Have you ever wondered how classroom “rules” are made? Read on to find out!
In our room, these rules are called expectations, and we decide on them together. It has been a process, and kids were involved all along the way. Let me show you!
We started in what may be a surprising way–with questions. I put 6 charts around the room, and kiddos spent time answering them with post-its as they walked around.
Now, not all of these questions will help us create our expectations, but they definitely help me get a feel for what they want, who they are and how they need things to be.
We mostly zoned in on the question that asked “What do you want our classroom to be like?” The answers to that question are KEY to the next step. Check out what they said: like home, family friendly, calm, kind, quiet, fun, respectful and following directions. Sounds like a great place to learn, right? WELL…if that’s what they want, then we have to figure out HOW we will make it that way.
The next step is to have crews brainstorm what our expectations we would need in order for our class to be (or become) those things we mentioned. Teams worked together to suggest what they thought good rules would be.
Can you guess what happened next?
I took the most popular suggestions and put them together on a new sheet, then crews had to choose the most important five expectations.
Once we made crew choices, then we compared those and made the final decisions as a class. Some of them we combined, and ended up with this:
I’m excited to see what happens now that we have our collective expectations and can helped each other to them. Our plan is that following these expectations will help us have all of those things we put on our list. :).
Hey–come closer. A little closer. I have to tell you something. Ready? I teach 3rd graders and we have choice time in our class. Yep. Maybe every day. And they love it.
I know that to some (many?) people that is a controversial statement. To some (many?) 3rd grade marks a change in school. This is the year when kids are supposed to get serious. They’re supposed to have moved on past the play time and ease of primary grades and be ready now for real school, where they should be expected to sit still and work silently (often in a desk), have lots of homework and get ready for middle school (oh man, don’t even get me started about that statement….maybe more on that later…). Gone are the days of games and free time and arts and crafts. Now is the time for work.
While I am by no means an expert on third grade or third graders, I have spent a lot of time in a classroom and have taught grades on both sides of it, so I know some of how parents and teachers alike expect third grade to go. I’m going to suggest there’s another way to do it. A way that values both play and learning, as play IS a way children learn.
If you Google “quotes on play” you can sit for hours and go through all sorts of things that people say about play. Here are just a few:
As an early childhood educator, I was taught–and firmly believe–that children are the crafters of their learning and my job is one of a facilitator. I provide the opportunities and invitations, and kiddos do the thinking and discovering as they figure things out and own their knowledge. Yes, there are times when you have to give them information, but more often than not, leading them there and having them find out things for themselves is the best way. The more they do for themselves, the more they remember and the more ownership they take. Also, it’s way more fun to figure things out than to always have the adults around you be the experts telling you all the things.
Why do I even mention this? Because like I mentioned before, people find choice time–or art, LEGOs, games, building, recess–to be a no-no for older kiddos. I need you to know that this is an expectation in my classroom, and we will work hard through play, choice and fun.
Especially at the beginning of the year, unstructured time with new people in a new classroom is crucial–both for students and for me. As I give them time to make choices of what to do and who to work (play) with, I am learning as much as them. I can get info on who they work well with (and who they don’t!); what they do when they are frustrated; what makes them happy; what they enjoy doing; how long they can stay engaged with an activity; what they know about problem-solving, creativity and figuring out what to do on their own; how well they clean up after themselves (or don’t LOL); more about their language skills; and countless other things. They can learn about their friends, meet new ones, relieve stress, create things, learn a new game or skill, become comfortable in our classroom and of course, it’s FUN! I honestly do not know what I would do in my classroom if there was not time or room for kids to play. It’s good for all parts of them, and it’s good for me, too. Some of the best conversations I have had with kids have come during unstructured time in our room when they don’t feel pressure to be “on” or like I’m expecting something from them. They are at ease and are often more likely to share things that then help me in future interactions with them as learners.
I look forward to the ways we will play and learn together, and how I can encourage kiddos to do new and hard things by presenting the challenges to them in a fun, welcoming way. Sharing my own stories of play are important, too. I’m sure we will make mistakes, get messy and learn a TON together. Hope you are along for the ride!
Tell us, what is your favorite way to play? Leave a comment and we’ll be sure to respond soon! 🙂
We have gotten into some “actual” school things and we did something in particular that I was especially excited about. Based on some learning I did this summer, I am making it a goal to include more of a variety of text types into our reading work. After all, reading is at its core making meaning from a text, with or without words, and no matter what kind of text. So one of our first “read alouds” was a short called “Pip,” an animated short about a dog who goes to guide dog school. Here it is if you want to watch it, too!
