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!

Culture–Final Drafts!

We worked for much of last quarter on culture, based on many versions of Little Red Riding Hood.  Here are our final drafts of the books we published about the cultures of the various regions and countries we studied (not all kiddos wanted me to share, by the way–since I know now that I should ask!).

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Khalani B.–THE MIDWEST

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Charlie B.–THE WEST

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EmilyM.–GHANA

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Evan R.–THE WEST

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Ja’MiaM.–CAJUN

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MillieR.–GERMANY

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Baron E.–CHINA

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Nate R.–CHINA

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Sara R.–SPAIN

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EllaMarieG.–GERMANY

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Makayla M.–SPAIN

Thank you for reading!  We worked so hard and would love your feedback! 🙂

Mystery Skype–April 13 (#2)

Remember our Mystery Skype last week?  Well after that AMAZING experience, the first things that came out of my kiddos’ mouths were “When are we doing this again?”  That meant that I had to get busy because I needed to schedule another one for them! I tweeted out a request and quickly I got many requests.  One of them was today.  Here’s the story. 🙂

We are all about learning in Rm. 2o2 and so the first thing we did was reflect on the experience from last week and talk about what had happened.  I showed them the blog post I had written and asked them to think about what they saw.  We analyzed the photos and talked about what we would do the same and what we would change.  Some noticed that there were not pictures of everyone, and we agreed that the next photographers would make sure to get images of each job that we had on our list.

Next I showed them the video from our first try.  We did the same analysis and noticed somethings we could change.  Many of the “issues” just came from the fact that this was the first try at something like this for our videographer.  We talked about some technical things like shooting at people’s faces (and not their legs and feet), not moving the camera too fast (because it makes the watcher d-i-z-z-y!), not talking over the recording  and making sure–just like the photographer–to get the WHOLE room in the video.  We made sure everyone knew that we were only working on how to make our next try even better, not saying that anybody did anything wrong.

It was time to pick jobs and so we sat down to decide what each person would do.  After our debrief from last time, we had decided to add in Tweeters (check out the AMAZING job Mrs. Sisul, Ja’Mia and Makayla did today!) and Closers, so that made just two people doing each job.  Rather than the chart we made the first time around, I thought I’d try to start digitizing some things, so I made our job list in a Google Doc like Mr. Solarz’s example.   I just made a doc that we can add pages to for each MS (at least that’s my plan for now) so we can keep track of who’s done what during each session.

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I hope to start using a Google Doc for questions next time, too.  For today we hand wrote them and I entered it into the table:

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We had to go to PE right after this, but before we left, we agreed we should get everything set up, since we only had 10 minutes from when we got back until we got started.  I was SUPER pleased that this was what I saw them do:

The Data Enterers had their area ready, the maps for the Researchers were laid out, the chairs for the Questioners, Greeters and Closers were in place and the Photographers and Videographers had their iPads raring to go!  Isn’t it amazing what 7-8YOs can do when they are motivated and have a purpose? LOVE!

Here are the photos we collected from our session today:

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And the video.  Don’t worry–this one’s a bit shorter than the one from last time.  And you should get sick and dizzy either.  At least I hope not. 🙂

Then, when we were finished we sat down to debrief.  We said many of the same positive comments as last time, but I noticed many kiddos were a little unhappy about their jobs this time around.  Well, some of them were.  When we went through the assigning of jobs, obviously some kiddos got the one they wanted, and the others didn’t.  We talked about what to do about it, and we were divided about how to fix the problem.  We suggested that we could stay with our original jobs, since we felt that we had done a great job of finding the right person for each one (which we had agreed upon after we finished the first time around).  Not surprisingly, not everyone liked this idea.  We also considered just staying with the new ones we made today, since we didn’t really have time to reassign before our next scheduled Skype tomorrow morning.  Again, not everyone agreed this was the best.  Then, someone quietly suggested that we could trade.  He said, “What if I want a new job and so does someone else. Can we trade jobs?  That might work.”  BINGO!  Everyone loved this idea and so we quickly had the “traders” meet on the rug and most got a satisfying trade out of the deal and walked away happy.  Unfortunately, since there was an odd number, one person did have to stay with a job they don’t really like, but I’m sure it will all work out and next time she’ll be able to try something new.  Oh, and I had forgotten until now, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that one of the reasons someone gave for trying new jobs every time was “I like to make mistakes so I can learn something.  That happens when you try new things.”  HA!  Pretty amazing, right?

