# Second Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of April 4-8, 2016

We started a new unit this week on geometry, but aren’t all quite solid with adding and subtracting within 1000 yet, so we came back to that as well.

Monday

Somehow I got home today (it’s Friday, when I usually post these while I am eating pizza and watching our family movie) without a picture of Monday’s MWU.  Oh well, I’ll just tell you.  The chart simply asked the question “What is a polygon?”  Well, I thought it asked it simply, but I was surprised that many kiddos answered it very differently than I expected.  What I thought I was asking them to tell me was the definition of a polygon.  What most of them game me was a picture of a hexagon.  Those that didn’t draw a hexagon pretty much described one in a few words.  I was puzzled by their responses, but as has happened more than once with these problems, it was a great lesson in asking better questions.  Had I asked “What is the definition of a polygon?” or even “Use words to tell what you know about polygons,” it would have made more sense to them.  I guess I did get information that they knew that a hexagon was a polygon, and that they didn’t understand the word itself, too, so it wasn’t a total wash. LOL

Tuesday

This one was another attempt at a vocabulary question, and was based on responses to the pretest from our geometry unit.  We had a great conversation about the difference between these two things, and how one is for 2D shapes and the other is for 3D.  We got out the rectangular prism and a Power Polygon that was a square and looked at the differences.  Oh, and notice how they connected the word “difference” with comparison, and so many of them drew a Venn Diagram.  Nice work, Rm. 202 kiddos!

Thursday

This was a great day, because Ja’Mia and Ava volunteered to create our Math Warm-Up (like has happened with lots of things in our room lately!), so I told them to have a go.  They had to solve their problem, too, so that they would know if we got it right.  Unfortunately I changed the numbers just a teeny bit when I wrote it, but I do know I got the -18 part correct from their original problem.  Check it out:

Want to explain a couple of things on the chart, based on our conversation.  The 900 at the top is because we talked about how estimating the answer before we solve the problem is a way of helping us know if we’re right.  We knew that the 300 and 500 would be at least 800, but then since both of the numbers were so big, it would be closer to 900 than 800.  We decided that the 69 in 369 was screaming at us (do you hear it??) that we should compensate and make the problem easier so we moved 1 from the 532 and made 370+531.  Then we moved 30 over to the 370 to make 400 and added together the resulting numbers.  Once we got to 901 – 18, we remembered what we had learned about constant difference and knew that if we added the same thing to both numbers we could get the same answer with an easier problem–thus we did 903-20, which is super easier than subtracting 18.  I was impressed with their hard work and glad to see that so many of them could apply the strategies we’ve been practicing.

Friday

Today is a busy morning usually, because we do a Week-in-Review sheet that takes the place of the math warm-up.  Often we don’t even get to it, but I decided to try it as our right-back-from-recess activity and it worked pretty well.  We tried another one like yesterday’s but I changed the numbers a bit.

This one has many annotations, too.  Let me explain:

We had to have a quick explanation of the directions, as many of them thought I meant that they should use their calculator.   I just meant I wanted them to figure it out. 🙂  The 800 is our estimate, which we figured out by thinking about 500 + 400, but then realizing that 73 is about 100 so we subtracted that next.  The red words were a request for a reminder of the strategies we have learned (as well as a reminder that I still owe them an anchor chart!): Circle, Split, Add; Circle, Split, Add with a number line; splitting; a chart that we’d used during our investigation into the T-Shirt Factory (that is really a visual form of regrouping 10s/1s); and compensation (making an easier problem).  As we were deciding upon a strategy to try together, I reminded them that good mathematicians choose one based on what the numbers tell them, not based on their favorite or the one they know the best.  Kiddos decided that the numbers were telling them to subtract first, because they noticed that the 75 in 475 could help us subtract the 73.  Once we rearranged the numbers, we realized our problem was a SUPER easy addition problem.

On a side note, at our class meeting today, the topic of math came up and many kiddos marked it as their “trouble spot” with a red dot.

