2nd Day of 2nd Grade Selfies!

Last year we shared our super-sweet pics of ourselves on the 1st Day of 1st Grade.  So what could we do this year but share super-cool pics of ourselves on the 2nd Day of 2nd Grade??

While some of these are silly and some are serious, I think in many ways they show the personalities of the kiddos who took. And if I’m being honest, they weren’t all actually selfies, because I told them where to stand and probably micro-managed the whole thing a little too much.  Boo. 😦  Sorry!

But the whole idea of selfies came from this article posted by my principal in our school’s ShareTank (which is a Facebook group where teachers can share learning and ideas with each other).  It’s all about using selfies and other strategies to give kids more control and voice in the classroom.  It is, after all, OUR classroom not just mine.  And I know from the work I did on my Masters’ project last fall that choice and voice in the classroom increases engagement and perseverance, so why not?!  I feel like I tend toward this direction anyway, but I can always do better at making sure my students are helping to direct their learning, with me alongside helping to facilitate that journey.  I feel honored and humbled to have that opportunity. 🙂  Here’s to a great year of student-centered, student-directed, everyone’s-engaged learning!!

Getting Started in Second Grade

Wahoo!  We’re finally getting started!  I spent some time getting ready, and it was fun to stop getting ready and finally get started!  And since we’re looping, it has definitely been fun doing just that.  I was looking back at the beginning of the year from last year to see what I had written about, and MAN–our kiddos were BABIES!!  You should take a look and see how much all those munchkins have grown since last fall.

As is usual fashion for me here on 20somethingkids, I have TONS of stories to tell you!  I am making a list of it all here, partly to help me make sure I get it all in, but also just in case you want a place to land to find it all.  Once I add the post, I’ll link to it on this page and you can easily find it again.  Ok, here we go!!

Over the last few weeks, we have done so many things!:

Marshmallow Challenge: Second Grade Style
Getting Started with Reading: Reading museum
Getting Started with Writing: Tiny Notebooks

Tiny Notebooks: Sharing

Self-Portraits
Appleletters
Reflection with plusses and deltas
2nd Day of 2nd Grade Selfies
Getting Started with Math: How Much is Your Name Worth?
Weak side/Strong side
Anchors of Learning
Math Warm-ups 8-18 to 8-2

…yet

I Hope You Make Mistakes

I know there were many things crammed into those first days together, but when I see it all in a list, I’m still amazed.  Let’s get into it!

Sneak Peek Take 2

I was working again today (be sure to see the Sneak Peek from Monday if you missed it!) and have a few more things to share.  If you can share this with a Rm. 202 2nd grader, please do so!  If not, enough it for yourself!  I have at least one place I need your help with (see the picture captions below), so please leave a comment!?  I think I’m almost there!

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The calendar’s ready for Open House night, are you?? 🙂

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I got the timeline all back up–whew! Because we wrapped it all around our room last year I had to take it all down and start on an upper row, so now it’s a double-decker timeline. That leaves some room under it now for our self-portaits–that we’ll redo during our first days together to show our 2nd grade selves! The black doors will hold anchor charts (right now I’m thinking one door for each subject to start out with), and the closet on the right will be labeled “Quote Worthy” and will collect smart words that inspire us.

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Because I moved my kitchen table over from where it was last year, I decided to use this shelf space differently, too. The top shelves of books are still my stuff (the top is professional books, and the bottom one is books I teach with), but the bottom is now for kiddos. The bottom row is puzzles and games that kiddos would use for choice time or recess, and the upper shelf is reading and math games. We will work very hard in the beginning to make sure we put things back just this way every time. I might even post a picture nearby so they remember what it’s supposed to look like!

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Ok, so this is the part I need some help thinking through. Because of the way I’m using this shelf space differently (and partly because of a different layout in the rest of the room), the whole left side of this wall of shelves is EMPTY!! Ok, well I threw some tubs and crates up there to see what would fit, but they’re all empty, too. I thought I could use the bottom shelf for tables tubs (they’ll hold pencils, iPads and Writer’s Notebooks for each team) instead of putting them on the windowsills. Not at all sure what to do with the rest of it. I know that having TOO much space is not really a problem, it’s a gift that not all teachers in all classrooms have (sorry, Mr. Bearden!), but i just want to make sure I’m not missing something. I like the idea of leaving it all free so kids can have it for whatever–display space, drying racks, places to house “stuff” they’re working on but are not finished with yet….what ideas do you have? And yes, I will ask Rm. 202 friends when they get back, too, because I’m sure they will have a great idea I hadn’t thought of!

