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!

Blogging in 1st Grade? Yes, please!

The time is finally here in Rm. 2o2 for writers to become bloggers and start their journey into safe and productive digital citizenship!  YAY!!  Are you excited to hear about it?  Let me tell you the beginning of the story (it’s kind of a long, developing one so I figured I’d at least get us started…).

Now, there are many things I like to do year after year, but because the kiddos are different, I don’t do them in the same exact way.  As we began to talk about blogging, I did begin similarly to my last first grade class, but of course with this class we had to include some literature, too, right? (more on that when I get to the part about comments!).

After we were clear about what a blog actually was and had some ideas about what we might want to write about, we got started with the writing part.  On paper.  I do have to admit for these kiddos this was less than ideal.  I have never heard so much grumbling in my life!!  They didn’t quite understand why they couldn’t jump right to the online part, but it wasn’t an option yet, so they took the paper instead of nothing. LOL

I was happy with how quickly most of them got into their topics, as well as how they were also thinking about how the aesthetics of a blog are also important–the title and pictures should correspond to the theme they are writing about.

On our 3rd day (it took us a couple of days to finish our first drafts of our blogs), we started talking about comments.  We discussed about how blogs are like conversations and how there are some general “rules” for how those should go.  We role played what it would be like for someone to talk to us and then just walk away when we were finished (Thanks Ella for your help with this part!).  We agreed this was not so kind and considerate to the speaker, and this was connected to what it would be like to read someone’s blog and then move on.  It’s about the conversation, after all.

Before we practiced this next step, though, we watched the BrainPopJr. video about internet safety, which highlights things that are ok and not ok to say online, as well as what to do if you think something is not right.  Next we read a book to continue the idea of being honest and kind.

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On a complete side note to this whole blog thing, we were excited to hear the story of Patricia McKissack and how she once attended our school! She was one of the first African-American students to attend our school after it was integrated in the 50s.  She’s a hero and is so brave, and is a local author who lives in our town!  Very cool!  Oh, and I remembered how I had had her sign my copy of this book when I had met her about 10 years ago.

The discussion around this book was an interesting one.  Like the little girl in the story, we thought that telling the truth was always the best thing.  This is still indeed true, but we learned from the events of the story that thinking about when, where and how to tell things is important to do.   Sometimes things are better to be saved for a private conversation with just one person, rather than being stated publicly (especially on a blog or other online space like Twitter).

After our honesty and kindness lesson, we got busy responding to our friend’s words.  This was exciting and I was impressed with how focused and quiet kiddos were while they did this work.

After this first round, we gathered together to share some of the notes we had gotten from other bloggers.  Some had questions, and we will deal with those in the second round–when we respond to the comments.  So far we are doing so great at this!

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Check out what our blogs look like!

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So..since it’s all about the conversation–we’d love you to join in!  What comments do you have for us? What questions do you have?  Maybe a suggestion?  We’d love to practice commenting with you!  Thanks for reading about the beginning of our blogging journey!!

Can’t wait to share the next step with you soon!

EVERYONE’S a Reader and Writer in Rm. 202!

I hope by now you’ve read at least part of our journey with #classroombookaday this year.  I hope you’ve heard how much it’s impacted the readers in my room to LOVE books, to LEARN authors and illustrators (so that now we can name them by their work as we see them in new texts!), to SHARE their favorites with us so we can all hear them, and how much FUN we’re having reading and reading and reading every day.

Well…one of the things that I guess I didn’t expect to come out of this is the strong connection to WRITING that has come out of this challenge.  The reading part made sense, but I love how it’s inspired so many kiddos to write the books that we read!

Of the 316 books we’ve shared 19 OF THEM have been written by Rm. 202 friends!  The best part is how the excited of one author had lead to so many more.  Of course, some of that is the “famous” factor, and getting their book on the door, but really a lot more of it is just that the writing bug is contagious!  Many of the books we’ve written have been inspired by the books we’ve read.

Check out the smiles of those writers–don’t they look proud?

I think I mentioned something the other day about how the suggestion was made to give our Rm. 2o2 authors an author box in our library for their books.  This finally happened on Thursday, and two of our authors now have a special place for friends to find their texts!

Isn’t that cool?  Ella joined the club and started writing fashion magazines she wanted to share.  The boxes are empty because the books are all being read! Perfect!

Now…aside from the WRITING that keeps coming up, there are lots of kiddos who have been asking to READ to us recently, too!  They are excited to share their reading skills with the rest of us!  And boy, are they amazing!

Ciyah was the most recent one to join the party and shared Green Eggs and Ham with us.  She was a super reader and did a great job! (Ayonna read Anna’s New Glasses to us the other day, too, but somehow I didn’t get a picture of it! What was I thinking??)

And somehow, I don’t have a video of her reading the book, but I do have a video of what happened when we all started reading it together!

I know I’ve said it over and over but I’m saying it again–the reading and writing that has been inspired by our participation in the #classroombookaday challenge BLOWS MY MIND!!  Can’t wait to see who we add to our reader/writer list next!