Again I was puzzled by this (probably because I define trouble spots as places where our class has something to figure out together or areas/activity where our choices could use some reworking and they instead mark them as things that were hard for them to figure out), so I had them explain.  Many said that the warm-ups were hard this week because they had to both add and subtract in the same problem.  We came to the conclusion that it was probably “hard” because we still needed practice.  We also discussed that labeling something as “hard” can sometimes lead us to believe we can’t do it.  If our self-talk is always negative instead of saying “I just don’t get it YET”, that ends up being our reality because we’ve quit trying.  We agreed that I could give them just one operation in a problem and that they would work on positive self-talk as they tackled these tricky problems next week. Win/win. 🙂

# 2nd Grade Class Meetings

I’m not sure how this is possible, but it seems that my class just had our first class meeting on Friday. I know that’s really not the case, but I guess all the meetings we have had have been either impromptu or have followed a different protocol than is typical to Rm. 202 because when I opened up our class meeting flipchart the other day the last one was from May 2015!  WHAT?

Well, regardless, we sat down to have a meaningful class meeting, following a protocol that everyone new because even if we didn’t do it this year “officially,” everyone had followed the same procedure in 1st grade.  (In case you don’t remember how we do class meetings in our school and district, check out this post, as well as this one where I wrote about it previously, then keep reading. 🙂 ).

We went around our circle and our chart dots looked like this when we were finished:

A comment for the sake of transparency: our original chart got lost so I recreated the dots as I remember then.  There may be a few in the wrong place, but this is generally the result after our choices. Sorry, friends!

While often the red dots indicate times where our class was having trouble behaviorally, as we talked through the dots for this class meeting, we figured out that the red dots next to “subtraction in math” were related to the fact that the math we were doing was tricky (more on that later!).  The red dots next to the others were things we had already worked through earlier in the week.  All-in-all, this chart shows a pretty great week for Rm. 202!

As is part of the typical class meeting protocol, the last part of the meeting is having kiddos write me a “Friday note” where they share whatever is on their mind: something from the meeting that they didn’t get to say, something from the week that they think when well (or was hard for them personally), an idea they have for something in our classroom, a question, what they’re doing over the weekend, etc.

Then I spend time over the weekend answering their notes.  I was SUPER impressed that many of our notes were related to how kiddos knew that they needed to work on not getting Xs next week.  A couple of friends asked for help with certain subjects, and many kiddos told me about weekend plans.  And yes, as happens at least everyone once in a while, someone’s note just told me I was the best teacher EVER.  Loved that one, of course. LOL

As with any class, the Friday note is perhaps one of my favorite pieces of communication with my students.  I learn something every week, and I find that kiddos share things in this venue that they may not feel safe to say to me or have time to talk to me about during the course of a regular, busy day.  These notes are so personal and give EVERY kid a chance to have a voice in our community.  Friday notes #FTW!

# Our First Class Meeting!

If you don’t know about how we do Class Meetings around here, be sure to check out the previous posts Lessons in Democracy and Class Pet Petitions for a little background first….go ahead.  I’ll wait for you. 🙂

We had our first real class meeting this past Friday and it went really well!  I say “real” because the week before (our first Friday) I walked them through the process of 5th grade class meetings, to either remind or inform them of how we’d be doing them this year.

Here’s our chart after dots were added:

We had a busy week, huh?  The lists at the beginning of the year always seem to be a lot longer because we do many more short activities as we’re getting to know the classroom and each other, as opposed to longer projects as we move further into the year.  And for some reference, SRI is the Scholastic Reading Inventory and helps assess readers.  Students get their Lexile level from this assessment, which helps them as they choose books (which I guess is why so many kiddos gave this a blue dot–signifying that they learned alot from that activity).

I found it really interesting (and surprising, honestly) that so many kiddos chose Appletters as the topic to discuss and problem solve around.  And with that many red dots I was dying to find out their thinking about how we could fix it for next time.

After they shared their concerns, these were the things they mentioned that we could work on:

• kiddos using really loud voices during the game
• some just sitting (not participating or waiting for others to come to them)
• not allowing others to join their words
• leaving others out on purpose, or replacing their letters with other letters
• only trying to make words with friends, instead of trying lots of options
• people stepping on each other, running into each other or shoving as we move around the room

Then we were on to problem solving (we actually had a lunch break in between to do some thinking), and came up with some ideas on how we could improve our game the next time we played it:

• aim at using a Level 1 or 2 voice (which at our school means whispers or soft voices), so even if we get a little louder we’ll still be at a reasonable volume
• give kiddos time to think independently before we move together to build words
• make a rule that you could add letters or rearrange them to make new words, but NOT remove letters once they are there
• play in another part of our room, or try to use more space instead of clumping together
• have a place for “odd” letters (like Z, X, Q, etc.) to go if you can’t build a word, then those letters try to build something.
• I also suggested that I would add some other guidelines for what kinds of words they could build.

