#WRAD17 and #classroombookaday COLLIDE

I love to read.  Did you know that?  Ha!!  I might literally be laughing as I type that because if you spend even five minutes with me I’ve probably told you about a book you should read or one I just read or one I plan on getting from the library or the bookstore soon.  It’s kind of an addiction.  But hey, there are worse vices, right?

So anyway…today was a special day in the literary world where two fabulous planets collided–it was World Read Aloud Day as well as another day in the #classroombookaday challenge!!

I made a plan for our read alouds yesterday, and slotted in eight new titles, trying to fit them into what we were already planning to do in each subject.  I invited Mrs. Sisul to come to read to us–because why not?!–and figured I’d take care of the rest.  What happened instead was even better than I had imagined!

We only ended up with 7 (ha–I know, that’s so silly to say “only”) and also ended up with 3 OTHER READERS!!  Check it out!

Mrs. Sisul had a hard job finding a book that Rm. 202 friends didn’t already know, and she brought one we had already heard, but everyone knows that a good book is meant to be read and REREAD so we were so glad that she did!

Ms. Holzmueller was in our room this afternoon and so we had to ask her to share a story with us!  What better than Lola Loves Stories!  We had already read Lola at the Library and this one was a great addition!

I love how it has become commonplace in Rm. 202 for kiddos to make book suggestions, bring books from home and even volunteer to read to us!  Callahan had been working on The Cherries for a little while and was eager to read it to the rest of his classmates!  Since he and Jack had worked it out together, Jack showed the pictures while Cal read us the words.  Great job, boys!!

Penny has become a regular nowadays in our orange chair!  This was the third in this series that she chose to share with us and the kids were super excited.  This may be my favorite so far.  And no, not just because it has my name in it. 🙂

We ended up also reading some other books that were in my mile-high TBR pile, and one that someone just happened to add to the top of it today.  It was a pretty good selection, I’d say:

Ok, and since I said that #WRAD17 collided with our regular #classroombookaday challenge, let me update you on how that’s proceeding.  I’m pretty sure that it has been since the holidays that I updated our door situation.  I’m not really sure why, but wow does it look different these days.  I’m excited for you to see it and share in our joy.  I honestly just get all warm and happy every time I see it–which is at least 25 times a day or more!

Here are a few to watch the door fill up:

And then all together now:

We’re up to 389!!  COWABUNGA!!

Someone asked today when our next celebration would be.  Not sure–think at 400?  500?  When we fill up this side of the door?  I mean, I kind of think every addition is a celebration of some sort, but I’m an old lady so I find joy in the little things. LOL  🙂

No matter what we decide, it’s CERTAIN that the readers in Rm. 202 are on a roll!

Don Tate is Coming!!

We have a love of diverse books in Rm. 202 (thanks to some book gifts from our district, some great blog posts I’ve read this past year and thanks to Eyeseeme and their amazing bookstore FULL of books with diverse and powerful characters), and so we were DELIGHTED to hear about how Don Tate is coming to visit our school at the end of the month!

As with most of our visiting authors, Mrs. Meihaus works hard with teachers and kids to get us familiar with the author’s (and in this case illustrator’s) work beforehand so we have something to base our new learning upon.  We can also really raise the level of excitement and anticipation as they day draws near and help kiddos think of what they might want to talk to our visitor about when they are here.

We gathered in the library classroom and Mrs. Meihaus introduced us to our new friend, Don Tate.

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She started with a short bio, and showed us some of his books.

While he has written several books, he is mainly know as an illustrator.  Our next step was to learn more about how he tackles his images.  We uses primarily paint, and we learned more about the differences in how illustrations look when he uses watercolors versus acrylic paints.  He also has some images that include pen and ink on top of those colors.  We took a look at many of his books with our partners and tried to identify how they were similar to each other.

What’s great is that this was easier work for us because we’ve been working on “getting to know” authors and illustrators all year with our #classroombookaday challenge.  I LOVE that my kiddos can see a book and name who wrote it or drew the pictures just by sight.  I love that they can name and appreciate the people who took such time and energy to create the amazing texts we read and enjoy.  They had great ideas about what they saw that was the same in different images and could name the medium he had used to create them!  Great job, Rm. 202 kiddos!

Before we left, she read one of the books I’d been wanting to share with the class anyway–Ron’s Big Mission— and we loved it.  What an inspiration to hear about a little boy who did whatever it took to get a library card, and what a tragedy that in AMERICA he was not able to get one.  I think it’s important to tell his story.  Reading took him so far in his life!

