# There’s Math in That Book!–Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and Lauren Castillo

I remember when we were reading Going Places and Beckett found some pretty amazing math in a picture that was in the book.  We tweeted to Peter H. Reynolds to ask him if he knew about it, and/or if he did it on purpose.

We were tickled when he replied–because when authors talk to you it’s a BIG DEAL!!

Well, we were reading another book the other day–Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and Lauren Castillo–and something similar happened.

As we finished the book (which is a super sweet story about a girl who is trying to go to sleep and not surprisingly does lots of yawning), I asked why the author would have named the book Twenty Yawns.  I thought someone would say “because there are 20 yawns in the story,” but surprisingly that was not what they suggested.  Somehow we got into a little tat about how there were 21 yawns in the book.  What??  I’m still not entirely sure if the friends who were so convinced about the 21 yawns were for real, or if they wanted to cause a ruckus, but regardless, Ali saved the day by saying we should count them and figure it out.

So…we went back through the story and paid attention to how many yawns were on each page, creating an equation that looked like this:

Next we talked about the different ways kiddos could PROVE that there were or were not 21 (or 20!) yawns in the book.  Our list looked like this:

It was actually really lucky, too, how the problem worked out because we have been working on combinations of 10 and I was hoping that kiddos would find the 10s in there first, and then quickly come to the answer of 20.  Not all did, which is fine–we’ll keep working–but many did. 🙂 .

Check out some of our thinking (which we are still working on, by the way!).

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I LOVE it when we can take a story and turn it into a math problem!  What an authentic context and motivating activity. 🙂 . And while anytime we stretch our math brains it’s a good thing, I especially love it when the numbers in the book match the numbers we’re working on.  Way to go, Smiley and Castillo!  Did you do that on purpose for us? 🙂

What books have you read that have math in them?  Tell us about it so we can try it, too! 🙂

# A Fabulous First Grade Friday in February! :)

Sometimes we have whole days where great things happen!  Last Friday was just one of those days.  🙂

It started in the morning when we got to visit the 5th Grade Black History Museum.  For the past few years, 5th grade has done a project to research famous black Americans and then share their findings with the rest of us.  This year it was extra special for our class because we have LOTS of 5th grade siblings.

It started with an introduction by a few 5th grade greeters and a giant sign:

Then we were able to walk quietly through the museum and learn about the exhibits from the 5th grade historians.

When we returned, we recorded some of our learning in Seesaw to share with each other and our families.  We were excited to notice that some of the people we heard about in the museum were not new to us, as we’ve been doing lots of reading of our own, including a great book I’ll share more about later, called 28 Days.

Later on in the afternoon, we got to show off our baking skills (which we first honed making pumpkin pie, remember?) as we made brownies to share with families in the Robinson Food Pantry which was open that evening.  All of the first grades baked a treat, which was accompanied by a sweet note.

See?  A fabulous first grade Friday! 🙂

# #GSPD2019–Play ALL Day!

I have told the story of how I first found Global School Play Day, and so I was looking forward to it as February got closer. :).

I remember when I told my friends that it was coming and how I already knew before they said it what their response would be: “All day?”  Yes, friends, you get to play ALL DAY LONG!  And you’re in charge!

Kids were invited to bring something from home to enhance their day (as long as they followed the no electronics rule), and they came in with some pretty great things to share with their friends in Rm. 111.  We usually start our day with choice time anyway, so in many ways this Wednesday was the same as every other Wednesday.  The easel question for the morning asked them to make a plan, get their things and PLAY!

Once we had lunch count, attendance, morning announcements and the Pledge taken care of, I pulled them together for a quick meeting.  We had to set the ground rules for the day.

Together we talked through these guidelines:

Really I think many kids didn’t believe me about this whole “play day” thing, but after our meeting I sent them back on their way to get to work play.

Even from the beginning it was fun to watch how varied their choices were in activities.  We had blocks, Legos, cars, toys from home, stuffed animals, trains, board games and even arts and crafts.

Now I’ve worked with kids for many years (and have two of my own), so I’ve seen kids play before.  But, as with every new group of kiddos, there are some unexpected surprises that show up even when you think you’ve seen it all.  Let me share some that happened with this group.

1.) Kiddos incorporated a variety of mediums into one “game.” Wyatt and his friends played with Legos, wooden blocks, cars, recyclables, a stuffed elephant  and army men all together.  At one point they even had a book out as they followed along to build something “official” together with Legos.

Lucy, Riley and Ariya did the same with blocks, a pillow, Legos, LOL Surprise dolls and a wooden dog marionette. 🙂

2.) Kids could sustain long amounts of attention at the same activity.  The “game” that Lucy, Riley and Ariya were playing went on from about 9:00 until 12:30 or 1:00 (except for the time we were away for lunch and recess).  They changed the story, added in details (and new toys) and even had other friends move in and out throughout the whole thing.  They negotiated, took turns, shared ideas, laughed together, pretended–did all those things kids do when they have time and choice to play nicely without the interference of adults.  There was no arguing, fussing, misbehaving….and they probably could have gone on like that for much more of the day if they’d been able to.  They just seemed like they were having so. much. fun. :).