And you know, as fun as this is, and as much as it reinforces geography and inquiry and does loads for engagement and motivation, I just love watching what happens when you get out of the way, let kids do their thing and they run the show in ways that are far beyond what you’d think the realm of 2nd graders would be.  But then again, I continue to see it over and over, so I should stop being so surprised, right? 🙂

I Saw Pacifique! Pacifique is HERE!

Remember last fall when we were able to host some amazing Rwandans in our school? Well, since he is now forever connected to our Robinson family (and some teachers in our school, too), he comes back now and then to visit.  When he was here at the beginning of March, we joined Mrs. Appelbaum’s class next door to learn more about his Rwandan culture (since were in a culture study of our own at that time!).

He answered our questions, and even sang and danced a little for us.  What a great visit with an old friend!  He really is a celebrity around our school now. 🙂

Second Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of April 4-8, 2016

We started a new unit this week on geometry, but aren’t all quite solid with adding and subtracting within 1000 yet, so we came back to that as well.

Monday

Somehow I got home today (it’s Friday, when I usually post these while I am eating pizza and watching our family movie) without a picture of Monday’s MWU.  Oh well, I’ll just tell you.  The chart simply asked the question “What is a polygon?”  Well, I thought it asked it simply, but I was surprised that many kiddos answered it very differently than I expected.  What I thought I was asking them to tell me was the definition of a polygon.  What most of them game me was a picture of a hexagon.  Those that didn’t draw a hexagon pretty much described one in a few words.  I was puzzled by their responses, but as has happened more than once with these problems, it was a great lesson in asking better questions.  Had I asked “What is the definition of a polygon?” or even “Use words to tell what you know about polygons,” it would have made more sense to them.  I guess I did get information that they knew that a hexagon was a polygon, and that they didn’t understand the word itself, too, so it wasn’t a total wash. LOL

Tuesday

This one was another attempt at a vocabulary question, and was based on responses to the pretest from our geometry unit.  We had a great conversation about the difference between these two things, and how one is for 2D shapes and the other is for 3D.  We got out the rectangular prism and a Power Polygon that was a square and looked at the differences.  Oh, and notice how they connected the word “difference” with comparison, and so many of them drew a Venn Diagram.  Nice work, Rm. 202 kiddos!

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Thursday

This was a great day, because Ja’Mia and Ava volunteered to create our Math Warm-Up (like has happened with lots of things in our room lately!), so I told them to have a go.  They had to solve their problem, too, so that they would know if we got it right.  Unfortunately I changed the numbers just a teeny bit when I wrote it, but I do know I got the -18 part correct from their original problem.  Check it out:

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Want to explain a couple of things on the chart, based on our conversation.  The 900 at the top is because we talked about how estimating the answer before we solve the problem is a way of helping us know if we’re right.  We knew that the 300 and 500 would be at least 800, but then since both of the numbers were so big, it would be closer to 900 than 800.  We decided that the 69 in 369 was screaming at us (do you hear it??) that we should compensate and make the problem easier so we moved 1 from the 532 and made 370+531.  Then we moved 30 over to the 370 to make 400 and added together the resulting numbers.  Once we got to 901 – 18, we remembered what we had learned about constant difference and knew that if we added the same thing to both numbers we could get the same answer with an easier problem–thus we did 903-20, which is super easier than subtracting 18.  I was impressed with their hard work and glad to see that so many of them could apply the strategies we’ve been practicing.

Friday

Today is a busy morning usually, because we do a Week-in-Review sheet that takes the place of the math warm-up.  Often we don’t even get to it, but I decided to try it as our right-back-from-recess activity and it worked pretty well.  We tried another one like yesterday’s but I changed the numbers a bit.

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This one has many annotations, too.  Let me explain:

We had to have a quick explanation of the directions, as many of them thought I meant that they should use their calculator.   I just meant I wanted them to figure it out. 🙂  The 800 is our estimate, which we figured out by thinking about 500 + 400, but then realizing that 73 is about 100 so we subtracted that next.  The red words were a request for a reminder of the strategies we have learned (as well as a reminder that I still owe them an anchor chart!): Circle, Split, Add; Circle, Split, Add with a number line; splitting; a chart that we’d used during our investigation into the T-Shirt Factory (that is really a visual form of regrouping 10s/1s); and compensation (making an easier problem).  As we were deciding upon a strategy to try together, I reminded them that good mathematicians choose one based on what the numbers tell them, not based on their favorite or the one they know the best.  Kiddos decided that the numbers were telling them to subtract first, because they noticed that the 75 in 475 could help us subtract the 73.  Once we rearranged the numbers, we realized our problem was a SUPER easy addition problem.

