#FDOFG2017–Box Challenge

We read a book lately that perfectly went along with our focus on play, grit and creativity (wow, that’s quite a first grade trifecta!):

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It’s favorite that I found last year (and was so good that I started the whole year with it!), and as Ms. Turken and I planned our first days, we knew it HAD to make an appearance again this year.

The preparation for this project started weeks before we started, with the collection of boxes.  Lots and lots of boxes of all shapes and sizes.

As we read the book together, we noticed what was happening in the child’s imagination and were thinking about how we’d answer the question: “What would you do with a box?” Which by the way, is NOT the title of the box, but is somehow the way I read it EVERY SINGLE time I look at the front of it.  Weird.  Maybe I just want it to be an invitation instead of a direction. 🙂

So after we read, kiddos made plans for which box they’re use and how they’d use it.  This was not a typical design challenge in the fact that they could use whatever they wanted as far as materials, and the only real constraint was time.  And wow–there was creativity all over the room!  Check it out!

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Now, as with many of the things we do in the beginning of the year are dual-purposed.  We are learning how first grade works at the same time as we’re using our creativity and having fun.  What usually happens is that we have a debrief about how each activity went, and we chart plusses (what went well) and deltas (things we should change for next time).  This helps us become (and hopefully stay!) aware of how to manage our behavior.  We had done this a couple of times, but with this project, Ms. Turken and I decided to tweak the wording just a bit.

We’ve been talking alot at Robinson this year about expected (and therefore unexpected behaviors), as a means of helping students to better understand how to “be a Roadrunner and show it all the time” as our mindset suggests they should do.

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We added in specific behaviors to focus on and so these are what we analyzed during our debrief.  We were noticing that some of our friends are using the words “good” and “bad” when speaking of their choices and we wanted to help connect all of our behavior expectations together.  You’ll notice on this chart that there was some AMAZING stuff happening during this project and kids were ROCKING those expected behaviors!

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I’ve been really impressed since this discussion as I’ve both seen many more expected behaviors, as well as hearing kiddos using the language with their peers and as we talk about our day and how we can be our best learning selves.  Whew!  Who knew there was so much to learn with a BOX?!

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!!

Robinson Road Rules

This post is part information, part reminder.  I figured that since we’ve been talking so much about respect (or the lack thereof) in our classroom lately, I’d remind us of the Road Rules that govern the behavior expectations in our school.

At Robinson, we have many “universals” that everyone everywhere knows and uses.  One of them is an attention-getting signal.  If an adult needs the attention of the kiddos they are working with–remember, anyone, anywhere: teacher, teaching assistant, principal, custodian, etc–they say “May I have your attention please?” while they hold up their hand and count backwards from 4 to 0.  Why 4 to 0, you ask?  Because that coordinates with another universal–our voice levels.

Again, this is an “everyone, everywhere” kind of thing–these signs can be seen everywhere in our school from the cafeteria to classrooms and library to hallways.  There are also signs around that designate which voice level should be used in each area.  It really helps us all to be on the same page as far as expectations, and is really working.   The hallway, for example, is a LEVEL 1 zone, and so the rule is “If you need to talk, you need to whisper.”  This goes for everyone, even teachers.  That’s really hard sometimes, for my kids and for me!

Then the overarching expectations for the whole school are called the Robinson Road Rules.  There are four of them:

Having this framework as the foundation for how we do things at our school is so helpful to both teachers and students alike.  It enables every adult in our school to support every learner because we’re all speaking the same language!  Kids know the language and use it, and since it’s everywhere it’s predictable–there are no surprises or questions about what to do or how to do it.  The rules are the rules and everyone knows them. 🙂

What expectations do you have at your school?  Have you tried building-wide universals? As a parent, what do you hear your kids saying about the Robinson Road Rules?