Mystery Skype in First Grade–FINALLY!

I have talked about Mystery Skype many, many times on this blog over the years (because it’s an AMAZING learning experience and man is it fun!!), but if you’re new here you might not know much about it, or even what it is.  If that’s the case, please check out this post that I wrote a few years ago to explain how it works, then come back and read about how it’s going in first grade this year!!

While Mystery Skype encompasses a long list of skills and concepts that first graders need to know and apply, we chose to begin it now because we were going to begin a geography study and knew this would be a SPOT ON and FUN way to do what we needed to do with our kiddos.

Rather than just jumping right in, we did a little bit of work beforehand, and talked about what we already knew or what we noticed about maps.  Kiddos got a partner and a map and talked.  Like we figured, they already knew a lot about how maps work.

I didn’t get a picture of the chart, but kiddos’ post-its showed that they already knew about how blue means water; that usually the green parts mean land; that the stars, dots, etc., stand for places/cities; and that there is a place (which we will later on call the key or legend) that tells you what all those symbols mean.

Ms. Turken’s class was a day ahead of us in our geography study and so had had a chance to talk about regions and where certain states are in our country.  The next day, then, we joined forces and put our kids together to do some co-teaching and kid-teaching about what they had learned.  Rm. 112 brought their maps to share and we talked about how we could use this new learning to help us determine where someone was during a Mystery Skype.

In addition to the idea of using regions to help us, we also highlighted how the Mississippi River is another important natural feature we can use to help us narrow down locations.  We marked it on our maps, and the practiced asking yes/no questions and kiddos figured out which state I had chosen.  During this practice round, we also talked about borders and how we can ask if the state borders another country or a body of water.

After both groups had had a chance to practice (one with me and one with Ms. Turken doing the same thing), we were ready to try it for real. 🙂

Luckily, Ms. Turken has many family members who live in other places and who are game to play with us!  Since we had two Skype sessions scheduled, we decided to use them as an opportunity for more teaching and learning.  One group asked the questions and then the other were the observers, so see how it worked.  We would then switch the next day.  We talked to one brother on Thursday, and very quickly figured out he was in Colorado.  We were EXCITED that we had figured it out!

Kiddos showed that they were TOTALLY listening and learning in our practice rounds, and asked great questions about all that we had discussed.  They used regions, the Mississippi River and borders to help them!  Way to go, first grade friends!

Then on Friday, we talked to another brother, and the second group got a chance to try out their Skyping skills!

Again we were able to use what we know to determine his location! YEEHAA!!  He was able to use his phone to show us some great pictures of the water he lives and works next to, as well.  We liked that part. 🙂

So…we’ve begun a really exciting Mystery Skype journey that has taken us to Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Colorado already.  Wonder where we’ll go next?!  Stay tuned!

Veterans’ Day 2017

If you have been at Robinson for the last few years, you know that we do Veterans’ Day in a big way! This year was no different!

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Every year we have more special Veterans that come to celebrate with us–our gym is always bursting at the seams! (Thanks @docpainter for sharing this picture, and thanks for coming!)

There was a procession of all of our special guests (while we all sang a medley of the armed forces songs), the Roadrunner Choir sang the national anthem and kindergarten led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

After that, each grade shared their specially prepared song, and everyone knocked our socks off!

Many smiles were smiled, laughs were laughed and tears were shed as we remembered the important sacrifices many, many people have done to enable us to live and learn in freedom. 🙂

And…because it’s my blog, I have to share a couple of pictures of my own first grader, and a special Veteran who came to celebrate with her!

Thank you, Dad (and Mom, too, who was taking the picture!) for your service!  We appreciate and love you so much!! 🙂

Happy Veterans’ Day, everyone!

 

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 13–WE HIT 200 BOOKS!!

What an exciting week in first grade reading!!  We hit 200 books!!  We’re in that super fun time of year, too, where the topics we’re reading about are so much fun and we’re in a smooth routine that allows us to read even more than usual.  Win-win!!

Check out our wall! Our updated total is 203! (yeah…I just noticed I put on book up there twice.  Ignore that part. 🙂 ).

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I was talking to my friend the other day about our wall and how happy we are that it’s in a place where EVERYONE in our school walks every day.   We did so much with this challenge last year and no one got to see it or share it with us because our room was tucked up in a quiet corner where no one but us ever walked.  This way all the readers in our school (adult and student alike!) get to check out what we’re doing.  And besides showing all of our hard work, it’s just so PRETTY!!  Sometimes I really do just stand there and look at it.  Books can inspire you in so many ways!

This week we read lots of great ones by many authors and used them in many ways.

We came back to a few old favorite authors–and illustrators–this week (talking to you, Ryan T. Higgins, Marla Frazee, Mo Willems, Todd Parr, Steve Antony and Mem Fox!).  We have worked through SO MANY of those friends’ titles, but still had some floating around that we had to finish up.  Mem Fox has SO MANY and we were still working through hers from the Global Read Aloud (which, by the way, I am remembering I have forgotten to tell you about.  More on that later, I hope!).  We used many of them to help with some word work we have been doing, and some I picked to help revisit a friend/kindness theme (it’s that time of year when you need to remind kiddos that the things we talked about at the beginning of the year are still a thing!).  Little i  came in SUPER handy as we were working on the editing phase in our writing unit, and Pumpkin Jack is always a nice ending to our Literary Lanterns project and the “pumpkin” focus we had around Halloween.

Kiddos were our readers this week, too, as Celia shared Thank You, Mr. Panda and Campbell read The Thank You Book to us. 🙂

Funny kid reference from the week comes when I was sharing that we were going to read Knuffle Bunny Too and Knuffle Bunny Free.  I was happily sharing how we’d read these and Louie says, “Oh, like Knuffle Bunny 2 and 3!”  We all had a laugh and I TOTALLY didn’t even hear the titles like that.  Good detail, Mo Willems, and good listening, Louie!!