These were pretty good, and we were excited for the next time we played!

Little did they know that their next opportunity would come that afternoon!  The “rules” this time was that their words had to be at least 4 letters long, and could not be names (remember GIBY from last time?). We all agreed that the next time we were much improved.  Check out our words the second time around!

Someone said this word was inspired by a book cover they were looking at just before we played our game–funny that they were actually able to find the letters to build it!

Check out the way CAR turned into CRATES–a longer word with more friends involved! Success!

All of the “odd” letters met at Table 4 to see what they could come up with…

…and many hands made for light work.

Definitely not an Appletters “fail” here–that’s a good word!

Check this one out! Another one where someone (Owen!) was just looking at the letters and this came to him! Genius!

What a FABULOUS example about how a group of people with great ideas can change things for the better!  What a great start to the year, and an exciting precedent for class meetings to come. WAY TO GO, RM. 202!! YOU ROCK!

# 5th Grade Class Meeting

So we did it.  Remember last week when I explained our most recent class meeting?  Well, the class meeting that we wanted to have with the rest of our grade happened this afternoon.

Even with 80 people in the room, we tried to follow the same class meeting protocol that we normally use.  We used a general flipchart list, since each 5th grade does things a little differently, but still put dots for things they liked and things they learned the most from during the week.  After those two rounds, our chart looked like this:

I loved how all those dots around “Weather Unit” ended up looking a little bit like a cloud.  Most of us started a big storm project in science this week (which I’ll write about soon!), and our kids are really jazzed about it.

Normally round three would be based on the question “What do you want to talk about?,” but in this case, we had gathered to discuss recess, so we didn’t need that one.  We started into the problem solving phase of our meeting, after laying a few ground rules:

As they shared their concerns about what was going wrong, we made a list of what was mentioned.  After our 5 minutes was up, our list had some pretty yucky stuff on it like people being left out, some kids being rejected when they ask to play, arguing, poor sportsmanship, pushing and shoving, interrupting games just to be funny, and worrying about who’s popular and who’s not.

We spent some time trying to problem solve around this topic, which proved to be pretty difficult with such a large group.  Kiddos explained what they meant about how some thought they were more popular than others and wouldn’t let them play or tried to show off and always be the best at every game they played.  We all agreed that our behavior did not match up with what we know to be true about Robinson’s 5th grade–that we are leaders, and that we support each other and rally around causes to help make everyone better.  We agreed that this was not ok.

The teachers did a little more in this meeting that we normally would–again because of logistics–but also because we wanted to make it very clear to our friends that this would not be tolerated.  At Robinson, you are expected to be respectful to others no matter where you are–the playground in addition to your classroom or anywhere else you are at school.  We left the meeting with a call to have each kiddo think about how they fit into this yucky puzzle of disrespect that has been happening outside.  Everyone has something they can do differently on Monday.

After we got back to our classroom, I had my kids do their regular Friday Note that always follows class meetings.  As always, they could tell me whatever they wanted to, but I also had them add their goal for what they would do to make recess better on Monday afternoon.  They understood that they each play at part in making our grade the best it can be, and I know that they will take the charge to change something tomorrow.   Can’t wait to see what it is!

# Class Pet Petitions

I don’t know how long you’ve been reading, or how far back you’ve gone through the post archives, so I’m wondering if I’ve told you about class meetings yet?  I wrote about the big idea behind them here, and the story was pretty great.  This class is doing an amazing job with class meetings, too.  Each week, though, when we sit down together to reflect upon the week and talk over things we want to improve upon, there aren’t really any problems to solve.  Oh, come on.  No way, right?  No really–we had to change the last question on our meeting protocol to “What do you want to talk about?” rather than “What do we need to improve upon?” because of how well these kids work together, learn together and just generally follow the rules and procedures of our school.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re not perfect.  We do work things out together.  This week was an example of two kinds of issues to discuss.