As we “read,” I had given kiddos the job of paying attention to what Pip was feeling, as we would be keeping track of his emotions and how they changed throughout the story. There are several stopping points and we recorded words that described his emotions at the time. I added in additional vocabulary that connected with the words they suggested, and we talked about how they were other ways of saying the same thing. We also made predictions of how or whether we thought his feelings would change as we went through the rest of the video.
At the end, I added another teaching point: the difference between emotions and traits. We discussed how emotions were feelings that could and would change, based on the characters circumstances or mood. Traits are words that describe how the character always is; words that describe their personality or how they tend to act most of the time. This second part was a little tricky at this point, but we will definitely come back to it again and again as we go through the year. Here’s the chart we made together:
In addition to making this chart together to revisit with later texts, it also served as a model for something students will be able to use in their own reading, recording their thinking in their reading journals. Here’s an example of the rough draft thinking of it in my journal as I planned:
I was really pleased with how this lesson went, as kiddos were really engaged, and had great ideas to share–many of which I had not thought of when I watched the short! The whole thinking behind using a short first is to get everyone on board and with you from the very beginning. With no text to read, and a short story to hold on to, it’s easy for readers of all levels to join in and contribute an idea. They feel included already and can more easily form a mindset that “Reading in this classroom is for me! I can do it!” Isn’t that what we want for every reader every day?
As we go on, I hope to be able to incorporate more shorts like this one, as well as a wide variety of text to help readers see the possibilities! Make sure you’re subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss the next time I tell about it! 🙂
If you haven’t had a chance to read part 1 of these highlights, be sure to do that first! Don’t want to miss anything. 🙂
What to Do With a Box
We read a great book called What to Do with a Box by Jane Yolen. It’s about a kiddo who does amazing things with a box and their imagination. After the book, kiddos saw this on our carpet:
As they thought about which box they wanted to use, they were matching it up with what they thought their box could become. There were not at many parameters for this one–“Make something new out of your box,” were the only directions. They could add anything we had in our classroom to the project. Oh, except paint because we haven’t gotten that out yet. LOL. They could choose to work alone or with a partner, putting their boxes together to create something bigger (and probably better!).
Once we finished, kiddos created an “exhibit” to tell about their creation. They wrote 3 sentences to tell about what it was and how they made it. We set them all up around the room in a mini-museum and then did a gallery walk (after we talk about what they meant and how to follow museum etiquette, of course! 🙂 ).
Oh, and by the way–kids LOVED this! It was definitely one of the highlights of the day, and probably the week. Which was kind of the point, really. I always have a goal during these first few days (and always, really!) of helping kids see that learning is fun, that our classroom is a safe place to make and share your ideas, to create things, to make mistakes (and messes!) and a place to explore new things by yourself and with your friends. I want to set the stage for the year from day 1!
“My Favorites” Game
Kiddos played a game with their crews where they answered questions about their favorite things. This was one fun and can be played over and over again with different groups. Oh, and this one was a good place to teach kiddos how to roll dice in my room. Yep, you heard it right. I HATE the sound of clicking dice on floors and tables, and also hate when learning time is spent running after roll-away dice, so I have a lesson the first time we get the dice box out. I know you’re wondering what that lesson looked like. hee hee If you have a student in this class, be sure to have them teach it to you, and if you don’t leave a comment and I’ll add a video to show you. ;). Anyhow, they really enjoyed this way of learning about their friends.
I love a puzzle! I have loved doing jigsaw puzzles all my life, and even today usually do one daily, on an app on my iPad. Every year on Global School Play day, our class puts together a 500+ piece puzzle together over the day. So as we begin the year together, I had to introduce puzzles to the class. Besides being fun, there are sooo many other skills that doing puzzles supports. Kiddos practice problem-solving, perseverance, stamina for hard things, focus, communication, play and free choice options, cooperation, and also just time to be with friends and/or make new ones. And guess what? They loved this, too. 🙂 Check out these amazing puzzle-solvers!
Library Tours–our classroom and Robinson’s!
We spent some time getting to know our classroom library, as well as the Robinson library–the latter with a scavenger hunt. So fun! I usually do this during the first days anyway, but we definitely had to do it sooner. They were dying to go book shopping and of course I had to oblige!
We needed some mini versions of ourselves so we made some! This activity came after the book Happy in Our Skin, and we had fun creating a beautiful classroom line of US! We’ll use these as decoration as well as a way to keep track of who’s in charge (which is what we call helpers in our class!).
