#weekofkindness–Thursday

Oh my goodness guys—this week has been BEYOND amazing!  All week we’ve been collecting books to donate to friends who don’t have any as well as food for Feed My People and our own Robinson Cares Food Pantry.  It’s been so great to see how kind and generous kids and families are, and has been great as we’ve been able to use this meaningful topic as we work on our reading, writing and spelling with our chart:

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Our conversations all week have included ideas for how we can all show more kindness to each other, and today we added that last idea of making #weekofkindness cards for special Robinson people to show them we care.  We started the day with an easel question related to this topic:

img_6805We had loads of great suggestions (including several post-its with MY name on them, LOL), and came up with even more and we planned for our card-making.  Kiddos decided who they wanted to create for and then most paired up to share some love!

The smiles on their faces as they finished and then the excitement as they came back with stories of the joy they spread to the recipients was over-the-top.  This was definitely a GREAT addition to our #weekofkindness activities. 🙂  Spreading kindness makes you all warm inside too!

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I am SO glad we did this and wonder if #weekofkindness should happen once each MONTH instead of just once each year. 🙂

 

#weekofkindness–Tuesday Update!

This year our school has been working to “tweak” what have been considered “traditional” holiday celebrations (i.e. class parties).  You’ll remember that we had a relaxing afternoon with a snack and a movie for Halloween, and a our amazing Cultural Celebration just before Winter Break.  Well, Valentine’s Day made the trifecta complete, as we made some long-overdue (well at least in my opinion) and really great (also in my opinion!) changes to this day.  Let me tell you about how it started in Rm. 202…

I knew that I wanted to twist up Valentine’s Day the last few years, but did so just by adding to the usual “celebrations.”  We still had a party and stuffed everyone with sugar before sending them away on the bus.  The first year, however, I tried to add in a little #makerspace and we engineered our Valentine boxes out of junk.  Then, last year, I did away with the box altogether and we crafted bags during our day, covered in kind words from our friends to help us remember how much #youmatter.   But still, there was pretty much still a “regular” Valentine’s Day.

This time around, I did what I tend to do with any big change, and ask my kiddos what they want to do.  We talked about how we’d be embarking on an entire #weekofkindness, rather than doing what they were probably expecting.  Like I expected, some were fine and some were literally “booing” at me.  “But why can’t we have a party?”  “Why can’t we bring Valentines?” “We did ….. in kindergarten!”  These statements were much like what they snarled at me (lol) when I gave the same speech about the 100th Day (you’d think they’d know me better by now!), and so I talked them down the from the ledge.  I explained how if they did it in kindergarten then there’s no reason we should do it now, since we’re not in kindergarten anymore, and also that we’d been spending the WHOLE WEEK focused on kindness instead of just one day, and then also that whatever we chose would–of course–be fun!

We had been rolling ideas around in our heads for a few days and decided we should record them so we wouldn’t forget.  We even used some literature for inspiration–we had been on a Pete the Cat roll with our books for a few days and found some Valentine’s Day books that we thought might give us some ideas.  A couple of them indeed DID come from Pete.  Funny how that works out.

Our #weekofkindness officially began yesterday, and we began laying the groundwork for our kindness-spreading with some books as well as planning.  We decided to start collecting books to celebrate International Book-Giving Day (which is Feb. 14) as well as to gathering food for Feed My People and our Robinson Food Pantry.  This meant we had some lists to make, and also some inspiring to do.  So far, our food list (which we’re writing together with interactive writing) looks like this:

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We hope to add more veggie ideas, as well as a category for soup tomorrow!

Today, being actual Valentine’s Day meant kiddos came with a heightened sense of excitement.  The #weekofkindness activities for today included writing on each others’ hearts (cool, right??) as well as making Kindness Cake.  Oh, and we decided to wear red, pink and hearts.  Just because we could. 🙂

Instead of “traditional” Valentine’s cards, we told our friend #youmatter by writing kind words–right on their hearts.  We did a pretty complicated rotating routine to make sure everyone got to everyone else’s hearts and they did a GREAT job!  What a fun experience seeing the amazing things first grade friends say to each other. 🙂

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But wait–it gets even better!  We made Kindness Cake!  Remember how I told you that we read those Pete the Cat books?  Well the very last page of the Valentine’s Day book has a picture of him sharing cake with his friend Callie, and so we added this “bake a cake” idea to our list.  Remember when we did all that fantastic pumpkin pie baking in December?  Yep, we were thinking that it was time to whip up something else yummy in the Rm. 202 Kitchen!