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Mrs. Meihaus shared many titles with us, and while I’d LOVE to read them all, there are LOADS of other books in our to-be-read pile that we want to get to, as well.  Here’s the plan for the ones we’ll share this week and next in preparation for his visit (and just because they’re GREAT BOOKS!):

We are excited to meet our new illustrator friend in person and talk with him about how he does his great work!  Stay tuned for more of the story after he visits us on January 31st. 🙂

#classroombookaday UPDATE: 300 books!!

It’s been a while since I posted an update on our reading.  The last few weeks of the year were busy and I didn’t get a chance to read as much I would have liked, and also I felt like the way the door looked wasn’t really changing much so posting a picture was  kind of unnecessary.

Anyhow, we’re in a new year, have added many more books and today we reached another AMAZING MILESTONE in our journey!

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And while my phone didn’t get the whole thing (stupid memory!), it was a pretty great start to our day!

Just a few more…

She already has some mad upside-down-reading skills.  A teacher in training, perhaps??  And man was she super proud to be reading to us.  This was actually the second time she shared with us this week.  Go Penny!

See those white books on the top row? One of the best things is the number of kid-authored books we’ve been reading lately.  Gotta give a shout-out to Mara and her prolific publishing.  She has written 4 books this week, and we LOVE THEM!  They are rhyming and SO FUNNY!  Aadish suggested today that we get Mara her own author box in our library.  Great idea! And well, I think EVERYONE should have their own author box.  Hmm….

I still say this is one of the most amazing things that has happened in my classroom!  Bring on the books!  Can’t wait to share the next great thing. 🙂

New DIVERSE Books for the New Year!

I have to tell you about a little secret.  Hopefully it will become something everyone knows about soon, though, because it is SUCH A TREASURE!!

As an end-of-year gift, I was sent on my Winter Break with a gift card from our school’s PTO (thanks Mrs. Sisul!) to Eyeseeme, and independent bookstore near here.   They operate with the mission of helping every kid see themselves in the books they read.  This is such an important work and as far as I know, they are the only bookstore of their kind in our area.  I visited it today with my teacher friend and her kids, and WOW did we discover a treasure!  It’s only been recently (through the help of many smarter-than-me teachers and librarians on Twitter and some great teachers I work with) that I’ve become more aware of the inequality that exists in children’s literature as it pertains to characters of color–or anyone who isn’t white, really.  It is really sad when I think about how many kiddos never get to see books with characters that look like them.  I know that for too long I’ve taken that fact for granted.  And man–for a long time I didn’t even know it was a “thing.”  I know I only have that luxury because I’m white.  Anyhow, I’m hoping to continue to help this group of kiddos see themselves, as well as look for and EXPECT to see diverse books around them.

Our class has already been on a little journey of our own to read books that contain black and brown characters, and so of course, we were treated with many options for new books to enjoy together with Mrs. Blair’s collection at Eyeseeme.  Check out what I ended up coming home with today:

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I found some favorites that I’ve read in previous years but just didn’t have a copy of yet (like Those Shoes and Pretty Salma), as well as some that are from authors that Rm. 202 kiddos already know (Sand Sister, Just a Minute, Pecan Pie Baby and Another Important Book), as well as some that I know will become some of our favorites since they contain strong, powerful characters (all the rest of that pile! hee hee).  I CANNOT wait to share these with my first grade friends!

Oh, and thanks to some very kind Rm. 202 families, I was able to add some other new titles via Barnes and Noble.  Here are a few that I got the other day:

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I have all of the rest of that I AM series in the classroom and was excited to complete my set!  I found Ada’s Violin on a “Best of 2016” list and Luna & Me just looked great.  I was able to grab some Lauren Castillo books and a couple of other good ones before break, too, but they’re at school and so I don’t have pictures.  Oops.  Either way, it’s raining books in Rm. 202 right now and that’s a great way to start a new year!!  We are so blessed. 🙂

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Robinson University–1st Grade Style!

Our school has begun a really great program that we run on 1/2 days called Robinson University.  Somehow I participated in it all last year and never wrote about it, though.  Ugh.  Basically the big idea is that all the adults at our school offer a variety of classes to the 2nd-5th graders, giving them the opportunity to try out things that they may not have the chance to participate in during their regular school day or even in after school activities.  Last year I taught a sewing class with Mrs. Uhles, and there were many other exciting things available otherwise.  The ones I can remember (and surely I will forget some good ones, so I apologize in advance!) were things like coding, cooking, gardening, art, outdoor adventures, dodgeball, chess, yoga, card games, board games, The Olympics, Rig-a-Ma-Jig, crab soccer, LEGOS (lots of LEGOS!), 3D animation, and even a musical!  This year there are many amazing offerings again and we’ve added geocaching, jewelry making and loads more–all based on kid recommendation and adult expertise!

