I have shared a video of our protocol of “Stand up, Hand up, Pair up” before, and also shared an example of how we got to know each other with a Find Someone Who activity.
Here’s an example of how we used it in a different way: in Science with weather vocabulary.
We have already done some reading, writing and talking about these words, and so much of today was a review and check-in to see what they remembered. There was one word that was new–climate–and we were going to talk about how that new word was connected to what they already knew.
As we did with the previous Find Someone Who, kiddos had a sheet with words and they were tasked to find someone who knew what the words meant and could tell them. I reminded them that “whoever does the writing does the thinking” as we reviewed the directions and then they got to work. I love how again kiddos showed up and did the work in just the way they were asked to. These kids are awesome, y’all! Check it out in action:
I am sure I mentioned it in a previous post, but these are new-to-me Kagan cooperative learning protocols I learned this year from my superstar colleague, Dr. Grayson. It’s so good to have a refresh on how to get kids thinking and talking together and I LOVE how it’s working out so far! More to come, so stay tuned! 🙂
I am sure by now you know that we practice phonics every day in 3rd grade. Last year we began an official program to help all grades K-5 standardize and tighten up their phonics instruction. The program we are now using is called Sunday, and it has five basic parts. Every day kiddos read sounds, write sounds, read words, write words and then learn some new material. Every 5th lesson we have a Mastery Check and kiddos show how they can transfer the lessons they are learning into new situations. Are you ready to see what it looks and sounds like? Here we go!
First we read sounds and write sounds. These are review as well as new ones we’ve learned so far in 3rd grade.
Next we read words (and a few sentences).
Next we write words. These words include sounds we’ve learned together as well as sight words that we have practiced.
After we review, then we learn something new. In this lesson, students are introduced to two new sets of sounds that come after a short vowel at the end of a word. I know it sounds funny, but I do not remember learning this as a child! At least not the “why” of them and/or how to use them. That’s one of the things I love about what we’re doing here: talking to kiddos about what to do as well as the reason why they should do it! Makes it so much easier to apply a “rule” if you know why!
New material: ff, ss, zz, ll
More new material: -ck
I love this hard thinking and work we do every day with phonics! I love that we start with it, as it allows us so many opportunities to practice and apply the new learning throughout the day as readers and writers!
We are learning so many new things about how sounds and words work. What do you remember about phonics?
We are readers in Rm. 204! One of the ways that I encourage and foster a strong love of reading is by doing lots of it myself! Many years ago I learned about #classroombookaday on Twitter and knew it was for me and my students. Check out some past stories I’ve written about it here, here, and here. It’s such a fun and visual way for kids to see all the books that they have enjoyed together as a class, and allows us an easy way to make connections to math and other topics. I LOVE participating in #classroombookaday and after a few hiccups during COVID years, it’s back up and running.
The concept is simple: we read a book and post it on the bulletin board. Then we watch as it fills up! I realized that this picture I’m sharing is even a little bit old now, as the board changes every day! Here’s a picture of it from a week or so ago, in case you haven’t seen it.
I purposefully put this display outside of our room, so that anyone who walks by can see it, interact with it and hopefully be inspired to read something new! When I taught 1st grade in past years and had a room downstairs, our display was right in one of the main hallways where EVERYONE at Robinson walked on a daily basis and it was such a great conversation starter. That year we got to 561 books on our display and it was A.MAZ.ING to look at. Who knows if we’ll get to that number this year, but no matter what, we are committed to reading and learning together with a ton of good books in Rm. 204.
Do you have a suggestion for a book we should read? Leave us a comment and we’ll check it out. Maybe you’ll see it in a #classroombookaday update soon!
Have you ever wondered how classroom “rules” are made? Read on to find out!
In our room, these rules are called expectations, and we decide on them together. It has been a process, and kids were involved all along the way. Let me show you!
We started in what may be a surprising way–with questions. I put 6 charts around the room, and kiddos spent time answering them with post-its as they walked around.
Now, not all of these questions will help us create our expectations, but they definitely help me get a feel for what they want, who they are and how they need things to be.
We mostly zoned in on the question that asked “What do you want our classroom to be like?” The answers to that question are KEY to the next step. Check out what they said: like home, family friendly, calm, kind, quiet, fun, respectful and following directions. Sounds like a great place to learn, right? WELL…if that’s what they want, then we have to figure out HOW we will make it that way.
The next step is to have crews brainstorm what our expectations we would need in order for our class to be (or become) those things we mentioned. Teams worked together to suggest what they thought good rules would be.