I found a really fantastic chocolate cake recipe (after we voted for which flavor we wanted to bake) that everyone in our class could eat (which meant it had to be tree-nut free, peanut-free and vegan) and we got busy!  Robbie’s mom had a great idea of sending in a heart-shaped cake pan (thanks to the other moms who did this, too!) and so we were READY for Valentine’s Day.

To some it looked like just a regular chocolate cake with vanilla icing, and I guess in some ways it could be.

But we kicked it up a notch with the decorations.  The decorations were hearts that we labeled with ideas for acts of kindness–things we had done, things we had seen others do, or ideas we had for things we could do.  We put them on toothpicks and covered the top of our cake with our kindness:

The way we got to the “spreading kindness” part was when we ate it.  As we cut the cake, I made sure that everyone’s piece had a heart in it.  Each kiddo got back a heart, but NOT the one they had written down.  Their challenge was to spread kindness by doing the act of kindness that was on the heart in their piece of cake at sometime in the next week.  Cool, right?  It was fun to see how many were immediately making plans for how they’d complete their challenge.

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Oh, and how it did taste?  Well this is what is left on the cake plate:

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And that is my #kindnesschallenge: “I can help someone.”  Ok, friends, challenge taken.  I’ll let you know what happens. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Judge Fairly

We are learning many things in first grade lately (that’s good, right?) and many of them are about how to argue!

Yes, I know, you shouldn’t argue with your friends (or your enemies, either), but it is a good thing to know how to make a good argument.

Our newest writing unit is about writing reviews, making judgments and arguing about why something is the best–with reasons to support that opinion.  We started by bringing in collections from home and judging which we thought was the best.  We were supposed to write our thinking, giving reasons that would convince our fellow writers.  It was great how quickly they dug in to this work, and how seriously they considered the choice.

We shared our initial judgments and shared our choices with our writing partners.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working on how to strengthen our arguments, by adding reasons, using strong words and phrases like “You might think…but I think…”, adding in quotes from others, and giving details.  We also learned how to strengthen our reasons by considering the opinions of others.  This was a fun day when we got to judge our friends’ collections and write about whether we agreed or disagreed (respectfully!) with their decision of “best in show.”

Our most recent argument was made as a part of our plans for #weekofkindness: we gathered a SUPER chart of ideas and kiddos had to convince me (and their friends) about which ones were the best.  What motivating writing topics!

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We will continue our work over the next few weeks, eventually moving our arguments and reasoning into ways we can make change in our community (which ties in with our study of history and change-makers in Social Studies right now!).  Fun times ahead!  Stay tuned!

Don Tate Comes to Robinson!

I LOVE when I get to use that title.  It’s usually the same one I use for every author visit. Ok, I should be more inventive, but hey, that’s what happened, right?

Anyhow, Robinson (and especially Rm. 202) LOVES their authors, but this one seemed extra special.  Most of the authors we’ve hosted have been amazing, but most of them have also been women (yes, I’m talking about you Mary Casanova, Deborah Hopkinson, Kate Klise, Betty Birney and Lisa Campbell Ernst!). Oh, ok–we have had a male visit us before, and although not an author, Mr. Schu was equally amazing.  But this time our new author friend was an African-American male!

We’ve been learning so much about diverse literature this year and have made many new friends (both in text and real life).

I already told you a little about how we were introduced to Don Tate when we visited the library.  We also spent several weeks reading (and loving) his books and admiring his illustrations.  The other day we even tried our own hands at art like Bill Traylor in It Jes’ Happened (which we learned today was his FIRST BOOK!  Man–what a great way to start your career!  This book won awards!!).

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After we read the book, we collected the information we’d learned about Bill from the story:

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Then we decided to do the same thing!

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First we made our way to the recycling station to find some discarded things on which to paint.

We found our canvases, got our paint (only blue, red, yellow and brown!) and got busy sharing things we had kept deep inside (which was a line from the story).

We ended up with some quite fantastic masterpieces!

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If you want to see what some of us said about this experience, check out our blogs here.

