Debriefing on Going Places

I mentioned in my last post about Going Places that there was an awesome “learning buzz” that happened as we worked hard and focused in on our building projects.  Most of the kiddos were on task, planning, collaborating and creating for almost 3 hours!  This was the first time this had happened (which now I realize might be because I haven’t offered many opportunities like this…but that’s for another time), and students noticed it.

After we were mostly done, we gathered on the rug to talk about how things had gone–what worked well and what we would change for next time.

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As is usually true, the sides look pretty equal (as far the number of things that were mentioned).  But what I know, because I was there, is that most students are represented by the items on the “plus” side of the chart.  While it doesn’t mean the “deltas” aren’t important, it does give me even further hope that we can quickly fix these problems; they are only happening with one partnership here and there, and others are ignoring the unexpected behaviors.  That’s another thing that kiddos are getting so much better at by this point in the year–focusing on their own work and not joining in on the silly things their friends choose to do instead of what they’re supposed to do.  Don’t get me wrong, they might notice–and even invite their friends back to work or remind them of what to do instead–but then they get back to their own thing and carry on.

I’m excited to see what this group can do again soon (and actually I guess I did, since Mrs. Sisul’s Snowman Challenge happened after this one and went equally well), particularly with allowing them to lead the direction on what they want to learn and how they want to show their new knowledge to the world.  Stay tuned for that, will you?? 🙂

Rm. 111 is Going Places!!

As I mentioned in the post about I Wanna New Room, as well as in the post about directed drawing, we did lots of projects during our first days back after the holidays.  Partly its because we only had a two-day-week (can I get a woot-woot for that one??), but also because easing back into work and being with friends after being away for two weeks is always a good idea.

Another thing we did that went SO WELL and that kiddos LOVED, was when we read the book Going Places (thank you Peter and Paul Reynolds for this amazing text!) and did a design challenge. 🙂

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I’m not really sure from where this challenge came, but we’ve done it in 1st grade for a couple of years and it’s been super.  I think this time around, though, we upped the ante a bit and had kiddos share their creation in a different way.

First of all, the book.  We are BIG fans of Peter Reynolds, so when I showed them this one, they were already “in.”  When I told them that they’d be doing a challenge based on it, they were even more excited.  I heard them say “We love challenges!” <3. And then, later on, I heard “We LOVE this story!”

After the story, I gave them the directions.  They were to build something that would help them “go places,” using a kit that everyone would get (like in the story).   We didn’t talk a lot about what to do or how to do it (because they were so excited and wanted to get busy right away!), but they automatically started looking for partners (again, like they did in the story).  And EVERYONE ended up with someone else with which to share both their supplies and their ideas!

As we got started, I recorded this video, and I love what you hear in it–that “buzz” that happens when everyone is engaged and busy! Check it out. 🙂

Did you notice in the video how they asked if they could use the bag in their creations?  LOVE how they think outside the box (er, bag!) for these projects. 🙂

And once our 18 minutes for the challenge were up, kiddos had amazing creations that they wanted to share with their classmates (and you!).

Before we presented them, though, we had a conversation about what information our viewers would want (or need) to know related to our work.  I reminded them that our audience was NOT there for the experience in our classroom, and we’d need to fill them in on the details so they understood what we were doing.  These smart kiddos came up with a very thorough list of what to include in their videos:

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They worked with their partner, and another partnership to plan and then record a video of themselves telling you all about what they made.  They were supposed to watch and critique, then revise if necessary, to make sure it was their best work with all the parts.  Many did this, but we’re still in the beginning stages of the “revision” part, so some  might still have some places to improve (i.e. please ignore the places where others friends come in a put up bunny ears while they are recording, or the off-camera comments/voices you may hear).

I will share these videos now, but first I have mention how AMAZING this project was in our room.  We had mentioned in our class that since we’ve come back from the holidays that kiddos have really stepped up their game; they are much more mature, focused and on task than ever! We ended up working on this project for close to 3 hours of our day–and most of us were engaged, busy and hard-working during that time. :). We had a debrief after it was all said and done (which I will write about in another post), and we talked about how much more we will be able to do as learners when I can count on them to be busy and working–monitoring their own thinking, time and planning–for long periods of time.  We’re excited for where we will be able to go and what we’ll be able to accomplish. :).

