#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. 🙂

 

Global School Play Day 2017

I was so excited to find out about Global School Play Day 2015 right before it happened.  It was the first one ever and my class helped inaugurate the new tradition!  For some reason (I’m not sure why except that maybe I just forgot??) we didn’t participate last year.  This time around I was ready, and even got some other Robinson friends to join in, too!

Last time around I wrote a really long (but great!) post about all the things I thought we learned from our play, and while that was all true and good, this post will be more about what we actually did.  There are some great stories, pictures and videos to share, and yes, indeed, also learning. 🙂

Ok…so we started our GSPD 2017 with our normal easel question.  Sometimes it’s math, sometimes it’s writing, sometimes it’s review of something else.  Today it was a question about the day:

I really wanted them to get the idea that while it would definitely be a FUN day, it would also be a day where they would indeed be learning something.  I hoped this would focus their minds on that idea and help them see the opportunities in a new way.

After we got through our morning announcements and the pledge, I had everyone gather on our rug for a meeting to start our day. We talked about the answers they had put on the easel question, and I also gave them an idea for what they could expect ME to be doing throughout the day.  We talked about ways that I like to play–with words, puzzles, drawing, painting (this is a new love for me since we had our experience with Figy earlier this year!), teaching new games (we have many on our game shelves that kiddos have never played!), or just kid-watching.  I started with the whole word play piece by sharing a few books I had found in the library that morning.  We couldn’t let a day go by with out books for our #classroombookaday challenge, could we?

Some were songs, all were rhymes and many of them had directions that the listeners had to follow.  We read them throughout the day and it was a LOT OF FUN!

Kiddos have been invited to bring along a toy or game, with the directions that it had to fit in their backpack, or they had to be able to carry it up on their own.  Also, it could not be electronic.

Before we got into the actual business of the day, we set the guidelines–because of course, just since the day was different, that didn’t mean there weren’t still rules. 🙂

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Then we got busy. 🙂

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It was so fun to watch how the morning unfolded.  Kiddos started with playing with their toys, and then quickly began MAKING things for their toys or inspired by their toys.  We noticed that no one chose to play with Legos; we inferred that it was because that’s a “normal” thing we always have and today kiddos wanted to play with their “home” toys.

I was impressed by their creativity and was super excited when Aadish and Allie suggested that we should have an art parade to share all the things they were making!

The parade planners announced on the microphone that we would be having a parade at the end of the day, and that anyone who wanted to join in could do so by making something.  Pretty simple.  A problem quickly arose when Rachel realized she had to leave early to go to the dentist and she would have to miss our parade.  I suggested she talk to A and A and see what they could figure out.  The three decided we could add another parade, and do one after lunch as well as one later in the day.  Super first grade problem solving, eh?

At one point I’m pretty sure the whole recycling station (which is usually housed in the hall) was in our classroom, as kiddos created instruments, costumes (elephants were popular!), and many Star Wars related items.  They were SO EXCITED and as we got back in from lunch and recess, we lined up for our first parade of the day.

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Oh wait–there were even flags!  I had forgotten about that!  Such first grade festiveness! 🙂

Isn’t that about the greatest thing you’ve ever seen?  Not yet?  Ok, check out this one:

After this we went to specials (like a normal day) and came back to finish up anything we wanted to add or redesign for the second part of the parade.  What I loved was hearing so many friends that were thinking about how they were going to improve their art/instrument/ship/costume for the second time around.  It was definitely not in the plan for this day to include engineering design challenges, but it happened and it was amazing!

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Jack had a drum for the parade that we worked to improve.  What great thinking!

Our second parade was special because it was the second one, but also because of where it went.

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Abderdeen Heights, our neighbor to the north, and a building full of amazing residents!

We took our little parade down the street (rather loudly, I should add–we had drums, remember??) and over to Aberdeen.   This had been included in our plans from earlier in the day, and another teacher suggested we just show up and see what happened.  If they had some time for us, we’d parade around inside, and if not, we’d just entertain them through the windows from the parking lot. 🙂

Well, it so happened that we got there just as our friend Ms. Cutler was getting of the bus and we told her our little plan.  She was so pleased to have us visit, and we spent the next little bit of the afternoon traveling the halls of Aberdeen, sharing our joy and first grade smiles with the residents who were available for a visit.  It was “happy hour,” and many residents were awake and allowed us to just come right on in their rooms!  Wow!  It was so much fun and definitely filled our hearts and theirs. 🙂

I think maybe my favorite picture of the day came on our walk back, as we joked that “Old Man Lemcke” had come back from Aberdeen with us.  Ciyah was his helper as they traveled back to Robinson. 🙂

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Then it got even better as they pretended that Old Man Lemcke and Old Man Carter were celebrating their 100th birthday.  Ciyah had made them a cake!  See how those candles even have flames on the tops of them?  Love it!

