The Planetarium Came to US!

I’ve posted before about the amazing things we’re able to do because of the many great people and resources we have in our district, and here’s another example of those resources at work. ūüôā

Mr. Bartin brought the KSD Planetarium to our school!  First grade classes each scheduled a time with him to visit and it was set up in our library!  We walked in and really had a hard time containing ourselves (which is a little bad since it was a library. LOL).

We took a minute to chat with us and connect to what we’d already been learning about the sun, moon and stars, and then explained the guidelines for how to act inside the dome.

Then we headed inside. ūüôā

While inside, Mr. Bartin was able to show us lots of things about sunrise, moonrise and set, how the stars seem to move, what constellations look like–and we even went back in time!! (Ask your kiddo about this one!!). ¬†It was dark in there, and so it was kind of a useless task, but I did try to capture something so you could see what we did. ¬†Here’s a picture and a video (which pretty much just looks like a black screen but you’ll get the idea–you can definitely HEAR the excitement. ūüôā ).

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Marshmallow Challenge 2016

In 2012, Mrs. Hong brought the Marshmallow Challenge to Robinson. ¬†Since then I’ve done it with almost every grade I’ve taught (5th¬†then 2nd and now 1st graders!). ¬†It’s been interesting to see what each group of kiddos excels with and which parts of the challenge are hardest for each group.

Just as a reminder, the rules are as such:

 

We used these same guidelines, except that kiddos had 25 sticks of spaghetti and we only had 15 minutes.  Otherwise, the challenge was the same.

We worked in our Crews, which are small groups we use throughout the year in different situations, but that stay the same all year long. ¬† It should be noted that we hadn’t worked with this group for a while….

Anyway, groups got started and were off to the races.  For the record, I noticed that only 1 group decided to draw a plan before they got started.

Kids had a variety of ways to tackle the challenge, with many groups thinking about squares as the base of the tower, but not quite figuring out how to connect that idea to the final product.  Many groups seemed to be working individually at the same table, rather than together on the final tower.

And at the end of the 15 minutes, we had these towers:

The only tower that was standing belonged to Crew 6.  And as you can see, there are not squares to be found, but many towers with lots of legs sticking out of the bottom of the marshmallow.

The next morning we debriefed this experience, thinking about things we’d keep the same (plusses) and things that we would change (deltas). ¬†Perhaps it was because of how I asked them to think about the question (or perhaps just because we had a really hard time!), but there were not many plusses, just a team or two that said that Crew 6’s design was a good one. ¬†No one mentioned anything that kiddos had done or how we had worked together that worked to make us¬†successful. ¬†We did, however, have many things to say about what we’d change. ¬†Many kiddos from all the crews gave ideas, but basically the class agreed that we didn’t do a very good job of telling our groups what we were doing. ¬†We didn’t share out ideas with our friends and pretty much were only concerned with our own ideas. ¬†And so as you can guess, it didn’t go so well.

BUT, because we know that FAIL means First Attempt In Learning and because–since we are Roadrunners– we have grit and a growth mindset, we knew we could try again, change somethings and see how what happened differently.

The second go-round I had kids start with a 3-minute talk about what they would specifically do differently.  Most teams decided to draw a plan this time, too.

After 3 minutes, teams got busy building.

This try brought up a really interesting problem. ¬†About 5 minutes in, I started to hear rumblings of teams who were “copying.” ¬†Shortly I had heard from all the crews individually that someone from another team had “copied” their idea and stolen their plan for their tower.

We had to stop the clock and have a quick conference on the rug. ¬†I had kiddos voice their concerns about what was happening and why they were upset. ¬†Someone complained that another group was doing the same thing as they were. “So what?” was my response. ¬†I’m pretty sure they weren’t sure what to say, so I pressed harder. ¬†“Why does that bother you? Say more about why it’s a big deal that another team “stole” your idea.” ¬†We had to then get to an understanding of the challenge, and that everyone could “win,” based on the way the challenge was laid out. ¬†The idea was not for some team to be better than another one, but that it was possible for everyone to have an idea that was successful, resulting in a tower that stood up tall. ¬†We talked about the idea of that old adage: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and how when someone uses an idea you have, you should be proud (rather than mad) because it means they thought it was a good one. ¬†Ms. Mimlitz and I gave honest examples of how many of our best ideas were inspired by things others had done or said.

I wonder if the angst was really because of a mental-model they all have (even at 6 years old) that “copying” is “cheating” and this is inherently BAD. ¬†I would rather them learn that in many cases sharing so that others can be successful is a GREAT thing; when someone else succeeds, it doesn’t mean you have failed. ¬†It actually doesn’t say anything about you at all!

