#weekofkindness–Thursday

Oh my goodness guys—this week has been BEYOND amazing!  All week we’ve been collecting books to donate to friends who don’t have any as well as food for Feed My People and our own Robinson Cares Food Pantry.  It’s been so great to see how kind and generous kids and families are, and has been great as we’ve been able to use this meaningful topic as we work on our reading, writing and spelling with our chart:

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Our conversations all week have included ideas for how we can all show more kindness to each other, and today we added that last idea of making #weekofkindness cards for special Robinson people to show them we care.  We started the day with an easel question related to this topic:

img_6805We had loads of great suggestions (including several post-its with MY name on them, LOL), and came up with even more and we planned for our card-making.  Kiddos decided who they wanted to create for and then most paired up to share some love!

The smiles on their faces as they finished and then the excitement as they came back with stories of the joy they spread to the recipients was over-the-top.  This was definitely a GREAT addition to our #weekofkindness activities. 🙂  Spreading kindness makes you all warm inside too!

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I am SO glad we did this and wonder if #weekofkindness should happen once each MONTH instead of just once each year. 🙂

 

Pumpkin Pie Plans

If you’ve been here much this fall you’ve read many posts about pumpkins.  We’ve read lots of books about pumpkins, planned and created amazing Literary Lanterns out of pumpkins, and then, because of a super lead from Mrs. Meihaus, returned our pumpkins to the wild depths of the Robinson Woods from whence they came.  Ok, not really, but we did take them out to see what would happen next, with our fingers crossed that we’ll grow a pumpkin patch. 🙂

Well, over Thanksgiving, while I was working on dessert with my own family, it seemed to just make sense that our Rm. 202 family needed to make, bake and ENJOY a pumpkin pie together.  I mean, come on, right?  PERFECT!!

And of course, true to 20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher form, this story is going to SUPER LONG because I kept the whole story to myself until the very end.  Apologies–I’ll try to save as many words as I can and instead use pictures and videos of my kiddos instead of lots of teacher words from me!

1.) We used the 3 Act Task that I had learned about a couple of weeks ago to start our thinking about what would be the best way to cut our pie and therefore how many we might need to bake to feed our class.  I showed them these images and asked what they wondered…

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They came up with these questions:

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We decided to tackle the last one:  Which is the best shape of pie to make for all of us?  But even before we could figure out the answer, we had to determine what we meant by the word BEST.  We agreed that it was the pie that fed the most people with the least amount of work and the biggest piece!

We worked in small groups to try out triangles and rectangles to see how we could make those shapes and sizes work.

We eventually agreed that triangles would give us a bigger piece of pie, as well as would be much easier to cut all the same way (so it would be fair for everyone), and so another group got busy working with the recipe.  We used this one, from The Minimalist Baker.  It’s vegan and so perfect for all of the allergy concerns we have in our room (and which was why I tried it for my Thanksgiving, too–everyone could eat it!!).

We did some quick multiplication and figured out we’d need to make 3 pies to get enough pieces for all of the kiddos plus two teachers, and so then we had to look at the amounts of each ingredient we’d need to have (that way I’d know if I had enough of everything at home already like I thought I did).

With some moments that reminded me of the Feast Week work we did in 5th grade several years ago, some of my first grade friends helped me triple the recipe.  Wow!

Once we had the details figured out, the kitchen ok’ed to use (thanks Ms. Barbara!!), and all the ingredients brought to school, we got busy!  We carved out the morning to make and bake our pies so that then we could eat our pie for dessert after lunch.  I have to say THANKS  A MILLION to my Rm. 202 friend Rachel for taking care of pictures for us while we made pies, and man did she take a lot! I cannot decide which ones to share so I’ll just play a slideshow here so you can see her great work and the smiles on all the faces of the Rm. 202 bakers!  Plus I love how things look so different when someone else takes the pictures instead of me. 🙂

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We got a little surprise when we took our pies to the oven to be baked–Ms. Barbara gave us a tour of the kitchen!  What a treat to see where the lunchtime magic takes place and it definitely gave us more of an appreciation for what those ladies do for us every day!

We cut our pie (using our super smart thinking from math earlier in the week!) and then plated it, topped it with whipped cream (well most of us did!) and then chowed down.  Some kiddos were worried that they would not like the pie, so we agreed that they didn’t have to eat the whole thing, but just take a “thank-you bite,” which is a way to say you appreciate the time and energy it takes to make a great dessert.  We got mixed reviews on the pie, but I think the thumbs-up have it with this one.