One more…

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Just doing a little bit of labeling tonight! Can’t wait to see it all tidied up and in place. Soon! 🙂

That’s all for now.  It’s coming together!!

(Just for fun…here’s a Sneak Peek post I wrote in 2012 when I taught 5th grade….)

Ch-ch-changes…

Are you singing?  That’s part of a song, right?  Well either way, it’s part of what I’m thinking about right now as we begin this new school year.

Now, of course, there are many things that AREN’T changing (which is nice), like where our class is, and that most of the kids are the same, but many other things are going to be different–one of which is related to this picture.  Think you can figure out what it is?

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(Hope that doesn’t gross you out….:))

Ok…so yes, things will be different (and SUPER) in second grade, but really the change I’m talking about here is this: Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 9.22.35 PMI know, this was an incredibly indulgent post, but a new haircut makes you excited, you know?  I also wanted to make sure that those of you that just saw me the other day weren’t too shocked when you saw me again. 🙂  Thanks for reading a post just about the KOOKYTEACHER part of the blog.  Next time more about the 20somethingkids–I promise. 🙂

Sneak Peek!

It’s officially August, which means that my husband and I become teachers again (instead of just cool people hanging out during the summer!), and begin to spend time in our classrooms.  It was my turn to spend a little bit of time in Rm. 202 today, and I thought I’d share a sneak peek of how it’s coming together.  I am still very far from being finished, but have the furniture in the right general area and the layout is pretty much set.  I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.  I’d love to hear what you think, though!  Share your thoughts, won’t you?  🙂  (And as I post these pictures, I realize I should have done this whole post as a video.  Duh.  Sorry!  Next time. 🙂 )

Ok, this tour starts as you come in the door and then works around to the left…

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I’m super excited about this first meeting area. One of the last times I taught 5th grade I had two meeting areas (you’ll see the other one in a minute), and we loved the flexibility of being able to use different areas for different things. This year, in addition to thinking about meeting spaces, I am also thinking more about how kids will use those spaces. In this case it means that those 2 tables are lowered all the way down and kiddos can sit on the floor to work at them. Or hey, they could even be benches if kids wanted to sit on them when we meet by the ActivBoard. I haven’t fixed this part yet, but I’m gonna add tennis balls to the bottom of those so they can easily be moved around as we need to change our space. Thanks Ms. Appelbaum for reminding me of how flexibility is a really good thing. Such a simple idea, but one that I was NOT thinking about…

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To the left of those blue tables is our main meeting area. We got a new rug from Mrs. Marks over the summer (after we did some super smart work to figure out it would fit and wrote a letter to our custodian , Mr. Maus, asking him to move it for us!) and it’s looks great! The black shelf in the middle houses most of our writing supplies, and the black shelves on the right are one set of our cubbies. There are two “personal offices” (a.k.a. desks) for kids who want to work alone. Another new addition this year is the rectangle table in the art area. I found it in my garage, and it’s the perfect size for the space. I’ve raised it all the way up, so kids can stand to work (and I’m thinking about adding stools, too). The counter is still a mess, but that’s where the creative stuff in our room lives. Kids can stand at the counter, too, once it’s cleaned off.

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This is the view from my chair at the rug. 🙂 I moved my kitchen table this year to utilize (finally!) the only white board in our room. Last year I met with small groups on the rug at the easel, but might do more with this space for groups instead. Or not. Flexibility is the key, remember? The black doors will house anchor charts (I’m thinking each door will be a different subject).  The two doors on the right will be where I plan on putting our “junkpile” for making stuff, but I’m still working on it.  I had a hard time finding a permanent place for the block box, so finally decided to keep the wheels unlocked and now it will roll wherever we need it to go! That rug is one that kiddos use with the cars when they build. It’s moveable, too. Still haven’t decided where to put our trampoline

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View from that tall table…these two tables are “regular” height and actually have chairs! The coffee table returns from last year, and I moved the library to this spot by the front door. There’s a great shelf under that black bulletin board that fits our big books, and the rug will be nice to sit and read on with friends! The plan for that bulletin board is to be “What do you Wonder About??” where we’ll collect our questions and wonderings this year.

