloud at the same time, it’s extra magical. 🙂

Our count is up to 132 and here’s what our wall looks like:

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Isn’t it beautiful?  I mean, really?! I could stand there and study it all day long–and I’m sure many Robinson kids could (and would!), too, if we’d let them. 🙂

This week we read these books:

As I have written briefly about (and even mentioned here!), we started the Global Read Aloud this week, and have loved beginning our study of Australian culture and Mem Fox’s books.  Along with the “assigned” GRA books, we have also added in a nonfiction book about koalas (to help us understand Koala Lou), as well as two other Mem Fox stories.  We ended our week on a sweet note as we read about how Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge shared memories with Ms. Nancy and helped her remember. 🙂

As is usual in my classroom, we added in some beloved authors’ books to add to the collection.  This week it was another Todd Parr book (yep–there are still some we haven’t read yet!) and another Ame Dyckman, because well, she’s awesome and why not?  I also shared King Baby by Kate Beaton this week because we had also read The Princess and the Pony earlier this year.  That one got lots of laughs. 🙂

Ok…and now let me tell you a story about some books we didn’t love.  In some ways I feel bad about writing this.  Feel like we’re supposed to just read “good” books, so to speak, and/or find something that I like in every text we read.  But then again, reading is personal and everyone likes different things, right?  It might have just been that the timing of when we read them was not ideal.  One afternoon this week I had a “we-just-need-to-sit-down-and-enjoy-a-book-together” moment, after a really rough morning.  I explained how reading with people I love, experiencing a good book together makes me feel better.  And then….we read Pig the Pug.  And Pig the Winner.  And, oh my goodness…no one felt any better!  The looks on the faces of some of my friends was priceless as we read about how greedy and mean and inappropriate Pig’s choices were.  He would NOT make a very good Roadrunner and his books were FULL of unexpected behaviors.  Ok, so at least we learned some things we should NOT do.  There–I found something positive to say. 🙂  Oh, and we didn’t add it to the wall yet (because Ms. Turken hasn’t read it), but we then had to read The Grandma Book (by Todd Parr) and How to Find a Fox (both very funny) to make up for those first two.  Then we could move on. 🙂

We read Jabari Jumps this week and enjoyed finding parts that we could relate to, as well as encouraging him on as he tried something that he was scared to do.  I was so happy as my friends were telling him, “No, don’t stop now!” and how we could discuss positive self-talk that we can use when we’re nervous about something new.

Only One You and Animalogies were both used as prompts for learning activities–one with Mrs. Berger and another for an art project that we’re doing for a school celebration in a couple of weeks.  We read Even Superheros Have Bad Days.  We were a little worried–after those yucky books the day before–and because the title seemed to signal bad news.  BUT, we read this one and LOVED it!  It was a perfect connection to another book we have read,  We Can Get Along.  It had some SUPER examples about how superheroes COULD do some pretty terrible things when they’re upset, but then INSTEAD they could also choose to respond in more appropriate, expected ways.  This book ended up being EXACTLY what Roadrunners do–use breathing strategies and Peace Places and other things to help them get back to center.   Whew!

And then there’s One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree…  I read this one last year, and I know it’s great, but this year it was perhaps an even greater read, because Mrs. Sisul came to share it with us as her principal read aloud.  She was very excited about it, and her love of both the book and reading to kids showed.  And this made us love it even more!

I didn’t get a recording of the whole thing, but I had to get at least a little so you could hear what it sounded like. 🙂

See?  Told you it was good. 🙂  Oh, I forgot to tell you, but first graders made some predictions about what kind of book she’d bring with her to share with us, and we predicted something by Todd Parr or Mem Fox because that’s who we’re studying.  Good guesses, first grade. 🙂

 

Word Wall 2017

I am a teacher who works with first graders, so we do LOTS with words.  Reading words, writing words, learning about how to say words, discussing meaning of words.  Words. Words. Words.

So…in the beginning when I was putting the room together, lots of thought and consideration was given to how we’d use our word wall and where it would go in the room.  Ms. Turken and I also had many conversations about how we could use our walls in tandem (as our kids would be going back-and-forth between our rooms often and would be utilizing both versions).  Last year, I also had a rebirth of the word wall, and abandoned the whole “traditional” layout (with letters and sight words) and we put words in categories rather than by alphabetical order.  Kids in Rm. 202 used that version of the wall SO MUCH MORE because it was theirs.  They had ownership over how it was organized and therefore were much more purposeful in how it helped them.

