Veterans’ Day 2016

Our school knows how to do things right. 🙂   And Veterans’ Day is one of those things that we do that has quickly become a day we look forward to celebrating together with our friends, family and honored guests.

Let me share our day with you. 🙂

First of all, here’s the first grade portion of the program.

Aren’t we a handsome bunch of kiddos?

We’re talented, too. 🙂  Here’s our Veterans’ Day song:

Before we sang, there were some tributes to our honored first grade guests.  It was pretty special. 🙂

Lastly in the program, some Robinson friends (including our RM. 202 friend Kaiden!) read the official Veterans’ Day proclamation:

Now…in case you wanted to see the entire program, it was live-streamed on Periscope and can be viewed in its entirety at these links: Part 1 and Part 2.  Also, Mrs. Sisul has updated Robinson’s Facebook page with pics from the day.  Check it out here.

Another amazing and thoughtful day spent celebrating some really important people and appreciating the freedoms and opportunities we have in America!  Great job, Rm. 202!

Our First Writing Celebration!

We have been working on getting our Writers’ Workshop set up, as well as learning about and writing Small Moments.

fullsizeoutput_74a

We used the analogy of a watermelon and its seeds to help kiddos think about a BIG idea and the SMALL parts of that larger story.  This picture was really helpful for kids to have a concrete idea of what I was talking about.  After I drew my initial picture, writers tried their own watermelons. 🙂

Wednesday was the day we were finally ready to share our finished writing pieces.  This was our first for the year, and so we did have to start with a few instructions on how it would go.  I also tried something new this time (which, by the way, I SHOULD NOT have done on our first try at a writing celebration…oh well, lessons learned), and had kiddos do writing compliments on their iPads using eBackpack and the MarkIt tool.  Writers circulated and read their friend’s stories, leaving kind words about what they noticed and what they liked.

Great job on your first celebration, Rm. 202 writers, and great job on your first stories!  Way to start the year as writers! 🙂

Happy (Chinese) New Year!!

We did something this past week that has never happened in Rm. 202–or in any classroom I’ve taught in: celebrated Chinese New Year!  Our friend Baron’s mom, Mrs. Eyrick, was born in Taiwan, and offered to come share some of their Chinese culture with us.  It was perfect because we both got to see a little more about our friend and his family, and also, it fit in with our Social Studies unit right now.  Match made in heaven!

She showed up a little early and got busy decorating with some traditional Chinese New Year symbols and colors.  We learned that red and gold are important, as they stand for life and fortune.  Mrs. Eyrick brought us a dragon, lanterns (realized I didn’t get any pictures of those! :(), some fish as well as decoration for our door and a big Happy New Year sign.  So festive!

We sat down together on the rainbow rug and she told us all about the history of Chinese New Year, and how the Western Hemisphere (where we live) bases their calendar on the sun, and how the Eastern Hemisphere (where China is) bases their calendar on the moon (lunar) phases.  She explained the Chinese Zodiac, and told us how friends in China celebrate this happy time.

She even brought us a treat!  She shared traditional Chinese New Year “lucky” food–clementines–and gave each kiddo a lucky red envelope.  It had real money inside!!  We also got to enjoy some other Chinese tasty treats together.

What a great afternoon and a fabulous celebration! Thanks, Mrs. Eyrick, for coming to teach us about your culture. 🙂

 

 

Goodbye, Mr. Lacy! 

One thing I mentioned that made our 100th Day both fun and busy was that we celebrated our custodian of 9 years, Mr. Lacy. He has been such a happy addition to our school, and it’s already weird to not see him pushing his tennis-ball-stick down the hall fixing the smudges off the tiles.

Since he was such an important fixture in our school, we had to figure out a meaningful way to send him off in style (I know I say “we” like I had something to do with it–I did not; my amazing students and their specials teachers did all the work and I just went to enjoy the assembly).

Ok, wait, I guess I did do something, but it was teeny–like suggest to my students what we should do as our part of the goodbye scrapbook. Then they got busy and did all the creative stuff with making their body and a speech bubble with wishes for him for retirement. Apparently it’s no secret that he used to be a boxer; many kiddos wished him time to do that again. 😊  Sorry–didn’t end up with a picture of the final product.  Oops.  Forgot to take one until after it was delivered.  Imagine pages and pages of those cute little 2nd grade bodies.