3.) There were many things that were in our play day that were from our “regular” day.  I don’t know if I should take credit for this, or if it’s just the activity itself is fun, but I’d like to say that maybe the way we do things has added enjoyment in Rm. 111?  Anyhow, there were many times I looked and students were choosing to do things they regularly do at school.  🙂

I think my favorite example of this came when I looked over at the easel by the rug and saw this:

For those of you who are readers or this blog, or fans of phonemic awareness, or maybe teach a primary grade, you recognize that big spiral bound book as the Heggerty teacher’s manual.  Yep, on a play day where he was his choice of activity Brock. is. doing. Heggerty. I CANNOT tell you how big this made me smile and also how really it didn’t surprise me as much as I let on.  Kids love the motions and the pace of our phonemic awareness work and I think they appreciate how much it helps then in so many aspects of their literacy lives. 🙂

He added in some friends and “students.”

The best was when he got out the “choppers.” 🙂

Additionally, someone found a small pad of Catch of the Day tickets and kiddos started passing them out to each other for positive things they saw their friends doing. :). Again, this made my teacher and mama heart happy.  And if you are for some reason NOT familiar with Heggerty and the work it addresses in phonemic awareness, check out where I wrote about it here.

So…we had a SUPER GREAT Global School Play day and yes, we played ALL DAY.  I have one more video to share, and I want to see if you notice the same thing I did when I recorded it.

Listen.  Do you hear it?  I know, right?  There’s that buzz of kids who are engaged, busy, cooperating–LEARNING!  Again, I’m not sure I was surprised (ok, maybe I was), but the whole day went off without behavior problems.  Kiddos didn’t argue, fight, bother each other, mess around..they negotiated, solved problems, made choices and enjoyed their time at school with each other.  Man…that’s what we strive for every day, right?

So that being said, I had to reflect on what I would take away from another Global School Play Day.  First of all, it’s a nice reminder that kids. need. to. play.  I feel like we do a pretty good job of this in Rm. 111, but I can always step up my play game.  Letting kids have more ownership of their play, leaving them alone to do what they choose is one way I could improve.

Additionally, I was reminded of how long it takes to settle into a groove.  You, know, to achieve “flow?”  Where you are so busy doing and enjoying what you’re doing that you don’t even notice time passing?  That happens so little in a classroom where our day is broken into small, segmented subjects and we transition from one thing to another so frequently.  Granted, we do this for a reason, but it’s probably good to ask whether its best for teachers and their schedules or kids and what they need.  Just watching the girls and the length of time they were “into” the world they were building made me wonder how (or if) we could accomplish the same thing in an academic situation by allowing kids more freedom, choice and TIME to settle into what they are doing?

I love that I work with a team of teachers who also think this way and who are willing to chew on this idea with me.  We have taken on the idea together and are really working diligently to figure it out.  For ourselves but mainly for our kids.  Because they deserve it. 🙂

# We are WORD COLLECTORS!

Whew!  This week was crazy!  Besides it being World Read Aloud Day on Friday, we had TWO “it’s-too-cold-to-go-outside-today” days off of school!  It was a nice refreshing mid-week break, but definitely made for a week where NO ONE knew what day it was. LOL

So…remember how last week I mentioned a super project that was sparked from another Peter H. Reynolds book we read?  Well, I finally have enough of it up and photographed that I can share it!

Last week as one of our read aloud we enjoyed hearing The Word Collector.   Basically, in the story, Jerome collects words that he hears and likes–short words, long words, funny words, nice words, you get the idea.  Eventually he ends up have a GINORMOUS bag of words on little slips of paper that he drops and they get all spread around, then being shared with the rest of the world!

We decided that as super readers and word-lovers ourselves, we could also collect words!  It really only took a quick mention of the idea for first grade readers and writers to be IN and start finding great words all over the place!  We “officially” worked on it for one reading/writing time, but I know they literally could have done it all. day. long.  I love how Sam and Jaxon, who were working together, said they collected pages and pages of words for 20 or 30 minutes but said, “I think we could do this for 20 or 30 more HOURS!”

Now, when something like this happens, I can’t ever decide if the best part is what happens in our room, or what happens when someone decides we should share the idea with other kids.  In this case, it may have been both.

I went ahead and covered the door in blue paper, which was supposed to look like the cover of the book. See?

Then as a class (well our class and Ms. Turken’s kiddos, too), we decided what we might do to share our work with our school on our doors.  We agreed that we should have a picture of Jerome, telling our Robinson friends about our inspiration and the word collecting we began to do.

We decided rock-paper-scissors would be the best way to decide who would create Jerome, and so after many, many games, Makhi, Wyatt and Isaac became our illustrators.     They made a most-handsome version of Jerome, and also a word bubble that we added words to together.

Beckett helped add some words to our speech bubble, using interactive writing and his best first grade letters!

One of the best things that happened as we talked about what our speech bubble should say, was when Hailey suggested we invite other Robinson friends to collect words WITH US!?  I usually have an idea of what I think the words could say, but it’s generally up to kiddos to decide what they will say. Hailey had the great idea that we should invite the rest of Robinson to collect words WITH US, which I had not even considered.

On Friday we finally had time to get our lists and lists of collected words onto our slips and finish our Jerome and words.  We still have to add the pocket that will house the slips, tape, and sharpie for other people to use, but it’s up and it’s FABULOUS!  Don’t you agree?  I LOVE LOVE LOVE that these kiddos are already learning to pay attention to how words sound and think about the power they have!

What words would you add to our display?  Please leave your suggestions in the comments and we’ll put them up for you!  Can’t wait to hear what you say and from how far away our words will come!  So in addition to your words, please tell us where you live!

# 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.

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. 🙂

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:

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!

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!).

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.  🙂