As I said, we’ve had a “word wall” since day one.   It looked like this:

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And next to it, to the right, is another wall, that has been predominately “blank”, as well, except for names (which some kiddos just noticed last week. LOL).  This set up is almost identical in Rm. 112–on the same wall, even–just with different colors.

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Today, for many reasons, became the day to tackle the word wall discussion.  For one, kids have had some time to “live” in our room, as well as in first grade generally, and so have more of an understanding of what more they might need as far as resources.  We’ve also just officially started word work as a Daily 5 rotation, so they are more aware of how this aspect of reading and writing in first grade.  We’ve been reading for almost a whole quarter now, and have been working out words, and are far enough now for an “official” lesson about what to do with unknown words in Writer’s Workshop.  It’s to the point now that we have to address where to go when you don’t know. 🙂

We gathered in front of the blank word wall today and had a discussion about what it might be for.  Many pointed to the fact that we’ve been utilizing it to help us write our letters when we forget what they look like, or what order they go in.  Many were happy to leave that silly wall just as it is!  I pushed, however, and talked about how I’d overheard several kiddos talking about how they needed help with how to write (spell) specific words today, and suggested that maybe we could use the spaces (between the letters!) for words.  They seemed keen on this idea, and many suddenly remembered that they had a wall like that in kindergarten! (I tell, ya, those kindergarten teachers think of the BEST ideas! hee hee)  We discussed what kinds of words we should put on our wall and many threw out words they’d been trying to use today, and someone suggested we  add sight words to our wall.  The thing I loved about their thinking (unlike many years, and in comparison to the way I’ve used word walls previously) is that they agreed that we should put up words they DO NOT know how to read and spell yet, rather than ones they ALREADY know how to use correctly.  This is the part of the typical Word Wall that always had me confused anyway: I used it as a wall of “have-tos” and held kids accountable for words they already knew, rather than effectively helping them work towards ones they didn’t have control over yet.

Additionally, many suggested that we routinely COME BACK to review the words on the word wall to siphon out words we had learned (and didn’t need anymore), adding new ones that kids needed to rely on.  BOOM!  Not rocket science, but this was the very first time I’ve ever had a learner attend to the “living” nature of the word wall.  It’s the first time I had done that, too.  WOW! so thankful that happened.

In past years, I have decided on what words we would learn and add, based on a list or suggestion from someone or somewhere…sometimes relying on my kids to lead me (I’d say I did more of this student-led work last year more than ever), but often just at random.  Waa waa.  Super teaching strategy, right?  It didn’t hurt anyone, and kids eventually learned how to read, write and use those words, but of course there was a better way of doing it than just so haphazardly.

Since Rm. 111 kids would decide which words to add, we originally had a plan for each kiddo to tackle a “letterful” of words, leaving the remaining ones for me to choose.  Campbell suggested that we determine 5 or so words for each letter that we wanted.  The time of today when we could work on this didn’t allow us much time, so I tweaked the idea a little and we worked with our learning partners.  In the end, I think this worked out better anyway, as kids had to more deeply think about and defend their choices than would have been required if they just chose on their own.  As they finished with their first letter, pairs tackled others and we got almost finished with our choices today (up to the letter R, I believe…).  When our work time was over, we had a tableful of possibilities.

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It was really interesting to see what they had come up with, and made me think about how I’d chosen focus words before.  I am pretty sure I never had contractions up there so early, and the wall was full of 2-letter words for months.  As I reviewed the words they decided upon, I saw MANY MORE connections between words than I’d allowed for previously, and noticed many ways that words could be used to spell other words that I hadn’t ever considered.  First graders are so smart!!  I mean, really–so often they know what they need much better than me! 🙂

I did end up revising their lists a little, taking out words that could be figured out with longer words.  For example, I left CAN’T but took away CAN, as we could use the latter to spell the shorter one.  Same with most of those contractions, as well as the word BE, since BECAUSE and BEFORE were also there.  Also, some of their word choices were colors and numbers, which will go into category boxes (much like last year’s wall) on that black board on the right side.  We’ll discuss this and how to use it a little later.

I didn’t get quite done today, but am already really excited to see all the words that are hanging there now, and am happily anticipating how the wall will be used by my Rm. 111 (and 112!) learners.  I am excited for the newly gained confidence that I will see emerging as kids can add another layer of  independence to their literacy work.

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Oh, and by the way, when I asked them what we should call this wall of words, they suggested we put the title WORD WALL on it. 🙂  hee hee (and see–there’s even a lesson in that title: I did not leave CALL or ALL on the list because they are inside of WALL). 🙂

All I can say is I LOVE FIRST GRADERS!!  Please stay tuned for more on how we use this amazing thinking to help us with FUTURE amazing thinking. 🙂

#GRA17 is FINALLY HERE!