Ok, that’s all for now. But like I said before, keep coming back, because there will be A LOT to show you as we go through this year! I already have a list of things that aren’t on this list of “first week” things. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next post! Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave us a comment to let us know what you think about what’s going on in Rm. 204!
Yesterday’s grand opening meant an air of excitement, brightly frosted cupcakes and lots of money spent on new books to add to my ever-growing collection. I mean, come on—is it possible to have too many books?
The inside of the shop is small, but nicely decorated and clear on who’s important here: the little readers who fill those tiny chairs and spend time finding a new favorite book! There is definitely a South City vibe, which is great. And the best part? I can walk there! (Although I guess that does cause some trouble in that it limits the size of my book haul to whatever I can carry! 😆 Oh well, I’ll figure it out. Maybe a wagon??)
Speaking of “book haul,” let me show you what we bought!
I found two new titles I am excited to share with my kiddos, and one that is an old favorite—but in paperback!
I hope to be able to visit this little gem of a store for years to come and that they get to grow and grow, putting books into the hands of Little Readers all over town! Visit them, will ya?!
Here we are again. Yup. That place where I usually start with a long explanation of why I’ve neglected my blog and how I’m vowing to start over and do better and how we’ll never end up here again. HA HA HA! Like I said: here were are again.
But, since I am not insane, I will not do the same thing I’ve done in the past at this point. Instead of vowing to do better, I’m going to completely start over. Most of you who are here now are probably not even aware that I’ve been missing from the blogosphere anyway because you’re new! So…since you’re new here and I haven’t been here in a while anyway, let’s take a tour of this little blog, and take a few posts to get acquainted and start a new journey together. Maybe a fresh start is what I need to make this blogging thing “stick” again and get us back on track. Cross your fingers, hold on tight and let’s get moving!
By the way, that’s me. I’m Jen and I’m the Kooky Teacher mentioned in the blog title. I just realized that this little blog started 10 years ago, and I’ve had such a great time sharing my school stories and sometimes some family stories (when I’m feeling indulgent). Throughout the 10 years of blogging, I’ve taught 5th grade, 1st and 2nd grade, all of which have been included in these posts: those are the 20something kids. :). And as I mentioned the “fresh start” in the beginning of this post, the new journey we’re on features a new group of 20somethingkids–3rd graders! Also, this fresh start will mean I’m going to do some things differently.
Here’s what I’m thinking:
Since so many of you are new here, I’m going to put up a few posts that acclimate you to who I am, what I’m about and what you can expect here.
Speaking of what to expect, I think I’ve come to the place where I should finally set some guidelines and deadlines for when I will share my stories. In the past, I didn’t have a schedule for when I’d post; some weeks I’d post once and some weeks I’d post 10 or 12 new things! Needless to say, that made it hard for you, dear blog reader, to know when to check in with me, and also it made it so I often ended up with sooooo much content that I ended up not even writing it. There was time to do the things, but not time (or energy) to tell YOU about the things we did. This time around, there will be a schedule. 🙂
In previous iterations of 20somethingkids, the posts have gone on and on and on and on. I have a tendency to use 25 words when you only need 3 and so often the posts I’d put up were so lengthy that I was worn out after writing them, and my readers were dead tired after reading (if they even hung around long enough to finish! LOL). This time I hope to be more concise with my storytelling and thoughtful in what I decide to share.
And so in a spirit of wanting to not overuse my words, I’m going to end this first post now, with an invitation for you to help me. If you are so inclined, would you take a little bit to leave a comment and answer these questions for me? I’d be forever grateful! 🙂
Here’s what I’m wondering…
What you want when you read a blog? What are some features of your favorite blogs?
What day(s) would you be most likely to read a new blog post?
Since I’m new to 3rd grade, feel free to share any tips or advice you have and want to share! 🙂
THANK YOU for taking time to visit and comment, and hopefully I’ll see you around here again soon! I’d love if you went on this new journey with me!
What an exciting week in first grade reading!! We hit 200 books!! We’re in that super fun time of year, too, where the topics we’re reading about are so much fun and we’re in a smooth routine that allows us to read even more than usual. Win-win!!
Check out our wall! Our updated total is 203! (yeah…I just noticed I put on book up there twice. Ignore that part. 🙂 ).
