Mystery Skype in First Grade–FINALLY!

I have talked about Mystery Skype many, many times on this blog over the years (because it’s an AMAZING learning experience and man is it fun!!), but if you’re new here you might not know much about it, or even what it is.  If that’s the case, please check out this post that I wrote a few years ago to explain how it works, then come back and read about how it’s going in first grade this year!!

While Mystery Skype encompasses a long list of skills and concepts that first graders need to know and apply, we chose to begin it now because we were going to begin a geography study and knew this would be a SPOT ON and FUN way to do what we needed to do with our kiddos.

Rather than just jumping right in, we did a little bit of work beforehand, and talked about what we already knew or what we noticed about maps.  Kiddos got a partner and a map and talked.  Like we figured, they already knew a lot about how maps work.

I didn’t get a picture of the chart, but kiddos’ post-its showed that they already knew about how blue means water; that usually the green parts mean land; that the stars, dots, etc., stand for places/cities; and that there is a place (which we will later on call the key or legend) that tells you what all those symbols mean.

Ms. Turken’s class was a day ahead of us in our geography study and so had had a chance to talk about regions and where certain states are in our country.  The next day, then, we joined forces and put our kids together to do some co-teaching and kid-teaching about what they had learned.  Rm. 112 brought their maps to share and we talked about how we could use this new learning to help us determine where someone was during a Mystery Skype.

In addition to the idea of using regions to help us, we also highlighted how the Mississippi River is another important natural feature we can use to help us narrow down locations.  We marked it on our maps, and the practiced asking yes/no questions and kiddos figured out which state I had chosen.  During this practice round, we also talked about borders and how we can ask if the state borders another country or a body of water.

After both groups had had a chance to practice (one with me and one with Ms. Turken doing the same thing), we were ready to try it for real. 🙂

Luckily, Ms. Turken has many family members who live in other places and who are game to play with us!  Since we had two Skype sessions scheduled, we decided to use them as an opportunity for more teaching and learning.  One group asked the questions and then the other were the observers, so see how it worked.  We would then switch the next day.  We talked to one brother on Thursday, and very quickly figured out he was in Colorado.  We were EXCITED that we had figured it out!

Kiddos showed that they were TOTALLY listening and learning in our practice rounds, and asked great questions about all that we had discussed.  They used regions, the Mississippi River and borders to help them!  Way to go, first grade friends!

Then on Friday, we talked to another brother, and the second group got a chance to try out their Skyping skills!

Again we were able to use what we know to determine his location! YEEHAA!!  He was able to use his phone to show us some great pictures of the water he lives and works next to, as well.  We liked that part. 🙂

So…we’ve begun a really exciting Mystery Skype journey that has taken us to Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Colorado already.  Wonder where we’ll go next?!  Stay tuned!

Veterans’ Day 2016

Our school knows how to do things right. 🙂   And Veterans’ Day is one of those things that we do that has quickly become a day we look forward to celebrating together with our friends, family and honored guests.

Let me share our day with you. 🙂

First of all, here’s the first grade portion of the program.

Aren’t we a handsome bunch of kiddos?

We’re talented, too. 🙂  Here’s our Veterans’ Day song:

Before we sang, there were some tributes to our honored first grade guests.  It was pretty special. 🙂

Lastly in the program, some Robinson friends (including our RM. 202 friend Kaiden!) read the official Veterans’ Day proclamation:

Now…in case you wanted to see the entire program, it was live-streamed on Periscope and can be viewed in its entirety at these links: Part 1 and Part 2.  Also, Mrs. Sisul has updated Robinson’s Facebook page with pics from the day.  Check it out here.

Another amazing and thoughtful day spent celebrating some really important people and appreciating the freedoms and opportunities we have in America!  Great job, Rm. 202!

Stop! Drop! Cover! Roll!

On Monday we were lucky to be visited by the Kirkwood Fire Department, as they taught us how to be safe around fire, and what to do to prevent problems if we encounter one in our house.

First, we watched a video with some friends we know and love:

…and then our beloved firefighters taught us about what to do when we hear the smoke detector.  They even reminded us what it sounds like!

We talked about Stop, Drop, Cover your Face and Roll as well as how to find a safe spot where our family will meet if we have to leave our house (ours is down the street by the speed limit sign!), as well as how every bedroom should have two exits in case one is blocked.  Perhaps the best part was when he put on his gear so we could see what a fireman would look like if we ever encountered one in a rescue!  He sounded like Darth Vader with his mask on!