Ok, and so back to what they actually made.  It’s pretty great, so hope you enjoy!

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Thanks for checking out our work, and sharing this journey with us.  We’d LOVE to hear what you thought–leave us a comment! 🙂

 

I Wanna New Room!

I mentioned in a #classroombookaday update recently that we’d read a couple of persuasive texts that we loved.

We will later use the iguana book as a mentor text in our persuasive writing unit, and we found a great back-to-school-after-the-holidays activity to do with the other one. 🙂

My teammate found a version of this activity that involved actually “building” a house with tongue depressors, clothespins and notecards, and while it seemed great, I decided to do a less complicated version of the project.

After we read I Wanna New Room, we went back to the blueprint page of the story where Alex planned what he could include in the space if his dad gave him his very own room.  We talked about what WE could included in our very own special space and then kiddos were give notecards to “make” the rooms in their house/treehouse/clubhouse/lair. They were to draw each part and label it, then describe it to us. :).

It was so fun to watch kiddos as they worked SUPER hard and for quite a long, focused amount of time creating their special spaces.  I was also tickled with how each kiddo’s place was perfectly them–they included spaces that spoke to their personality, their hobbies, their loves.

Check out what we would have in our very own rooms (and how some of us would have LOTS of rooms instead of just one!). 🙂

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If YOU were going to design YOUR very own space, what would you put in it?  Leave us a comment and tell us about it! 🙂

 

 

Winter Cultural Celebration 2018

A couple of years ago we had our first Cultural Celebration (which took the place of the traditional Winter/Christmas party) before we left for our Winter Break.  It was SO MUCH FUN and based traditions that came from our class culture.  We loved it!

This year we did it again, and again it was SO MUCH FUN!  I think the thing I love the most about the way this celebration is planned, is that it all comes from the families in the class.  Every class is different and special and so therefore so is every Cultural Celebration!

As I have done in previous years, I sent out a survey to families, and received many responses. :). This told me the direction of our gathering, building on the ideas for traditions and family favorites that they had shared with me in their answers.

After the Winter Sing-A-Long (which is definitely a tradition in our school culture), we all met in our room for some fun and togetherness!

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Sing-a-Long Selfie with Avant and Mrs. Bearden 🙂

I am pretty sure that EVERY KIDDO had someone there to celebrate with them (we even had some siblings show up!), and even if they didn’t have their own family member, they had someone’s visitor, because we’re all one big happy first grade family!

In order to keep things low key, we offered several activities and had kids/families decide beforehand which one(s) they wanted to complete together.  This was totally led by the kids, which I think added to the fun and originality of our party.  Check out what we offered:

Making reindeer food: Did anyone besides me NOT know this was a thing?  I don’t spend much time on Etsy or Pinterset, so maybe that’s why, but goodness–this was a hit!  Getting ready for Rudolph and the others was high on almost everyone’s list!

Decorating sugar cookies: I mean, what says winter-party-fun more than cookies and icing?  There were many different shapes, colors and as many sprinkles as you wanted, and goodness–kids could have probably stayed at this station FOREVER!

Stringing popcorn:  Several families mentioned that they string popcorn every year for their Christmas tree.  I haven’t done t for years, but I actually did this for several years early on in my marriage.  IT was so much fun to watch families do it with their kids, although I’m not sure how much actually made it onto the string–MUCH of it just went right into bellies!!  :). This station made me want to try it again at home, this time with my own kiddos!

Holiday Read Alouds:  You know we HAD to include books in this celebration!  Families shared their holiday/winter favorites, and I pulled many from our classroom library as well.

Gingerbread Playdoh:. I knew (because it was mentioned as a special love of many families) that I wanted to have something gingerbread related, but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t too cliche or too messy, or require too many materials.  Ok, well, I may have lost on that last requirement, but Ms. Turken’s class has just made gingerbread PLAYDOH with their learning buddies the week before and that seemed like a SUPER idea for us to try, too.  This one ended up being such a hit that it might have to become a regular holiday activity in our first grade room!

