Rm. 202 Kids Take Over!

Ok, so let me start like this: I always have a plan.  I know the things we need to work on, the way I want us to do that (and probably the ways I don’t!), and it’s “penciled in” for everyday.  But the great part about that plan is that it is flexible.  There is ALWAYS another option if we (the kids or me!) see that we need to go another way.  A better way, perhaps.  This is just what happened on Friday.  I can’t WAIT to tell you about it. 🙂 Friday morning’s recess was great–it was the first time in WEEKS that the temperature had gotten over freezing–and we took full advantage of the sunny playground.  I won’t tell you the whole story here, but in short, Millie and Makayla found a collection of things while we were outside that I thought was “blog-worthy” enough to tell you all about.  “But why should I tell their story?” I thought to myself, and at that moment decided they could be guest authors on our blog (and that that would become our plan when we came inside from recess).  “But shouldn’t everyone have a chance to do that?” I thought next.  That’s when the light-bulb moment happened. As soon as we got in from recess we sat down to do something we’ve done many times before: create our chart that we’d use for our Class Meeting later in the day.  What they didn’t know (until I told them next), was that we’d be doing something else very cool with it BEFORE our actual class meeting.  Here’s what the list looked like after we brainstormed a bit: Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 8.10.06 PMOnce I explained the idea, it wasn’t long before kiddos had paired up and chosen their topics.  But we weren’t ready yet. The next conversation was about how writing on my blog would be different than writing on their Kid Blogs.  The first difference was audience.  They figured out that rather than kids being the main readers, parents, principals (including our own beloved Mrs. Sisul!), teachers, authors, librarians and other adults (many that we don’t even know!) are the main readers of this blog.  We discussed how that would mean we’d need to “up” our game to make the posts ready for 20somethingkids.  Kylie was quick to add in that when I blog I use lots of pictures, and that my posts usually tell the “why” of the story–so that teachers can use our ideas with their own students.  We agreed that we should probably use that same kind of thinking in our guest posts.  At this point I just had to sit back and appreciate the amazingness of Rm. 202 kiddos.  I smile when I listen to their wheels turn and their ideas flow; when I get out of the way, they make some pretty fabulous things happen on their own! Ok, so after our purpose and audience was set, and we had decided on our platform (which would be Notability since they all knew how to use it and I could easily copy it into WordPress), I set them loose.  And left them alone.  And watched them dig in and work hard and “buzz” with that sound that happens when kids are engaged and learning.  They had a real purpose, a global audience of real people to write for, and lots of great learning from the week to share about.  I got out of the way and let them be amazing.

Ella Marie and Sara discuss what they will tell blog readers about our history projects from this week.

Ella Marie and Sara discuss what they will tell blog readers about our history projects from this week.

Emily and Jacob draft their post about our class picture from earlier in the day.

Emily and Jacob draft their post about our class picture from earlier in the day.

Kylie and Lauren chose to write about the races kids have starting running at our morning recess lately.

Kylie and Lauren chose to write about the races kids have starting running at our morning recess.

Makayla and Millie (who's work at recess sparked the whole idea in the first place!) write about a really cool collection of "B" things they found outside on the playground.

Makayla and Millie (who’s work at recess sparked the whole idea in the first place!) write about a really cool collection of “B” things they found outside on the playground.

Peyton, C.J. and Thomas work hard to explain how we use writing journals in our room every day.  They are EXPERTS at putting great ideas in their journals and were perfect for this topic. :)

Peyton, C.J. and Thomas work hard to explain how we use writing journals in our room every day. They are EXPERTS at putting great ideas in their journals and were perfect for this topic. 🙂

Evan and Joshua chose to tell blog readers about PE and why they like it.

Evan and Joshua chose to tell blog readers about PE and why they like it.

Ava and Amelia wrote about how we use Dreambox to learn as mathematicians every day!

Ava and Amelia wrote about how we use Dreambox to learn as mathematicians every day!

Landen and Diego knew right away they wanted to explain our math warm-ups!

Landen and Nate knew right away they wanted to explain our math warm-ups!

