Hour of Code: Our Favorite Part of the Week!

Remember when I showed this picture from my last post?

fullsizeoutput_124a

Remember that kiddos wanted to code?  Well if we had asked them that a week before, many of them would not have had any idea of what that even meant.  But thanks to friends in our school like Ms. Turken (our Rm. 203 neighbor) and Mrs. Sisul (our AMAZING principal), we are now ROCKSTAR coders and LOVE to spend any minute we have creating with code.org and our Scratch Jr. app on our iPads.

In response to that question I asked in our teacher group, Mrs. Sisul suggested that she come spend some Hour of Code time with my class. OF COURSE I said yes!

She started by explaining to Rm. 202 kids how they are all smarter than computers.  Some of them weren’t so sure about this, but then she explained that everything a computer does has to be entered by a human, who writes in a special language telling the machine what it should do.

Then we watched in intro movie about people who code and how and why they do that.  Next she explained about how there are two languages that computers understand, BLOCK and JAVA SCRIPT.  We were going to start with the block kind of coding, using a really popular movie as our topic–STAR WARS!!

We got started and indeed were able to spend an HOUR OF CODE before we went home that day.  In fact, we probably could have spent DAYS and DAYS of CODE if we were able to.  Rm. 202 coders are so excited by what happens when they put the right blocks in the right places and the game works the way they want it to!  Many of them got all the way to level 8 and were able to CREAT THEIR OWN GAME by using blocks.  Amazing, right?  Many kiddos have been using Scratch Jr. to do some pretty great things, too!  I’m excited by their excitement and by how well this fits into the creativity, curiosity and wonder that is a foundation of our classroom culture.  Thanks for teaching us this new language, Mrs. Sisul–we’re excited to become fluent in using it!  Hope to be able to share more soon! 🙂

Another Number Skype–Inside Robinson!

On Friday we were able to have another Mystery Number Skype, with some friends INSIDE ROBINSON!  We’ve done this before, the last time I taught 1st grade when we were learning to Skype and we called Ms. Turken’s class who was in Mrs. Fry’s classroom.  This time we answered a call from Mrs. Dix and Mrs. Bell and talked to their second graders.  We were excited!

We are getting so good at this and at asking questions that knock out a large group of numbers at once.  Our 2nd grade friends guessed our number and we did, too!  What a great way to practice what we know about numbers and place value!

Do you want to Skype with us, too?  Leave a message here, or tweet to us at @jbeardensclass@jbeardensclass.  WE LOVE TO CONNECT!

Our First MYSTERY NUMBER SKYPE!!

I was so excited to get my kiddo started on some “techy” type things and so today was a great day–we did our first MYSTERY NUMBER SKYPE!  What’s a Mystery Skype you ask?  What’s a Mystery Number Skype? (Check those out so you can get the big idea–believe me, they are one of the coolest things we do in Rm. 202!

Well today was the day!  I hadn’t really made a big deal about it, which was fine because they didn’t know what it was anyway, but boy did they pick it up quickly!  I explained the general idea (we have a number and the other class has a number and we use a 20-Question type game to figure out each others’ numbers), and then we practiced with the number 18.  We talked about words we might use (like greater than/less than, tens place/ones place), and ways we could cross off the most numbers at once (we kept track together on a hundreds chart) and then matched up with a partner to plan for what we would ask.

img_4531

At 9:30 we were ready, and our Skype phone rang!

img_4540

We answered and got right to work.  Our first point of business (after we said hello, of course!) was to figure out who would ask the first question.  We did so with rock/paper/scissors!

We won (rock over scissors!) and asked the first question.  Eventually we will have jobs for each kiddo, and will keep track of our questions for future reference, but for now we were lucky to have Mrs. Sisul tweet for us! Here’s an example (and you can check out the rest of the session on our class feed at @jbeardensclass) of what happened!

Rm. 202 kiddos did such a great job and were SUPER excited when in just about 5 or 6 questions we got to the point where we could guess their mystery number!

What a great start to our Mystery Skyping journey! We are ready to go and excited for our next call!  Who’s in?  If you’re interested, please leave us a comment so we can get in touch with you!

Digital Recording: Counting Strategies

I shared the story of how we have been counting EVERYTHING in our room this week, but there’s a quick story that actually come just before that, as we started our initial journey into practicing counting and recording our strategies.

Kiddos were given a partner and a “mystery bag,” which was full of between 10-35 of something (bags were differentiated for different counters), and asked to figure out how many things were in it.  They were to use an efficient strategy and somehow capture an image to demonstrate how they counted their item(s).  Partners worked together to determine the most efficient way to count their items, took pictures together, talked about their work and added explanations to their pictures via the Notability app on their iPads.

Through the information I received from seeing their images, as well as through observations and conversations conducted during their work time, I was able to more effectively create pairings for later in the investigation.  Partnerships were formed to best challenge and support mathematicians in their continued learning.

Mathematical strategies and digital tools for the win!

 

What’s in a Name?–Continued

We started talking about names last week and are continuing the conversation as we build our community together.

We’ve continued reading great books together,

and discussing the importance of our names and how they tell something about us as people.  They are the first words we learn, they are letters we know, and they connect us to people in our families and our pasts.  They are OURS!!

We worked on name building challenges as well, with inch tiles and with Legos (thanks for that idea, Ms. Lewis!), and we were able to document our work with our iPads (thanks Kirkwood School District!).  We are learning more about how to show what we know, use GRIT when things are hard, share our ideas and questions with our friends, ask someone else before the teacher, and how to send that documentation (pictures, notes, etc.) to Mrs. Bearden in eBackpack.  Seems simple, but it’s hard work in Rm. 202!