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After that she cut the “cake” all apart and shared pieces with the class!  She even asked me if I wanted some.  This is play at its best! 🙂

Ok, and so the best way to end a story of an amazing play day is to share what they said when I asked them what they walked away with (this was the easel question the next morning):

There are some pretty great things on that list!  What a successful LEARNING day in Rm. 202!

 

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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Hour of Code: Our Favorite Part of the Week!

Remember when I showed this picture from my last post?

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Remember that kiddos wanted to code?  Well if we had asked them that a week before, many of them would not have had any idea of what that even meant.  But thanks to friends in our school like Ms. Turken (our Rm. 203 neighbor) and Mrs. Sisul (our AMAZING principal), we are now ROCKSTAR coders and LOVE to spend any minute we have creating with code.org and our Scratch Jr. app on our iPads.

In response to that question I asked in our teacher group, Mrs. Sisul suggested that she come spend some Hour of Code time with my class. OF COURSE I said yes!

She started by explaining to Rm. 202 kids how they are all smarter than computers.  Some of them weren’t so sure about this, but then she explained that everything a computer does has to be entered by a human, who writes in a special language telling the machine what it should do.

Then we watched in intro movie about people who code and how and why they do that.  Next she explained about how there are two languages that computers understand, BLOCK and JAVA SCRIPT.  We were going to start with the block kind of coding, using a really popular movie as our topic–STAR WARS!!

We got started and indeed were able to spend an HOUR OF CODE before we went home that day.  In fact, we probably could have spent DAYS and DAYS of CODE if we were able to.  Rm. 202 coders are so excited by what happens when they put the right blocks in the right places and the game works the way they want it to!  Many of them got all the way to level 8 and were able to CREAT THEIR OWN GAME by using blocks.  Amazing, right?  Many kiddos have been using Scratch Jr. to do some pretty great things, too!  I’m excited by their excitement and by how well this fits into the creativity, curiosity and wonder that is a foundation of our classroom culture.  Thanks for teaching us this new language, Mrs. Sisul–we’re excited to become fluent in using it!  Hope to be able to share more soon! 🙂

Rm. 202 Kids Take Over!

This will be the first of several posts that document some changes that have been taking place in Rm. 202’s neck of the woods over the last two weeks.  We’ve been dealing with some struggles and are working on working through them.  Kind of like in the beginning of the year when we were working on working together.  Remember?  And in true Rm. 202 and Robinson form, we’re problem solving as a class to figure out what to do.  LOVE THAT!  It hasn’t been easy, but with so many great brains working on the solutions, it’s coming along.

Here’s the beginning of the story…

We had had many days where our class was struggling to follow directions, listen to each other (including me!) and struggled with working well as a group.  Of course I was frustrated, and knew that it meant something had to change.  Luckily, because I know that these choices mean they’re telling me something (rather than just that they’re bad kids, or trying to make me crazy, or that there is no hope! LOL), I choose to try to figure out how to help them change those choices, by teaching or reteaching behavior, or by restructuring some other part of what we do everyday.

And because I work in the best school in the best school district anywhere, I am lucky to know about using a problem-solving model with most every classroom bump in the road.  I learned years ago about how to use the ICEL protocol for this problem-solving and it came in SO handy to us lately.  Basically it helps you problem-solve through a variety of items, starting NOT with the kids in your class, but with how you are teaching them.

