Mystery Skype in First Grade–FINALLY!

I have talked about Mystery Skype many, many times on this blog over the years (because it’s an AMAZING learning experience and man is it fun!!), but if you’re new here you might not know much about it, or even what it is.  If that’s the case, please check out this post that I wrote a few years ago to explain how it works, then come back and read about how it’s going in first grade this year!!

While Mystery Skype encompasses a long list of skills and concepts that first graders need to know and apply, we chose to begin it now because we were going to begin a geography study and knew this would be a SPOT ON and FUN way to do what we needed to do with our kiddos.

Rather than just jumping right in, we did a little bit of work beforehand, and talked about what we already knew or what we noticed about maps.  Kiddos got a partner and a map and talked.  Like we figured, they already knew a lot about how maps work.

I didn’t get a picture of the chart, but kiddos’ post-its showed that they already knew about how blue means water; that usually the green parts mean land; that the stars, dots, etc., stand for places/cities; and that there is a place (which we will later on call the key or legend) that tells you what all those symbols mean.

Ms. Turken’s class was a day ahead of us in our geography study and so had had a chance to talk about regions and where certain states are in our country.  The next day, then, we joined forces and put our kids together to do some co-teaching and kid-teaching about what they had learned.  Rm. 112 brought their maps to share and we talked about how we could use this new learning to help us determine where someone was during a Mystery Skype.

In addition to the idea of using regions to help us, we also highlighted how the Mississippi River is another important natural feature we can use to help us narrow down locations.  We marked it on our maps, and the practiced asking yes/no questions and kiddos figured out which state I had chosen.  During this practice round, we also talked about borders and how we can ask if the state borders another country or a body of water.

After both groups had had a chance to practice (one with me and one with Ms. Turken doing the same thing), we were ready to try it for real. 🙂

Luckily, Ms. Turken has many family members who live in other places and who are game to play with us!  Since we had two Skype sessions scheduled, we decided to use them as an opportunity for more teaching and learning.  One group asked the questions and then the other were the observers, so see how it worked.  We would then switch the next day.  We talked to one brother on Thursday, and very quickly figured out he was in Colorado.  We were EXCITED that we had figured it out!

Kiddos showed that they were TOTALLY listening and learning in our practice rounds, and asked great questions about all that we had discussed.  They used regions, the Mississippi River and borders to help them!  Way to go, first grade friends!

Then on Friday, we talked to another brother, and the second group got a chance to try out their Skyping skills!

Again we were able to use what we know to determine his location! YEEHAA!!  He was able to use his phone to show us some great pictures of the water he lives and works next to, as well.  We liked that part. 🙂

So…we’ve begun a really exciting Mystery Skype journey that has taken us to Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Colorado already.  Wonder where we’ll go next?!  Stay tuned!

Veterans’ Day 2017

If you have been at Robinson for the last few years, you know that we do Veterans’ Day in a big way! This year was no different!

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Every year we have more special Veterans that come to celebrate with us–our gym is always bursting at the seams! (Thanks @docpainter for sharing this picture, and thanks for coming!)

There was a procession of all of our special guests (while we all sang a medley of the armed forces songs), the Roadrunner Choir sang the national anthem and kindergarten led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

After that, each grade shared their specially prepared song, and everyone knocked our socks off!

Many smiles were smiled, laughs were laughed and tears were shed as we remembered the important sacrifices many, many people have done to enable us to live and learn in freedom. 🙂

And…because it’s my blog, I have to share a couple of pictures of my own first grader, and a special Veteran who came to celebrate with her!

Thank you, Dad (and Mom, too, who was taking the picture!) for your service!  We appreciate and love you so much!! 🙂

Happy Veterans’ Day, everyone!

 

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 12

We’re still rolling along, adding books and book and books to our display in the first grade hallway.  Check out the latest and greatest:

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I know you can tell that we’re almost ready to add another arrow (for 200!), and as of this last week we have logged 186 books!  This week was busy and the schedule was a little wonky because of Halloween, a 1/2 day and other events around school, so we only added 10, but they were all good ones!

We had lots of Halloween-themed books, as well as another Lola Schaefer and another book illustrated by our friend Peter H. Reynolds because–why not??  One of the texts was a kid-written story, and then the last one of the week was from my rotation on our 1/2 day, where I taught about the Navy (each teacher shared about a different branch of the military).

What did you read this week?  PLEASE recommend something that YOU love to us and we’ll read it, too! 🙂  Until next week–happy reading!

The OLC is 20!

