SOLD!!

I was trying to figure out how to break the almost-3-month hiatus (what??)  I’ve had on this blog, and wasn’t sure how best to do that.  There are obviously LOADS of stories I need to tell about what has happened since February when I was last here (and by the way, I had to go back and look at when I wrote my last post–whoa!!  It was way longer ago than I had remembered!).  But…I figure the best way to come back from a long absence is to explain what I’ve been doing, right?  Hence the title.  Can you figure out what it is??  Let me start with a picture. 🙂

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It has really been unbelievable to me how much time and energy it takes to get your house ready to go on the market and then to actually work to sell it!  I have figured out in the weeks since February 16 (when I last posted here) that I must only have “free” time to accomplish one thing at a time. So that thing became house projects, and not running or blogging or reading, or really anything else!!  Man.  But, even though we’re not officially across the finish line yet (don’t close for another 6 weeks or so), we’ve crossed some hurdles and are hopeful it will all work out. 🙂

As I come back and hopefully settle back into a regular routine (which is funny considering that there are also only 18 days of school left!), I will start with some stories about things I’ve learned through this getting-your-house-ready-to-sell process.  It was a lot like what happens in formal learning at school–some ups, lots of downs, hard work and many lessons learned along the way.  And even though I have had many frustrating moments, I’ve come out on the other side in one piece, relatively unscathed. And with more appreciation for the process and new knowledge about lots of different things.

The biggest project I’d say I undertook was tiling my bathrooms.  Right now we live in a 25 or so year-old ranch house, with builder-grade bathrooms (something we just had never gotten around to updating the 6 1/2 years we’ve been here).  Well, buyers these days don’t really love those, so we had to do something about it.  That required a new floor, new vanity, new mirror and paint touch ups.  As I do with most things, I was determined to figure out how to do-it-myself (rather than pay someone to do it), and began the necessary research.

While I know that there are people who do masterful things with tile in bathrooms, my job was just 12 X 12 squares in a 6 X 6 room, which was relatively (at least in my mind!) easy.  In my reading, I found out all about the cement board base (and how to cut and attach it), as well as the do’s and don’ts of how to lay out the tile, attach it, grout it, etc., and so I gathered my materials and got to work.  Ok, not really.  I probably took about 10 trips to Home Depot as I realized something I didn’t have or didn’t have enough of to finish a particular part.  Pretty sure my new friend’s name is Robert.  He waited on me at least 3 or 4 of those times. 🙂

For those of you who know about tiling, this next part will be really boring, so feel free to skim. For those of you who don’t feel free to keep reading (and learn how!) and see what my process looked like.

The size and shape of that bathroom should have been an easy job.   And if you know what you’re doing I guess it is.  Instead, it took me 5 times longer.  Mainly I’d saw I learned how important having the right tools for the job are; if I’d only driven to get the wet tile saw in the first place, and not tried to use the cheap tile-splitter thing (that didn’t work!), I would have been done at least 1 day and a half sooner!

When we were putting the bathroom back together, there was some toilet drama (did you know that’s a thing?) because the height of the floor had changed,  I found some hidden wallpaper that I had to remove (add another day), and the vanity was a little trickier to level than we’d thought it would be.  But goodness, can I tell you how grateful we both are for YouTube?  I mean there really is a video out there to teach you how to do ANYTHING!!

I finally finished and was so proud of the work I had done.  There were many times I had to dig deep and push myself to figure out a problem or redo a part that didn’t work out teh way I first wanted it to.  I had to be really gritty (and not just because of the tile grout LOL) and have a growth mindset.  I’d say that in addition to having a great bathroom at the end of the process, it was also really rewarding just the next weekend when I had ANOTHER bathroom to do and it was SO MUCH EASIER than the first.  The second one was probably 2/3 bigger but took much much less time because of the mistakes I’d made and things I’d learned from the other one.  What a great example of how to take struggles and hardships and use them for good!  And after I had TWO tile floors to tiptoe around on, I felt twice as proud!

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I think the best part of this whole house process has been how it reminds me of what it’s like to be a student.  There were times when I didn’t know what to do, and I had some choices: I could quit, I could cry, I could ask someone for help, or I could try to find out the information for myself and try to solve the problem.   I love those times that help me remember that being gritty and being a problem solver is sometimes really hard.  But being able to do that, use my positive self-talk and come out with a “win” in the end makes it all worth it!  And what a great story to share with my students!