Aside from that part, Mrs. Kesler worked with everyone in music to learn a song to sing to him.

The staff collected to treat him with something to do, too–a big ole smoker along with the supplies you need to make a barbecue feast. The PTO gave him a gift of a certificate for meat from his favorite butcher; he will be happy and well fed!

It’s funny how big a difference little things like a kind smile, a jolly laugh and a clean school can make.  Lacy definitely showed he loved us in everything he did, and we will miss him!

Veterans’ Day 2015

Until just a few years ago, Veterans’ Day came and went at Robinson without much fanfare.  I mean, yeah, we’d mention it to our classes, perhaps watch a video or read a book about why the day was special, but that was pretty much it.  There was not a whole-school focus, an assembly or any other type of celebration.  Then ( I believe the year Mrs. Kesler became our FABULOUS music teacher), that all changed and Veterans’ Day became one of the most special days on the calendar. 🙂 Remember last year?

Even before the day came we were hard at work: writing letters of thank you to veterans, as well as creating the centerpiece place mats for the tables in the cafeteria for the reception.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And pretty much since school started, too, kiddos have been working on the music for the assembly we hold yearly now to celebrate those who give/gave their very best to keep us safe and sound.  While I would love to invite each and every one of you to experience what is now Veterans’ Day at our school, I only have a couple of short videos to share.  It’s a taste at least, right? 🙂  Oh, and I HATE to admit this, but it always seems that my phone runs out of memory right in the middle of someone’s video I’m trying to record–yep, at just the WRONG moment–and this time it was during the girls’ song. 😦  (Since we split boys and girls for specials, our grade level had two songs).  Hopefully you’ll get the idea.  Again–super sorry I didn’t catch it all. 😦

Before 2nd grade started, Khalani got to represent our grade and read a special thank you poem for the veterans.  Our theme was HEROES.

CAM02434-min

Then the boys sang their tribute:

Girls took their turn next:

I found two more pictures of how handsome and beautiful we look all dressed up:

CAM02442-minCAM02445-min

Happy Veterans’ Day!  How did you celebrate the special day? 🙂

3 Writing Celebrations in 1 Day!!

We have been working through the writing process, using seeds we’ve put in our Writers’ Notebooks.

Screenshot 2015-10-13 20.20.44

Once we got to the end (which took WAY longer than I remembered it would!), we were ready to CELEBRATE with our friends!  The best part about what we did was that we did it with more than one class!  Mrs. Appelbaum’s class was finished with their pieces, too, so we got together.

As with many things, the way Mrs. Appelbaum did her writing celebration was a little different from me, so she taught me something new and it was super!!  First, she shared with Rm. 202 kiddos the directions her class had come up with to share their work with a partner:

IMG_5456-minThere was also a comment sheet she had come up with, where readers would give the writer feedback based on these starters: “Something I liked about your writing was…”; “Something I learned was…” and “Something I wonder now is….”  I’ve done compliment sheets before, but they’ve always been completely open-ended.  The structure of her sheet was helpful for those that needed ideas, but was also still open-ended enough for kids to make choices on how they’d respond.

From within minutes of when we started, the room was “a-buzz” with that fabulous sound of excitement, learning, and laughing as kiddos proudly shared the work they had done to create meaningful writing pieces.

This is a short video, but here’s what it sounded like:

While you can’t really get the same experience from seeing pictures of it as if you were there, I do think you can imagine the experience.  Sometimes just seeing the pride and happiness on their faces is story enough!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ok, these next few will look really similar, but they’re from the 2nd go-round, where Mrs. Appelbaum’s friends came to hear our writing.  We were excited to try out her “rules” and the compliment sheet on our work!

I don’t have pictures of the last share we did, but after we had practiced with the Appelbaum team, we invited our friends from Ms. Turken’s class (they’re first graders) to listen to our writing, too.  This was the first time they had been to a writing celebration and we were hoping to teach them well about how it was supposed to work.  You’d never have known they were newbies–they were writing rockstars and worked really hard to give us meaningful comments on our work!  Hopefully we can share with them again when they’re finished their own writing pieces.

Whew! What an exciting day of celebrating our hard work, our meaningful writing ideas and our using grit and perseverance to share great stories!  Way to go, Rm. 202 kids!

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!!