Literary Lanterns: 2018 version

I found this project a few years ago, and have tried it with three first grade classes now. 🙂 Last fall must have been a busy time in my life because the 2017 version of this project did not make it to our blog. 😦 Oh well–here’s another iteration of this awesome project, which is a great combo of fall, pumpkins and books!

As with the last times we’ve done it, we started with the explanation, and this picture:

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We talked about the possibilities for books and characters we’d use and made one really important rule: you can’t do anything in this example. :).  As you might be able to tell, these are many of our favorite characters and EVERYONE would want to do them.  This challenges them to think “outside the book” so to speak, and not just copy someone else’s idea.

Kids had time to check out our book wall (another GREAT reason to display them low for all to see!), and shared their book choice (either from one we’ve read or one they’ve read or just love).

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After their books were chosen, and Ms. Turken and I had given them their assignment (with the idea of trying to make sure all our our lanterns were different), they were to draw their plan, including a list of materials they would need to complete their pumpkin.  Learners shared their plans with us (and each other) via Seesaw.  Here are some of them:

Once everyone had brought in their pumpkins (plus some extras via some very generous families!), we finally got busy with the decorating!

We were finally ready to share our creations after we’d gotten our displays together–including a picture of our book and a recording of who our character was and why we’d chosen them (can you say “thank you KSD for the fact that we are 1:1 with iPads?  WE are able to do SO MANY GREAT THINGS because of that!). Here’s what a few of those looked and sounded like:

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We set up our Literary Lanterns and our iPads so that as kiddos from the other classes came through to see our gallery they could listen and look at our thinking.  We also had a chance to go through and view our own class’ creations during the gallery walk.   What a great end to a great Friday morning around Robinson school!

Ok, one last little slide show. :). Here’s a closer look at our creations! (It seems now that I’ve missed a few, but I will add them as soon as I get back to school!)

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Halloween Fun 2018

What a GREAT day in Rm. 111!  I mean I know Halloween is supposed to be fun, but I really think the reason it was extra great this year was because Rm. 111 kiddos were so amazingly behaved and still worked like it was a learning day, not just a throw-out-all-the-rules or just-a-party day!  They even did it in their PAJAMAS because we had earned a PJ Day reward for getting 20 Catches of the Day.  Granted I also think it helped that we kept them busy and planned some really interesting things, but regardless, they stepped it up and totally rocked it. :). Let me share our day with you. 🙂

We of course spent the day (and every day!) with some books.  On both Tuesday and Wednesday, we focused on books about pumpkins and then Halloween specifically.  Check out the titles we read together:

We enjoyed all these (because who doesn’t look a good story, especially when it’s holiday-themed?!), and strangely it was the very first time I’d ever read The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything.  Not sure how, after all these years of teaching (and of being alive!), but I loved it and will definitely include it in my repertoire next year.  AND we might decide to do the Breakout box I saw recently related to it.  I’ll definitely share that here if it happens!

We had been working on a lantern project in reading, and because Mrs. Heisner blessed us with some extra pumpkins we had enough leftover to carve–even exactly the right amount for each crew to do one.  Kids had a chance to plan their idea of a great jack-o-lantern as morning work, and then we planned to do a little flip-flop with Rm. 112 kiddos and Ms. Turken for the morning.  She had a super Room-on-a-Broom-themed craft to do (which of course I have no pictures of since I wasn’t in there 😦 ), and so two crews when there while two crews were with me and then we traded (this is, by the way, an oft-used structure used in our co-teaching classroom).  As each crew came to my table, we voted on the pumpkin plan we liked best in each group and then we began to turn our pumpkins into fabulous jack-o-lanterns.  We would, by the way, use this experience as the basis for our how-to in writing today, which was another reason why I wanted to do this together. 🙂

And what fun this whole thing was, from pulling the guts out, to drawing on the faces and then seeing Ms. Pachan’s amazing pumpking-carving skills and then getting to see our finished products all on display! I was also super impressed with how well everyone worked independently and quietly while I was with groups.  SUPER JOB, RM. 111 and 112 kiddos!

Check out the pumpkin work we did! 🙂

The jack-o-lanterns we ended up with were SUPER!  Check out our amazing products!

Later on in the day we were able to participate in our annual Robinson Halloween Parade with the rest of our Roadrunner friends.   Our costumes were GREAT and we had a great walk.  It was a little chilly, but that just added to the late-fall fun!

Robinson teachers even got in on the fun!

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We decided to do a team costume to go with our current science unit–Patterns in the Sky!  Ms. Turken is the moon, I am the sun, Mrs. Kier is the earth, Ms. Dale is covered in constellations and Ms. Fry is a cloud. Such fun!

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Ms. Pachan, our first grade teaching assistant was also part of a group of crayons, put posed for a picture with me before our parade. 🙂

Once we got back, we settled in for a snack and a movie.  The day before I had asked this question as our morning work problem to get a little data:

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While this was a great question for practice with tally marks and addition, I also used it to know what to shop for for our Halloween treat!  Win/win!

It looked so pretty on the table, too, with all that natural color, don’t you agree?