So anyhow, I figured I should explain where I’ve been and say thanks for being here for my return!!  Can’t wait to tell you more stories about what’s been happening lately in the world of Rm. 202!  Please stay tuned! Talk to you again soon!

#WRAD17 and #classroombookaday COLLIDE

I love to read.  Did you know that?  Ha!!  I might literally be laughing as I type that because if you spend even five minutes with me I’ve probably told you about a book you should read or one I just read or one I plan on getting from the library or the bookstore soon.  It’s kind of an addiction.  But hey, there are worse vices, right?

So anyway…today was a special day in the literary world where two fabulous planets collided–it was World Read Aloud Day as well as another day in the #classroombookaday challenge!!

I made a plan for our read alouds yesterday, and slotted in eight new titles, trying to fit them into what we were already planning to do in each subject.  I invited Mrs. Sisul to come to read to us–because why not?!–and figured I’d take care of the rest.  What happened instead was even better than I had imagined!

We only ended up with 7 (ha–I know, that’s so silly to say “only”) and also ended up with 3 OTHER READERS!!  Check it out!

Mrs. Sisul had a hard job finding a book that Rm. 202 friends didn’t already know, and she brought one we had already heard, but everyone knows that a good book is meant to be read and REREAD so we were so glad that she did!

Ms. Holzmueller was in our room this afternoon and so we had to ask her to share a story with us!  What better than Lola Loves Stories!  We had already read Lola at the Library and this one was a great addition!

I love how it has become commonplace in Rm. 202 for kiddos to make book suggestions, bring books from home and even volunteer to read to us!  Callahan had been working on The Cherries for a little while and was eager to read it to the rest of his classmates!  Since he and Jack had worked it out together, Jack showed the pictures while Cal read us the words.  Great job, boys!!

Penny has become a regular nowadays in our orange chair!  This was the third in this series that she chose to share with us and the kids were super excited.  This may be my favorite so far.  And no, not just because it has my name in it. 🙂

We ended up also reading some other books that were in my mile-high TBR pile, and one that someone just happened to add to the top of it today.  It was a pretty good selection, I’d say:

Ok, and since I said that #WRAD17 collided with our regular #classroombookaday challenge, let me update you on how that’s proceeding.  I’m pretty sure that it has been since the holidays that I updated our door situation.  I’m not really sure why, but wow does it look different these days.  I’m excited for you to see it and share in our joy.  I honestly just get all warm and happy every time I see it–which is at least 25 times a day or more!

Here are a few to watch the door fill up:

And then all together now:

We’re up to 389!!  COWABUNGA!!

Someone asked today when our next celebration would be.  Not sure–think at 400?  500?  When we fill up this side of the door?  I mean, I kind of think every addition is a celebration of some sort, but I’m an old lady so I find joy in the little things. LOL  🙂

No matter what we decide, it’s CERTAIN that the readers in Rm. 202 are on a roll!

#weekofkindness–Thursday

Oh my goodness guys—this week has been BEYOND amazing!  All week we’ve been collecting books to donate to friends who don’t have any as well as food for Feed My People and our own Robinson Cares Food Pantry.  It’s been so great to see how kind and generous kids and families are, and has been great as we’ve been able to use this meaningful topic as we work on our reading, writing and spelling with our chart:

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Our conversations all week have included ideas for how we can all show more kindness to each other, and today we added that last idea of making #weekofkindness cards for special Robinson people to show them we care.  We started the day with an easel question related to this topic:

img_6805We had loads of great suggestions (including several post-its with MY name on them, LOL), and came up with even more and we planned for our card-making.  Kiddos decided who they wanted to create for and then most paired up to share some love!

The smiles on their faces as they finished and then the excitement as they came back with stories of the joy they spread to the recipients was over-the-top.  This was definitely a GREAT addition to our #weekofkindness activities. 🙂  Spreading kindness makes you all warm inside too!

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I am SO glad we did this and wonder if #weekofkindness should happen once each MONTH instead of just once each year. 🙂

 

#weekofkindness–Tuesday Update!