On a side note, at our class meeting today, the topic of math came up and many kiddos marked it as their “trouble spot” with a red dot.

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Again I was puzzled by this (probably because I define trouble spots as places where our class has something to figure out together or areas/activity where our choices could use some reworking and they instead mark them as things that were hard for them to figure out), so I had them explain.  Many said that the warm-ups were hard this week because they had to both add and subtract in the same problem.  We came to the conclusion that it was probably “hard” because we still needed practice.  We also discussed that labeling something as “hard” can sometimes lead us to believe we can’t do it.  If our self-talk is always negative instead of saying “I just don’t get it YET”, that ends up being our reality because we’ve quit trying.  We agreed that I could give them just one operation in a problem and that they would work on positive self-talk as they tackled these tricky problems next week. Win/win. 🙂

 

Mystery Skype–For Real!

You might remember that last year we prepared for a Mystery Skype by Skyping with Ms. Turken’s class INSIDE of our school.  We were ready and had a plan, but then our Skype that we had scheduled fell through.  Somehow we didn’t get another on the books until this year.  So a week or so ago we did a Mystery NUMBER Skype with Ms. Bartin’s class at Keysor–the next step above someone in our school is in our school district. hee hee

Then, when I tweeted about how much fun we’d had, I asked for any takers on another Mystery Skype.  We quickly got a bite from Mrs. LaRose’s 2nd graders!  We quickly put a day and time on the schedule and I got busy getting my class ready for the big time.

Since a few years ago when I did this with 5th graders, I have made some new “friends” on Twitter and knew that they would be the right ones to go to for help.  Paul Solarz, 5th grade teacher extraordinaire and author of Learn Like a Pirate has some GREAT Mystery Skype resources, and I used many of them to get us prepared for our conversation.

It started with determining our jobs.  While Mr. Solarz has 5th graders and does most of his Mystery Skype work online, we were still able to use many of their listed jobs, modified a little to fit our needs.

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While I think that Mr. Solarz assigns jobs, we had a meeting before we got started and I explained each job, then we decided who should do each one.  If more than the allotted number wanted a specific job, kiddos had to find a way to decide who should do it (many of them played rock-paper-scissors to get to a decision).  In the end, we agreed that the right people were in the right jobs, based on their strengths and personalities.

I was excited (as were they) and even though I had done this many times before, I really didn’t know what to expect because I hadn’t done it with this format in any other session previously.  Because we were ready a little early (ok, I did that on purpose), we were able to practice.  We were able to run through the whole deal twice, with me pretending to be the other class and them trying out their assigned jobs (thanks, Mr. Solarz for that idea–it was SUPER helpful!).  First I was in Illinois (Chicago, actually) and then I was in Florida (ok, fine–Orlando).  If you know me at all, you could probably guess those would have been my choices.  Ok, fine, they probably had a little head start on that, too.  Anyway…

While we were working, I was surprised with how busy everyone was, how well they worked together and how quiet but bustling the room was!  We were even able to host a few teachers who wanted to see what this whole Mystery Skype thing was about without any real trouble.  Thanks for Ja’Mia and Landen for submitting the pictures for this post, and for Khalani for taking the video.

Check out our archives from our first-ever REAL Mystery Skype!

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After we were finished, we sat down to debrief and it was great how excited they all still were–I had them turn and talk so everyone could get all their thoughts out, then they shared some with me.  Here is a little of what kiddos said, some positive and some things we might change:

I liked holding up the “Good job” sign, it made me feel great to see everyone focusing, learning and doing the right thing! -Sara

I thought it was fun and I really wanted to do a good job to help out our class! -Thomas

I liked that I helped find Vermont! -Amber

I didn’t like walking around the whole time. -Landen

I liked my job because I got to remind people. -Ella Marie

I thought it was tricky trying to find a question.  -Emily

I liked it when Nate and Charlie asked about the time zone. -Lawrence

I like that my behavior was good.  I got a “good job” card and I really wanted to do my very best for our class! -Jacob

I liked being a greeter.  I was good at that job because I am friendly. -Joshua

I liked learning things that I didn’t know about our state. -Ava

I liked learning about maps. -Evan

We also debriefed on jobs.  The consensus was that there were too many researchers, and that we needed to add a couple of new ones: Tweeters and Closers.  Mrs. Sisul, our principal, texted me during our session and asked that I make sure to Tweet since she couldn’t make it and I could not believe that I hadn’t even thought about it!  We will definitely find some friends to do that next time, as well as choose two friendly kiddos to close the call and say thanks and good bye.  🙂

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One more thing…it’s very long and it’s kind of shaky–it’s our first time, after all–but I think it gives a great example of all the hustle, bustle and hard work that was happening during our Mystery Skype.  We’d love to hear what you think, especially if you notice anything or have any questions.