Our Cultural Celebration was just what I had hoped it would be, and everyone seemed like they enjoyed it so much!  Enjoy some pictures of our winter fun!

What a great way to head into a relaxing Winter Break! 🙂

Mrs. Sisul Brought Us a Snowman Challenge!

Remember when I wrote about Catch of the Days?  I should have updated you LONG ago, but our class is ROCKING AND ROLLING with these and already have almost 50!  Along the way, there have been rewards (for example, at 10 is an extra recess, 20 was pajama day and 30 was game board day) and we’ve enjoyed every one of them.  Once we hit 40 it was an even BIGGER deal because the prize was “admin’s choice!”

We emailed Mrs. Sisul and Dr. Wilson and asked them to come visit us.  Today was the day, and Mrs. Sisul came with two of our favorite things: a book and a design challenge!

We read lots of snow/snowflake books on Friday (which was early dismissal day for weather!), but she picked one we hadn’t read yet (and yes, that is a feat in itself–GREAT job, Mrs. Sisul!).

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She read the book to us (which we enjoyed!) and then she gave us our challenge: just like the mice the story, build the TALLEST snowman you can….with one piece of paper. 🙂

We went back and forth on how much info we’d give them about how to do this challenge, but eventually decided we would give them idea that they could make paper chains (which reminds me of the comment Kate left the other day about how creativity abounds within parameters–thanks for that reminder, friend!).  Otherwise, they may have spent all of their time just figuring out what to do and not actually building anything.

As we set off to work, I could tell kiddos were thinking about our last challenge (when we read the book Going Places last week), and they quickly began to find groups to work with, both so they could share their resources and so they could share ideas.

At the 10 minute mark, we had kiddos stop and do a gallery walk to look for ideas being done by other engineers that might help them in their own work.

Kiddos got back to work and we noticed that instead of several groups of 3, we now only had 3 groups altogether!  I decided to see what they were all up to…

Interesting, right?  This was the part that really reminded me of the work that happened with our other challenge–kiddos making decisions that they thought would help them, even though they weren’t explicitly stated in the directions.  “They didn’t say we couldn’t….” was their rationale. 🙂

We finished our work (about another 5 minutes or so, and then work time was up.  We laid our snowmen out on the rug to see who had made the tallest snowman.

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Now…of course when you do a design challenge, the process is as important as the final product, so Mrs. Sisul then led us in a reflection conversation.

I loved watching their faces as they thought about what had happened and worked to decide what they would take away for next time.

I also really liked their answers to the questions and also how honest they were when they thought things weren’t fair or didn’t make sense.  We just might try this same challenge again soon and see what happens differently!

And lastly, just for the record, Elena wins for cutest snowman. 🙂  She’s very proud!

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THANKS FOR COMING, MRS. SISUL!!  We love how much you love books, learning and coming to work with us!  🙂

Do you have any stories about design challenges you’d like to share?  We’d love to hear them!

Cinderella from Around the World

During the last part of the fall/winter, we were busy in first grade.  Busy reading, learning and thinking bout Cinderella.  And culture.  Many years ago I found a unit I really like that was focused on using Cinderella as a means of getting kids to think and learn about how other people live around the world.  We learned a little about fairytales, and also compared and contrasted what the stories had in common (and of course, what was different).  That first year we enjoyed it so much that when I looped with that group to 2nd grade the next year, I wrote a similar unit based instead on Little Red Riding Hood, which was also a big hit!

This year we dug in again to the Cinderella-culture connection, and another group of super kiddos got to hear many amazing stories (most of which were new to them!).  We started with the story most everyone knew already.

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We followed, over the next few weeks, reading many other versions of the story, from places around the globe.  As we talked about each story, we also wove in geography lessons, and marked each country on a map together.