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Two years ago the library was here in our room, and then last year I moved it to the middle. Then I decided I really liked the way it worked this way, so I moved it back! You probably noticed, though, that many other horizontal surfaces in our class also have book boxes, so really the library is EVERYWHERE!

Whew!  That was fun!  What do you think?  What questions do you have?  Suggestions?  Please share your thoughts!  I’m excited to continue working.  And then, of course, it’ll be fun to see how it all works (or doesn’t!?) when there are kids in the space.  🙂

Together Again!

I’ll start with the only picture I took today:

cropped-img_4894.jpgYep–it’s the same as the header on the blog now.  It’s the snack we shared at our Back-To-School Park Party today.  Looks yummy, right?  And weird, I know, that I only took this one picture.  And before I was even at the park!  Goodness, Mrs. Bearden, you call yourself a blogger? They were just so busy running all around everywhere getting all hot and sweaty and having fun that I couldn’t get them all in the same frame for a pic.  I know, I know, my sincerest apologies.  🙂

Today’s get-together was a little bittersweet, as we were not able to visit with everyone of our Rm. 202 friends.   What a great opportunity, though, for those that were able to attend, to reconnect and remember how amazing is our community of learners!  Oh, and to think about how LUCKY we are to be able to stay together for another year!  We’ll be missing a few good friends, but have a few new ones joining us, and for sure we’re set for a FABULOUS year.

One thing I love about family reunions like these is the ease everyone feels as they come and can just hang out with old friends!  It’s so different from how we all remember feeling last summer—how when I came to do home visits and our kiddos were waiting patiently (and nervously), looking out the window to meet their new teacher?  Even with the most confident kiddos there was still some uncertainty–will I like my teacher?; Will I have friends? What will 1st grade be like?  This year? SO DIFFERENT IN SO MANY GOOD WAYS!

Here’s what I love about looping (for those of you who were looking for a list. 🙂 ):

1) Like I mentioned before, the beginning of the year has a familiarity that is different than with a new class.   Looping brings a chance to reconnect with “old” friends and pick up where you left off.  All that “getting-to-know-you” that we did last year will come in so handy now as we look back on fond memories and look forward to making new ones.

2) We can jump right back in where we left off!  Instead of spending the first 6 weeks of school learning about new procedures, routines and friends, we can get started with learning about new curriculum, sharing new books and making new connections!  Think of all the extra time we will have!

3) Like the last one, we can jump right back in on class projects and activities we left in May.  Since I knew that we would be together again, there were several things we left “undone” on purpose, knowing that we’d be able to come right back to them in August.  What a gift–wish every year could be like that!

4) Everyone already knows and trusts each other!  Yes, we are different people than when we left for the summer (some of us are OLD and 8 now!), but we all have a base and strong foundation from which to continue building as we get to know our friends (and even me!) better.  We can build on what we know about each other from last year and add to it!  There will even be ways to get to know some friends in ways that weren’t possible last year for whatever reason; another year gives us more time and space to really “get” each other as learners and as people!

5) We get to build on common experiences.  I always love how many times in the 2nd year of a looping situation you hear me (or a friend) saying, “Remember when we….?”  I can’t promise that I will keep track of that tally, but it will happen, and I will probably find a way to document it.  I might have to say I’m most excited about breaking our own record for number of Read Alouds that we added to the timeline.  I think we added 20, which beat my class from 2012-2013, which read 17 together.  So here’s your challenge, Rm. 202–21 or more!