I think it was two years ago when I first officially joined the Global Read Aloud.  We were reading The Year of Billy Miller that year and I was teaching 2nd grade.  I was invited by my Tweep Tam in Australia and was excited to collaborate worldwide with other kids and teachers reading the same text.  Then last year, as I returned to 1st grade, I brought Ms. Turken along for the ride and had an even more amazing journey exploring and responding to Lauren Castillo books!

As we moved into this fall, excitement was high to join this project again, and THE DAY IS FINALLY HERE! We are so jazzed to be studying Mem Fox (and old, familiar favorite author!) and sharing our learning along the way.  We will for sure use Seesaw to show our friends and family our thinking, but also hope to collaborate with other kids via Skype, too.

We started with a short video about Mem Fox, and some wondering about both her life and Australia, where she lives.  Then, I shared a book I had written when I was teaching 2nd grade (as a mentor text during a culture study we were doing in Social Studies).  It was a little indulgent–I got to have a Peter Reynolds moment and say “Australian Culture, by ME!”–but also helped give kids some background on Australia before we read.

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Kiddos wrote and drew about what they learned and uploaded their thinking to their Seesaw journals.

Today we came back, ready to hear Koala Lou (the first week’s book), but instead we first teased kiddos with a habit that we’ve learned that good readers do–take a sneak peek.  We studied the front and back covers and kiddos made predictions about what they thought the story might be about.  They did a pretty good job of guessing some things that actually happened in the story.  Again, these were uploaded into Seesaw so we could share our learning. 🙂

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Then…finally, last thing today, IT WAS TIME to finally hear the story!  We gathered in Rm. 112 and it sounded something like this:

We are SO EXCITED to see what comes next!   Art maybe?  Have any suggestions for us? 🙂

 

Another Kingore Lesson: Patterns!

We went back to Mrs. Berger for another lesson–this time it was patterns.  We started on the circle rug by the big screen first and tried out some growing and repeating patterns together.

After we did some SUPER thinking together, we showed what we could do on our own papers.  Some of the patterns were tricky, but we were dedicated to working hard, using our grit and pushing through to the end.  We did a GREAT job!

Two more to go!  Stay tuned to see more of our super first grade thinking!

Happy Half-Day: October 2, 2017

Yesterday we had a 1/2 day.  Just about one a month, teachers and students are released early and we head to an afternoon of professional learning (and yes, kiddos head home!). Check out some pictures of the fun and learning we had during our morning together. 🙂

IMG_1694Have you seen the SUPER AWESOME patio we have on the back of Rms. 111 and 112?  Yeah, it’s pretty amazing.  We have plans for how we can use this place for whole group situations (anyone wanna buy us an outdoor rug?), or maybe adding some different seating so kids or groups could work out there on nice days.  On this day, it was perfect for a picnic lunch with our first grade friends.  I think it’s funny how few students that looks like, but trust me, there are 40 kiddos and 3 adults out there in that space together. 🙂

AND…since it was so nice, we ventured outside to read again (remember the post about how reading in the trees makes you feel good?).  Since we could only go to our front yard and we only had a little bit before it was time to go home, Ms. Turken and I gave kiddos the choice of reading-to-self or listening-to-reading while we were out there.  As is usual, we were about 50/50 in each place.

There is just something different about reading outside, in the sunlight with the breeze blowing on you.  SO glad these kiddos like it, too!  Can’t wait for the next beautiful fall day we can do it again–I still have another great location for us to visit. Stay tuned so you can see what happens next on our reading journey! 🙂

Todd Parr: Reading Under a Tree!

If you’ve been around here for the last couple of weeks, you’ll know that we have become LOVERS of Todd Parr (and even Todd Parr himself!), and we’re on a mission to read all of this books.  We’re at 10 so far, and one of the latest ones we shared together was The Feel Good Book.

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Before I even start I have to say how much I love this cover.  Doesn’t it make you feel good before you even read it?  Makes me want to dance. 🙂

Ok, well…we read this one the other day, and kiddos were asked to think about this question:

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We found out that for a lot of us, hugs  (especially from our siblings!) and our animals make us feel good!

Well…as we read the page that said: Reading under a tree makes you feel good, someone said, “I’ve never done that before.”  “WHAT?!” (I’m pretty sure I shouted).  “You’ve never read under a tree?!  We have to change that!”  So yep, we made a plan to make sure everyone knew what it was like to read under a tree. 🙂

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Besides just being fun (and making us feel good, like his books remind us), this was the perfect fall-weather day to enjoy outside, and I was reminded of how wonderful our outdoor spaces are at Robinson.  And this isn’t even the end of it!  There are at least two or three other places I can think of that we can snuggle down with a good book!  Kids were already asking when we could do this again, and I was totally ok that everyone complained that we came in too soon. 🙂

THANK YOU TODD PARR, for making things like this so much fun and giving us great ideas for more ways to enjoy great books!