We are so lucky at our school to have some amazing outside spaces in which to play and learn.  We have a dedicated group of parents (both past and present) who know the importance of kids being outside, and how being in nature helps them want to work to preserve that nature for the students that will follow them.  Well, and of course, it’s just really fun. 🙂

One of our most-loved spaces is the Outdoor Learning Center, that sits just to the south of our building, out in the front where everyone can see it!  Kids have classes out there, read with their friends, play and get dirty, as well as learn about and apply lessons about planting and nature.  Well, recently, that OLC had a birthday–its 20th birthday!

Our very own 1st grade teacher-friend Mrs. Marks began work on a celebration (inspired on a 100 degree day this past summer), which included some pretty amazing things.  Perhaps the best (well at least to me and my first graders!) was the idea of putting lots of little rock fish in the dry river bed that had been recently added.

It started as every class in our school read the book Only One You by Linda Kranz.

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Then, each kiddo chose a rock, designed and then painted their very own fish!

On the day of the celebration this week, we began the ceremony with every kiddo placing their fish in the river.  Before that, we had only seen the riverbed dry and empty.  Once we got there to the party, it looked much different!

(Someday I will consistently remember to turn my phone for videos.  Sorry!!).

Here’s an even better view of the finished river.  Besides being beautiful, it’s so amazing to think of how those fish will be there for future Robinson kiddos to see and enjoy.  And for these kiddos to come back to visit with their own kiddos some day in the future!

After the rock-placing, there are many adult speakers who told the story of how the OLC first began, and the original set of parents who came up with the idea were there to wave at us.  Even our own Mrs. Frierdich (in the office) was one of those people! Her own grown children were Robinson students when the dream began and she’s still here to enjoy it!  Then each grade pledged to take care of a part of the OLC, so that the recent work that has been done to upgrade the space can continue to shine.  First grade is in charge of Berm 1 and there will be much weeding, planting and care-taking in our future to share with you.

Lastly, ALL of Robinson committed to care for our space with a pledge written by the 5th grade:

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Way to go, Robinson kids and parents, for making the 20th birthday of the OLC super great, and helping us look excitedly to the next 20 years!!

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 10

Somehow, even though we only had 3 days of school this week, we read more books than all of last week.  Maybe because I wasn’t happy with the fact that we only read 10 and we had to catch up a little?  Who knows, but we were busy readers and added some great titles over the last few days.  Here’s our wall as of October 20.  We’re up to 155 now!!

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This week’s books were varied and fun.  Check them out!

See those Mem Fox books?  Yep–Global Read Aloud is still rocking and rolling!  We are beginning a pumpkin project in reading so had to read those two books about pumpkins, and some were just for fun!

Mrs. Sisul came by on Friday to share Monster Trouble with us, and you know Principal Read Alouds are always a big hit!

This one was so great and we were all surprised with how the little girl tricked the monsters with KISSES!!

What would you like to see us read?  What recommendations do you have for us that you have read lately or that you just really love?  We’d love to hear about books we don’t know about yet. 🙂

How Will You Make Your MARK Today?

Remember Dot Day?  And then our Dot Day Mystery Skype? Well, I know it’s been a month since that fabulous day, and so you probably weren’t expecting another Dot Day blog post, but SURPRISE–here’s another one!!

We’ve been looking for a place in our hallway to hang our amazing dot creations, and it seems that it took us a LONG TIME to make that happen.  Yesterday we finally decided to put them in a doorway where they could hang indefinitely, with an invitation to the rest of Robinson to make their own mark on the world EVERY DAY.  Here’s what we came up with:

See how it’s double-sided??  Originally our paintings were big and on whole pieces of paper, but we made them into dots to make them fit better in that space and to highlight the designs.  The best part?  Someone (our art teacher even!!) already noticed and pointed out how much she loves it!  YAY!!  Great work, first grade. 🙂

 

 

Exploring Light and Sound!

We have been working on exploring light and sound in science right now, within the context of a story about three friends who get lost in the woods while on a hike.

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In small groups in our room,  kiddos rotated through several stations where they explored light in a variety of ways: mirrors, shadows, spectrascopes, and colored tiles.  Kiddos used flashlights in each station to see what they could discover about how light looks, how it travels,  how colors work and how to create shadows.  I love their faces in the pictures and how you can tell just what they are thinking in each picture, exactly what question they are trying to answer or what they are trying to do.  They applied this exploration to what they knew already and also what we had read in our story.   Kids worked in Rm. 112 on sound in addition to their discovery stations in Rm. 111.

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We’re excited to finish up this unit with a novel engineering challenge based on our Global Read Aloud book, as well as with an interview where kiddos can apply and  demonstrate their light and sound learning.  Can’t wait to see how it goes!