Needless to say, these days are super motivating and pretty much EVERYONE comes to school to participate with HUGE smiles on their faces. 🙂  Ok, that’s like most days at our school, but it’s especially true on 1/2 days. 🙂

Well…on RU days, though, kindergarten and first grade do their own version of exciting adventures, but geared more towards a early elementary lens, and without so much ado (the big kids go to all different classes with different teachers and different kiddos and rotate to more than one class!).  We have had great opportunities to plan amazing experiences for our kiddos so far, too, and have used our 1/2 days to extend the learning that is going on in our classrooms at the time.  For our first 1/2 day in September, we spent time exploring with scientific tools in the Robinson woods, learning and applying knowledge about light and sound.  For our second go-round (which was just before Veterans’ Day), each teacher worked with their small group to teach about a branch of the military.

For this last one of the semester, we decided to give our kiddos a sneak peek of what the big kids are doing, and even get them ready for when they’ll be making their big choices in 2nd grade.  After the team talked it over, we agreed that we’d still do rotations so that kiddos could get a variety of options, and that we each wanted to do something that was our passion.  We each offered something so different and it was so much fun!

Kiddos had short rotations of an engineering challenge with Mrs. Mafigiri, play and improv with Mrs. Marks (she had costumes and toys and puppets!), an introduction to coding with Ms. Turken and I offered a couple of great read alouds.  I know, you’re surprised by that, right?  Ms. Mimlitz, our more than amazing TA was also in the loop, and took kiddos out for some fresh air and play time.  Luckily it was a beautiful day!

I know that the kiddos had a SUPER time in all the other stations, but since I was really on in my session, it’s the only one I can share details about.  Sorry. 😦  Promise I’ll make them good. 🙂

Since the other teachers had a theme in their stations, I wanted to make sure that my read alouds and our activity was around a central idea, too.  We had found a great list of picture books that promote a growth mindset from weareteachers.com and knew it would be a great place to use as a resource!  Since growth mindset is a BIG DEAL in our Robinson community (and is even in our Robinson Mindset we recite every morning) so it’s the direction I went with our stories.

I ended up choosing two great stories that I knew would allow for great conversations and would fit into my time frame.

Before we read, we reviewed what we knew about having a growth mindset and I shared with them some words that one might use if they were using a growth mindset–things that they might hear in their heads when they were using their self-talk.  I had these sayings on speech bubbles stuck on popsicle sticks and we made the characters “say” them at various points in the story (I didn’t get a good picture of them individually, but you’ll see them in our final product later on in this post!).

Once we had read and discussed, we worked to create some visuals to help teach the REST OF ROBINSON about using a growth mindset.  We had gotten the OK from Mrs. Sisul to use an empty bulletin board in a downstairs hall where everyone walks, so we were excited to fill it up with first grade faces.  I had each first grader (and then lots of Robinson adults!) choose either a saying that they used a lot to remind them to use a growth mindset OR one that they struggled with using and wanted to try to use more often.  Either way kiddos posed in front of my book-covered classroom door with their speech bubble and CHEESED!!  Let me show you. 🙂

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Pretty great, right?  Yeah…and the first time we walked by, of course we had to stop so everyone could say “that’s me!” or “there I am!” 🙂

Here are the sayings, up close:

And now, since I know you want to see all of those cutie-pie faces a little closer (so you can say, “Hey, that’s my kid!” or “Hey, I know her!”), here’s a quick slide show of all of the pics on that board.

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Thanks for reading about Robinson University!  We’re excited for our next 1/2 day when kiddos will get a chance to choose two of their favorite activities from this first try to spend more time exploring!  What a great day that will be. 🙂

#classroombookaday UPDATE: WE FILLED UP OUR DOOR!

Many of you have been along for this entire journey so far as we’ve taken on the #classroombookaday challenge, but for those who have not, please check out the links to them here so get caught up before we share this momentous occasion with you. 🙂

Week 1  Week 2   Week 3  Week 4  Week 5  Week 6

Week 7  Week 8  Week 9  Week 10  Week 11  Week 12

Ok…are you ready for the big news??  Take a look (just peek past that super cute kindergartner–she’s really excited for Rm. 202!!):

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LOOK!!  WE FILLED UP OUR DOOR!!!  Amazing, right??  And for the record (I’m keeping one, aren’t you??), it happened on Thursday, November 17, after we read our 225th book!!  WAHOO!!