I’d say these three were the happiest about pie.  Could have probably eaten the whole thing themselves! Love their smiles!!

Ok, I will be done now, and will leave you with this picture.  It sums up what I wanted to happen at that old kitchen table in my classroom and kind of reminds me of what Thanksgiving looks like at home.  Only this one was celebrated with my Rm. 202 family. 🙂  I am definitely thankful for them!

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Rm. 202 Room Tour!

I am SO excited about the changes that have recently happened in Rm. 202.  (In case you’re just joining the story, be sure to catch up here before you go on.  I promise it’ll help this video make more sense. 🙂  Or at least it will make you super happy because you read the stories of some super cute and super smart kiddos solving problems!) But beyond the changes we’ve made in our room, I’m even more excited that the room tour is finally finished so we can officially show it off to you–from a kid’s point-of-view!  With the help of Rm. 202 kiddos, my own kiddos Riley and Allie, and even Ms. Turken (our next door teaching neighbor), we created a video to show how each zone works and explain what we might do in each one.  It ended up a little long (almost 10 minutes!), but we promise it’ll be worth your while to watch it (and maybe even share it, too!).  Grab your popcorn and press play below when you’re ready!  Here we go!

I wanted to take just a second to put in my two cents about the positive changes I’ve seen in my students since we first started addressing ICEL and working to create a more engaging, motivating experience in Rm. 202. 🙂

One of the biggest positives that has come out of our room redo is the amount of time my students spend engaged and learning.  While I thought I was doing a great job of making things interesting, open-ended, giving lots of choice and opportunity in their learning, my students’ behavior was showing me that they needed more.  Or at least that they needed something else.   What I realized after our zone creation was that our environment previously offered TOO MUCH choice. Too much room for interpretation and too many things that were confusing to many kiddos.

Watching the way Rm. 202 students interact with both our room and each other now, I can see how much more confident and safe many of them feel.  Before, when I thought I was providing a place to be free and creative, for many I was creating a space that was unfriendly and unpredictable with too many unknowns.  I see now that, in many ways, I KNEW how things were supposed to work, but students were less sure.  Now that areas are clearly marked and labeled, and THEY HAD A JOB in creating these areas, students are never unsure about what is allowed and what is not, nor do they wonder where they should go to work on certain things.

Another thing I didn’t anticipate but that I LOVE is how clean our room has been over the last few weeks.  Partly this came about because when you move things around you end up throwing away a lot of junk, sweeping under things, decluttering, etc., but I know it’s always because now EVERYONE knows where EVERYTHING goes!  No longer is there a question about where the games are housed, or where the Lego shelf is supposed to be, whether or not you should have books or iPads in a certain part of the room, or where the art supplies go.  There are a couple of kiddos who have really taken it upon themselves to help keep this up, too, and this makes the whole thing so much easier.  We’ve begun teaching a couple of kiddos exactly what it means, too, when I say “clean up”–as this was a skill in which they were lacking.

I am SO GLAD that we did this, and am super glad that the benefits can be seen by all of us who live in Rm. 202–not just me.  I don’t know if you caught it, but I believe that in the video section about The Kitchen, Mara mentioned that zones help us feel more calm.  I can totally see now that my students needed more freedom within a  STRUCTURE with STRONG BOUNDARIES, not just freedom that came willy-nilly or with lots of breathing room.  There are some kids who can function in any situation, but there are some who have a hard time figuring things out when there is lots of “gray.”  This renovation, if you will, added a layer of black and white that we didn’t know we needed.  And the best part is that it all happened BEFORE we left for Winter Break, so now we can start the New Year fresh and clean in a brand new room, looking ahead to some amazing days to come!  🙂

Happy New Year, Rm. 202!

Before you go, can I ask you a favor?  If you’re a parent of a friend in Rm. 202 and you have a specific story to share about how our redo has helped your kiddo, will you share it in the comments?  We’d love to hear more about the positive ways our problem-solving has helped.  If you’re a friend of Rm. 202 and have a question, comment or suggestion for us, will you share it also?  We’d love to tell you other parts of the story that maybe we missed. 🙂  THANKS FOR VISITING!! 

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!

Gush, Gush

Or I guess we could call this “Day 33: Ahh!–updated again.” Or even “Isn’t Rm. 202 An Amazing Place to Be?” or “My Students are THE BEST!!”

Ok, I guess you get the picture, right? This post is one of those that I’ve been thinking about writing for a while, mainly because I told my kiddos I needed to tell the rest of the world the amazing things I’ve been telling everyone about them in person lately.