We knew a lot, learned a lot and feel super safe about fire safety!  Thank you firefighters!! We appreciate you!!  Happy Fire Prevention Week!

 

Are You Registered to Vote??

We are!!

Our school is participating in Kids Vote MO this year and we will all be doing some learning about voting and how we can all make our voices heard.   The first step for us was to have some super smart 5th graders come to teach us about what it means to vote for the President, what the President does, and some general info about how to register to vote.  They brought a really interesting Keynote that they shared with us on our ActivBoard (they reflected it, which is cool and something we know how to do, too!).

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After we had the basic idea of what voting is all about (well, ok, we actually already know what ti means in our classroom, but our 5th grade friends added a USA layer to it…), we got busy REGISTERING to vote in the election next month.  We got actual voting cards, that we worked to fill out with our information.

Check out our cards!  We are super excited!

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Now to figure out what we will vote for…I’ve kind of decided that as 6-7y0s we’re a little too young and innocent to learn about what the “big” kids are learning about the actual President, so we are planning on voting on the best book, or for a character for President using books we will enjoy together.  You know, like Elephant or Piggie, or Pigeon or even Duck!  Yep, we are big fans of Mo Willems so that would make sense.  As we get further into the process over the next few weeks, I’ll share more details.  Until then, we’re registered to vote–are you??

Day 33: Ahhhhh!!

I feel like I owe you an update.  I am pretty sure I haven’t share the amazing things happening in our class since Fix-It-Up Friday when we first got serious about our norms and expectations.

Remember this web of mistakes?

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Well we did some work and started creating some “We will…” statements that we are committed to living by.  The rough drafts started like this:

Over the last few weeks we’ve tried them out and been using them in our conversations.  I believe we’ve gotten to our final draft and the norms ended up looking like this:

img_4605Don’t they kind of look like super hero words?  Like POW! BANG! SPLAT!  I’m trying to decide if we should have kiddos illustrate them before we hang them…what do you think?  Just not sure if will help or just hinder the message.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the yellow parts as they highlight the important parts of each statement.

Ok, and so what does the title of this post mean–Day 33:  Ahhh!??   Well every day we keep track of how many days of school we’ve had, connecting to place value and counting.  We add a sticker to a ten-frame that goes on a place value chart and we also write the number of the day.

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Ok, so I know–not rocket science and not super exciting, but it was here–on Day 33 (which was last Friday)–that I felt like we’d turned a corner.  It was the first day pretty much all year that I felt like we could finally breathe and just say “ahh!!!”  Things seem like they are settling down, we are settling in and are becoming a family.  We’re working together and we’re finally looking (and more importantly sounding) like a community.  It’s pretty great.

BUT I must say it hasn’t come without LOTS of work.  We have put in probably at least an hour or more each day teaching, reteaching and practicing what first grade learners look like and sound like.  We’ve been learning and using the Robinson Mindset, as well as helping solidify the ideas of our class norms.

One of the most helpful things for us right now has been very concrete, visual versions of the expectations we’ve created together.  They hang along the top of our windows, and remind us of what each part of our day LOOKS LIKE and SOUNDS LIKE.  We often stop during the middle of a subject or activity and do a reflection on whether this is truly what someone (including us!) would see in the room at that moment.  If not, no big deal, the invitation is to FIX IT!  Find a way to make things look and sound the right way!  We’re right in the middle of our SCIENCE/SOCIAL STUDIES chart, and even have plans for one that demonstrates the line/hallway as well as other places around school.

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One more way I know we’re “there?”  Kiddos have started using the words we’re practicing!  The other day when a friend was interrupting on the rug, Xenia turned to her and kindly said, “We will take turns.”  When a friend was not quite with us in a conversation, Ciyah reminded them that “We will listen and follow directions.”  What??  This is happening on a regular basis now, as well as friends kindly reminding their friends of what they should be doing instead of whatever undesirable behavior they are engaged in (because “We will remind our friends.”).  I am loving how calm things feel and how much more we’re laughing and enjoying each other.  The last few days we’ve noted how tired we are at the end of the day–but it’s that good “we’re-pooped-because-we’ve-done-so-many-amazing-learning-things” kind of tried, not the “man-we’re-tired-and-cranky-because-no-one-listened-all-day” kind of tired.  Jack suggested that our days have flown by, too, because we’ve been so busy!  I don’t know about you but this make my HEART HAPPY!!