And remember when we started our Friday with Read With Your Roadrunner? Well, a kind and loyal parent and blog reader, Mrs. Schuster, happened to ask me about the status of our door.  “Have you filled it yet?  If not yet, then soon, right?”  I admitted that we had indeed already met the goal, but that because of printer problems, I hadn’t yet been able to get the pictures ready so I could attach them.

Well, this actually worked out in our favor as her next question was something along the lines of “Well you’re going to celebrate it, right?” Of course I knew that this was a momentous occasion, but I had failed to plan how we would celebrate.  Talk about a right time/right place situation–Mrs. Schuster would come to the rescue and we planned a little ditty for later that afternoon.  In the meantime I had to get the pics on the door and throw together what we’d do at our party. 🙂

So…after we did some heavy work cleaning up our “hot mess” of a room before we got started (thanks for those words, Aadish!), we gathered on the rug to enjoy a special time celebrating some AMAZING work we’d done as readers together.

We gathered in a circle on our rainbow rug (where almost all of our reading also happens!) and had a little chat.  We mused about all the books we’ve read so far (225 to cover the door, but 228 altogether!) and tried to imagine what that meant in terms of number of words we’d read and also about how many we’d get to by the end of the year if we were already at this point in NOVEMBER!! It was so great to watch their faces and listen to their answers and it was clear that there were only positive, happy emotions running through Rm. 202 friends.  And it was also clear how the only “big” numbers that many first graders know at this point are a billion or a “million billion thousand”! Hee hee.  Those were their answers to how many words we’d read and how many books we would end up with. Love it.  Probably not that many, Rm. 202 friends, but FOR SURE there would be close to (or maybe more than) 500.  At least that’s my guess!

I wish I had pictures and videos of all that happened, but hey–I’m usually the videographer and photographer capturing all of that, so not this time.  But you what?  It is probably better that way.  When I’m  not looking at the world–and our classroom–through the screen of my iPhone, I can be more present in the moment I’m trying to celebrate.  I can more thoughtfully digest the things they’re saying about how all of these books are making us SUPER READERS and what their favorite titles are, and how Jamie can speak to the exact day and place we read one of her favorite books. “Don’t you remember? We read it outside that day we spent at Meramec under the tree?” was what she reminded us.  Isn’t it a magical example of how this challenge is as much about the EXPERIENCE of reading as it is the number of books or the skills we’re gaining.  I so want for each of my learners to have that same “I remember when I read…” moments–lots of them!–that will carry them far beyond first grade.  Hopefully long into their adult lives when they can begin replicating them in their own families. 🙂

But that’s for later.  For now I can only control the experiences I provide, the titles I choose and the excitement I bring that I hope is contagious and inspires them to do the same.  And as for inspiration, Mrs. Schuster (remember the mom from the beginning who suggested our party?) was inspired to write us a poem to mark the day.  It was pretty great.  But since I wasn’t ready I don’t have a good video of her reading it to us. 😦 Boo.  Here is the text, though, which will soon become a permanent fixture somewhere in our room.

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Isn’t that the best?  THANK YOU THANK  YOU THANK YOU for that little gem, Renee, and for letting me share it here.  Only makes sense. 🙂

Oh, and then there were 20something kids eating fruit leather and letting it hang out of their faces like tongues.

And wouldn’t you know it?  They connected this to a book we’d read this week about how a if your tongue was as long as a frog’s tongue, you could like your belly button! These kiddos are in DEEP!!  Love it. 🙂

And a my goodness–what a great way to finish a busy week!  EVERYONE was all smiles as they walked out of Rm. 202 for the weekend.  Here’s to a door-ful of great books to come!!

Read With Your Roadrunner–Nov. 18, 2016

I love how our school takes an effort to include all parts of a kiddo and their family in our learning!  One thing we do on a regular basis is to host Read With Your Roadrunner, where kiddos are invited to bring in their family (or friends!) to start the day sharing a great book together.

This time we had even MORE guests join us, including moms, dads, sisters, brothers, grandmas and grandpas!  What a blessed group of kiddos we have in Rm. 202 and I love how even the kiddos who didn’t have their own specific guests were included in the other “families.”  Another reason this Robinson community is the best ever. 🙂

Thanks to the adults and siblings who made this day super special for us.  And in case you didn’t get a chance to join us, here’s a little bit of what it was like:

Can’t wait ’til next time!  Maybe you can join us!  Mark your calendars for January 13th, 2017!