This year our school has been working to “tweak” what have been considered “traditional” holiday celebrations (i.e. class parties).  You’ll remember that we had a relaxing afternoon with a snack and a movie for Halloween, and a our amazing Cultural Celebration just before Winter Break.  Well, Valentine’s Day made the trifecta complete, as we made some long-overdue (well at least in my opinion) and really great (also in my opinion!) changes to this day.  Let me tell you about how it started in Rm. 202…

I knew that I wanted to twist up Valentine’s Day the last few years, but did so just by adding to the usual “celebrations.”  We still had a party and stuffed everyone with sugar before sending them away on the bus.  The first year, however, I tried to add in a little #makerspace and we engineered our Valentine boxes out of junk.  Then, last year, I did away with the box altogether and we crafted bags during our day, covered in kind words from our friends to help us remember how much #youmatter.   But still, there was pretty much still a “regular” Valentine’s Day.

This time around, I did what I tend to do with any big change, and ask my kiddos what they want to do.  We talked about how we’d be embarking on an entire #weekofkindness, rather than doing what they were probably expecting.  Like I expected, some were fine and some were literally “booing” at me.  “But why can’t we have a party?”  “Why can’t we bring Valentines?” “We did ….. in kindergarten!”  These statements were much like what they snarled at me (lol) when I gave the same speech about the 100th Day (you’d think they’d know me better by now!), and so I talked them down the from the ledge.  I explained how if they did it in kindergarten then there’s no reason we should do it now, since we’re not in kindergarten anymore, and also that we’d been spending the WHOLE WEEK focused on kindness instead of just one day, and then also that whatever we chose would–of course–be fun!

We had been rolling ideas around in our heads for a few days and decided we should record them so we wouldn’t forget.  We even used some literature for inspiration–we had been on a Pete the Cat roll with our books for a few days and found some Valentine’s Day books that we thought might give us some ideas.  A couple of them indeed DID come from Pete.  Funny how that works out.

Our #weekofkindness officially began yesterday, and we began laying the groundwork for our kindness-spreading with some books as well as planning.  We decided to start collecting books to celebrate International Book-Giving Day (which is Feb. 14) as well as to gathering food for Feed My People and our Robinson Food Pantry.  This meant we had some lists to make, and also some inspiring to do.  So far, our food list (which we’re writing together with interactive writing) looks like this:

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We hope to add more veggie ideas, as well as a category for soup tomorrow!

Today, being actual Valentine’s Day meant kiddos came with a heightened sense of excitement.  The #weekofkindness activities for today included writing on each others’ hearts (cool, right??) as well as making Kindness Cake.  Oh, and we decided to wear red, pink and hearts.  Just because we could. 🙂

Instead of “traditional” Valentine’s cards, we told our friend #youmatter by writing kind words–right on their hearts.  We did a pretty complicated rotating routine to make sure everyone got to everyone else’s hearts and they did a GREAT job!  What a fun experience seeing the amazing things first grade friends say to each other. 🙂

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But wait–it gets even better!  We made Kindness Cake!  Remember how I told you that we read those Pete the Cat books?  Well the very last page of the Valentine’s Day book has a picture of him sharing cake with his friend Callie, and so we added this “bake a cake” idea to our list.  Remember when we did all that fantastic pumpkin pie baking in December?  Yep, we were thinking that it was time to whip up something else yummy in the Rm. 202 Kitchen!

I found a really fantastic chocolate cake recipe (after we voted for which flavor we wanted to bake) that everyone in our class could eat (which meant it had to be tree-nut free, peanut-free and vegan) and we got busy!  Robbie’s mom had a great idea of sending in a heart-shaped cake pan (thanks to the other moms who did this, too!) and so we were READY for Valentine’s Day.

To some it looked like just a regular chocolate cake with vanilla icing, and I guess in some ways it could be.

But we kicked it up a notch with the decorations.  The decorations were hearts that we labeled with ideas for acts of kindness–things we had done, things we had seen others do, or ideas we had for things we could do.  We put them on toothpicks and covered the top of our cake with our kindness:

The way we got to the “spreading kindness” part was when we ate it.  As we cut the cake, I made sure that everyone’s piece had a heart in it.  Each kiddo got back a heart, but NOT the one they had written down.  Their challenge was to spread kindness by doing the act of kindness that was on the heart in their piece of cake at sometime in the next week.  Cool, right?  It was fun to see how many were immediately making plans for how they’d complete their challenge.