2nd Grade Class Meetings

I’m not sure how this is possible, but it seems that my class just had our first class meeting on Friday. I know that’s really not the case, but I guess all the meetings we have had have been either impromptu or have followed a different protocol than is typical to Rm. 202 because when I opened up our class meeting flipchart the other day the last one was from May 2015!  WHAT?

Well, regardless, we sat down to have a meaningful class meeting, following a protocol that everyone new because even if we didn’t do it this year “officially,” everyone had followed the same procedure in 1st grade.  (In case you don’t remember how we do class meetings in our school and district, check out this post, as well as this one where I wrote about it previously, then keep reading. 🙂 ).

We went around our circle and our chart dots looked like this when we were finished:

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A comment for the sake of transparency: our original chart got lost so I recreated the dots as I remember then.  There may be a few in the wrong place, but this is generally the result after our choices. Sorry, friends!

While often the red dots indicate times where our class was having trouble behaviorally, as we talked through the dots for this class meeting, we figured out that the red dots next to “subtraction in math” were related to the fact that the math we were doing was tricky (more on that later!).  The red dots next to the others were things we had already worked through earlier in the week.  All-in-all, this chart shows a pretty great week for Rm. 202!

As is part of the typical class meeting protocol, the last part of the meeting is having kiddos write me a “Friday note” where they share whatever is on their mind: something from the meeting that they didn’t get to say, something from the week that they think when well (or was hard for them personally), an idea they have for something in our classroom, a question, what they’re doing over the weekend, etc.

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Then I spend time over the weekend answering their notes.  I was SUPER impressed that many of our notes were related to how kiddos knew that they needed to work on not getting Xs next week.  A couple of friends asked for help with certain subjects, and many kiddos told me about weekend plans.  And yes, as happens at least everyone once in a while, someone’s note just told me I was the best teacher EVER.  Loved that one, of course. LOL

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As with any class, the Friday note is perhaps one of my favorite pieces of communication with my students.  I learn something every week, and I find that kiddos share things in this venue that they may not feel safe to say to me or have time to talk to me about during the course of a regular, busy day.  These notes are so personal and give EVERY kid a chance to have a voice in our community.  Friday notes #FTW!

 

Culture Projects Come Together

Remember how I told you about how we started reading all sorts of versions of Little Red Riding Hood?  And then how we started researching the cultures from which each version came?  Oh, and how I only was able to tell you those parts of the story because of the changes I’ve made this year?  Ok, good, glad you’ve been here so far for this much of the story, cuz here’s the rest. 🙂

Kiddos spent many days researching the cultures of many countries and several regions of our own United States: Germany, Ghana, Spain, China, the Midwest, the West and the Southeast (Cajun culture).  They worked in groups of three to discover important facts about many culture and geography topics: language, flag, location, landforms, holidays, food, games, religion, school, art and music.  One group decided to add info about clothes, as well.  This part of the project took longer than I had expected, mainly just because there were so many topics to find out about, and 4-Squares to fill in.

After enough days of research work for kiddos to have something to put in their planners, we worked together to draft what we thought our topic sentences should sound like.  Each group worked on their own to add in specific details about each topic, but we all used a general common starter for our first sentences to add continuity.  We worked on some general ones, first, to get the idea of a paragraph (topic sentences, details and a conclusion) solidified in our heads, and then tried one from one of our countries together.

Once we had agreed upon our starting points, kiddos got busy crafting their own words into their organizers.  These would then become each page of their book.  We saved the introduction and conclusion for last.

Eventually we got to the point where we were ready to put all of these fabulous facts and wondrous words into a draft of a teaching book that we could later share with our classmates.  There were many options for how to do that, and students were allowed to choose whatever format made the most sense for them. Most students chose to use Keynote at the way to create their book, as adding in the text features we would need would be the easiest in that app.  One friend thought Notability would be best for her, and two friends decided to hand write their books.  Regardless of the how, though, we add worked toward the same goal together.

