Literary Lanterns: 2018 version

I found this project a few years ago, and have tried it with three first grade classes now. 🙂 Last fall must have been a busy time in my life because the 2017 version of this project did not make it to our blog. 😦 Oh well–here’s another iteration of this awesome project, which is a great combo of fall, pumpkins and books!

As with the last times we’ve done it, we started with the explanation, and this picture:

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We talked about the possibilities for books and characters we’d use and made one really important rule: you can’t do anything in this example. :).  As you might be able to tell, these are many of our favorite characters and EVERYONE would want to do them.  This challenges them to think “outside the book” so to speak, and not just copy someone else’s idea.

Kids had time to check out our book wall (another GREAT reason to display them low for all to see!), and shared their book choice (either from one we’ve read or one they’ve read or just love).

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After their books were chosen, and Ms. Turken and I had given them their assignment (with the idea of trying to make sure all our our lanterns were different), they were to draw their plan, including a list of materials they would need to complete their pumpkin.  Learners shared their plans with us (and each other) via Seesaw.  Here are some of them:

Once everyone had brought in their pumpkins (plus some extras via some very generous families!), we finally got busy with the decorating!

We were finally ready to share our creations after we’d gotten our displays together–including a picture of our book and a recording of who our character was and why we’d chosen them (can you say “thank you KSD for the fact that we are 1:1 with iPads?  WE are able to do SO MANY GREAT THINGS because of that!). Here’s what a few of those looked and sounded like:

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We set up our Literary Lanterns and our iPads so that as kiddos from the other classes came through to see our gallery they could listen and look at our thinking.  We also had a chance to go through and view our own class’ creations during the gallery walk.   What a great end to a great Friday morning around Robinson school!

Ok, one last little slide show. :). Here’s a closer look at our creations! (It seems now that I’ve missed a few, but I will add them as soon as I get back to school!)

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Halloween Fun 2018

What a GREAT day in Rm. 111!  I mean I know Halloween is supposed to be fun, but I really think the reason it was extra great this year was because Rm. 111 kiddos were so amazingly behaved and still worked like it was a learning day, not just a throw-out-all-the-rules or just-a-party day!  They even did it in their PAJAMAS because we had earned a PJ Day reward for getting 20 Catches of the Day.  Granted I also think it helped that we kept them busy and planned some really interesting things, but regardless, they stepped it up and totally rocked it. :). Let me share our day with you. 🙂

We of course spent the day (and every day!) with some books.  On both Tuesday and Wednesday, we focused on books about pumpkins and then Halloween specifically.  Check out the titles we read together:

We enjoyed all these (because who doesn’t look a good story, especially when it’s holiday-themed?!), and strangely it was the very first time I’d ever read The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything.  Not sure how, after all these years of teaching (and of being alive!), but I loved it and will definitely include it in my repertoire next year.  AND we might decide to do the Breakout box I saw recently related to it.  I’ll definitely share that here if it happens!

We had been working on a lantern project in reading, and because Mrs. Heisner blessed us with some extra pumpkins we had enough leftover to carve–even exactly the right amount for each crew to do one.  Kids had a chance to plan their idea of a great jack-o-lantern as morning work, and then we planned to do a little flip-flop with Rm. 112 kiddos and Ms. Turken for the morning.  She had a super Room-on-a-Broom-themed craft to do (which of course I have no pictures of since I wasn’t in there 😦 ), and so two crews when there while two crews were with me and then we traded (this is, by the way, an oft-used structure used in our co-teaching classroom).  As each crew came to my table, we voted on the pumpkin plan we liked best in each group and then we began to turn our pumpkins into fabulous jack-o-lanterns.  We would, by the way, use this experience as the basis for our how-to in writing today, which was another reason why I wanted to do this together. 🙂

And what fun this whole thing was, from pulling the guts out, to drawing on the faces and then seeing Ms. Pachan’s amazing pumpking-carving skills and then getting to see our finished products all on display! I was also super impressed with how well everyone worked independently and quietly while I was with groups.  SUPER JOB, RM. 111 and 112 kiddos!

Check out the pumpkin work we did! 🙂

The jack-o-lanterns we ended up with were SUPER!  Check out our amazing products!

Later on in the day we were able to participate in our annual Robinson Halloween Parade with the rest of our Roadrunner friends.   Our costumes were GREAT and we had a great walk.  It was a little chilly, but that just added to the late-fall fun!

Robinson teachers even got in on the fun!

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We decided to do a team costume to go with our current science unit–Patterns in the Sky!  Ms. Turken is the moon, I am the sun, Mrs. Kier is the earth, Ms. Dale is covered in constellations and Ms. Fry is a cloud. Such fun!

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Ms. Pachan, our first grade teaching assistant was also part of a group of crayons, put posed for a picture with me before our parade. 🙂

Once we got back, we settled in for a snack and a movie.  The day before I had asked this question as our morning work problem to get a little data:

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While this was a great question for practice with tally marks and addition, I also used it to know what to shop for for our Halloween treat!  Win/win!

It looked so pretty on the table, too, with all that natural color, don’t you agree?

