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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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!!

Pictures of the Day–April 13, 2015

Today was a special day at our school, and an even specialer (yeah, I know that’s not a word but it sounds cool right?) day in our town.  We celebrated Hats On Day to collect money for kids with cancer, but it was also Cardinals Opening Day–which is really worth a day off in my book–but alas we together at school.  Here are a couple of pictures from both of these special activities:

If only I could crop myself out of this one...the other two are so cute, right? :)

If only I could crop myself out of this one…the other two are so cute, right? 🙂

Those are some pretty awesome Cardinals' fans, aren't they?  Look, C.J.'s backpack even has Cardinal red on it!  Looking good, kiddos!

Those are some pretty awesome Cardinals’ fans, aren’t they? Look, C.J.’s backpack even has Cardinal red on it! Looking good, kiddos!

Another fun day in Rm. 202 at Robinson and a great start to a super week! 🙂

Can We Persuade You?

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to attend a very special writing celebration.  Our next-door-neighbors (Ms. Turken’s class) had been working on writing persuasive arguments and wanted to share them with us!

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She had kiddos divided into small groups, and everyone went around the circle and read aloud their essays.  Their writing was great!  We heard about a variety of topics, from girls being able to play traditionally “boy” sports, wearing helmets while skateboarding and bike riding, wearing seat belts and many more.  We were definitely treated to many great essays, and are thinking differently about these topics because of the evidence they shared with their opinions.  It was also helpful because we were getting ready to start this unit in our own Writer’s Workshop next!  It has been great to be able to use this day as a touchstone in our own persuasive work.  Great job, Ms. Turken’s class!

Check out a few more pics from this super learning opportunity:

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What do you know about persuasive writing?  What topic would you choose to write about if you had an opportunity to write an opinion essay?  We’d love to hear your ideas–we’re just  about ready to choose the ones we’ll write about! 🙂

Another (Writing) Celebration!

I’ve written before about how we use the Writing Cycle in our classroom, and how important celebrating our work is once we’re all finished.

Recently we had another one–this time with Expository Nonfiction Writing that we had done!

Our nonfiction pieces were all based on the structure of introduction, 3 paragraphs on specific topics, and conclusion.  They were written in many different forms, but all followed that same structure.

Our nonfiction pieces were all based on the structure of introduction, 3 paragraphs on specific topics, and conclusion. They were written in many different forms, but all followed that same structure.  Rebekah’s final piece was handwritten on paper.

Many students wrote their essays as feature articles using Pages templates.  All they had to do was replace what was there with their info and voila!

Many students wrote their essays as feature articles using Pages templates. All they had to do was replace what was there with their info and voila! I was impressed with the variety of topics: Sophia wrote about Artemis, Anna C. wrote a piece about tennis player Althea Gibson, ZB202 wrote about poodles and Natalie wrote about the evolution of the telephone.

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Some essays were made with a flier template, and Keelan wrote his as a brochure.

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Here’s a great picture of the different end products: Anna K. used Pages to write about Greek Mythology, Devan made a poster that was SHAPED like his topic of tops, and Sammy made a poster about mythology, too.

Some posters were small, like Jernandra's about lions...

Some posters were small, like Jernandra’s about lions, Don’s about bulldogs,

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and Aiden’s about diamonds…

...and some were big, like Seamus' about Paul Revere,

…and some were big, like Seamus’ about Paul Revere,

Owen's about Gravity Master Isaac Newton,

Owen’s about Gravity Master Isaac Newton,

and Fiona's about Queen Elizabeth II.

and Fiona’s about Queen Elizabeth II.

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And thee were even some Keynotes created about nonfiction topics, like Ames’ slide show about fossils,

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and Peter’s about Ray Lewis. What a great example of how we can all accomplish the same thing in whatever way makes sense to us!

What do you do to celebrate your writing?  How do you “send your writing out into the world?” Tell us what you think!

 

 

 

 

Birthday Flash Mob

Ever heard of a flash mob?  Ever seen one?  Well if you were at our school last Friday, March 30, you could have both seen one and participated in one like we did!

It was our principal, Mrs. Sisul’s, birthday that day, and our head custodian, Mr. Maus’ birthday was on Saturday.  So Mrs. Kesler, our music teacher, helped our whole school learn a dance that we surprised them with that afternoon.  The dance was planned by another 5th grade class, Mrs. LeSeure’s class from Rm. 202 next door.

Check out the video here:

After the flash mob-dancing-singing part, we all got to enjoy an ice cream sandwich treat before we went back to finish out our Friday.  What a great end to a great week back from Spring Break!

Check out how great we all look there on the driveway!  We’re getting ready to surprise Mrs. Sisul.

  

    

Mrs. Sisul sharing some hugs with our class!  WE LOVE HER!!

Happy Birthday to Mr. Maus, too!  (Sorry I got your balloons instead of your smiling face!)

One thing I love about our school is that we really know how to celebrate each other!  Great idea, Mrs. Kesler and super job on the dance, Mrs. LeSeure’s class!

How do you celebrate birthdays at your school?  Have you ever seen or been a part of a flash mob?  Tell us about it!