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Oh, and how it did taste?  Well this is what is left on the cake plate:

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And that is my #kindnesschallenge: “I can help someone.”  Ok, friends, challenge taken.  I’ll let you know what happens. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Judge Fairly

We are learning many things in first grade lately (that’s good, right?) and many of them are about how to argue!

Yes, I know, you shouldn’t argue with your friends (or your enemies, either), but it is a good thing to know how to make a good argument.

Our newest writing unit is about writing reviews, making judgments and arguing about why something is the best–with reasons to support that opinion.  We started by bringing in collections from home and judging which we thought was the best.  We were supposed to write our thinking, giving reasons that would convince our fellow writers.  It was great how quickly they dug in to this work, and how seriously they considered the choice.

We shared our initial judgments and shared our choices with our writing partners.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working on how to strengthen our arguments, by adding reasons, using strong words and phrases like “You might think…but I think…”, adding in quotes from others, and giving details.  We also learned how to strengthen our reasons by considering the opinions of others.  This was a fun day when we got to judge our friends’ collections and write about whether we agreed or disagreed (respectfully!) with their decision of “best in show.”

Our most recent argument was made as a part of our plans for #weekofkindness: we gathered a SUPER chart of ideas and kiddos had to convince me (and their friends) about which ones were the best.  What motivating writing topics!

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We will continue our work over the next few weeks, eventually moving our arguments and reasoning into ways we can make change in our community (which ties in with our study of history and change-makers in Social Studies right now!).  Fun times ahead!  Stay tuned!

Global School Play Day 2017

I was so excited to find out about Global School Play Day 2015 right before it happened.  It was the first one ever and my class helped inaugurate the new tradition!  For some reason (I’m not sure why except that maybe I just forgot??) we didn’t participate last year.  This time around I was ready, and even got some other Robinson friends to join in, too!

Last time around I wrote a really long (but great!) post about all the things I thought we learned from our play, and while that was all true and good, this post will be more about what we actually did.  There are some great stories, pictures and videos to share, and yes, indeed, also learning. 🙂

Ok…so we started our GSPD 2017 with our normal easel question.  Sometimes it’s math, sometimes it’s writing, sometimes it’s review of something else.  Today it was a question about the day:

I really wanted them to get the idea that while it would definitely be a FUN day, it would also be a day where they would indeed be learning something.  I hoped this would focus their minds on that idea and help them see the opportunities in a new way.

After we got through our morning announcements and the pledge, I had everyone gather on our rug for a meeting to start our day. We talked about the answers they had put on the easel question, and I also gave them an idea for what they could expect ME to be doing throughout the day.  We talked about ways that I like to play–with words, puzzles, drawing, painting (this is a new love for me since we had our experience with Figy earlier this year!), teaching new games (we have many on our game shelves that kiddos have never played!), or just kid-watching.  I started with the whole word play piece by sharing a few books I had found in the library that morning.  We couldn’t let a day go by with out books for our #classroombookaday challenge, could we?

Some were songs, all were rhymes and many of them had directions that the listeners had to follow.  We read them throughout the day and it was a LOT OF FUN!

Kiddos have been invited to bring along a toy or game, with the directions that it had to fit in their backpack, or they had to be able to carry it up on their own.  Also, it could not be electronic.

Before we got into the actual business of the day, we set the guidelines–because of course, just since the day was different, that didn’t mean there weren’t still rules. 🙂

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Then we got busy. 🙂

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It was so fun to watch how the morning unfolded.  Kiddos started with playing with their toys, and then quickly began MAKING things for their toys or inspired by their toys.  We noticed that no one chose to play with Legos; we inferred that it was because that’s a “normal” thing we always have and today kiddos wanted to play with their “home” toys.

I was impressed by their creativity and was super excited when Aadish and Allie suggested that we should have an art parade to share all the things they were making!

The parade planners announced on the microphone that we would be having a parade at the end of the day, and that anyone who wanted to join in could do so by making something.  Pretty simple.  A problem quickly arose when Rachel realized she had to leave early to go to the dentist and she would have to miss our parade.  I suggested she talk to A and A and see what they could figure out.  The three decided we could add another parade, and do one after lunch as well as one later in the day.  Super first grade problem solving, eh?

At one point I’m pretty sure the whole recycling station (which is usually housed in the hall) was in our classroom, as kiddos created instruments, costumes (elephants were popular!), and many Star Wars related items.  They were SO EXCITED and as we got back in from lunch and recess, we lined up for our first parade of the day.