Ok, so the day finally came and this was us:

We headed down to the library to FINALLY meet our new friend and learn some amazing things about being an author and illustrator.  He talked to us about being gritty and not quitting, about how everyone has their own special talent, about how to make masterpieces out of your mistakes and also how it TAKES A YEAR TO MAKE A BOOK! You better believe I’ll mention that the next time a first grader tells me that they’re done after 10 minutes! LOL  I went live several times during the visit and the easiest way to share that is through this link to our Periscope channel.  It’s totally worth a few minutes to click on that link!

He talked, he listened, he answered our questions, and he DREW FOR US!!

We listened, we laughed, we learned and then…

Thanks for your time, your books, and your inspiration Don Tate!

 

Blogging in 1st Grade? Yes, please!

The time is finally here in Rm. 2o2 for writers to become bloggers and start their journey into safe and productive digital citizenship!  YAY!!  Are you excited to hear about it?  Let me tell you the beginning of the story (it’s kind of a long, developing one so I figured I’d at least get us started…).

Now, there are many things I like to do year after year, but because the kiddos are different, I don’t do them in the same exact way.  As we began to talk about blogging, I did begin similarly to my last first grade class, but of course with this class we had to include some literature, too, right? (more on that when I get to the part about comments!).

After we were clear about what a blog actually was and had some ideas about what we might want to write about, we got started with the writing part.  On paper.  I do have to admit for these kiddos this was less than ideal.  I have never heard so much grumbling in my life!!  They didn’t quite understand why they couldn’t jump right to the online part, but it wasn’t an option yet, so they took the paper instead of nothing. LOL

I was happy with how quickly most of them got into their topics, as well as how they were also thinking about how the aesthetics of a blog are also important–the title and pictures should correspond to the theme they are writing about.

On our 3rd day (it took us a couple of days to finish our first drafts of our blogs), we started talking about comments.  We discussed about how blogs are like conversations and how there are some general “rules” for how those should go.  We role played what it would be like for someone to talk to us and then just walk away when we were finished (Thanks Ella for your help with this part!).  We agreed this was not so kind and considerate to the speaker, and this was connected to what it would be like to read someone’s blog and then move on.  It’s about the conversation, after all.

Before we practiced this next step, though, we watched the BrainPopJr. video about internet safety, which highlights things that are ok and not ok to say online, as well as what to do if you think something is not right.  Next we read a book to continue the idea of being honest and kind.

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On a complete side note to this whole blog thing, we were excited to hear the story of Patricia McKissack and how she once attended our school! She was one of the first African-American students to attend our school after it was integrated in the 50s.  She’s a hero and is so brave, and is a local author who lives in our town!  Very cool!  Oh, and I remembered how I had had her sign my copy of this book when I had met her about 10 years ago.

The discussion around this book was an interesting one.  Like the little girl in the story, we thought that telling the truth was always the best thing.  This is still indeed true, but we learned from the events of the story that thinking about when, where and how to tell things is important to do.   Sometimes things are better to be saved for a private conversation with just one person, rather than being stated publicly (especially on a blog or other online space like Twitter).

After our honesty and kindness lesson, we got busy responding to our friend’s words.  This was exciting and I was impressed with how focused and quiet kiddos were while they did this work.

After this first round, we gathered together to share some of the notes we had gotten from other bloggers.  Some had questions, and we will deal with those in the second round–when we respond to the comments.  So far we are doing so great at this!

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Check out what our blogs look like!

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So..since it’s all about the conversation–we’d love you to join in!  What comments do you have for us? What questions do you have?  Maybe a suggestion?  We’d love to practice commenting with you!  Thanks for reading about the beginning of our blogging journey!!

Can’t wait to share the next step with you soon!

EVERYONE’S a Reader and Writer in Rm. 202!

I hope by now you’ve read at least part of our journey with #classroombookaday this year.  I hope you’ve heard how much it’s impacted the readers in my room to LOVE books, to LEARN authors and illustrators (so that now we can name them by their work as we see them in new texts!), to SHARE their favorites with us so we can all hear them, and how much FUN we’re having reading and reading and reading every day.

Well…one of the things that I guess I didn’t expect to come out of this is the strong connection to WRITING that has come out of this challenge.  The reading part made sense, but I love how it’s inspired so many kiddos to write the books that we read!