In the first version of this unit that I taught, I had kiddos choose a country that they wanted to learn more about, and then students worked in groups to learn all about the culture of that country.  This time around, Ms. Turken (my co-teacher), and I decided that it might be a bit too much for some of our friends and we had a change we decided to make: we chose two countries we would research and then students could choose which one they wanted to learn more about.  We offered Mexico and China for this part, and kiddos could work with either teacher for the study.

Once we had our groups, kiddos chose which PART of culture they were most interested in: religion, music/dancing, clothing, food, holidays, sports/games, school and art.  Students worked in pairs to research their topic, taking notes as they went.  (In my class we worked on Mexico’s culture, and Ms. Turken facilitated the study of China in Rm. 112; kiddos from both of our classes worked in both places).

After we had taken a few days using books, websites and videos to gather information, we worked to build a mural (of sorts) to share our learning with the other group.  We began with a blank chart (below) and then kiddos had to work with paper to create a 2D representation of the things they found to be most important about their topic.

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I always love to see pics of kids “in action,” and also love how they incorporate technology right along good old paper and glue. 🙂

Once we were finished, we met to have each group (Mexico and China) teach the other country’s group about what they had learned about the culture of each place.

We did a great job, but we also learned that our kiddos have LOTS to learn about how to present to an audience. :). No worries–there’s lots of time left in the year to work that out. 🙂

Also, as a side note, while our study focused on the cultural parts of the Cinderella story, we also read several versions that were just for fun!

I’d say (without any hard evidence except for my being there during the study) that this was a hit with everyone involved.  We loved all the stories and everyone learned something they didn’t know before we started.  🙂

 

Following Directions Can Be Fun!

The last–or first–few days of the semester can be times when you slow down a bit, and try things that will be both fun and productive.  (I know, I think everything I do is fun, but who knows, right? see hee)

A teammate shared an idea for a snowman picture to do for “fun,” and I decided that since everyone else was probably doing it I should take a look; even though I don’t typically jump on board just because everyone else is doing it.  The big idea was that you lead kiddos in a drawing lesson to show them how to draw the snowman, and then also give directions for how they are to paint it–but they have choice in the colors they use and the patterns they add.

I agree, it was cute.  And yes, it’s winter themed, and yes, it would look great hanging in the hallway.  But I still had to ask the question about “why?”  Why wouldn’t I just let them draw their own snowman?  Why couldn’t we just paint whatever we want? Why wouldn’t I do any entirely different activity during that time? (I know, my teammates love it when I ask questions. LOL  At least they understand that’s how I process and always assume positive intent in my inquiries. 🙂 )

Because I work with amazing people, they simply answered my questions.  Well, you could let them just make their own snowman.  You could absolutely paint whatever you want.  And of course, you could do something entirely different during that time, but we’re doing it because it’s good practice in following directions (which of course my kids could benefit from, too!), and also there is lots of choice within the directions.  It is cool to see how differently kiddos can interpret the directions and how even when we do the same kind of thing, they all turn out looking completely unique!

Ok, that was what I needed. We were in. 🙂

And just as I thought, kiddos did a SUPER job of following the directions, even though some of them were tricky, and kiddos had to try again or erase some lines as they drew.  I didn’t have anyone who quit, or cry or tear up their paper (yeah, sometimes in first grade that still happens…), but instead everyone worked really hard to do their best and were ok when things went differently than they’d hoped. 🙂

And yes–it was fun!

As I drew my snowman on my big paper up on the board, kiddos followed along with their paper and their pencils.

 

The “plain” version ended up looking something like this:

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And then, artists were invited to paint their snowmen, using whatever colors and patterns they wanted.  Really the only guidelines here were that the snowman should be left white, and the background had to be painted with a bright color.  Otherwise, it was up to them.

And you know what?  All of our snowmen we drew with the same directions looked so completely unique and different and BEAUTIFUL!  Kids were so proud and I’m so glad we did it. 🙂

Check out our final snow-people! 🙂

And of course I need to say thanks to Proud to Be Primary for the idea, and also for the post (that I still need to read) that gives reasons why I should do more of these directed drawings.  I’m excited to read!