Like class pet petitions, for instance.  Here is what the flipchart from this week’s class meeting:

So, see all those dots after “class pets petition?”  It meant that several people wanted to talk about that topic.  But again, it wasn’t because it was a problem.  They just wanted to talk about it.  They needed to decide whether or not it was a good idea for Ames to make us an origami class pet, and if so, what type of animal we’d want to have.  We decided that Ames (as the origami master of our class) would narrow the list down to four of his best creatures, and we’d vote on the one we liked best out of those four.  Then we’ll chat about it again next week.

Ok, so there did end up being a concern they did want to try to work out, and it was related to recess.  A question was posed about what to do when you try to play with people and they tell you you can’t.  We had a great conversation about strategies to try, words we could use and how it felt when someone told you you couldn’t be a part of the group.  The idea of “popular” kids was brought up, and the concern was raised that there are some people in our grade who won’t play with certain kids because they’re friends with certain other people who are considered weird or different.  It hurt my heart as I heard them talk about what was going on outside on the playground, and we decided that it might mean we needed a grander conversation.  We agreed that we would do what we could to support each other outside–like paying attention to when people are alone and inviting them to play, or standing up for our classmates if we see or hear something mean being done to them–but we agreed that this might be a topic that would be better discussed with our whole grade level.  So I have “homework” to coordinate a 5th grade recess conversation in the next few days.  This was definitely a problem worth tackling, and one that we want to see solved.

# Spread Love, Not Hate

So today is the day! Thanks for joining the bloghop as we speak out against bullying!

I called the last post Perfect Timing, meaning that it was great that I had found the link for this idea at the same time our school was celebrating No-Name Calling Week.  But maybe I should have used that same name again today, as we had another great conversation about what’s been going on with bullies in our classroom.

First, though, a reminder of what happened a few weeks ago.

After that conversation, we made these for our school’s KROB news broadcast to promote No-Name Calling Week:

Dominic tells about a time when he was picked on for his size.

Doniya says she’s sorry for what she’s done.

Kelsey comes clean and apologizes.

Taylor speaks her mind about bullying.

Lauren and Molli talk about the changes that can happen when friends talk and problem solve together.

So, today, as we have for the last few weeks during our class meetings, we came back to the topic of respect and bullying and how we’ve been doing with this.  It seems that all is not perfect in our 5th grade world.  While many in our class wanted to believe that one meeting could change things forever, today we had more concerns bubble up related to how some of us have been speaking to each other in a less than respectful way.

I kind of have a love-hate relationship with this topic lately–I love that they are willing to continue to come back to the table (er, carpet) to talk about it, but I hate that they have to.  I, like many friends in my room, wish it was as easy as saying once that we’ll all change our ways and be friends forever.   Obviously, though, it’s not that simple, and it’s something we’ll continue to work on all year together.

Our meeting was pretty intense at times today, with questions and concerns coming up about some of the same things we dealt with at our first big meeting.  In the end, there were several one-on-one conversations that sparked from it, and we had to just agree to change some pretty big things in the way we deal with our classmates.

As our closing circle, I asked the class to tell me what they would take away from our class meeting today.  I was glad they said what they said; I think they’re reflective like me: at the moment it may not seem like they’ve “gotten” it, but after they have some alone time to process, they come up with some pretty great stuff!  Here’s what they said they learned from our conversation today:

• I learned we dwell on the past. (Many people mentioned things that had been done to them weeks ago, rather than today or this week.  They were holding on to things that had already been apologized for or that were no longer being done to them.  Many of us were holding grudges and not believing that certain people were changing.)
• I learned that we should assume positive intent. (I taught them this phrase last week, as a way to work together in a more positive way.  It’s a norm that the teachers in our school work under, and is based on the idea that if we assume that our friends have positive intentions–even if they look or sound like they’re being mean or ugly–we can often avoid problems or confrontations.  We can, after all, only control our own actions, not the actions of others.  We should give our friends the benefit of the doubt, not always assuming that they’re trying to be mean.  Maybe they’re just having a bad day.)
• I learned that we should say something when someone does something we don’t like, instead of just ignoring it. (Today lots of kids mentioned that they were fed up that others continued to annoy them or do mean things, and they admitted that rather than tell that person to stop, they had continued to let it happen, or responded in an equally mean way.  Eventually, when they were really mad, they’d tell the teacher or bring it up in a class meeting, rather than dealing with it immediately.)
• I learned that just because someone’s saying my name doesn’t mean they’re saying bad things about me–it might even be a compliment. (Maybe–just maybe–they’re laughing about something completely unrelated to you.)
• I learned that if someone comes to me and tells me that my friend said something about me, I should go to my friend and find out about it instead of just being mad or doing something mean back.  (Getting the truth out and finding out what really happens helps to clear up misunderstandings.  This is soo much better than being mad at your best friend for what ends up being no reason.)