I was talking to my friend the other day about our wall and how happy we are that it’s in a place where EVERYONE in our school walks every day. We did so much with this challenge last year and no one got to see it or share it with us because our room was tucked up in a quiet corner where no one but us ever walked. This way all the readers in our school (adult and student alike!) get to check out what we’re doing. And besides showing all of our hard work, it’s just so PRETTY!! Sometimes I really do just stand there and look at it. Books can inspire you in so many ways!
This week we read lots of great ones by many authors and used them in many ways.
We came back to a few old favorite authors–and illustrators–this week (talking to you, Ryan T. Higgins, Marla Frazee, Mo Willems, Todd Parr, Steve Antony and Mem Fox!). We have worked through SO MANY of those friends’ titles, but still had some floating around that we had to finish up. Mem Fox has SO MANY and we were still working through hers from the Global Read Aloud (which, by the way, I am remembering I have forgotten to tell you about. More on that later, I hope!). We used many of them to help with some word work we have been doing, and some I picked to help revisit a friend/kindness theme (it’s that time of year when you need to remind kiddos that the things we talked about at the beginning of the year are still a thing!). Little i came in SUPER handy as we were working on the editing phase in our writing unit, and Pumpkin Jack is always a nice ending to our Literary Lanterns project and the “pumpkin” focus we had around Halloween.
Kiddos were our readers this week, too, as Celia shared Thank You, Mr. Panda and Campbell read The Thank You Book to us. 🙂
Funny kid reference from the week comes when I was sharing that we were going to read Knuffle Bunny Too and Knuffle Bunny Free. I was happily sharing how we’d read these and Louie says, “Oh, like Knuffle Bunny 2 and 3!” We all had a laugh and I TOTALLY didn’t even hear the titles like that. Good detail, Mo Willems, and good listening, Louie!!
What a SUPER week for reading in first grade! Ok, well it’s always great, but when we’re doing #classroombookaday AND the Global Read Aloud at the same time, it’s extra magical. 🙂
Our count is up to 132 and here’s what our wall looks like:
Isn’t it beautiful? I mean, really?! I could stand there and study it all day long–and I’m sure many Robinson kids could (and would!), too, if we’d let them. 🙂
This week we read these books:
As I have written briefly about (and even mentioned here!), we started the Global Read Aloud this week, and have loved beginning our study of Australian culture and Mem Fox’s books. Along with the “assigned” GRA books, we have also added in a nonfiction book about koalas (to help us understand Koala Lou), as well as two other Mem Fox stories. We ended our week on a sweet note as we read about how Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge shared memories with Ms. Nancy and helped her remember. 🙂
As is usual in my classroom, we added in some beloved authors’ books to add to the collection. This week it was another Todd Parr book (yep–there are still some we haven’t read yet!) and another Ame Dyckman, because well, she’s awesome and why not? I also shared King Baby by Kate Beaton this week because we had also read The Princess and the Pony earlier this year. That one got lots of laughs. 🙂
Ok…and now let me tell you a story about some books we didn’t love. In some ways I feel bad about writing this. Feel like we’re supposed to just read “good” books, so to speak, and/or find something that I like in every text we read. But then again, reading is personal and everyone likes different things, right? It might have just been that the timing of when we read them was not ideal. One afternoon this week I had a “we-just-need-to-sit-down-and-enjoy-a-book-together” moment, after a really rough morning. I explained how reading with people I love, experiencing a good book together makes me feel better. And then….we read Pig the Pug. And Pig the Winner. And, oh my goodness…no one felt any better! The looks on the faces of some of my friends was priceless as we read about how greedy and mean and inappropriate Pig’s choices were. He would NOT make a very good Roadrunner and his books were FULL of unexpected behaviors. Ok, so at least we learned some things we should NOT do. There–I found something positive to say. 🙂 Oh, and we didn’t add it to the wall yet (because Ms. Turken hasn’t read it), but we then had to read The Grandma Book (by Todd Parr) and How to Find a Fox (both very funny) to make up for those first two. Then we could move on. 🙂
We read Jabari Jumps this week and enjoyed finding parts that we could relate to, as well as encouraging him on as he tried something that he was scared to do. I was so happy as my friends were telling him, “No, don’t stop now!” and how we could discuss positive self-talk that we can use when we’re nervous about something new.
Only One You and Animalogies were both used as prompts for learning activities–one with Mrs. Berger and another for an art project that we’re doing for a school celebration in a couple of weeks. We read Even Superheros Have Bad Days. We were a little worried–after those yucky books the day before–and because the title seemed to signal bad news. BUT, we read this one and LOVED it! It was a perfect connection to another book we have read, We Can Get Along. It had some SUPER examples about how superheroes COULD do some pretty terrible things when they’re upset, but then INSTEAD they could also choose to respond in more appropriate, expected ways. This book ended up being EXACTLY what Roadrunners do–use breathing strategies and Peace Places and other things to help them get back to center. Whew!