6) I know I already mentioned time in #2, but there is SO MUCH TIME that I can save as a teacher with trying to figure out where everybody is as a learner.  Again, some things will have changed and kiddos will have grown over the summer, but it’s so great to walk in on Day 1 and KNOW the readers in my class (I’m excited to fill book boxes and get readers ready for another great year!), to KNOW what they can do as writers (and then plan for how we’ll do even more AMAZING things), to KNOW the mathematicians in my room and be able to listen as I attend trainings with a little bit different angle than some others (I can already plan specifically for what I know my kiddos can do and what they might need more time on), to KNOW how adept they are with using technology and how willing they will be to continue to go with me and try new things.  I know what they know about science and social studies, as well as what we’re interested in knowing more about–I can use this as I plan our year!  It’s so simple, but is such a WEALTH of knowledge that most teachers (including me last year) don’t get for many more months down the road.  I can tweak things that didn’t quite work and continue those that did.  See?  The gift of time came up again!

7) I hope I don’t speak out of turn when I mention that another thing I love about looping is that trust that is already built with parents.  While I’m sure that not everyone agreed with everything I did or how we did it (thanks for being nice about it, though, friends!), I think I can confidently say that you know that I care about our kids and want just what you want–for your kiddo to feel loved, to belong and to learn something new every day.  I love working on a team with families, and am excited each day to see what new things are brought to the table.  I hope I do you proud as I continue to work to inspire our  learners to find their best selves and work to heights they hadn’t even realized they could reach.  I am so lucky to get to work with this AMAZING group of kiddos every day and SO APPRECIATE that you share your 2nd grader with me.  🙂

WOW.  I didn’t know that was going to come out of a picture-of-fruit-and-we-missed-you post, but it did and now I’m feeling even more excited and energized for our year together.  Here’s to making 2015-16 the best yet!

Will you help me out with something, please?  I would love to make this blog a more interactive place this year, and so would you please leave me a reply to this question–What are you most excited about for our year together?  What is your child thinking about getting back to work with their Rm. 202 friends?  What else are you thinking? 🙂

THANK YOU and HERE WE GO!!

First Days of First Grade!–Part 1

Wow! What a week we’ve had! Is anyone else tired?  I might have been ready for bed by 7 pm on Thursday night–but no, I didn’t actually do it.  Lasted until 9.  Man–these little ones keep you on your toes!

I’ve been working really hard to figure out how best to tell our first week story, as I didn’t want to just make it a big long list ‘o things we did.  But we DID have a big long list of things I want to share!!  So, I think I’ve decided that for this first post, I’m going to organize the info around the goals we had for our first days together, and explain some of the rationale for why we did them.  Ok?  Well, then get ready–this one might be long!  Get your coffee.  Settle in.  Read on.  And thank you–I so appreciate your time and your interest. 🙂

During the first week of school in first grade (well in any grade, really), there are some key goals that I work towards.  This week those goals were:

  • Students will learn each others’ names (and mine, too!), as well as learn one thing that a friend likes to do outside of school.
  • Students will learn–and then practice–the expectations for how our room will run.
  • Students will be guided through discoveries of some key materials in our classroom that they will be using on a regular basis later on.
  • Students will present their work to the class (in a whole group, small group and partner setting).
  • Students will begin the year having fun and seeing our classroom as a positive, happy place to learn and grow!

All that being said, there were MANY things we did this week, and honestly I do not have pictures or videos of them all. (As a side note, I’ll add in a quick observation here: first graders do so many more things in the first week than fifth graders do!  The number of activities and directions you prepare for each hour of the day with 6YOs is SO MANY MORE than when you have big kids.  That’s probably an obvious statement, and even one I knew going in, but I was definitely reminded of it very quickly this week.  Like by lunchtime on Tuesday. 🙂 ).

Getting to Know Each Other

As we began the week, we worked to get to know each other, and did activities together like finding friends who like certain activities (soccer, swimming, reading, etc.); being a name detective and finding friends whose names start with different letters of the alphabet; playing name bingo; and playing together.  During our first Morning Meeting, we introduced ourselves and shared our favorite colors.  And while I don’t have any pics of it (sorry!), we also started sharing our Brag Bags, which they filled at home with 5 things that tell about them.  Kind of like the 3 Things project I’ve done in 5th grade. 🙂

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Working on Procedures and Routines

Much of our days are spent learning about where things are, how move around the room, how we sit on the rug, how we each take a turn during conversations, how we come into the room in the morning and get started, how we walk in line–you get the idea.  These kiddos have been doing a super job of showing what they know from kindergarten and then adding in the “first grade version” of the routines.  We’ll keep working this week as we continue to add new things/places to our repertoire.