I can’t decide if I like that class meetings are on Fridays or not.  Sometimes I wish that they could come back the very next day and start working again on getting along and fixing the problems we discussed at our meeting.  But at the same time, I appreciate the space that is afforded us by the weekend.  Being allowed to talk about issues and work through them together, and then have some time (and space away from each other) to continue to think about it on our own before we come back together helps us to be ready to act differently once we see each other again.   Kind of like the “time heals all wounds” idea, a topic that was really hot on Friday can simmer down a little by Monday so we can better respond–rather than react–the very next day.

I love this group of kids I work with this year.  They have their struggles (but what group of people who spends 8 hours everyday closely together doesn’t?), but they are still so willing to work through them.  Deep down they really just want to get along, and they try so hard to figure out how to make that happen.  Even though it’s hard and messy, and sometimes it seems like we’ll never get there, so far we’ve come to some better understandings of each other.  I hope that the lessons we’re learning about relationships this year are ones that will stick with them long after they leave the safety of our Rm. 201 community.

So now it’s your turn:  tell us what you think about our life lessons.  Or tell us about a life lesson you’ve learned lately.  Do you have any advice for us about how to work together or how to work through a conflict?  What advice do you have for us as we tackle bullying head-on?  We’ve love to hear from you!

# As a String Pulled Tight

Ok, before I start, I have to warn  you that what I am about to tell you about is really so incredible that any words I choose to use won’t really do it justice, but since that’s what happens here, I’m going to give it the old college try. 🙂

There is a big long back story I could tell you about life in our room lately–the not-so-pretty part that I don’t usually post about–but I’ll just state it simply:  we have a problem with bullies in Rm. 201.

So today at lunch I made the decision, with the help of my good friend and teammate Melissa, to have a meeting about it.  We decided it was time to lay it all out.  To sit down and hash out our problems together.

I have to admit I was a little nervous about it.  I wasn’t sure we’d come to a solution today.  I wasn’t sure how long it would take.  I wasn’t sure if I’d have all the answers I needed, if kids would be willing to share, and I really wasn’t sure how the bullies would react to the conversation.

But–like I have done on many other occasions in my teaching career–I had to put that aside and take the risk.  Jump in the deep end.  Go for it and trust that we would figure it out together.  And what happened next was nothing less than remarkable.  I’m going to borrow some words from my friends’ blogs today to help tell some of the rest of the story:

• I think this resent class meeting was amazing never been better. I’ve never seen my class mates be so cooperative and helpful. Every one was amazing. I hope that the next class meeting is no different than the one today. I think many shout out’s have been given and I hope that everybody knows how absolutely outstanding it was.
• YYYYYYAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We had an awesome conversation today about bullies!!! I don’t know bout you, but I don’t like  bullies! But our class is so much more… fun,happy,nice, and friendly! I have never seen anything like it! it’s amazing!!! I am not scared to leave my things  out. We discovered who the bullying was.  So nice to know what was going on but now we do good bye bully’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)
• Today after lunch Mrs. Bearden pulled the entire class to the carpet in a circle to talk about bullies. The tension in the room was so bad, it was like I was a string being pulled really hard. We handeled it soooooooo well it was amazing! Mrs. Bearden said to tell names which no teacher has ever asked me before. It was scary I was afraid that if I said anything to someone, that they would get mad. But when the brave people in our room stepped up, It was amazing everyone was great. And it got even better when a friend of mine stepped up and said that she would like to say sorry to every one she had hurt.

That broke the string.

After that we talked about apoligies and eventually came to saying that we will start fresh.    Right   now as I am blogging well you probably not reading this as I am typing it, but as I am I hear people who would not usually laugh together, are. Every thing feels great in here. Especialy after we all had 2 billion pounds on our shoulders when we were talking about bullies.