Cannot wait to see what the remaining 140something days have in store for us as we have set such a strong foundation for our year!  The sky’s the limit in Rm. 202!!  Please be sure to come along for the journey.  It’s bound to be exciting!!

I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag

We’re first graders, and Civics is a big part of our fall Social Studies learning.  We’ve been working on building community since day 1, which is a HUGE part of first grade Civics and learning to work together, but this week we moved into more “official” territory–starting with the flag.

Luckily, most kiddos come into first grade with at least some knowledge of US Symbols (like the flag, the eagle, money, the Liberty Bell, etc.), so we have a foundation on which to build.

We started with a great place: Annie and Moby from BrainPop Jr. :

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After we watched the video and gained some new info on US Symbols, we focused in specifically on the flag, and then worked to create our own.  Partly as a challenge, partly as a fabulous art piece, ad then also as a physical piece that they can use to remember our conversation and connect with as they remember the parts of and meanings of the flag.

We talked about the features of the flag, as well as the importance of each part, like how there are 13 stripes (7 red and 6 white) that stand for valour, hardiness and purity, as well as the 13 original colonies; there are 50 stars that represent the 50 states; and the blue part of the flag is called the Chief and is blue to represent justice.

Next I gave them three pieces of paper: one red, one white and one smaller blue piece.  Then they were to make a piece that represents a flag, however they wanted to, using whatever other tools they might need (like scissors, glue, tape, etc.).

Much like many other things we do, this activity was bigger than the actual idea of making a flag.  Like other requests I make of my friends, students have an opportunity to apply the Robinson Mindset all around them.  And in this case, it came when friends got stuck.  Along with remembering to “try one more time” like in the book that Mrs. Sisul read us, we could remind each other to use a growth mindset and work hard, as well as focus our minds on our work.  The ability to apply this in almost every struggle we encounter is a blessing.  And it worked.  The smiles on the faces of these two friends when they had pushed through a hard part was priceless:

Another thing that came out of this project was how everyone tackled the assignment in such a different way.  I gave them the paper but they really didn’t have any “right” way they were supposed to use it.  As I looked at it, and thought of how the pieces would go together, I imagined that they would cut the red piece and attach it to the white–many did exactly the opposite!   I love that picture of Rachel and Taylor working exactly the mirror images of each other.

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I love that the flags are all reminiscent of flags, and you can tell what they are, but they are each a little different based on the historian artist who made them.  Great work again, Rm. 202 friends!

Check out our patriotic work!

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As I see them down the hall, I am again reminded how glad I am I hung this display space right there!

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Mystery Skype–April 14 (#3)

We’re on #3 Skypes in about 2 weeks!  YEHAA!!  Today was the 2nd in two days!

Like last time, we had jobs, but at the end of the last session we decided to trade.  Unlike last time, our camera worked, though (did I mention that?  They were Skyping with a blank screen the whole time! 😦 ).

By the way, this post has made me think it might be a good idea to start a new page just devoted to Mystery Skypes.  Would make it easier for us (and everyone else!) to find the archives when we need them.

This was another great session, and at the end I’ll share what we know now that we didn’t know just three short sessions ago. 🙂

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The debrief this time was a question about how much more they know now than they did just a couple of short days ago.  Here where their responses when I asked “What do you know now?”

  • “I am a better greeter because I’ve practiced three times. I don’t need my dos/don’ts sheet anymore!” JH
  • “Now I can visualize a map in my head when they ask a question.” KB
  • “My job was easier today [than yesterday] because I wrote shorter words.” EM
  • “I think doing a job more than once makes it easier.” AM
  • “I know more about maps.” PM
  • “I know more about what to do as task manager.  I can just sit and watch what’s going on [and give reminders when they need them] instead of walking around.” AK
  • “I know where to stand and use better angles to take better pictures.” CB
  • “I am better at Twitter.  I did it almost alone!” JM

What great thinking, Rm. 202 friends!  As always, you amaze me with your reflection and insight. 🙂  Keep it up–excited to see what happens as you keep going with Mystery Skypes!