After this little pow-wow, we got back to work, with teams asking each other about what they were doing, and visiting others’ workspaces to see another crew’s plans. ¬†In the end, I believe that everyone had the same design (we’ll work on innovation and differences later, the big lesson this time was about sharing!), but I believe that most tables had a tower that was standing! ¬†For sure we all ended this challenge with smiles on our faces, new understandings about success and excitement about solving our next problem!

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Crew 1 and their tower

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Crew 2 (I promise it was standing just before this!)

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Crew 3 and their marshmallow tower

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Crew 4–all smiles about their tower!

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Crew 5 is pretty proud!

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Crew 6 with smiles and a standing tower!

Outdoor Adventures!: Light and Sound

Today was a half-day at our school (because of teacher professional development in the afternoon), and so first grade took advantage of an awkward schedule to have an outdoor adventure!  We have been outside with Rm. 202 friends before, but today were had ALL OF FIRST GRADE outside in the Robinson Naturescape learning and exploring together!

The teachers planned a STEM day focused on our current PLTW unit on Light and Sound, adding in the component of the AMAZING outdoor spaces we have in the back of our school.  We took out a tub with a variety of tools, like binoculars, magnifying glasses, color tiles, flashlights, mirrors and spectroscopes.  Kiddos had the job of exploring outside and discovering something new about light.  Eventually we will have to represent that learning (using iPads, drawing or building tools), but for now we were just out and about and having fun with wondering!!

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As you watch the slideshow with your kiddo (if you’re a parent!), ask them these things:

  1. What was your favorite part of being outside today?
  2. What was your favorite tool to use as a scientist?  How did you use it?
  3. What did you find outside while you were exploring?
  4. What did you learn about light?
  5. What do you still wonder?

We came in and as a quick way to debrief, I had kiddos share what they were thinking about after their adventure. ¬†While you can tell that they were thinking of many things other than light (like dead animals–we found a DEAD RACCOON back there today!!), it was obvious that kiddos were thinking and having fun, and that they ¬†LOVE BEING OUTSIDE! ¬†I think at least half of my kiddos asked me when we’re going out again. ūüôā ¬†I’m excited to see how we can use this chart of great ideas in other parts of our learning soon, like for reading and writing ideas, topics for math and even further thingsto study for STEM or Genius Hour (which we’ll get to later on this year!).

fullsizerender-minWhat a great day we had! ūüôā

PLTW: Light and Sound

We are super lucky to have loads of new resources for science this year from Project Lead the Way, courtesy of a grant from the Kirkwood School District Foundation.   It means we are able to add in so much more hands-on learning, and focus more deeply on engineering, design and coding in STEM this year, which is GREAT!!

Our first STEM unit this year is light and sound and we have been doing some really fun things already.

Before we even got into the unit, we did some things to expose kiddos to the big ideas, and to get them interested.  One of those was to invite a Kirkwood Scientist, Mr. Bartin, to our classroom. Ok, well really Ms. Turken invited him to Rm. 203 and we tagged along, but he was here to share some interesting ideas about sounds with first grade.

Then we had some time to explore in non-fiction books from the library that we explored with a partner. ¬†Kiddos were responsible to read a light book and a sound book (or one that had both topics together) and then create a representation of something they learned¬†or something that was important from their reading out of play-doh (and somehow I don’t any pictures of their creations! ¬†Boo. ¬†Believe me–they were great. ūüôā ).

Then once the unit started, it was with a story to help set the stage. ¬†This one is about three friends who have a problem: they get lost in the woods while on a walk with their class. ūüė¶

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As we work through the rest of the unit, we will learn and explore with light and sound and eventually be presented with a design challenge much like our friends in the story.

We began with some exploring with some everyday objects (that someone might have in their backpack on a hike!):

We are keeping track of our learning in a Launch Log and will be able to go back and review it throughout the unit. ¬†We’ve just begun light explorations and will even spend the whole morning tomorrow outside as scientists with common objects like flashlights, magnifying glasses, and more! ¬†Can’t wait to share what we learn!

Do You Really Want a Turtle?

By the second day of school, my new Rm. 202 friends were already asking me about why we didn’t have a class pet. ¬†What?? ¬†Were they serious? ¬†They had found out about Mrs. L’s turtle, Javy (because of a sibling we have in 4th grade), and many had seen Ms. Turken’s water turtle, Bradford, who lives next door to us in Rm. 203. ¬†And so already my friends were turtle-crazy.