• Today, are schedule changed after lunch/recess–a lot. Wait! Let me say that again–a lot.Here is how it went…We stopped in the familiar 3rd grade hallway on our way to room 201. Mrs. Bearden announced that when we walked into the classroom, we would not be sitting on the carpet facing her rocking chair, but in a circle. We were all very confused, but did it anyway. We all sat on the carpet in a circle. Mrs. Bearden sat with us and said “We have some bullies in our class” Everyone’s eyes paced around the room, searching for the bullies. Then, Mrs. Bearden said that this was just like a class-meeting, except we would be mentioning names. Silence. That was when the action happened.Everyone said something about how they have been bullied and who bullied them. When I was done with mine, I cried. I was so scared because I didn’t know what the bully would say to me about me sharing the scene when I was bullied. But everything was fine. The bullies said sorry in a serious, emotional way–they even got an applause. The one who bullied me came to me privately and said sorry. Everyone was so happy after the hour-and-twenty-five minute meeting.
• People in my class are so nice. They tought me not to take that anger out on them just because my brother did that to me.  And they didn’t do that to me. They are just trying to help me and be kind and try to be my friend. I really thank Evan for been a really good or really really great host. I am so sorry. Tomorrow a new girl is going to be walking in this class and is going to hang out with people a lot. I said that stuff from my heart. I had almost cried when I heard all the people say my name. It was like a radio going. I was like “I really did this stuff to these people.” I was so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so sorry. I really think Evan can be a great host.  The show can be called “The Evan C. Football Player Show”. So thank you everybody and I am sorry for what I did. I am so sorry for calling you a big elephant head and sorry for being mean all the time. And I mean all the time. Sorry. Bye!

This meeting, which was not structured like our usual class meetings, was a truly amazing scene.  I wished that I had taped it, so you could really see and hear what happened.  I was beyond impressed and proud with how bold and brave and honest everyone was.  They were so respectful and real while they calmly aired their grievances and talked about how they felt.  There was a natural leader that arose, and he did such a super job of synthesizing, restating and clarifying what the group was saying.

After about an hour-and-a-half, we got to a place where we clearly understood 1) what the problem was, 2) why some of it was happening, and 3) what we were going to do about it.  The feeling in the room was calm and relaxed and we knew that everything was (and is) going to be all right.  Obviously we didn’t solve all the world’s problems during that session, and we know it’s not going to be easy, but we have hope.  We know what we’re capable of, and trust that we will do what say we will do.

Time will tell, but I believe we’re on the right track. I think we’re at a fork in the road, a turning point.  We grew together today, had a shared experience that we can use as a benchmark for the future.  We’re closer, and we care more for each other.  So many people left with such great energy that I know it will affect us in a really meaningful way.

Remember all the times I’ve said my kids were amazing?  More proof today of how that statement is true.

What stories do you have about bullies in the classroom?  What advice do you have for my students about how to deal with bullies?  When have you had a scary conversation that ended up better than you’d expected?  We’d love to hear from you!

# Kids Have the Best Ideas

Remember this? We started this map a little bit ago and have been so excited to watch the pins get added to mark all the connections we’re making!

Friday was class meeting day, and so the thing that everyone wanted to talk about was our Making Connections Map.  I thought that was odd at first, because I didn’t know what there was to talk about with it.  But that’s what’s really cool about how our class meetings work (if you haven’t read about them yet, check it out here): they’re in charge of what they want to talk about, and usually their ideas are WAY better than what I would have suggested anyway. It’s there classroom, too, after all, and they know what issues are bugging them as well as I do (sometimes better!).

So it ended up that they wanted to talk about the process of putting the pins on the map.  And they wanted to talk about how I shouldn’t have to do it all by myself.  Somebody even said, “Come on, guys, Mrs. Bearden was nice enough to not give us any homework, and so we should be nice to her and take care of this ourselves.”  Love it, right?  Then they decided that since the Manager’s job (maybe I should post about our classroom jobs some day soon) to check in homework, and they don’t have that responsibility anymore, then the Manager should be the one who is in charge of adding new pins to the map each week.  Which actually makes perfect sense, since we want the map to be interactive and usually I am the only one interacting with it!  Loved the idea of how it meant they could each get their paws on it, and be responsible to find the places for the pins.  I actually though, “Duh, Mrs. Bearden.  You probably should have thought of that initially–it’s kind of the point of the whole project.”  But now it’s even better because it was my 5th grade friends who reminded me of this fact.  Thank you, friends.