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Oh wait–there were even flags!  I had forgotten about that!  Such first grade festiveness! 🙂

Isn’t that about the greatest thing you’ve ever seen?  Not yet?  Ok, check out this one:

After this we went to specials (like a normal day) and came back to finish up anything we wanted to add or redesign for the second part of the parade.  What I loved was hearing so many friends that were thinking about how they were going to improve their art/instrument/ship/costume for the second time around.  It was definitely not in the plan for this day to include engineering design challenges, but it happened and it was amazing!

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Jack had a drum for the parade that we worked to improve.  What great thinking!

Our second parade was special because it was the second one, but also because of where it went.

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Abderdeen Heights, our neighbor to the north, and a building full of amazing residents!

We took our little parade down the street (rather loudly, I should add–we had drums, remember??) and over to Aberdeen.   This had been included in our plans from earlier in the day, and another teacher suggested we just show up and see what happened.  If they had some time for us, we’d parade around inside, and if not, we’d just entertain them through the windows from the parking lot. 🙂

Well, it so happened that we got there just as our friend Ms. Cutler was getting of the bus and we told her our little plan.  She was so pleased to have us visit, and we spent the next little bit of the afternoon traveling the halls of Aberdeen, sharing our joy and first grade smiles with the residents who were available for a visit.  It was “happy hour,” and many residents were awake and allowed us to just come right on in their rooms!  Wow!  It was so much fun and definitely filled our hearts and theirs. 🙂

I think maybe my favorite picture of the day came on our walk back, as we joked that “Old Man Lemcke” had come back from Aberdeen with us.  Ciyah was his helper as they traveled back to Robinson. 🙂

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Then it got even better as they pretended that Old Man Lemcke and Old Man Carter were celebrating their 100th birthday.  Ciyah had made them a cake!  See how those candles even have flames on the tops of them?  Love it!

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After that she cut the “cake” all apart and shared pieces with the class!  She even asked me if I wanted some.  This is play at its best! 🙂

Ok, and so the best way to end a story of an amazing play day is to share what they said when I asked them what they walked away with (this was the easel question the next morning):

There are some pretty great things on that list!  What a successful LEARNING day in Rm. 202!

 

Don Tate Comes to Robinson!

I LOVE when I get to use that title.  It’s usually the same one I use for every author visit. Ok, I should be more inventive, but hey, that’s what happened, right?

Anyhow, Robinson (and especially Rm. 202) LOVES their authors, but this one seemed extra special.  Most of the authors we’ve hosted have been amazing, but most of them have also been women (yes, I’m talking about you Mary Casanova, Deborah Hopkinson, Kate Klise, Betty Birney and Lisa Campbell Ernst!). Oh, ok–we have had a male visit us before, and although not an author, Mr. Schu was equally amazing.  But this time our new author friend was an African-American male!

We’ve been learning so much about diverse literature this year and have made many new friends (both in text and real life).

I already told you a little about how we were introduced to Don Tate when we visited the library.  We also spent several weeks reading (and loving) his books and admiring his illustrations.  The other day we even tried our own hands at art like Bill Traylor in It Jes’ Happened (which we learned today was his FIRST BOOK!  Man–what a great way to start your career!  This book won awards!!).

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After we read the book, we collected the information we’d learned about Bill from the story:

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Then we decided to do the same thing!

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First we made our way to the recycling station to find some discarded things on which to paint.

We found our canvases, got our paint (only blue, red, yellow and brown!) and got busy sharing things we had kept deep inside (which was a line from the story).

We ended up with some quite fantastic masterpieces!

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If you want to see what some of us said about this experience, check out our blogs here.

Ok, so the day finally came and this was us:

We headed down to the library to FINALLY meet our new friend and learn some amazing things about being an author and illustrator.  He talked to us about being gritty and not quitting, about how everyone has their own special talent, about how to make masterpieces out of your mistakes and also how it TAKES A YEAR TO MAKE A BOOK! You better believe I’ll mention that the next time a first grader tells me that they’re done after 10 minutes! LOL  I went live several times during the visit and the easiest way to share that is through this link to our Periscope channel.  It’s totally worth a few minutes to click on that link!

He talked, he listened, he answered our questions, and he DREW FOR US!!

We listened, we laughed, we learned and then…

Thanks for your time, your books, and your inspiration Don Tate!