Charlie and Diego worked to tell about our current chapter book The One and Only Ivan (we are LOVING it, by the way!).

Charlie and Diego worked to tell about our current chapter book The One and Only Ivan (we are LOVING it, by the way!).

I am SO excited to share their work with you!  Rm. 202 kiddos–I’m SO PROUD OF YOU!!!  🙂

It’s Been Too Long

Um…how did over a month pass without me putting ANYTHING on my blog?  I guess the honest answer is that the month of May was so crazy busy that we had time to DO amazing things and I didn’t have any time to WRITE about those amazing things.

And so now I find myself on summer break with all of this time on my hands, and I’m in a quandary:  should I go back and blog about those amazing things we did at the end of the year, or move on to the new things I’m thinking about and doing?  Seems disingenuous to just leave my kiddos behind and move on without wrapping up the year, so I guess I’ve just answered my own question.  I need to go back and tell you about the book trailer project we did, Field Day and the last day of school, my final reflections on going 1:1 with iPads.  You need to hear about how fabulous I thought this last class was, and how I just met up with Keelan’s family in Disney World when we were both on vacation.

Ok, decision made.  Now, beware–you’ll have lots of blog posts to read over the next few days.  Hope you’re ready!!

Wonder why?

I was thinking the other day about all of the posts I had made already by this point last summer.  We hadn’t even started school and I had probably racked up close to 10 posts on our blog (at least that’s what I think–I didn’t actually go back to count!).
So then I started wondering why I hadn’t done that same thing this year.  I’m just as excited as I was then to start school.  Probably more so because of all of the cool things I learned last year that I want to try new or try again this time around.  I’m more knowledgeable about blogging than I was then.  And I still want my new friends so learn about me and our classroom.  So why no new blog posts since July 25?

 

I know you want an answer….but I don’t have one.  😦   Wish I did.  Maybe I just have been so busy getting ready for school that I haven’t been able to tell you about it.  I’ve taken alot of pictures of our classroom spaces but haven’t taken them off of my camera.

 

So…we’re a couple of days away from the first day of school now and there’s no way I can post all the things I wanted to before that big day.  But how ’bout I promise to just try to fill you in on a couple of the “before” things–like classroom setup, schedules, etc.  Then I can make sure I stay on top of all of the GREAT things we’ll be doing in our classroom once we finally get started.  I’ll make it worth your while to stop by!

 

What are you most looking forward to reading about on our blog this year?  🙂

Welcome to Rm. 202!

Welcome to Rm. 202!

I am so excited you’re here!

Please proceed with caution, and read carefully….

The following letter contains 2049 words that will begin to shape your fifth grade year. Be sure you have time to read them all carefully. You may like to have your parents sit and read with you so you can all be excited about fifth grade together.You should also have dancing shoes on (true story) and a video camera handy (extra credit).

Ready? Of course you are! Because you are about to become…

Fifth Grade and Fearless!

I am excited for the year ahead – but first, I need your help in knowing what next year is going to look like.

 

Yes, your help!

What next year holds, is, in large part up to you. I have my plans, my ideas, my goals….what about you?

I know some of you may have sneaked a peek at the letter I sent your parents, or may already know me, so this next part may be a bit of a review.  Too bad.  Keep reading anyway. 🙂  I have been teaching for 12 years and every one of them has been at Robinson!  I even did my student-teaching there long ago, so Robinson is definitely my home-away-from-home.  In my real home–which is in St. Peters–I have a fabulous family that I love dearly.  My husband, Grant, is a teacher, too, in Wentzville.  He is starting in 3rd grade this year, but has taught 4th and 5th grade like me, too.  Fun, right?  We have a 5YO, Riley, who will be at Robinson, too.  I am sure you’ll get to know him really well as we got through the year together.  We also have a little girl named Allison–we call her Allie–who is 19-mo-old.  We LOVE (yep, love) Disney World, and travel there often.  We also just like to hang out together at home (or anywhere, really) and spend time with each other.  So that’s me.  What about you? Can’t wait to learn more about YOUR family!