Students then spent the next few weeks (yeah, i know, this project was LONG!!) putting together the words first (you have to build the house before you can decorate it!) so taht they could then plan how they would add in text features to enhance their reader’s understanding of the topic.  For that lesson we talked a little about “app smashing”, where you take more than one app and “smash” it together with one or more others to create something even better than you can do with any one single app.  Kiddos made plans for their text features and showed me what they were thinking, many of them smashing together their camera and Notability or their camera and Keynote.  Some friends smashing Safari in there, too, and used images from the internet.

Ultimately we will share our final drafts on our blogs, or print them to create actual books for our classroom (or both!) or we could publish them as ebooks and share with other readers in our school…we haven’t decided on this yet.  The first step was to share with each other, though, and we did this the other day before we left for Spring Break.  Kiddos were able to project their book on the big screen (either by AirPlaying from their iPad or just by displaying it through my computer since they had turned it in to me through eBackpack).

While we were listening to kiddos share about their cultures, two other meaningful things happened, thanks to my friend and teammate Mrs. Appelbaum (remember her and her amazing Tower Garden adventures?).  One, kiddos had a big sheet where they were to collect information from their classmates’ books; they could write or draw anything they found interesting, a connection they made, something didn’t know, something they wanted to remember, etc.  It made it so much easier to pay attention through the 12 books we were able to share that day.

The other super smart thing that happened was that I was able to knock out much of the grading part of this project while the presentations were taking place.  This project was a big part of kiddos’ social studies, speaking and listening and writing grades.  I was able to sit with our rubrics on my lap and make notes about what I observed right in the moment.  this is really a big deal because I usually leave things like this until the last minute, and this was just such a smart, efficient suggestion.  Thanks, Shannon A.!

While my kiddos’ final drafts are WAY better than this one, here’s an idea about what they ended up looking like.  I’ll share theirs when we all come back in 4th quarter, but here’s mine (well partially finished one) about Australia:

 

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Please let us know what you think!  This project has definitely been a motivating and engaging one for us in Rm. 202.  Can’t wait to share the final drafts with you!!

 

28 Days That Changed the World

Last year I found the most amazing book.  Books, really.  I am almost certain it as a Twitter find–since that’s where most of my teaching gems come from–but regardless, I ran out to get it and it became the basis for the conversations in our classroom during our history unit.

Here’s the main one, written by Charles R. Smith, Jr. :

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It goes through all the days of February and gives a little story about an important figure in African-American history, working forward from the 1700s to today.  The synopses are short, interesting and my favorite part is that they are not just the “big” ones taht you are used to reading about.  There are women and men, as well as children, and often the moment that changed history wasn’t even a person, but a court case or event.  We read through this book last year during our history unit–where our focus was on people who change the world–and loved it, as well as learned a lot we didn’t know.  OH, and I didn’t tell you anything about it.  Since  I have this thing–well used to–where I wait until the end of a unit/project/story to tell about it.  And then don’t actually do it.  So here’s to telling you this time around. 🙂

Oh, just a quick mention of some other FABULOUS books I found at this same time: the I Am series by Brad Meltzer.  They are along the same vein as the 28 Days book, and are little biographies about important people (not just African-Americans, though).  The illustrations are SUPER cool, and make it a really interesting narrative non-fiction text to share together.  The voice of the famous person comes through and kids are hooked from the first page.  We’ve read almost all of them (I just got Lucille Ball and haven’t had a chance to share that one yet!):

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Somehow I only took a picture of a few of them. 😦  We also have Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller and Lucille Ball.  They are pretty great!

This year as we got ready to start February, I knew I wanted to incorporate this book again, but obviously in a different way than we had done it previously.  I was really glad that my kids were as excited as me to reread the stories again, and it’s been great to see how they anticipate who will be highlighted each day.  We really enjoy this time of our day, and I can really tell that they are learning about the people/events and their impact on our world, as they make connections between them and other things we talk about in the course of our day.  This book is more than just a book for the friends in Rm. 202.

One thing I wanted to be able to do to deepen our understanding (or at least solidify our memory) was to do some writing about each day’s text.  We had been doing some work with non-fiction, as well as main idea/details, so I figured it would make sense to write a summary paragraph to tell others about what we were learning (we had decided we’d hang them on our bulletin board outside our room).