Of the 316 books we’ve shared 19 OF THEM have been written by Rm. 202 friends!  The best part is how the excited of one author had lead to so many more.  Of course, some of that is the “famous” factor, and getting their book on the door, but really a lot more of it is just that the writing bug is contagious!  Many of the books we’ve written have been inspired by the books we’ve read.

Check out the smiles of those writers–don’t they look proud?

I think I mentioned something the other day about how the suggestion was made to give our Rm. 2o2 authors an author box in our library for their books.  This finally happened on Thursday, and two of our authors now have a special place for friends to find their texts!

Isn’t that cool?  Ella joined the club and started writing fashion magazines she wanted to share.  The boxes are empty because the books are all being read! Perfect!

Now…aside from the WRITING that keeps coming up, there are lots of kiddos who have been asking to READ to us recently, too!  They are excited to share their reading skills with the rest of us!  And boy, are they amazing!

Ciyah was the most recent one to join the party and shared Green Eggs and Ham with us.  She was a super reader and did a great job! (Ayonna read Anna’s New Glasses to us the other day, too, but somehow I didn’t get a picture of it! What was I thinking??)

And somehow, I don’t have a video of her reading the book, but I do have a video of what happened when we all started reading it together!

I know I’ve said it over and over but I’m saying it again–the reading and writing that has been inspired by our participation in the #classroombookaday challenge BLOWS MY MIND!!  Can’t wait to see who we add to our reader/writer list next!

Kids Teach Kids: Rm. 202 Takes Over–Part 2

I know…Kids Teach Kids usually means students have researched something they are interested in and are sharing their new knowledge with their class–and we will definitely do that version of KTK later on this year–but for now it has to do with some great things we learned from Mrs. Mark’s class last week when we went for a little visit.  Let me explain. 🙂

Last week on Friday (the day after we had tackled our first step of ICEL and put kids in charge of our schedule), I was again looking for ways to enhance engagement and help kiddos dig in a little deeper into things in our class.  I was still considering the problem-solving protocol of ICEL and was contemplating both I and C…

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…and hoped that I could challenge my writers in a different way by having them see what other first graders were doing with their nonfiction book writing.  I asked my neighbor and friend Mrs. Marks (remember her double dog dare from last time?) if she would allow us to come learn from her kiddos, as I had seen some CRAZY great stuff in there on a recent pop in to chat about something else.  She was more than happy to oblige and we went over for a lesson from her kiddos.  My students had a mental list of look-fors and were also directed to ask questions about what they saw during our visit.

We saw some pretty great writing in Rm. 204!  They had added all of the “smart” things we’d been learning about that non-fiction writers put in their books to make their readers understand.  We saw headings, diagrams, pictures, bold words, table of contents, glossaries and labels.  And we saw really excited writers with whole folders full of books!  Needless to say, this was inspiring to my kiddos!  I would have to say, one of the biggest things we walked away with, too, was all of the different sizes of books that were made in Rm. 204; our books are all just regular paper-sized books on 8 X 11 in. paper.

As we left Rm. 204, Mrs. Marks invited my writers to take a little book from her pile to try. We were so excited about the teeny-tiny ones she had!

Of course our next step was to return to our room and get to writing, yes?  Well, almost.  Ms. Turken (our Rm. 203 neighbor) needed our room for a messy project with her class (because we have a sink!), so we were working in her classroom for the morning.  So…our next step was to return to HER room and get to writing.  I didn’t even stop to give directions or even talk about what they had seen from Mrs. Marks’ class–I wanted them to get busy and SHOW me what they learned by using their new knowledge. And boy did they do just that!

See all those tiny books?

One thing we noticed about Mrs. Marks’ books that was different than our work was that they were using mentor texts to help them with their own writing.  Kiddos got ideas as well as examples for text features from the books they were reading, and then made their own texts based on those texts.  We had been just using what we were experts at and what we have personal knowledge of.  This mentor text idea was very helpful to many of my kiddos, and was the support that many of them needed to get moving on their writing.  Oh, and Ms. Turken’s room has markers, which was also a great addition (ours have been put away for a while because we couldn’t take care of them….). 🙂

We have not quite finished this writing cycle, but will do so by Tuesday, so I will share what our final products looked like.  Thanks Mrs. Marks’ friends for adding some spice and excitement to our Writers’ Workshop!  We love to learn from our friends and when kids teach kids great things can happen!