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So as I worked through how to best respond to the struggles we were having, I logically started with the I in ICEL, which has to do with HOW we’re learning and HOW I’m choosing to present things.  Sometimes an easy tweak in this area can provide the response you were looking for.  And also luckily (wow–do you get how blessed I am? LOL), I have a super supportive group of coworkers who are ALWAYS willing and able to help.  We happen to have a place to post questions and ideas so I wrote this, looking for some suggestions:

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And like I said, there ended up being LOADS of friends who gave their support and ideas for how we could respond, and even better than just helping me, anyone who read the thread could benefit. #collaborationforthewin

This response was what got us to this blog post today:

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And since I cannot step away from a double dog dare, but more because I knew she had a point with her suggestion and was thinking we’d get some good results from it, I started our next day with this as our easel question:

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Apparently I haven’t asked a question like this in a while, or they are programmed to answer this “learner” question in a certain way, because on our first draft thinking, their responses were “be quiet” or “listen to the teacher” or “be a good friend.”  Of course those are all good things, but what I was asking was more like the answers on this second draft are responses I as expecting.  The notes are grouped by type and the big pile at the bottom (not surprisingly) say PLAY.  The rest say things like READ, WRITE, CODE, and DRAW.  And yes, there were at least two that said they’d enjoy doing anything.  Yes, girls, you’re my favorite students.  LOL  Just kidding!

We gathered for morning meeting and got busy building our schedule for the day.  Again, this surprised my students MUCH more than I thought it would; I think I give them choice ALL THE TIME and work to be really responsive to what they need and want.  Funny that this seemed so crazy to them.  Anyway, we decided that they could choose to do something from the list of blocks/cars, art, Legos, or iPads.  We also reviewed how, since this was normally the time when we did writing and sci/ss, they had to figure out a way to include those things in their work.  I also gave the offer to let some friends help me start a bulletin board that first grade was in charge of making–4 friends took me up on this offer.  The rest made their choice and got busy with their learning plan for the day.  They had to start in their area by talking with the others kids there about how they’d use the tools they had available to them.  As we got busy, I shared with them that we would stop to share our work after a chunk of time (I think I gave them about 40 minutes).

Once they had time to work on their creation, we gathered in each area so groups could report to us on how they spent their time.

When we returned later in the day, we got busy writing a report on how we had spent our morning.  More on that later!

Oh, and I know you want to know how it went….this was one of the most pleasant mornings we’ve had together in a while. 🙂  They had choice, they were engaged, they managed their bodies and were in charge of their learning.  And I went to lunch with a smile on my face (for whatever that’s worth. 🙂 ).

Please be sure to come back for the next chapters of the story–it’s a great one!  Rm. 202 kiddos have GREAT ideas! Can’t wait to tell you about it.

Ho, Ho, HOT CHOCOLATE!

I’ve told you how amazing Rm. 202 kiddos are, right?  And I think I’ve shared with you how amazing their parents are, too, right?  Well here’s another post that proves that fact.

Mrs. Callier had a project to suggest to us for a fun Friday afternoon and of course we had to say yes.  We scheduled the date and she prepared her activity and came so ready that I didn’t have to do anything!  Love those kinds of projects!

Ok…so basically kiddos were going to do a painting project of a chalkboard mug that they could write a message on, and then add the hot chocolate, marshmallow and candy cane stirrer to make a cute “treat” for a loved one.  Well, or for themselves. 🙂

Kiddos had SO MUCH FUN, Mrs. Callier (and Grandma Becky!) did a great job with directions, management and best of all, kiddos went home with a goodie that they had made that they were SUPER proud of.   Check it out!

The finished product turned out so cute!  I didn’t get a pic of everyone’s mug (because some were still drying as I walked around), but these turned out just like we had hoped!

Thanks so much for a fun Friday afternoon, Mrs. Callier!  We appreciate your help and your idea for such a great project! 🙂

The Planetarium Came to US!

I’ve posted before about the amazing things we’re able to do because of the many great people and resources we have in our district, and here’s another example of those resources at work. 🙂

Mr. Bartin brought the KSD Planetarium to our school!  First grade classes each scheduled a time with him to visit and it was set up in our library!  We walked in and really had a hard time containing ourselves (which is a little bad since it was a library. LOL).

We took a minute to chat with us and connect to what we’d already been learning about the sun, moon and stars, and then explained the guidelines for how to act inside the dome.

Then we headed inside. 🙂

While inside, Mr. Bartin was able to show us lots of things about sunrise, moonrise and set, how the stars seem to move, what constellations look like–and we even went back in time!! (Ask your kiddo about this one!!).  It was dark in there, and so it was kind of a useless task, but I did try to capture something so you could see what we did.  Here’s a picture and a video (which pretty much just looks like a black screen but you’ll get the idea–you can definitely HEAR the excitement. 🙂 ).

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