Remember in that “Day 33” post where I was talking about how we have gotten to that place where we can breathe? Let me tell you more.

One thing I remember really appreciating about the class I worked with during my student teaching 16 years ago was how much they got that learning was their job. They were second graders, and granted, it was their second year of a loop (so Heidi Ford had had a whole year already to work her magic with them!!), by regardless they were dedicated to making the most of their time at school. I was amazed every day when kids would whine about going home, lament the fact that they didn’t have homework and delight over every new learning invitation presented to them.

I remember how encouraging the whole class was to each other, how they cheered each other one and how they really helped each other focus on putting their best foot forward and stretching their brains. Pretty sure RM. 107’s motto was “work hard, get smart,” and I love that!

Since I’ve been a teacher, I’ve longed for (and in turn worked towards) a class of eager learners who function with that same fervor.  Over the years, I’ve had clusters of kids in every class, but only once or twice can I remember a class that was really together for each other. Who really were selfish and selfless in their learning at the same time. I mean kids who want the most/best for themselves but also truly want that for everyone else, too.

So…I bring this up because I am getting a distinct feeling that this group I have now is just that class. 😊. It took us a long time (and a lot of work!) to get here, but the place we are now is beyond where I’d thought or even hoped we’d be at this point in the year.

Lately I’ve been hearing and seeing things like this:

*As we are trying to quiet down in order to get outside to test our light/sound inventions and kiddos are not doing so very quickly: “Come on, guys!  Don’t you see that we are wasting our learning time?  If we don’t get outside now we won’t get a chance to try out our inventions and we’ll have to take them apart.  This is important and we can’t miss out on learning!” 

*As I am trying to get attention after a little-too-loud math workshop, the same friend (along with some help from at least 1 or 2 others): “Guys, Mrs. Bearden is waiting!  This is important to listen to her directions.  You can come back to what you’re doing later, but you can’t hear what she’s saying later because she’s only saying it now!” 

*When kiddos heard that someone didn’t get any work done during their whole math workshop rotation, students faces were marked with amazement, wondering “What?  He didn’t do ANYTHING the whole time?  How could he miss out on all that math learning? How sad!”

*When someone had an empty writing folder after almost a whole quarter of school, writers wondered what he had been doing all this time.  They were sad for him because he wouldn’t have anything to share at our writing celebration, and that he had not been practicing all the things we’d been learning in Writer’s Workshop.

*As kiddos yell out during a read aloud, students quickly raise their hands in the shape of a zero, reminding their friends to keep a quiet voice while we read.  Others can be heard saying, “We will take turns” and “We will listen and follow directions,” which are both class norms we’ve agreed upon. 🙂

*During work time this week, I heard a friend say to someone else, “I can’t talk to you right now, I have work to do.”

*That same friend could be heard saying, “Wow, those were sandpaper words when someone said , ‘Those are my crayons!'”

*When a student was trying to talk to me while I was working with another student on an assessment, a friend nearby said, “Remember, she’s not going to talk to you, you’re whining.” Then, as the friend continued working to interrupt, she added, “She’s not going to talk to you, she’s working with that friend.”  

*As I start to remind kiddos of appropriate line behavior (before we leave for recess), I hear someone finish my words my saying, “I will…take you to recess when everyone is in a straight, quiet line!” 

*When a group that was only supposed to have 2 or 3 kiddos in it ended up with 4, the group calmly figured out which friend should move to another group by deciding to play rock/paper/scissors.  When the friend moved to his new group, a friend there said, “Come on over, let’s make a plan!” 

I feel like I could probably go on and on with amazing words and actions that kiddos in Rm. 202 are saying and doing right now.  It’s been so beautiful to watch how kids are starting to take care of each other, encourage each other (which is another norm), and remind their friends of what we are all about.  We had a little trouble this afternoon with crayons (and not sharing them correctly and therefore wasting our writing time), and kiddos were able to reflect on what those actions said about us, whether they were what we are all about in Rm. 202 and whether they help us learn.  We agreed and then actually asked me to let them go back to work so they could fix it.

I am loving how kiddos who have previously struggled with distracting behaviors are stepping up and responding positively when their friends ask them to stop, when their friends remind them they quickly change their choices.  I am noticing less waiting time, more learning time and just how the overall feel of our room is so relaxed and comfortable.  It is truly a special and LOVELY place to spend the day.  I am really lucky to be able to work with such an amazing group of kiddos every day.  And if you’re a parent of one of those kiddos–thanks so much for all you did and do to help them be their very best!!  I appreciate you, too! 🙂

 

Day 33: Ahhhhh!!

