Rm. 202 Kids Take Over!

This will be the first of several posts that document some changes that have been taking place in Rm. 202’s neck of the woods over the last two weeks.  We’ve been dealing with some struggles and are working on working through them.  Kind of like in the beginning of the year when we were working on working together.  Remember?  And in true Rm. 202 and Robinson form, we’re problem solving as a class to figure out what to do.  LOVE THAT!  It hasn’t been easy, but with so many great brains working on the solutions, it’s coming along.

Here’s the beginning of the story…

We had had many days where our class was struggling to follow directions, listen to each other (including me!) and struggled with working well as a group.  Of course I was frustrated, and knew that it meant something had to change.  Luckily, because I know that these choices mean they’re telling me something (rather than just that they’re bad kids, or trying to make me crazy, or that there is no hope! LOL), I choose to try to figure out how to help them change those choices, by teaching or reteaching behavior, or by restructuring some other part of what we do everyday.

And because I work in the best school in the best school district anywhere, I am lucky to know about using a problem-solving model with most every classroom bump in the road.  I learned years ago about how to use the ICEL protocol for this problem-solving and it came in SO handy to us lately.  Basically it helps you problem-solve through a variety of items, starting NOT with the kids in your class, but with how you are teaching them.

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So as I worked through how to best respond to the struggles we were having, I logically started with the I in ICEL, which has to do with HOW we’re learning and HOW I’m choosing to present things.  Sometimes an easy tweak in this area can provide the response you were looking for.  And also luckily (wow–do you get how blessed I am? LOL), I have a super supportive group of coworkers who are ALWAYS willing and able to help.  We happen to have a place to post questions and ideas so I wrote this, looking for some suggestions:

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And like I said, there ended up being LOADS of friends who gave their support and ideas for how we could respond, and even better than just helping me, anyone who read the thread could benefit. #collaborationforthewin

This response was what got us to this blog post today:

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And since I cannot step away from a double dog dare, but more because I knew she had a point with her suggestion and was thinking we’d get some good results from it, I started our next day with this as our easel question:

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Apparently I haven’t asked a question like this in a while, or they are programmed to answer this “learner” question in a certain way, because on our first draft thinking, their responses were “be quiet” or “listen to the teacher” or “be a good friend.”  Of course those are all good things, but what I was asking was more like the answers on this second draft are responses I as expecting.  The notes are grouped by type and the big pile at the bottom (not surprisingly) say PLAY.  The rest say things like READ, WRITE, CODE, and DRAW.  And yes, there were at least two that said they’d enjoy doing anything.  Yes, girls, you’re my favorite students.  LOL  Just kidding!

We gathered for morning meeting and got busy building our schedule for the day.  Again, this surprised my students MUCH more than I thought it would; I think I give them choice ALL THE TIME and work to be really responsive to what they need and want.  Funny that this seemed so crazy to them.  Anyway, we decided that they could choose to do something from the list of blocks/cars, art, Legos, or iPads.  We also reviewed how, since this was normally the time when we did writing and sci/ss, they had to figure out a way to include those things in their work.  I also gave the offer to let some friends help me start a bulletin board that first grade was in charge of making–4 friends took me up on this offer.  The rest made their choice and got busy with their learning plan for the day.  They had to start in their area by talking with the others kids there about how they’d use the tools they had available to them.  As we got busy, I shared with them that we would stop to share our work after a chunk of time (I think I gave them about 40 minutes).

Once they had time to work on their creation, we gathered in each area so groups could report to us on how they spent their time.

When we returned later in the day, we got busy writing a report on how we had spent our morning.  More on that later!

Oh, and I know you want to know how it went….this was one of the most pleasant mornings we’ve had together in a while. 🙂  They had choice, they were engaged, they managed their bodies and were in charge of their learning.  And I went to lunch with a smile on my face (for whatever that’s worth. 🙂 ).

Please be sure to come back for the next chapters of the story–it’s a great one!  Rm. 202 kiddos have GREAT ideas! Can’t wait to tell you about it.

Ho, Ho, HOT CHOCOLATE!

I’ve told you how amazing Rm. 202 kiddos are, right?  And I think I’ve shared with you how amazing their parents are, too, right?  Well here’s another post that proves that fact.

Mrs. Callier had a project to suggest to us for a fun Friday afternoon and of course we had to say yes.  We scheduled the date and she prepared her activity and came so ready that I didn’t have to do anything!  Love those kinds of projects!

Ok…so basically kiddos were going to do a painting project of a chalkboard mug that they could write a message on, and then add the hot chocolate, marshmallow and candy cane stirrer to make a cute “treat” for a loved one.  Well, or for themselves. 🙂

Kiddos had SO MUCH FUN, Mrs. Callier (and Grandma Becky!) did a great job with directions, management and best of all, kiddos went home with a goodie that they had made that they were SUPER proud of.   Check it out!

The finished product turned out so cute!  I didn’t get a pic of everyone’s mug (because some were still drying as I walked around), but these turned out just like we had hoped!