Can you guess what happened next?
I took the most popular suggestions and put them together on a new sheet, then crews had to choose the most important five expectations.
Once we made crew choices, then we compared those and made the final decisions as a class. Some of them we combined, and ended up with this:
I’m excited to see what happens now that we have our collective expectations and can helped each other to them. Our plan is that following these expectations will help us have all of those things we put on our list. :).
Hey–come closer. A little closer. I have to tell you something. Ready? I teach 3rd graders and we have choice time in our class. Yep. Maybe every day. And they love it.
I know that to some (many?) people that is a controversial statement. To some (many?) 3rd grade marks a change in school. This is the year when kids are supposed to get serious. They’re supposed to have moved on past the play time and ease of primary grades and be ready now for real school, where they should be expected to sit still and work silently (often in a desk), have lots of homework and get ready for middle school (oh man, don’t even get me started about that statement….maybe more on that later…). Gone are the days of games and free time and arts and crafts. Now is the time for work.
While I am by no means an expert on third grade or third graders, I have spent a lot of time in a classroom and have taught grades on both sides of it, so I know some of how parents and teachers alike expect third grade to go. I’m going to suggest there’s another way to do it. A way that values both play and learning, as play IS a way children learn.
If you Google “quotes on play” you can sit for hours and go through all sorts of things that people say about play. Here are just a few:
As an early childhood educator, I was taught–and firmly believe–that children are the crafters of their learning and my job is one of a facilitator. I provide the opportunities and invitations, and kiddos do the thinking and discovering as they figure things out and own their knowledge. Yes, there are times when you have to give them information, but more often than not, leading them there and having them find out things for themselves is the best way. The more they do for themselves, the more they remember and the more ownership they take. Also, it’s way more fun to figure things out than to always have the adults around you be the experts telling you all the things.
Why do I even mention this? Because like I mentioned before, people find choice time–or art, LEGOs, games, building, recess–to be a no-no for older kiddos. I need you to know that this is an expectation in my classroom, and we will work hard through play, choice and fun.
Especially at the beginning of the year, unstructured time with new people in a new classroom is crucial–both for students and for me. As I give them time to make choices of what to do and who to work (play) with, I am learning as much as them. I can get info on who they work well with (and who they don’t!); what they do when they are frustrated; what makes them happy; what they enjoy doing; how long they can stay engaged with an activity; what they know about problem-solving, creativity and figuring out what to do on their own; how well they clean up after themselves (or don’t LOL); more about their language skills; and countless other things. They can learn about their friends, meet new ones, relieve stress, create things, learn a new game or skill, become comfortable in our classroom and of course, it’s FUN! I honestly do not know what I would do in my classroom if there was not time or room for kids to play. It’s good for all parts of them, and it’s good for me, too. Some of the best conversations I have had with kids have come during unstructured time in our room when they don’t feel pressure to be “on” or like I’m expecting something from them. They are at ease and are often more likely to share things that then help me in future interactions with them as learners.
I look forward to the ways we will play and learn together, and how I can encourage kiddos to do new and hard things by presenting the challenges to them in a fun, welcoming way. Sharing my own stories of play are important, too. I’m sure we will make mistakes, get messy and learn a TON together. Hope you are along for the ride!
Tell us, what is your favorite way to play? Leave a comment and we’ll be sure to respond soon! 🙂
We have gotten into some “actual” school things and we did something in particular that I was especially excited about. Based on some learning I did this summer, I am making it a goal to include more of a variety of text types into our reading work. After all, reading is at its core making meaning from a text, with or without words, and no matter what kind of text. So one of our first “read alouds” was a short called “Pip,” an animated short about a dog who goes to guide dog school. Here it is if you want to watch it, too!
As we “read,” I had given kiddos the job of paying attention to what Pip was feeling, as we would be keeping track of his emotions and how they changed throughout the story. There are several stopping points and we recorded words that described his emotions at the time. I added in additional vocabulary that connected with the words they suggested, and we talked about how they were other ways of saying the same thing. We also made predictions of how or whether we thought his feelings would change as we went through the rest of the video.