We have been using the 4-Square organizer to make sure we have all of our thoughts (in read aloud, during Social Studies, in Writers’ Workshop as we write opinions about things), and so we decided they would make sense for this, as well.  And ultimately, I want kiddos to learn how to use the organizer to meet their needs, not just to use it when I say to, or to see it as being just for one time or place.  We wrote the first few together, discussing our topic sentence and then adding in details to explain the text for the day, like this:

IMG_0616-min After we got our thinking down on the planner, someone would “publish” it and we’d hang it outside on our board.

Last week, we had a short week with a weird schedule, which made for a little bit of a problem.  We didn’t get to finish our text for Feb. 11, then we weren’t in school for February 12-15 (that’s 4 days) and so when we returned on February 16, we had 7 pages to work on!!  There was NO WAY that we would have been able to sit and do all that work together as a whole group (can you say behavior problems?!), so we needed a new plan.

Well…it worked out SUPER well that we just happened to have 7 groups already in place for our culture study.  Each group was in charge of planning and then writing one of the  paragraphs after we all read them together.  Great plan, huh?? We thought so. 🙂

Kiddos knew what to do, since we’d been using the planner already, and I was really  impressed with how well they have been able to add appropriate, relevant details to the topic sentences (which I had given them already in their planner).

While I have a REALLY WONKY panoramic picture of it (the end of our bulletin board is inconveniently up a flight of stairs 😦 ), I’m really excited about how it all looks out there, and I love that there are things for us to share with our Robinson neighbors!

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We still have another week or so before we’re finished with the book again, but I’ve got other plans for continuing our study far beyond the end of February.  I have been doing some behind-the-scenes work with our librarian and some other teachers to find even more recent stories of Robinson personalities, or other Kirkwood figures that these friends might know.  I think it is essential to teach kiddos that change-makers are not just old people, in black-and-white pictures who have been dead forever.  Important figures in their lives are not just from long ago and far away, nor are they just “famous” people they read about in books.  I want them to see versions of themselves in the smart, successful people I teach them about; I want them to see the possibilities for their own futures.  I’m excited to finish the plan I have for this next step.  And yes, I’ll be sure to share!

**UPDATE:  GREAT story that happened today as we were reading about Thurgood Marshall for Day 22….I was talking about how he was a Supreme Court Justice and how often that means that a judge has been an important lawyer. I explained how the Justices are appointed by the President, which is a BIG DEAL, and how Thurgood Marshall had been part of a big deal court case that we knew about.  “Do you mean Plessy vs. Ferguson?”  WHAA??  Love that they could throw that one out there.  “Nope, not that one.”  “Are you talking about the 14th Amendment?” “No, not that one, either.” “Oh, I know!!  Brown vs. the Board of Education!”  Um, yeah–that one. 🙂  Isn’t it pretty great that 2nd graders can whip out those names like that?  I think so.  Way to go, Rm. 202 friends!  Love that you’re soaking it in, and making connections, and more importantly I think you’ll make CHANGES with that knowledge someday.**

Happy (Chinese) New Year!!

We did something this past week that has never happened in Rm. 202–or in any classroom I’ve taught in: celebrated Chinese New Year!  Our friend Baron’s mom, Mrs. Eyrick, was born in Taiwan, and offered to come share some of their Chinese culture with us.  It was perfect because we both got to see a little more about our friend and his family, and also, it fit in with our Social Studies unit right now.  Match made in heaven!

She showed up a little early and got busy decorating with some traditional Chinese New Year symbols and colors.  We learned that red and gold are important, as they stand for life and fortune.  Mrs. Eyrick brought us a dragon, lanterns (realized I didn’t get any pictures of those! :(), some fish as well as decoration for our door and a big Happy New Year sign.  So festive!

We sat down together on the rainbow rug and she told us all about the history of Chinese New Year, and how the Western Hemisphere (where we live) bases their calendar on the sun, and how the Eastern Hemisphere (where China is) bases their calendar on the moon (lunar) phases.  She explained the Chinese Zodiac, and told us how friends in China celebrate this happy time.

She even brought us a treat!  She shared traditional Chinese New Year “lucky” food–clementines–and gave each kiddo a lucky red envelope.  It had real money inside!!  We also got to enjoy some other Chinese tasty treats together.

What a great afternoon and a fabulous celebration! Thanks, Mrs. Eyrick, for coming to teach us about your culture. 🙂