Like I said, I have been teaching for 12 years, and every year, I begin the school year as a different person. I decide on that first day and then every day thereafter, who I am as a teacher. What is important to me. What I want to accomplish. What I want my students to see when they come to school. I choose that. I don’t let other people tell me who I will be and I don’t just be who I think other people want me to be. I read, I think, I write and then I decide.

Who Will You Be? (This is a big question – take your time to think about this!) Will you be the kid who has brilliant ideas? The kid who loves math? The kid who looks to help other people? The kid who……? Fresh start. Clean slate. We all get one (that includes you!) and we all get to begin fifth grade as the person we want to be.

What is important to you? (This is another big question and one I am really curious about so I will ask it twice.) What is important to you?

There are lots of things that are important to me: my husband and my kids, sharing ideas, reading, writing, being able to have a conversation, making things, discovering things, sharing what I know, sleeping in, staying up late and knowing when to say sorry.

As a teacher, there are a few more things that are important to me:

* YOU!:   You’re the reason I’m there, after all right?  It is important for me to get to know you, and know you well.  Not just as a learner, but as a kid, too.  I want to know what you like, what you don’t like, what makes you tick.  Who you are.  That’s ok, right? 🙂

* Respect: If you’ve been around Robinson for longer than 5 minutes you know that respect is a HUGE part of our culture.  It’s pretty much what we’re all about.  I expect respect to be a huge thing in our classroom.  I will respect you, and I expect you to respect me, as well as everyone else in our community.  This counts when we agree and even when we don’t.  I have a saying that I learned from my good friend Mrs. Ford years ago, that is really important with this whole respect thing.  It’s this: You are not the sun.  In other words, the world does not revolve around you, and there are lots of other people in our classroom that have needs, wants, likes, dislikes, etc., that we need to take into account.  I love you, but I love everyone else, too!

* Mistakes:  I expect you to make them.  Yep, I said it.  I want things to be hard for you.  I want you to struggle.  If you need more than one try or lots more practice with a concept, you’ll get it.  If you need to show me what you know in a different way, then we’ll figure it out.  If  you need me to repeat something or explain it for you in another way, I’ll do.  If you need a big, fat challenge–watch out, you’ll get one! No, I’m not crazy, I just want you to try things that may be tricky at first.  I want you to learn to work through it when it’s hard and figure out what to do.   I want you to feel the joy and success when you learn something new and it’s because you persevered!  Not everything will be easy here. And that’s ok. We’re in it together and I’ll help you all along the way. 🙂

* Collaboration: I love to share ideas and get ideas and try new things and even when those things fail, I know I am just one step closer to finding what does work. I love to work with other teachers to figure things out and find new solutions to old problems.  But just as much as working with adults, I love to collaborate with students.  I love to hear what you’re thinking, how you’re feeling about things, what you think would be the best way to learn something.  Even when you don’t agree with me, or have a plan that is completely different than mine, I want you to share it!  It’s our classroom, and often your ideas are WAY better than mine.  I know I’ll share lots of examples with you about how that’s happened to me over the years.

Aside from collaborating with me, though, you’ll be collaborating with each other!  You will have lots of opportunities to share with your classmates, to give your ideas, ask questions, prove your reasoning and challenge each other.  I expect that we will work together to help EVERYONE in our class be the best they can be.  Together we’ll achieve much more than we would if we tried to do it on our own. 🙂

* Questions: I found a quote I love by a guy named Tony who loves learning. “No one cares what you know. What the world cares about is what you do with what you know.” Think about that. Chew it over. We can all google and find stuff out – but then what? After we know stuff, what we do with it = inquiry. And that is what the world cares about. Me too. You?