At the end, I added another teaching point: the difference between emotions and traits. We discussed how emotions were feelings that could and would change, based on the characters circumstances or mood. Traits are words that describe how the character always is; words that describe their personality or how they tend to act most of the time. This second part was a little tricky at this point, but we will definitely come back to it again and again as we go through the year. Here’s the chart we made together:
In addition to making this chart together to revisit with later texts, it also served as a model for something students will be able to use in their own reading, recording their thinking in their reading journals. Here’s an example of the rough draft thinking of it in my journal as I planned:
I was really pleased with how this lesson went, as kiddos were really engaged, and had great ideas to share–many of which I had not thought of when I watched the short! The whole thinking behind using a short first is to get everyone on board and with you from the very beginning. With no text to read, and a short story to hold on to, it’s easy for readers of all levels to join in and contribute an idea. They feel included already and can more easily form a mindset that “Reading in this classroom is for me! I can do it!” Isn’t that what we want for every reader every day?
As we go on, I hope to be able to incorporate more shorts like this one, as well as a wide variety of text to help readers see the possibilities! Make sure you’re subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss the next time I tell about it! 🙂
If you haven’t had a chance to read part 1 of these highlights, be sure to do that first! Don’t want to miss anything. 🙂
What to Do With a Box
We read a great book called What to Do with a Box by Jane Yolen. It’s about a kiddo who does amazing things with a box and their imagination. After the book, kiddos saw this on our carpet:
As they thought about which box they wanted to use, they were matching it up with what they thought their box could become. There were not at many parameters for this one–“Make something new out of your box,” were the only directions. They could add anything we had in our classroom to the project. Oh, except paint because we haven’t gotten that out yet. LOL. They could choose to work alone or with a partner, putting their boxes together to create something bigger (and probably better!).
Once we finished, kiddos created an “exhibit” to tell about their creation. They wrote 3 sentences to tell about what it was and how they made it. We set them all up around the room in a mini-museum and then did a gallery walk (after we talk about what they meant and how to follow museum etiquette, of course! 🙂 ).
Oh, and by the way–kids LOVED this! It was definitely one of the highlights of the day, and probably the week. Which was kind of the point, really. I always have a goal during these first few days (and always, really!) of helping kids see that learning is fun, that our classroom is a safe place to make and share your ideas, to create things, to make mistakes (and messes!) and a place to explore new things by yourself and with your friends. I want to set the stage for the year from day 1!
“My Favorites” Game
Kiddos played a game with their crews where they answered questions about their favorite things. This was one fun and can be played over and over again with different groups. Oh, and this one was a good place to teach kiddos how to roll dice in my room. Yep, you heard it right. I HATE the sound of clicking dice on floors and tables, and also hate when learning time is spent running after roll-away dice, so I have a lesson the first time we get the dice box out. I know you’re wondering what that lesson looked like. hee hee If you have a student in this class, be sure to have them teach it to you, and if you don’t leave a comment and I’ll add a video to show you. ;). Anyhow, they really enjoyed this way of learning about their friends.
I love a puzzle! I have loved doing jigsaw puzzles all my life, and even today usually do one daily, on an app on my iPad. Every year on Global School Play day, our class puts together a 500+ piece puzzle together over the day. So as we begin the year together, I had to introduce puzzles to the class. Besides being fun, there are sooo many other skills that doing puzzles supports. Kiddos practice problem-solving, perseverance, stamina for hard things, focus, communication, play and free choice options, cooperation, and also just time to be with friends and/or make new ones. And guess what? They loved this, too. 🙂 Check out these amazing puzzle-solvers!
Library Tours–our classroom and Robinson’s!
We spent some time getting to know our classroom library, as well as the Robinson library–the latter with a scavenger hunt. So fun! I usually do this during the first days anyway, but we definitely had to do it sooner. They were dying to go book shopping and of course I had to oblige!
We needed some mini versions of ourselves so we made some! This activity came after the book Happy in Our Skin, and we had fun creating a beautiful classroom line of US! We’ll use these as decoration as well as a way to keep track of who’s in charge (which is what we call helpers in our class!).
Ok, that’s all for now. But like I said before, keep coming back, because there will be A LOT to show you as we go through this year! I already have a list of things that aren’t on this list of “first week” things. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next post! Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave us a comment to let us know what you think about what’s going on in Rm. 204!
Hello, and WELCOME back to the blog! I hope to be able to give a glimpse into Rm. 204 since you do not get to go there with us every day! 🙂
This past week we worked hard to get to know each other, our classroom and our new groups (called crews) that we will work with all year. We did many things all together, somethings in small groups, and a few things independently. I was so impressed with how well they can do that last part already! It’s hard to have stamina in the beginning of the year. 🙂
Here are some highlights from our first days of 3rd grade together. Check it out!