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Ok, so I know Oreos and Starbursts are NOT natural….look at the front of the picture instead. LOL

We watched Room on the Broom (which we had already enjoyed as a book and a craft!) and kiddos were so quiet and calm–even on Halloween and even after a parade
AND in their costumes.  Joyous. :). Some friends who didn’t want to watch the video with us quietly made other choices like reading with a friend or writing.  Yes, even on Halloween. :).

Here’s to the beginning of a great holiday season!  Bring on November and December! 🙂

Robinson University–2018 Edition

I know you already know I work at the best school in Missouri, and perhaps the world. :). We have such an amazing community of families and teachers, and we make things happen for kids.  Last Friday was another example of that amazing community working together to provide priceless experiences for all the kids in our school.  Let me tell you about it. 🙂

I am sure at some point on this blog I’ve written about Robinson University (hereafter called RU), but the version that was unveiled on Friday was even better than ever.  Until now, first graders have not “officially” been involved, but instead we made up our own rotations for kiddos to do, alongside the “real” ones that bigger kids did.  This year it was decided that we could indeed join in with the rest of the school.  Yay for that decision!

In short, RU is a program we run on half-days at our school (which are half-days so that teachers can participate in professional development in the afternoons), which are designed to provide unique and different experiences for students–experiences that they may not normally or otherwise have an opportunity to take part in.  They are available during school hours so that EVERYONE can participate.  We’ve done some version of it for the last 5 or so years, but this was seen as the 2.0; many changes were made with structure and offerings that were an improvement on our original ideas.

Children were given the option of some 30 different classes, and all classes were taught or facilitated by parents, friends and community members of Robinson School.  In the past, students had only 2 or 3 classes, as we stretched them out over the entire semester of half-days. Now kiddos choose their 10 favorites and then are assigned 6 of those–one for each half-day, so that they are able to participate in 6 exciting and different experiences throughout the year.

Teachers were assigned as faculty liaisons to work with one of our presenters, and I got to participate in a session about DNA.  I got to work with a fabulous mom of a fabulous student I had a couple of years ago, who is a real research scientist and came with real science to teach us about what DNA is and how it works.  Cool, right?

I have loads to tell you about that (since I was present in that session), but first I want to share some pictures from the other sessions to give you a little taste of the exciting things our Roadrunners were able to do AT SCHOOL last week! :). Check it out. 🙂

Aikido

  • Aikido (a different style of martial arts) is “The way of harmonizing energy,” known as the art of peace.

Let’s Make Breakfast!

  • Come and have fun mixing and making a delicious breakfast of Dollar Pancakes, cheesy scrambled eggs and Island Smoothies. Breakfast always tastes better when you make it yourself! 

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Creative Writing

  • Have you ever dreamed of writing and illustrating your very own picture book?  If so, this course will teach you all about the creative writing process from a published children’s book author.

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Food Science

  • Let’s make gummy worms! Come explore the Science of food!

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Happy, Healthy Kids

  • You will learn lots about healthy living and how healthy living makes you feel happier and stronger. We’ll also make fruit ice cream (no sugar/no dairy!) and it is YUMMY!

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Microbiology–Learning about GERMS!

  • Let’s test the 5 second rule in this session that investigates microbiology and our germ-filled world! We will explore what germs are, why they matter, where they are and how experiments and can help us learn more about them. 

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Stop Motion Videos

  • Come and make your very own stop motion video!

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What Does a Veterinarian Do?

  • We will discuss the skills and tools used in veterinary medicine. We will discuss some fun and interesting cases and work together to learn to think like a veterinarian.

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(This one was taught by a very special Rm. 111 parent!  Thanks for helping out, Mrs. Hendrickson!!)

Yoga

  • Explore how yoga, movement and breath can be both fun and relaxing. 

I would have LOVED to have had pictures from all the sessions (there were also sessions that including geocaching, swimming, Keynote, School of Rock, World Bird Sanctuary, Jedi training [fencing], cake decorating and so many more I can’t even list them all!!), and unfortunately I didn’t get every smiling Rm. 111 faces on this post, but hopefully by the end of the year of RU I will be able to do so. :). Stay tuned.  The next session is on November 2!

Ok…so here’s the details on the session I was in–it was all about What is DNA?  It was led by my friend Dr. Ariel, who is a research scientist.  She came to teach us about what it is, why it’s important, and we even EXTRACTED some DNA from a strawberry!  Emily, a 5th grader who attended the session (and who can be found on this blog from several years ago when she was a first and second grader!) named him Jeff.  Unfortunately, Jeff gave his life for science and we were amazed when the little cotton-like strands actually came out of the test tube right before our very eyes!  Check it out…

(P.S. I have a GREAT video of the whole DNA extraction process but it it turned the wrong way and I can’t get it to rotate!! Ugh.  If you know to do that and want to give me guidance I’ll do it and post it here later!)

 

Names, Names, Names!!

One of the most important words a first grader knows (how to read and how to write) is their name.   We have done lots of work with this, including making sure everyone knows how to write it neatly with only 1 capital letter.  Along with knowing the letters in our names, we will soon officially begin to focus on the SOUNDS in our names, as well as the chunks, blends and patterns in our names that can help us read other words! We practiced in many different ways with many different materials.  We are getting SUPER good at names now and are using beautiful handwriting in other places, too!

