Happy Fall Y’all

I have been bad.  I have neglected my duties.  My baby has been left all alone for weeks and weeks and she is not doing well. 😦 And so today I stand up and declare that I will do better.  And hopefully you will approve. 🙂

And yes, of course, I don’t mean an actual baby.  I mean my blog baby, with whom I used to spend hours and hours spinning exciting tales of first grade (and second grade and fifth grade, too!) life and sharing stories of all kinds.  I posted pictures, I told of what kids did, what they thought of it, and why I had planned such activities. I tweeted out links, tagged authors and friends in my tweets and posts, and checked my stats many times hourly daily.  And then for some reason I didn’t. 😦

Last night I spent a really long email to my classroom families (hopefully some of you who are reading this now!) telling them of how I felt badly that I wasn’t blogging anymore.  And then I thought about my blog baby all night long and missed her so much I sat down here at my computer this while NPR streams on my phone, toast is eaten by my son and hopefully my daughter gets dressed on time to leave for school (which is in 8 minutes and counting…). And while I totally realize this post is really about nothing (Seinfeld, anyone?), it’s enough to start to get back in a groove. To make baby steps back to where I need to be, and really where I feel most like myself–when I’m doing super cool things with kids during the day and then telling you about it at night (or on the weekend maybe :)).

So…let’s make this the best fall yet, telling and reading stories together about the journey of a super awesome group of first graders in Missouri who will become a super awesome group of SECOND GRADERS next year when we’re together again.  Can’t wait to see you here again soon and often! 🙂

Oh, and here’s my family picture from the other day, which happened on the sidewalk in front of my house when I neighbor knocked and said “Hey, do you want a family picture taken?”  Five minutes later this happened and I couldn’t be more happy about it! Might plan to do it that way every year from now on.  I mean not plan it….:)

Happy Fall Y’all!

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First Grade to the Zoo!

This is the first year I’ve taken kids to the zoo in the fall.  And you know, I wonder why we’ve never done it before!?  Who needs to be there in May when it’s hot and ALL of the other teachers around town also have the idea of going to the zoo during their animal unit?  We had the idea to go now, when we thought we’d have a chance for good weather as well as a chance to front-load our kiddos with information for when we do study animals later this year.  We tried it last year in 5th grade for our study on the Cahokians (went to Cahokia Mounds BEFORE the unit instead of after!) and it was great!  Once we got into the unit, there were so many times where we could tie our conversations to specific experiences we knew that all of our learners had been a part of.  This made the connections they created even more powerful!

That being said, we knew it this would be a great idea, and THANKFULLY we got one of those sunny, crisp and cool kind of all days instead of one of those St. Louis fall days that are cold, rainy and dreary!  Our kids were excited, we had loads of helpful parents and we were on our way!

Our kiddos went with a job–to take the temperature of certain places in the zoo and record the time as well as the temperature.  This would tie to the work in our Matter & Energy unit where they are expected to know how to do just this thing.  They decided on the places we’d record, as well, which made this an even more meaningful task.

Thanks to Mrs. Ross, Ms. Branco and Mrs. Buesching (plus a few of my own!) I have LOADS of pictures to share with you.  While I should probably caption every last one of them, I am just going to show them all to you here in a fabulous slide show.  It’s really hard not to smile when you see how stinking cute all the kids–and the animals–are!

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Just one more thing…I asked everyone what their favorite thing about the trip was and here’s what they said.  Priceless answers 🙂 :

Charlie: “Being in Landen’s group!”

Landen: “The picture I took with the bear!”

Amelia: “When I saw the giraffes…”

Makayla: “The elephants.”

Sara: “Seeing the zebras and being with my friends.”

JKB: “Penguins.”

Lauren: “We joined up with another group and spent time with our friends and took pictures together!”

Ava: “Elephant poop.”

Kylie: “The seal tunnel.”

C.J.: “Seeing the tigers, lions, giraffes, and zebras.”

Emily: “The reptile house.”

Millie: “We saw the seal show before lunch!”

Ella Marie: “The log with snake eggs and the zebras.”

Nate: “When we saw an eagle.”

Jacob: “I ate a second lunch.”

Peyton: “I got to stand by an eagle.”

Thomas: “Lions!”

Diego: “Lions!”

We had a great time and learned a ton!  I’m excited to see how this learning connects with our animal study that comes this Spring. 🙂  THANK YOU to the parents who helped make this happen!  What a fun day at one of the best zoos in the country! 🙂

Intake Conferences

Last Thursday I was a learner.  Well, I hope that on most days I am learning, but specifically on Thursday I was learning–from the families in my class.  In the fall, instead of having our first set of conferences at the end of first quarter (to talk about the report card and student progress), we get together shortly after school starts for intake conferences.  The goal of these conversations is to get to know the families in our classrooms better, and to begin to set goals together for the students we share.

I LOVE these conversations, especially since I’ve had a little bit of time to get to know my students, as they give me so much more insight into what makes each kiddo “tick.”  As their parents describe them as kids and as learners, I listen to see if the child they are telling me about is the kiddo I see every day at school–you know, sometimes kids have their “school” selves and their “home” selves.  It’s great to hear about both sides.  That, after all, gives me the best picture of each kiddo, and helps me to know how best to meet their needs while I have them.

In order to give the parents a framework for the conversation, they are asked to prepare answers to these questions before they come to their child’s conference:

We sit together for 20 minutes and chat about the answers.  It’s a great time to connect positively, face-to-face with parents–who are, after all, the people who know their child the best, and are their first and best teacher!  My hope is that from these beginning conversations, we begin to build the foundation for our work together throughout the year, and form a bond with one goal in mind: helping each student reach their full potential.

I have a few more conferences to finish up on Tuesday, and I’m really excited!  If you were here Thursday–thanks SO much for you time, and if you’re on my list for Tuesday–can’t wait to see you!

And as a side note: I have to sit on the other side of the table for the first time in my kindergartener’s first intake conference this week!  And I’m honestly really nervous.  I hope I can answer those questions for Riley.   What great insight this next step gives me as I work with my own families in my class. 🙂

So now it’s your turn.  Comment and tell us what you think.  Do you do intake conferences?  As a parent, what do you see as the benefits of these intake conferences?  What do you think we as a school can do to improve them? Thanks for your thoughts!