Thanks so much for a fun Friday afternoon, Mrs. Callier!  We appreciate your help and your idea for such a great project! 🙂

Learning to Draw From an Expert

Remember when Pacifique was here last year and we were SO EXCITED?!  And the year before when we first met them?   Well…since then we’ve developed quite a close relationship with the NIYO Cultural Centre and are lucky to be able to learn from these amazingly talented artists often.  This time Pacifique brought some new friends–Patrick and Figy.  Last time we focused primarily on music and dance, but this time Figy has been able to share his painting talents with us.  WE WERE EXCITED!

First, he did a little bit of pre-planning and basics instruction at the easel.  Everyone really wanted him to start by drawing tigers and lions, but Figy helped us understand that we have to start with simple and THEN we can stretch out and do some harder things.  We were going to start with butterflies.  Just like the lesson Ms. Holzmueller had done with us the previous week, he showed us how butterflies are made of shapes we already know, like ovals.  Easy peasy!

Once we had sketched our butterflies, we gathered for a painting lesson.  Figy is a master with watercolors and had much to teach us.  I was so excited to learn a tip that I had never learned: before you start painting, you “paint” the paper with water!  This helps the paint then “float” around on the water.  SO BEAUTIFUL!

After this next part of the lesson, we tried out hands at adding color to our own creations.

We weren’t finished yet, though!  We would leave them to dry overnight, and then trace the details on top of our paint with permanent marker.  WOW–what a great combination!  Check out Figy’s example he made for us:

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AND THEN (as if it hadn’t already been an amazing time together!), he called kiddos to the rug as they finished painting, telling them he had a secret to tell them.  He quickly had a line forming in front of him as he whispered quietly in each kiddo’s ear.  No one except that kiddo had any idea what he was talking about!

We soon found out that was he was talking to each kiddo about was what other animal they might like him to draw and quickly a pretty impressive list started to form on the easel paper.  And then he started drawing them for us!  Right before our eyes they begin to appear on the paper, like a colorful 2D zoo!

Did you notice what started to happen as he added animals to the paper?  Kiddos were so inspired that a whole new drawing lesson ensued and everyone was trying them out, too! Love it when that happens.  You don’t even have to invite them or suggest that they do it–just showing them is all the invitation that need! So organic. 🙂

So then Friday when we came back, we took our turn with the Sharpies and finished our paintings.  Aren’t they beautiful??

We were so inspired and thankful to Figy for sharing his talents with us!  We have even started another watercolor painting project in math that we’ll finish this coming week, too.  Stay tuned for updates on how we transfer this learning to another situation! 🙂

Lions, Rectangles and Triangles–Oh My!

We have been on a bit of a geometrical journey as of late.  We’ve studied sides, corners (which we know are called angles), diamonds (which of course are really called rhombuses!), square corners, trapezoids and loads of other things.  We’ve taken pictures, manipulated blocks, read books and even drawn pictures.  Pictures of shapes, and now pictures of lions, too.  Let me explain. 🙂

Well, actually, let me let a guest author explain. 🙂

Hi parents, guardians and friends of Room 202 1st graders! My name is Kate, or Ms. Holzmueller, and I work as a TA at Robinson. I’m one of the TA’s assigned to the 1st grade recess (where I often referee kickball) and lunch (where I help maintain order and pass out napkins and embellish hamburgers with ketchup smiley faces!) I’ve been spending time in Mrs. Bearden’s classroom the past few months, supporting some of the fantastic kiddos and doing a few read alouds, too! 🙂
Last week I spent time during math rotations having discussions with kids about squares and triangles and other shapes. (One of the benchmarks for first grade learners is that they, say, recognize that a square is a square because it has four equal sides and four equal angles.) While playing with the manipulative shapes I thought of one of my favorite authors, Ed Emberley and his books that help children (and adults like me who love to draw!) draw animals and monsters and people and cities, etc. all by drawing simple shapes. I showed Mrs. Bearden an Ed Emberley book and she was kind enough to let me share his work with your students.
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So during math centers, we looked at two pictures of a lion, one real, the other drawn. We had conversations about the shapes within the lion–how it’s nose looks like a triangle, how it’s head looks like a rectangle, etc. Then we practiced drawing all the shapes we had identified on white boards with dry erase markers. After that, we followed Mr. Emberley’s tutorial on how to draw his version of a lion, again on the whiteboard. (First by making a rectangle, then another rectangle, then a triangle…) 

Today during math time we practiced drawing shapes again on the whiteboard and then we used cardstock and markers to draw our own lions, still using rectangles and triangles and circles, etc.

Students were allowed to use whatever colors they liked and embellish their lion as they best saw fit–some have freckles! Some have angry eyebrows! We had conversations about how many triangles they used to show the teeth, how many triangles to make the mane, etc.

The results are very colorful and scary and fun and are now greeting passers-by in the halls. 

(And BOY are they BEAUTIFUL! Sorry–this is Mrs. Bearden.  Had to throw in my two cents about how great they are.  AND how great Ms. Holzmueller did as she taught the lesson! Learned a few things myself that I will incorporate tomorrow. 🙂  Really, I did!  Ok…back to the guest post…:) ).