Check out our work from the last few weeks!

Playdoh

Just like when we use our pencils, using our “pinchers” to make the Playdoh into sticks and curves is a challenge.  Our goal was to make the Playdoh letters look just like the name on our name tags.

Inch Tiles

Who’s Name is Longer?

This one was a name practice that we used as a math investigation.  Each kiddo made their name on inch tiles and groups worked together to figure out who’s was longest, shortest, and how many letters their group had altogether.

 

Legos!

Boo…so I just realized that most of the pictures we have of this activity are on kiddos’ iPads. 😦  Maybe I’ll come back and add them after I get them transferred to me, but for now, trust me that this was a challenge!  I had to nudge many kids to create 3D versions (to actually connect the Legos, rather than just lay them on the floor) and that up’ed the ante on the thinking.  Plus–it was a really fun and totally engaging way to practice letters and names!  Goodness, what can you NOT use Legos for?

Good ‘Ole Fashioned Handwriting Practice

 

One More Time: Analogies with Mrs. Berger

We had one more Kingore lesson this past week with Mrs. Berger.  This time it was analogies.  Man, these can be hard for first graders, but like with most every time, we had some great examples before we got started.  We tried some together (with pictures to help us out!) and then she read to book Animalogies to us, which was written by some other kids and involved analogies that were all about animals!

And…just like last time, we smelled brownies!  What great opportunities we’ve had with Mrs. Berger to think in a new way, stretch our brains a bit and show how creative we are! We will definitely continue to put these skills to work in the classroom as we go forward in first grade! 🙂

Another Kingore Lesson: Pentominoes

We have visited Mrs. Berger many times recently to stretch our brains and show our ability and creativity.  Recently we went to work on pentominoes puzzles.  Basically, a pentomino is a plastic piece (labeled with a letter name because of its shape), made of 5 small squares.  They can all fit together to make a rectangle, but can also be used to create other shapes and designs.  That was our job on this day. 🙂

After the explanation and some “try-its” together, we got to work, using our grit and perseverance to figure out the puzzles on the sheets Mrs. Berger gave us.  Some of them were really hard, and you had to turn the piece around and around and over to make it fit.  We were all able to do it, though, and the smiles on faces when they got it were priceless.  I heard so many “yes!”‘s and it made me smile, too. 🙂

Perhaps the best part was when we figured out what our class grit smells like (which you can smell in the room when we’re all working hard and using it!): chocolate chip brownies right out of the oven. 🙂

10 Lego Math

Last week during our Bike Rodeo in PE, we did a math investigation around how many wheels were on the bikes in our bike row in the gym (yeah, I know…I should have shared that post first.  Sorry. 🙂 ).

It was our first try with math notebooks and working to communicate our mathematical thinking in words, pictures and numbers.  Kiddos are expected to be able to do that thoughtfully and clearly, based on this rubric:

Screenshot 2017-09-27 21.26.34This is an end-of-year expectation, but we learn about it early and work on it all year in different ways.

As I looked over the work kiddos had recorded in their notebooks, I noticed that kiddos mainly just wrote numbers.  Ok, really a number.  Just the answer to whatever question they were working on.  The words and pictures parts were pretty much MIA.  It’s still early, so this is neither surprising nor worrisome–we just need some work on what it means to clearly and concisely show what we did to solve a problem.

While we could have done this in a variety of ways, I took a super smart suggestion from my friend, Mrs. Marks, (who you might remember inspired this Lego Leading/Following lesson) who thought she would walk a bit backward and have her kiddos work on just representing something really small they that had counted, made, etc.  Perhaps because the first “Mrs. Marks” lesson was using Legos, or maybe because they’re the best tool ever, or we all love them or we have a TON of them….but regardless, I framed our next communication lesson around a Lego creation invitation.

With the goal being using words, pictures and numbers (as necessary) to explain their thinking and making their explanation match their creation, kiddos were given a baggie with 10 random Legos.

Then I gave them these directions:

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For the first part, kiddos only worked on steps 1 and 2.

As we moved to the next step, I did a think aloud as I drew and then wrote about my own creation.  We talked about what information would be helpful to know if they were going to build a replica of my tower (because that’s what they will be doing next!).  They gave great suggestions of words to use and we revised and added to the words, also discussing what labels might be helpful.

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Somehow I didn’t get a picture of my tower, but I promise it looks just like that drawing. 🙂

Kiddos’ next step was to work on their drawings and writing, with nudges along the way to add or revise to make sure their thinking was clear and complete.

Today we finalized our thinking, took a picture (to compare our drawings and creations) and posted our work on Seesaw.  We used the recording feature to read our writing and add any details we thought were important.  Next step is that we will build each other’s creations and discuss what information in our work was helpful, confusing, and/or missing.  We will then try again with another creation and see if improve.  Kiddos have been so excited about this work and I’m excited to see how it impacts our math work going forward.

How do you use Legos to learn?  We’d love to hear your ideas.  🙂