Inch Tiles Name Challenge

Kiddos were to build their name with inch tiles.  They were challenged to try their last name if they got their first name quickly.  It was fun and interesting to watch how each kiddo came at this challenge differently, which tiles they used and if they used capital or lowercase letters.  They took pictures of their work when they were finished.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lego Name Building Challenge

This time learners were challenged to build their name with Legos (one, two or all three–or four–of their names!).  Then they were to have a friend take their picture with their creation.  We’re still learning to take photos, so some of them are a little blurry. 🙂  The most interesting thing to me about this challenge was how many kiddos build their names in 2D, just putting the Legos flat on the table or floor, rather than 3D, putting them together and building their names UP instead of out (but yes, you will see in the pictures that a few friends tried it that way!).  There were no specifications related to this, but I will probably add that parameter for everyone next time. 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I have to take a minute and highlight a strategy that we discovered during our Lego building.  I went over to Kaiden at one point and saw this:

IMG_3565-min

If you can tell, he had only built the LAST four letters of his name.  I asked him to tell me about his thinking and he told me:

IMG_3566-min

We had to stop the rest of the class and have him share his thinking–this was a great example of what to do when you’re stuck, when you want to quit or you don’t know where to start: do the part you DO know how to do and keep thinking about the part you DON’T YET know how to do.  Often you’ll figure it out while you’re working.  GREAT JOB OF USING GRIT, KAIDEN!!

 

 

What’s in a Name?

We already have done many interesting and fun things as we’ve started this new year together.  And as we get into more “real” learning (yes, I know all learning is important and in many ways the “soft” skills might be more important, but I digress….had to call it something!), I am looking for ways to continue to stress the themes we’ve started with: everyone is valuable, we are different and we are the same, we support each other, we are all starting in different places and that’s ok–we’re all growing and learning together!

So when I saw this unit shared by our friend and AMAZING coach (and I don’t use the word AMAZING lightly) Amy Wessel, I knew I needed to find a way to use it–it matched up with all of those goals I already had in place.  Plus it was interesting and fun and we LOVE those things!

Ok, so I didn’t follow the unit completely as written, but I did utilize the book list as well as the ideas for “homework” to use with families.

Let me tell you the story…

As you’ve already seen from our #classroombookaday tweets and posts, we are a class the LOVES to read and often bases lessons/discussions on a good book.  So of course as we started to talk about our names, I went to the book list shared by Ms. Wessel, as well as some others I had found on my own at my library (which is another AMAZING thing!).

Together we read Hello, My Name is Octicorn (which isn’t so much about names as it is about accepting those who are different than us and making new friends but has NAME in the name LOL) and Thunder Boy, Jr. (which was surprisingly about a boy who has the same name as his dad and wanted his OWN name that told about him).

Then, since I wanted them to get into those iPads that had shown up in our room, we went on a little letter hunt around our room.  They were supposed to find all the letters of their name, take pictures of them, then crop the images and upload them into Notability to build their name (which is similar to the directions from our Outdoor Adventure Writing Outdoor Adventure Writing from the other day, too).  THEN they were to take a screenshot of that image and later send it to me in eBackpack so I could see it (and share it here!).  Oh, and they were supposed to take a selfie to use as their lock screen (which is how we tell everyone’s iPads apart when they’re laying around).  See?  Told you they know how to do LOADS of things already!!

They’re a little messy, but I did write/draw the directions for them, since it really was a long list of things to remember and do:

IMG_3614

They did a great job of following the directions, talking to each other when they needed help (I had to encourage this with some friends, as they are still learning that I am not the only one with the answers!), and sharing things they found out with the rest of the class.   These images will become the Home screen on their iPads for now.   Check out some of our creations!

What a great start!  Can’t wait to share more! 🙂

Screens Arrive in Rm. 202!

Remember back in 2012 when I did an iPad Scout with my 5th graders?  Seems like forever ago, and we’ve come a LONG WAY since then.

For instance, I’ve now taught another 5th grade, as well as 1st and 2nd graders with iPads and it’s amazing how much these kiddos know about how to do things, how to troubleshoot, how to help each other and also what ideas they come up with that I hadn’t even considered!

So as we were ready to pull out our iPads for the first time this year, I was interested in how much I would need to explain before we could get going.  So I asked a simple question as our warm-up this week:

IMG_3613

I’m not sure if you can read what’s on that chart, but these kiddos came in to Rm. 202 with some SUPER smart thinking about how to be safe, productive and smart with their iPads.  They told me things like wash your hands, put it on a table when you’re not using it (and not the floor!), use your headphones, be quiet, ask the teacher and do what you’re supposed to do.  I mean come on–those are all the things I was going to say!  It was so easy to begin our work much more quickly since kindy had put in so much time and work previously.  GOTTA APPRECIATE THAT!

When my next question got lots of “yes” hands, I was again super happy.  Aside from just knowing how to take care of their new device, they also knew how to do things with it!  Aside from just knowing basics like being able to turn it on, put it to sleep, swipe the screen to get started (when it is sleeping), etc., they knew about apps that I wanted them to use (for example, Notability and eBackpack–the LMS we use in our district) and how to take pictures and then use those pictures to demonstrate learning.  I’ll give more examples of that in later posts (like how we went on a letter hunt and built our names!), but for now we just have two words for our kindergarten teachers:

I really cannot express my appreciation more for how easy they have made my job of getting starting with iPads this year.  They are ready and they are excited!  And I’M EXCITED to see where we’ll be able to go with this sturdy foundation that’s already been built.  🙂