If your student mentioned drawing a lion today know that Mr. Emberley has lots of other fun books they might like, too! (I found two of them in the Robinson library just today!)  And remember it’s just as easy to play “I Spy” with geometrical shapes as it is colors! “I Spy with my little eye something that is a square…” 

Rm. 202 Literary Lanterns Project

A few weeks ago I started seeing tweets about Literary Lanterns and they were so interesting to me.  Basically think of a pumpkin painted like your favorite book character, and that’s what they are.  We toyed with the idea of doing this on a school level, but it didn’t happen, so Rm. 202 decided to do it for ourselves!

First I showed my friends some examples of some pumpkins other kids had created, since I figured most of them didn’t really didn’t have any idea what I was talking about. 🙂

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Then we brainstormed a list of characters kiddos would like to create, with two minor rules: NO ONE could do Piggie or Elephant and NO ONE could do the Pigeon, because well, EVERYONE would want to do those characters and that would be a very boring pumpkin display.  Once everyone was clear on those guidelines (which really meant that EVERY OTHER BOOK CHARACTER in the world was fair game), kiddos got busy creating a list of ideas.

I pulled up our book pictures on our ActivBoard, and many also studied our door display (see?  Another reason why this project has been SO GREAT!).

Originally I was going to take our ideas and make a list and then have everyone pick the one they wanted, but instead had them circle the one they most wanted to create on the list they first brainstormed.  Then I just had to cross-reference everyone’s choice (which was much easier and much less work!) and surprisingly it all worked out really nicely.  Some kiddos were paired up (if they chose the same book) and some worked alone.

These choices were made on a Friday, so that kiddos could then work at home over the weekend to secure their pumpkin and any other supplies they might need.  To my surprise and delight, this showed up on Monday:

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Once we had our pumpkins, our plans and some time, we got busy!!

Oh my goodness they looked great!

Then we had a super idea about how we’d share them with our Robinson friends.  I asked Mrs. Meihaus if she would let us make a display of them in the library so we could show up our hard work and creativity, and she so kindly said YES!  Most teachers at Robinson know about our #classroombookaday challenge and how this went along with our crazy reading love, so were interested in what we were doing anyway.

Then we had another great idea: we would use this project as the basis of our learning on elections and voting.  Our display was set up, we created a sign to hang above our pumpkins and then everyone of them was numbered.  I created a Google form for Robinson friends, family and teachers (anyone who views the display, really) to cast their votes and now we’re off!  We are so proud and very excited to see what happens with this project now that it’s in place in the library. 🙂

And without further ado, here are our final products:

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We’d love to include you in our voting, too!  If you’d like to vote for YOUR favorite pumpkin, scan the QR code or click on the link below and cast your vote!  We’d LOVE to see how far this project can spread outside of our walls in Missouri, so please also share where you live!  THANK YOU in advance!!

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goo.gl/PXrKZb

Global Read Aloud Week 3: The Reader

This week was the half-way point of the Global Read Aloud.  We have so enjoyed the texts we’ve read so far, and this week’s book was no different.  Lauren Castillo has become a new friend to all of Rm. 202 kiddos and we enjoyed interacting with another of her great books: The Reader.

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As we read this beautiful story of a boy, his dog, a cold, snowy day and a good book, we discussed many parts and made many predictions.  We talked about who we thought “the reader” was, where we thought they were going, and we even connected a part of the story with the punctuation investigation we started the other day (which OF COURSE I’ll tell you more about later on!).

We got to this page of the book, when the boy heads toward home, and thought that maybe something was missing (sorry, Lauren Castillo!).

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So…we added it. 🙂  And the best part was that Rm. 202 kiddos knew that it needed exclamation points to make it sound exciting, and they also suggested that it be written in all capital letters because that also tells the reader how it should sound. 🙂

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Great, right?  And of course, no disrespect to the way it was actually written.  Reading lots Elephant and Piggie books makes us see speech bubbles EVERYWHERE!!

After we read and talked, we decided to get artistic and kiddos were invited to paint in response to the story.  They were asked to answer one of these two questions: Where is YOUR favorite place to read? or What is YOUR favorite thing to do in the winter?   Once their paintings were complete, they chose a paper to matte their piece, and wrote a card to explain their creation.  We brainstormed words we might want to use and created a chart to use a resource in our writing.  I CANNOT wait to see what these look like altogether on the bulletin board at school, but I had to go ahead and share them individually with you here from home.  They sure are pretty!!

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And I know I have said this every week of the GRA so far, but maybe this is the week that we finally join the slow chat about the books we’re reading.  Maybe. LOL 🙂

 

 

Dot Day UPDATE: We Made Our Mark!

I hope that you have already enjoyed the story of our Dot Day 2016 celebration, but if not, you might want to check that out first, and then you will have an even better idea of how we got here.  This is an update–one thing I forgot to share (what??) and our amazing paintings that weren’t ready to share yet.  Believe me, these MARKS are amazing!

First our favorite parts of Dot Day (not surprisingly, it was the DOTS for most kiddos!)

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Now the BEST part.  🙂  We made dots and watched them splatter…and we wrote about them, too!