And then there’s One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree… I read this one last year, and I know it’s great, but this year it was perhaps an even greater read, because Mrs. Sisul came to share it with us as her principal read aloud. She was very excited about it, and her love of both the book and reading to kids showed. And this made us love it even more!
I didn’t get a recording of the whole thing, but I had to get at least a little so you could hear what it sounded like. 🙂
See? Told you it was good. 🙂 Oh, I forgot to tell you, but first graders made some predictions about what kind of book she’d bring with her to share with us, and we predicted something by Todd Parr or Mem Fox because that’s who we’re studying. Good guesses, first grade. 🙂
Man, this must have been a busy week because I didn’t blog all week AND I have pictures from things that happened a week ago. MANY APOLOGIES! Goodness. I will try to do better this week. 🙂
But for now, I’ll share pics from our first Read With Your Roadrunner. We had so many family members representing, and I love that kiddos were willing to share their parents with other kids who didn’t have someone (even with my own kiddo who needed someone since I had to be teacher, not mom–thanks Nicholas!!). We had several siblings who came to join us, too, and believe me–RWYR is always a GREAT way to start the day! Can’t wait to see even more next time!
Mrs. Weststrate and Mrs. Dix came to join us!
Josiah had two visitors!
Nicholas let my Allie join his family for the morning!
Ms. Clay read with Mkahi and Makenna.
Bennett and Campbell shared a book together.
Mr. van Alstyne shared a book with Thomas and Avi and he has a SUPER reading voice!
Oh my goodness–one of my FAVORITE DAYS of the whole school year (maybe even the whole year) happened last week: International Dot Day 2017!
We choose to celebrate in first grade on September 14th (Thursday) because of a crazy schedule on Friday that would cut into our time to play and create. Every year it seems the day gets bigger and bigger (I believe this is my 3rd Dot Day), and this year was no exception. Check out what we did! (And a little warning that this post might be a wee bit long and meaty!)
We started our day with a reading of the book by Peter H. Reynolds that sparked the whole thing in the first place, The Dot. And who better to read it to us than Peter himself?? My favorite part of the video we watched was when he read the cover and said, “The Dot. By me. ” HA! Bet that’s SO COOL to read a book you wrote. He also shared the story about how he got the idea for the book (ask your kiddo about that one–I’ll bet they remember it!) Anyhow, moving along…
After we talked about the story, and how the character Vashti used grit and encouragement with her friend, as well as what it means to make your mark, we added in another video—this time a song–that helped us further the idea. Have you ever met Emily Arrow? She created a genre of music called “kidtlit tunes” and first grade kiddos met her on Dot Day as they learned her song that she wrote about the book we had just read. We’ll probably get through ALL of her books and songs by the end of the year because they are just that good. Check her out on YouTube if you haven’t yet! Here’s the one we sang together:
After we had sung (and danced!) a couple of times to that catchy tune, we were ready to do our first (of a series) of dot-related activities, and we made our mark with some art. I shared a flip chart to get the creative juices flowing, if they weren’t already:
Kids got to “shop” from the table filled with LOADS of art materials and then get busy with their creation.
Even before they were finished they made me so happy just laying out to dry:
Later, after lunch, we HAD to do math with dots. 🙂 And you know what is shaped like dots? SKITTLES! We had been working on sorting and graphing anyway, so it just made sense. And then–there was a Dot Day snack!
Whew! By that point we had already had LOADS of Dot Day fun, but it wasn’t over yet! After we came back from specials, we returned to the fun with Dot Day Games! We had collected Connect 4, checkers and Twister from families and other classes. Kiddos got to choose which they wanted to do on a chart:
Then they got busy with more Dot Day–even I got in on the fun and played a few rounds of Connect 4 with Celia. 🙂
I have add a couple more pictures–the dots that kiddos WORE for Dot Day!! I didn’t remember to take it until the very end and so you can’t really see many of them, but trust, me–these kiddos were decked out and READY to celebrate. Check out Campbell’s shirt–he made it especially for the day, and Sarah who had dots on her dress AND her socks! Wow!!
Ok…well, our Dot Day was not really over, but there was TOO MUCH FUN for one day, so I’ll share part two in another post. Whew! Thanks for lasting all the way to the end! 🙂