Another decision they made–which I agreed with again–was that our map was entirely too small!  We had so many pins already and they were all on top of each other.  Just St. Louis alone had about 6 or 7 because we marked them as each individual town.  So we found a bigger map and hung it up and we LOVE IT!  Check it out:

They decided to move it to the other side of the room to that big wall by the door.  It’s easier to get to, and it’s somewhere we’re always walking by, so we could look at it and talk about it really easily, too.

Most of our pins right now are in the US and Canada, and our new map makes them much easier to see.

It might look like we have a lot of blog followers in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (or like my map friends don’t know where Missouri is!), but those are actually linked to a pin that’s on St. Louis.  We had a really interesting conversation about how we could label our own hometown in all of those ways.  So far we have blog commenters from St. Peters, Florissant, Fenton, Webster Groves, Crestwood, Kirkwood, and Bel Ridge–all part of the metropolitan St. Louis area.

But this still might be my favorite pin.  Courtesy of Judy McKenzie in New Zealand.  Check out her class blog here. 🙂

# Rephrasing the Question, Refocusing the Conversation

We had a class meeting today.  I know, it’s not Friday, but this was when we had time for it.  (If you’re new here or need a reminder of how we do class meetings, see this link.)

So we sat down, like normally, in a circle on our carpet.  I put up the class meetings flipchart and Archie got ready with the pen to mark our thoughts.  Today, instead of having the red dot count for things we thought we could do better on, though, I rephrased it to just be “things we want to talk about.”  I thought this might help some kiddos who might look at the list and not see an “issue.” Here’s what our dots looked like before we started our main conversation:

See all those red dots on Super SS on Monday?  Well that was related to the post about Monday’s Social Studies time and how well it went.  And unlike our usual class meeting conversations, they wanted to talk about it because it went so well!  YAY! As they went back and forth and shared, I kept hearing kiddos share how they thought it was a great day and why they thought so.  I heard them saying that they liked how they could work on the reading part in reading and then the SS part in Social Studies, how I had picked their groups for them (they admitted that often they don’t choose wisely and end up wasting their learning time), how they could work with me to make sure they knew what to do and then focus in to go and do it.  They knew that it was a good day and they wanted today’s SS time to be the same.  But then my friend Abigail asked a very important question: We know that we want it to be great again today, but it’s not as easy as just saying we’re going to do it.  How will we make it happen? I love it when a kid reads my mind and says exactly what I’m thinking!  So many times they just say that their solution is that they’re not going to do whatever we were discussing that the problem was.  And usually that doesn’t work.  Abigail knew that and was brave enough to call us on it.

They then took a little bit of time to discuss this, and made a plan for how they would go and get their work done in a focused manor again today.  And they did. 🙂

# Lessons from a 4-year-old

Kids say the darndest things.  And if we really listen to what they say, we can usually learn something from them.  This was the case the other night when I was having a conversation at dinner with my son, Riley, who is 4-years-old.  He announced very matter-of-factly that “If you wanna have a friend, you gotta be a friend.”  I asked him to tell me more about that, and he told me “That’s what Ms. Liz says.” Now I know that she probably says that to the class as a whole, but I also know that she probably needs to say that specifically to my son more often then I’d like.  We continued the conversation with more about what that saying meant, and how he knew if he was being a friend.  I was glad to hear his thoughts and could tell that he’d really been working on how to do just those things.

We talked about this phrase on Friday in our own classroom.  I shared it with a small group of friends who were trying to work out how to really care about each other and work together as a team.  We decided that as simple as that phrase is–a 4YO can understand it, afterall, on some level–that is is really more involved that you might first think.  We discussed at length what it might look like to a 5th grader.  And then we put a plan in place to start living it out.

And then even as I’ve gone through this weekend, I’ve realized that there are implications for me, too, as an adult.  I’m learning the same lesson that my son and my students are, just on a different level.

So it’s true what they say: “If you wanna have a friend, you gotta be a friend.”

What does that mean to you?  Feel free to add your thoughts and comment!