Guided Discoveries

One way I introduce kiddos to the materials in our room is through guided discoveries (which is an idea put forth in the book The First Six Weeks of School, full of SUPER ideas to start the school year).  So far, we’ve investigated Power Polygons (which will be used in a variety of ways in Math), colored pencils (which will be utilized on almost a daily basis, and are organized in a special way), scissors and glue (because you know that could be a trip to CRAZYTOWN if we didn’t learn to use those appropriately!).

With Power Polygons, kiddos were given a pile of polygons and given the task to make a creation.  They could make it on the table (and we’d take a picture) or they could trace their creation on paper and color it in with crayons.  I was AMAZED (but not surprised! ) by what they made!  Check it out:

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For our guided discovery with colored pencils, we spent a good chunk of time upfront talking about what they noticed about HOW the pencils are organized, WHY they are like that, and WHY it is a must that we keep them that way.  I was really proud that once we were finished, all the pencils were back in the right cups!  Way to go, first grade!  For the guidance on this discovery, they were asked to create a picture of their favorite place to be, using as many details as they can–so that someone else could imagine being there, too.

Friends work together to find the pencils they want.

Friends work together to find the pencils they want.

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Friends at Table 4 get started thinking about the place they will create during their discovery.

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Lots of friends at Table 3 chose Six Flags as their favorite place to be. I saw lots of roller coasters and a huge Ferris wheel, too!

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The challenge to some friends was to keep adding details when they thought they were “done.”

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See the Giant Ketchup bottle on that paper? 🙂

The last discovery this week was with glue (we did briefly talk about scissors, too).  We read the book Too Much Glue, and practiced the sayings “Just a dot, not a lot” and “glue raindrops” instead of glue puddles that turn into muddles.  Then they got busy creating a flower to represent the many ways they will grow this year.  We’ll go back and add their pictures to the middle later, as well as a goal for a way they want to grow.  This was an activity for fine-motor development as well as art, as they crinkled the tissue and put it just where they wanted it on the glue dots.

 

Sharing Our Work

This week we had many opportunities to share our work and start developing the skills needed to be effective speakers and listeners.  We did this in whole group, small group and partner situations.  I’m already impressed with how these kiddos can turn-and-talk to their partners (we call it EEKK, eye-to-eye-knee-to-knee) and keep their conversations going.

After our colored pencil guided discovery, kiddos had to share with their small group at their table and tell about the place they chose and why they chose it.  Then, after an activity based on a book we read called David’s Drawings, we shared whole group.  Kiddos also took a few minutes to share their first creation with Power Polygons.  They answered the question “What do you like best about your work?”  It’s great to see the skills that these friends are coming in with from kindergarten, and how proud they are to share what they’ve created.  Can’t wait to see them continue to grow in this area!

Having Fun!

Ok, one last video.  It’s related to that last goal of having fun and seeing our classroom as a great place to be.  While I hope that everything we do makes them feel that way, I know that when I first told them we’d have a dance party there was definitely a BUZZ in the room!  Check us out as we move and groove.  And while you can’t quite see it yet in this video, we are working on moving our bodies in responsible, controlled ways.  We have 4 rules for when we dance: 1) Keep your feet on the floor, 2) Move your body the whole time, 3) Keep your body movements to yourself, and 4) Keep your voice at a level 1 or 2 so we don’t disturb others’ learning.  I should also mention that besides just being fun, dancing allows us to release energy, work on self-control, and will also help us make sure we’re working on gross-motor movements that then lend themselves to other skills (like crossing the mid-line).  We are definitely very purposeful in all that we do in Rm. 202!

Ok….so I guess it did kinda turn into a big long list ‘o things, but I’m not sure that could be helped.  The first week is always like that–I want to make sure you know all about the great stuff happening in our room!  After this one, I’ll be better able to highlight certain things, focus in on the methodology behind it and the ways that our work influences our growth as learners.  I hope you’ll be along for the ride!