Mrs. Cohen: Personal Space Camp

Mrs. Cohen came back to visit us this week and again brought along a book (yay!) and a smart strategy for our toolboxes. 🙂

The book was Personal Space Camp and was a very timely story for many friends in Rm. 111.  If you haven’t read it, it’s about a boy named Lewis who has a hard time understanding that Personal Space Camp is NOT about outer space but how your body moves in your own space and how to make sure that you give people bubbles around them instead of getting IN their space.  (Wow–that was a weird sentence and you probably could’ve figured out the plot without my telling you, but hey…)

We took some time to experience what that book meant with the help of a hula hoop.  She used our very own Louie to demonstrate how much room around your body you should have when you are sitting down.

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Then she demonstrated what that hoop (his space) looked like when he stood up.  All of a sudden it was much bigger and so they tried to see how many more kiddos they could squeeze into it.  Man…

They all agreed that it was NOT better when they were all in there together, and that they were squished and uncomfortable.  And after that last picture I’m pretty sure they fell over. 🙂

So they tried that original personal space again and Louie, at least, agreed that that was the way it should be.  We talked about how respecting everyone’s personal space is an important part of working together in a classroom, as well as a crucial step in keeping us all safe and happy.

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After this, Mrs. Cohen taught us about shrug-it-off breathing.  It’s similar to the two techniques she had already taught us, and really just involves pulling up your shoulders close to your ears while you inhale and then exhaling slowly and pressing your shoulders down as far as they can go (sorry–I didn’t get a video for this one!).  We tried it and just like the other ones, it helped us feel calmer and more relaxed.  We will be applying these very soon, I’m sure!

Oh, and here’s just a quick sneak peek of something we did the other day.  Remember the toolboxes that I mentioned Mrs. Cohen always talked about?  I had kids draw them and explain what they looked like in Seesaw.  And I feel like I must tell you that we had to have a little discussion before hand about how they are imaginary toolboxes.  Many friends were adamant that they didn’t have one. 🙂    I am only sharing a couple that came up first in the feed, but don’t worry–the rest are equally AWESOME!  (If you’re connected to your child’s Seesaw learning journal, you’ll be able to see theirs if it’s not here. 🙂 ).

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P.S. I love Seesaw.  🙂

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 7

Hello, #classroombookaday friends!  Another super week and we’ve read loads of great ones!  Here’s our wall as of Friday:

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We added 15 this week and are up to 115 books so far! Many of them are the same as last year (as kids have asked me), but so many of them are brand new ones I’ve never heard of before now.  I love how we are finding new authors and then reading ALL of their books, as well as reuniting with old author friends from before. 🙂

Here are the highlights from this week:

You probably already know (if you read last week’s post) why there are so many Todd Parr books on this list!  We have been HUGE fans of Todd Parr and are set to read all of his books.  Perhaps the most fun part of this week was when Ms. Turken (and my kiddos) and I got to MEET HIM!! He was at our local bookstore to share and sign his newest book Love the World and we were there.  🙂  Super excited for this pic with our new friend. 🙂

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I think I mentioned before, but it is worth repeating that I love how easy it is to share big messages with little kids by reading Todd Parr’s books.  Everyone of them is accessible by all levels of readers and are about BIG IDEAS.  We have had SO many deep conversations as we read and I’m so thankful for those lessons.

This week also added several stories that are related to things we’re learning:

Night of the Veggie Monster is a mentor text for our Small Moments unit in Writing, we’re using Ollie the Stomper as we’re learning about building good reading habits in Reader’s Workshop and the other two accompany our study on Light and Sound in Science. LOVE that literature is involved in these subjects.

The last ones were just for fun.  Hug Machine has a fabulous Emily Arrow song (see below), the Sam book was a new one from our pal Mo Willems that we hadn’t read, Betty Goes Bananas is from the same author as the Mr. Panda books we’ve read (Steve Antony), and we’ve read several of the other “if you want to….DON’T” books along the way this year, too.  Oh, and I wish I had a video of this, too, but I feel that I should mention that a puppet named Mr. Giggles read that Betty book to us and it was super fun.

Whew!  What a great reading week.  I’m excited for this week to come, as well, because we start the Global Read Aloud!! Stay tuned to see lots of Mem Fox added to the list!!