* Time is precious: So are you. I don’t like wasting time and I especially don’t like wasting your time. That means I try to come to school ready, fired up, and prepared to make a ruckus (I like to think that a ‘ruckus’ is the sound your brain makes when it is challenged to be creative, thoughtful, inquisitive and world-changing – it is a beautiful sound).  I hope–and expect–that you will come into our classroom every morning ready to learn, ready to work hard, ready to put your very best foot forward.  We only have so many days together, and we need to make the most of every single one of them.  We’ve got so much to do! 🙂

* Technology : I  love technology because it allows me to connect to new ideas. I like to think about what I want to do and look for tools to help me do it. I want to hear your ideas on technology and what works for you. We will be using technology in many new and exciting ways this year, so get ready!  You’ll be blogging, using iPads and laptops, working on the ActivBoard, making videos of your learning and trying out many new things that we may not even know about yet.  Whatever we do, though, the goal is always learning.  We will use technology in meaningful ways to better create new knowledge.  Excited?  I know I am!

* Community: our class, our families, our school, our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country, our world. There are so many amazing people doing amazing things. I bet you can think of ten amazing people who do amazing things right now. We need to hear those people’s stories. Your mom and dad should be on that list. They are awesome. (Assignment one; email me List of Awesomeness about people in your family* -*family = people you love and are connected to even if they don’t happen to live in your house or share your last name).

* Taking risks: I like to take risks.   I hope you do too. It is scary sometimes and it fails sometimes but sometimes, more often, it is just A-MAZ-ING! Usually when you do something scary you do things you never thought you could.  You surprise yourself.  And then you want to do more! Someone smart once said “Fear and Excitement are shades of the same color”. Cool, huh?

HANG IN THERE….THE END IS NEAR!

OK…if you made it this far and are still with me, congratulations, you are a rockstar. Stop reading right now and do some kind of victory dance.  No really, go ahead.  Dance.  I’ll wait.  Better yet, have someone video tape your dance and send it to me!  I’ll even post it on our blog!

So….what now? How can you best prepare for the extreme awesomeness of fifth grade?

  1. Have a great summer! Be extraordinary.
  2. Read something.  Write something.  Wonder something.  This’ll get your learning muscles warmed up. 🙂
  3. If you have any questions you can always email me. Anytime. No question to big or too small.
  4. Think about what I said about being who you want to be. Most importantly, remember that everyone else in our class is thinking about that too. Be gracious to those who are brave enough to set lofty goals and make the effort to become an even better version of themselves.
  5. Look around your house (or your computer, maybe) for a picture of your family.  I’d love to be able to decorate our room with us–pictures of all the people who help make us who we are and who encourage us to do our best.  If you want to email it to me, that’s great (I’ll add my contact info to the end of this post), or you can print it and bring it to school on the first day.  And if you don’t have one, don’t worry!  We’ll take your picture!

Despite having now used about two thousand words, there are no words to describe how excited I am about working with you next year!

Here’s To Being Fifth Grade and Fearless!

♥ Mrs. Bearden

PS. If you didn’t get up and dance before and are now wishing you did, there is still time to do it. Anytime. Send me that video with your best moves (extra credit).

When you have had a chance to relax, digest this letter (maybe talk about it with your family or friends) and get your fifth grade brain tuned up, I would love for you to write to me to introduce yourself, ask questions, maybe respond to something you read in this letter that made you think.

I look forward to hearing from you before the end of the summer!

Mrs. Bearden: Email–jennifer.bearden@kirkwoodschools.org; Phone–314-213-6100 x4214 (after August 15); Twitter: @jbeardensclass

**Thanks to @terSonya and Mrs. Hong for help with writing this post! Like I said, I love to share ideas!**

Can You Hear It?

Listen closely as you watch this video….can you hear it?

What, you ask?  Well actually it’s how quiet it is in there.  It was hard to capture, but besides the quiet there were just lots of little click, click, click sounds as everyone was posting to their blogs.  I LOVE that sound!  I love how serious they are about sharing on their blogs, and how much they focus in as they work on them.

And so if you have a minute, because to visit our blogs and catch up on what’s been happening lately.  Yesterday we added posts about something I shared last week, as well as other topics of their choice.  Definitely worth a read!  Thanks in advance!

And I’ll remind you again about our map.  We love to read your comments, and also love to know where you are when you’re commenting, so we can add you to the great many other people around the world who follow our blog! 🙂