Every kiddo had a colored dot on their forehead and had to find all of the others with that same dot–SILENTLY! This was a challenge for us to use other ways of communication and kiddos really and fun with it! We played it a couple of times and they got better at it every time!
What Kind of Kids are We?
This one was a fun one. It was the game where you have to “find someone who” fits a certain description. I made this based off of a book I read a couple of years ago that has all kinds of kids in it, so each box said a kind of kid.
The best part of this video for me is that kiddos are doing EXACTLY what I had just taught them about! Before this we had learned the movement technique of Stand up, Hand up, Pair up and the used it beautifully to find a partner. Do you see them comparing pinkies? That’s because that’s the thing we were using to see who took the first turn. We had practiced using soft voices, but most importantly, that the person who does the writing does the learning–so kiddos wrote on their own papers instead of on each others (which is the way this game is commonly done). When we finished, they had had the opportunity to talk to at least half of their classmates, learned somethings about others that they didn’t know (even good friends!), and had also practiced writing other classmate’s names–and spelling them correctly! PLUS , it was fun!!
Marshmallow Challenge (Take 1 and 2!)
This is a challenge I LOVE to do–often many times in the year! We were grouped into “crews” (which are small groups that we use at various times throughout the year), and kiddos were given these directions:
Once we were all sure we knew what to do and had had a few minutes to plan, teams got to work.
And here’s what happened at the end of the 18 minutes.
What?? I wanted all of their towers to fall over and for the challenge to be a complete bust? Yep. Because when you fail and make mistakes you have to figure out what worked, what to change and what to do the same. We had a great conversation about that idea that I captured in a chart. We recorded the PLUSSes and the DELTAs as we reflected on how it went:
I have to admit that before we wrote it all down, I had predicted we’d have a lot more in the red column than in the green one. Looking back on what we had done, we all agreed that this was definitely not a FAILURE situation, because look at all the positive things we DID DO!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE how excited kids were to do it again, ready to change what didn’t work and do something better. We did some other things in between, but the TAKE 2 is too good not to share next. It was sooo good!
And this is the end result this time. :). 4 towers stood this time, and the other two were SOOOO CLOSE!!
Thanks for reading this far–I’m realizing now that there is TOO MUCH AWESOMENESS to share in one post. Stay tuned for more, and subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss anything!
I have been busy in my new room, and yesterday I made a breakthrough! Have been working on getting the library–which is all around our meeting area rug–put together and the rough draft of it is pretty much done. I’m so excited to share what’s starting to take shape. There are many small details I have to fix, but I am so excited for our new class to gather in the library every day for learning!
Check it out! And I’d love to know what you think–leave a comment below! 🙂
I know, I know. That’s really a Virginia thing. But yet, I didn’t just take a vacay to Virginia. So San Fran it is. 🙂
If you’ve spent time around here–either as a long-time blog reader or a new reader who’s been getting their feet wet–you have hopefully noticed that I am a reader. Books are kind of a big deal around here: at home and in my classroom. And so, it seems, books are a big deal for me on vacation, too.
We went to lots of fun places on our tour of San Francisco. Some places I can tell you about by the name of the neighborhood, and some I can tell you by the name of the books stores I visited while I was there. 🙂
I think in the end we found three cute little independent book stores, and bought something at all of them! Cuz what’s a better souvenir than a book. Or ten? LOL
The first place we ran into was The Book Passage, in the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. Besides being easy to get to, it had great views of the bay. We went here more than once, just because we could.
On one of our dinner adventures, Grant and I were walking around after our visit to Burma Superstar (YUM!) and came upon this little gem:
Besides being lovely and cute and small and independent, they also had a sale bin. :). Found many things I was excited for some good finds, but especially for the book about the Golden Gate Bridge I had seen in other stores at full price. Here it was over 50% off! WIN!!
The last one was so good we visited it twice: Browser Books.
On our first visit we ran into one of those “blind date with a book” sale boxes and bought almost the whole thing!
Do you have guesses for what those books might be? Are you dying right now? Should I show you what we ended up with? Oh, ok. :). Here’s what was inside of those packages. Be sure to leave me a comment to let me know if you guessed right. I actually did guess one of them correctly!
I think I mentioned that this was our first trip to this store? On the second trip I found two more great books (not on sale, but sooo great it didn’t matter) that I’m excited to incorporate into my classroom this year.
WHEW! What a great trip with such great little bookstore finds. What a special part of traveling–the bookstores come home in my heart and the books come home in my suitcase!