I feel like I owe you an update.  I am pretty sure I haven’t share the amazing things happening in our class since Fix-It-Up Friday when we first got serious about our norms and expectations.

Remember this web of mistakes?

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Well we did some work and started creating some “We will…” statements that we are committed to living by.  The rough drafts started like this:

Over the last few weeks we’ve tried them out and been using them in our conversations.  I believe we’ve gotten to our final draft and the norms ended up looking like this:

img_4605Don’t they kind of look like super hero words?  Like POW! BANG! SPLAT!  I’m trying to decide if we should have kiddos illustrate them before we hang them…what do you think?  Just not sure if will help or just hinder the message.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the yellow parts as they highlight the important parts of each statement.

Ok, and so what does the title of this post mean–Day 33:  Ahhh!??   Well every day we keep track of how many days of school we’ve had, connecting to place value and counting.  We add a sticker to a ten-frame that goes on a place value chart and we also write the number of the day.

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Ok, so I know–not rocket science and not super exciting, but it was here–on Day 33 (which was last Friday)–that I felt like we’d turned a corner.  It was the first day pretty much all year that I felt like we could finally breathe and just say “ahh!!!”  Things seem like they are settling down, we are settling in and are becoming a family.  We’re working together and we’re finally looking (and more importantly sounding) like a community.  It’s pretty great.

BUT I must say it hasn’t come without LOTS of work.  We have put in probably at least an hour or more each day teaching, reteaching and practicing what first grade learners look like and sound like.  We’ve been learning and using the Robinson Mindset, as well as helping solidify the ideas of our class norms.

One of the most helpful things for us right now has been very concrete, visual versions of the expectations we’ve created together.  They hang along the top of our windows, and remind us of what each part of our day LOOKS LIKE and SOUNDS LIKE.  We often stop during the middle of a subject or activity and do a reflection on whether this is truly what someone (including us!) would see in the room at that moment.  If not, no big deal, the invitation is to FIX IT!  Find a way to make things look and sound the right way!  We’re right in the middle of our SCIENCE/SOCIAL STUDIES chart, and even have plans for one that demonstrates the line/hallway as well as other places around school.

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One more way I know we’re “there?”  Kiddos have started using the words we’re practicing!  The other day when a friend was interrupting on the rug, Xenia turned to her and kindly said, “We will take turns.”  When a friend was not quite with us in a conversation, Ciyah reminded them that “We will listen and follow directions.”  What??  This is happening on a regular basis now, as well as friends kindly reminding their friends of what they should be doing instead of whatever undesirable behavior they are engaged in (because “We will remind our friends.”).  I am loving how calm things feel and how much more we’re laughing and enjoying each other.  The last few days we’ve noted how tired we are at the end of the day–but it’s that good “we’re-pooped-because-we’ve-done-so-many-amazing-learning-things” kind of tried, not the “man-we’re-tired-and-cranky-because-no-one-listened-all-day” kind of tired.  Jack suggested that our days have flown by, too, because we’ve been so busy!  I don’t know about you but this make my HEART HAPPY!!

Cannot wait to see what the remaining 140something days have in store for us as we have set such a strong foundation for our year!  The sky’s the limit in Rm. 202!!  Please be sure to come along for the journey.  It’s bound to be exciting!!

Happy in Our Skin!

For the last few years, I’ve started the year with creating beautiful things to hang in our room.  It’s so great to watch as our bare walls fill up with amazing creativity that spills out of our first grade minds!

This project is both fun and meaningful as it’s based on helping kiddos see that while we are all different that’s an amazing thing, and that within those differences we can celebrate ways we are also the same.

As with many things, we started our conversation with books.  We read Shades of Black by Sandra Pinkney and Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin together.

We talked about how each of us looks different, has different talents to share and brings many different things to our classroom community.  Also, we have many things that are the same because we’re all kids.  We all want to be loved, to belong, to contribute, to learn.

We wanted to create beautiful images of our unique and different selves to hang on the wall, and we did so with lots of different creative things in our room.  We also borrowed a mirror from our friends in Ms. Turken’s room so we could see some of the close-up details of our faces.

Now they hang along the top of our wall and we can see them smiling on us every day!  We are definitely learning to celebrate the beautiful skin we live in, and appreciate how different we all are!