The problem? ¬†It was the second day of school, I didn’t have a turtle, nor did I really know anything about them (or had we decided yet as a class if we needed one or could take care of it!). ¬†So Ms. Turken and I devised a little plan: her class was going to learn about turtles anyway, because of Bradford and their interest in them, and they could teach us about what we might need to know about what would be the best kind of turtle to have as a pet (I had noticed that Mrs. L’s turtle–who is actually a “cousin” to Bradford–is a box turtle, as opposed to Bradford, who is a water turtle): box or water.

Well, they worked and researched and wondered and wrote and¬†last Friday they were ready to share their information with us. ¬†They came over after lunch on our half day to present their research. ¬†We were SUPER impressed with how organized and professional they were with their words and how well they used the microphone, stood so we could see them, and were so quiet and listening when it wasn’t their turn. ¬†Again a group of first graders was knocking my socks off!

Like I said, Rm. 203 friends were SUPER turtle researchers and taught us a lot.  And yes, now our turtle craze is even greater than before.  We even found this book to read together to teach us more:

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And luckily, I now also have a connection to a turtle. ¬†Updates to follow on whether or not a turtle joins the Rm. 202 family to come….:)

 

Outside Adventures!

On Tuesday we spent the morning outside.  Shortly after our morning announcements, the pledge, Morning Meeting, and a quick Pinkalicious story shared by Rachel and read by Ms. Mimlitz , we headed across the street with our iPads in hand with some important work to do.

Once we get settled under a grove of really big, shady trees, we read a couple of books together (which is part of our regular routine, especially now that we’re keeping track of our books with #classroombookaday), and played a rousing game of Simon Says.

Next, I gave some directions for collecting some important information. ¬†Kids had been a bit distracted by all the nature around them anyway, so their next job was to “collect” the most interesting things as pictures on their iPads. ¬†After walking a big circle around the area to show kids their limits, I set them loose. ¬†They were given about 15 minutes to check out all they could find and WOW was there a lot to look at! ¬†There were even some kind horticulturalists working nearby that pointed¬†out some things for us to see!

During this time we had an emergency drill (which was handy since we were in our emergency drill spot anyway), and since it was probably already 90 degrees and we were HOT, we headed back inside shortly thereafter.

But we weren’t finished! ¬†The next step was for kiddos to crop their pictures, zooming in on the MOST INTERESTING part of the photo. ¬†I wanted them to really think about why they had taken the picture, as well as what the story was about that image.

These were the next directions. ¬†And let me tell you (and I’ll elaborate about this later on, too) that it is a little UNBELIEVABLE that kiddos know how to do this already at this point in first grade!

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Kiddos did some great work, and we will build on this as we work together this year.

Check out our Outside Adventure WRITING!! ¬†Like I said (and I’m sure I’ll continue saying it!), what these kiddos can do with their devices already is nothing short of amazing!

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Thanks for reading!  Please leave us a comment and join the conversation!

 

 

 

Design Challenge: Earthquake Proof Buildings

A week or so ago I saw this tweet:

Since we had been studying slow changes and fast changes in Science for a while anyway, it made perfect sense to try it out!¬† And unfortunately, there had also just been some major earthquakes in both Japan and Ecuador that same weekend, so the idea of creating earthquake proof buildings was a real life one to solve.¬† And yeah, it would be fun. ūüôā

We began by reading a pretty great Seymour Simon book on earthquakes to gain more information, and answer any questions that might come up about how they work.  Knowing exactly what happens helps us build stronger buildings that would withstand the tremors.

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We talked and discussed and made predictions and inferences.¬† Then we got with our partners and planned–most on paper and some with some help from their iPad.

Then we got busy building.  The 1st building part was actually spread over two days (an afternoon and then the next morning) because we ran out of time.

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We used this design cycle protocol to help us know what to do, and wrote down the timing so we could keep on track.

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Some even tried out their prototype on the earthquake machine before the “real” deal.¬† They got some ideas about redesign or shoring up their foundations.

Caught some groups in their planning stages:

We took videos of our trials, and many kiddos voiced their ideas for redesign in their recordings.¬† We all did some writing/thinking about it, but I’ll share those in another post, since after I add our videos, this piece will already take you 7 hours to read it!¬† Thanks for hanging in there–it’s worth it, I promise!!

Charlie, Evan and Joshua


Ella Marie and Emily


Millie, Amelia, Ja’Mia and Tyrin


Makayla and Ava


Amber, Sara and Thomas


Peyton, Baron and Landen