Our First Class Meeting!

If you don’t know about how we do Class Meetings around here, be sure to check out the previous posts Lessons in Democracy and Class Pet Petitions for a little background first….go ahead.  I’ll wait for you. 🙂

We had our first real class meeting this past Friday and it went really well!  I say “real” because the week before (our first Friday) I walked them through the process of 5th grade class meetings, to either remind or inform them of how we’d be doing them this year.

Here’s our chart after dots were added: Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 7.28.13 PM

We had a busy week, huh?  The lists at the beginning of the year always seem to be a lot longer because we do many more short activities as we’re getting to know the classroom and each other, as opposed to longer projects as we move further into the year.  And for some reference, SRI is the Scholastic Reading Inventory and helps assess readers.  Students get their Lexile level from this assessment, which helps them as they choose books (which I guess is why so many kiddos gave this a blue dot–signifying that they learned alot from that activity).

I found it really interesting (and surprising, honestly) that so many kiddos chose Appletters as the topic to discuss and problem solve around.  And with that many red dots I was dying to find out their thinking about how we could fix it for next time.

After they shared their concerns, these were the things they mentioned that we could work on:

  • kiddos using really loud voices during the game
  • some just sitting (not participating or waiting for others to come to them)
  • not allowing others to join their words
  • leaving others out on purpose, or replacing their letters with other letters
  • only trying to make words with friends, instead of trying lots of options
  • people stepping on each other, running into each other or shoving as we move around the room

Then we were on to problem solving (we actually had a lunch break in between to do some thinking), and came up with some ideas on how we could improve our game the next time we played it:

  • aim at using a Level 1 or 2 voice (which at our school means whispers or soft voices), so even if we get a little louder we’ll still be at a reasonable volume
  • give kiddos time to think independently before we move together to build words
  • make a rule that you could add letters or rearrange them to make new words, but NOT remove letters once they are there
  • play in another part of our room, or try to use more space instead of clumping together
  • have a place for “odd” letters (like Z, X, Q, etc.) to go if you can’t build a word, then those letters try to build something.
  • I also suggested that I would add some other guidelines for what kinds of words they could build.

These were pretty good, and we were excited for the next time we played!

Little did they know that their next opportunity would come that afternoon!  The “rules” this time was that their words had to be at least 4 letters long, and could not be names (remember GIBY from last time?). We all agreed that the next time we were much improved.  Check out our words the second time around!


Someone said this word was inspired by a book cover they were looking at just before we played our game–funny that they were actually able to find the letters to build it!


Check out the way CAR turned into CRATES--a longer word with more friends involved!  Success!

Check out the way CAR turned into CRATES–a longer word with more friends involved! Success!


All of the "odd" letters met at Table 4 to see what they could come up with...

All of the “odd” letters met at Table 4 to see what they could come up with…


...and many hands made for light work.

…and many hands made for light work.



Definitely not an Appletters “fail” here–that’s a good word!


Check this one out! Another one where someone (Owen!) was just looking at the letters and this came to him! Genius!

What a FABULOUS example about how a group of people with great ideas can change things for the better!  What a great start to the year, and an exciting precedent for class meetings to come. WAY TO GO, RM. 202!! YOU ROCK!


Ok, so first of all, before Sunday, I didn’t even know this game existed.  Did you?


I mean, I know about Bananagrams, and we had a TON of fun playing a variation of it last year at the beginning of the year.  So really, Appletters is just another version of Bananagrams (and there’s even Pairs of Pears, too)–really it’s just a fruit-shaped bag filled with letters.  But this one was cheaper. 🙂

So like with last year’s Bananagrams, we started by giving everyone a letter.  Then they had to find other friends and make words.  The first time around there are no rules (outside of the one that says you have to make words, hee hee), and we came up with these:

IMG_1151 IMG_1152 IMG_1153 IMG_1154 IMG_1155Pretty great, huh?

So for the second round I added the guideline that the words had to be at least 4 letters:


I wasn’t sure this one was actually a word, but then was informed that it’s a character from iCarly. I think next time we’ll change the rule about names.


I like the story behind this one. It started as “bands” until we noticed that there were two friends with I and T who needed a group. Voila! BANDITS!

IMG_1156 IMG_1159

I am hoping that this is a game we can come back to again and again this year.  I am excited to see how the words we make grow and change as we work with words and vocabulary throughout the year.  I’m thinking I might make it an option during Reader’s Workshop, too, as a word game.

Have you ever played Appletters?  What about Bananagrams?  How do you use them in your classroom? What other games do you play with words or vocabulary?