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Ok, so I know Oreos and Starbursts are NOT natural….look at the front of the picture instead. LOL

We watched Room on the Broom (which we had already enjoyed as a book and a craft!) and kiddos were so quiet and calm–even on Halloween and even after a parade
AND in their costumes.  Joyous. :). Some friends who didn’t want to watch the video with us quietly made other choices like reading with a friend or writing.  Yes, even on Halloween. :).

Here’s to the beginning of a great holiday season!  Bring on November and December! 🙂

Principal Read Alouds: 2018-2019

We have a SUPER principal who LOVES reading and has a passion for getting kids into books.  Several years ago she started offering opportunities for classes to sign-up to hear her read, and we jumped at the chance.  We’re still going strong and ready to enjoy year #3!!

Our first PRA of the year was a great one, and I noticed that Mrs. Sisul must have a new focus this year.  After seeing all of her book choices and reading experiences so far, see if you can figure out what it is. 🙂

PRA #1

I’ve Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

PRA #2

If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley

As we prepared for the next PRA, I had a sneaky request for my teammates: what if we had ALL OF FIRST GRADE in the room when Mrs. Sisul came in??  We were all game and so when she walked in, she was greeted by almost 100 smiling faces who were SUPER EXCITED to hear a fun story!  What a sweet surprise and a great way to start the day together!

PRA #3

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library by Julie Gassman

PRA #4

The Truth About My Unbelievable School by Davide Cali

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Somehow I have NO pictures and no video for this one.  What was I thinking?  I really think I was so involved in the story that I was too distracted to record anything. :). This one is a new author to us, and is part of a series.  We’re excited to hear more that are like this one.  The pictures played a big part in telling the story, and if you didn’t pay close attention to them you missed a lot!

Can’t wait for the next one!  Stay tuned to hear more about it! 🙂

 

Robinson University–2018 Edition

I know you already know I work at the best school in Missouri, and perhaps the world. :). We have such an amazing community of families and teachers, and we make things happen for kids.  Last Friday was another example of that amazing community working together to provide priceless experiences for all the kids in our school.  Let me tell you about it. 🙂

I am sure at some point on this blog I’ve written about Robinson University (hereafter called RU), but the version that was unveiled on Friday was even better than ever.  Until now, first graders have not “officially” been involved, but instead we made up our own rotations for kiddos to do, alongside the “real” ones that bigger kids did.  This year it was decided that we could indeed join in with the rest of the school.  Yay for that decision!

In short, RU is a program we run on half-days at our school (which are half-days so that teachers can participate in professional development in the afternoons), which are designed to provide unique and different experiences for students–experiences that they may not normally or otherwise have an opportunity to take part in.  They are available during school hours so that EVERYONE can participate.  We’ve done some version of it for the last 5 or so years, but this was seen as the 2.0; many changes were made with structure and offerings that were an improvement on our original ideas.

Children were given the option of some 30 different classes, and all classes were taught or facilitated by parents, friends and community members of Robinson School.  In the past, students had only 2 or 3 classes, as we stretched them out over the entire semester of half-days. Now kiddos choose their 10 favorites and then are assigned 6 of those–one for each half-day, so that they are able to participate in 6 exciting and different experiences throughout the year.

Teachers were assigned as faculty liaisons to work with one of our presenters, and I got to participate in a session about DNA.  I got to work with a fabulous mom of a fabulous student I had a couple of years ago, who is a real research scientist and came with real science to teach us about what DNA is and how it works.  Cool, right?

I have loads to tell you about that (since I was present in that session), but first I want to share some pictures from the other sessions to give you a little taste of the exciting things our Roadrunners were able to do AT SCHOOL last week! :). Check it out. 🙂

Aikido

  • Aikido (a different style of martial arts) is “The way of harmonizing energy,” known as the art of peace.

Let’s Make Breakfast!

  • Come and have fun mixing and making a delicious breakfast of Dollar Pancakes, cheesy scrambled eggs and Island Smoothies. Breakfast always tastes better when you make it yourself! 

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Creative Writing

  • Have you ever dreamed of writing and illustrating your very own picture book?  If so, this course will teach you all about the creative writing process from a published children’s book author.

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Food Science

  • Let’s make gummy worms! Come explore the Science of food!

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Happy, Healthy Kids

  • You will learn lots about healthy living and how healthy living makes you feel happier and stronger. We’ll also make fruit ice cream (no sugar/no dairy!) and it is YUMMY!

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Microbiology–Learning about GERMS!

  • Let’s test the 5 second rule in this session that investigates microbiology and our germ-filled world! We will explore what germs are, why they matter, where they are and how experiments and can help us learn more about them. 

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Stop Motion Videos

  • Come and make your very own stop motion video!

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What Does a Veterinarian Do?

  • We will discuss the skills and tools used in veterinary medicine. We will discuss some fun and interesting cases and work together to learn to think like a veterinarian.

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(This one was taught by a very special Rm. 111 parent!  Thanks for helping out, Mrs. Hendrickson!!)

Yoga

  • Explore how yoga, movement and breath can be both fun and relaxing. 

I would have LOVED to have had pictures from all the sessions (there were also sessions that including geocaching, swimming, Keynote, School of Rock, World Bird Sanctuary, Jedi training [fencing], cake decorating and so many more I can’t even list them all!!), and unfortunately I didn’t get every smiling Rm. 111 faces on this post, but hopefully by the end of the year of RU I will be able to do so. :). Stay tuned.  The next session is on November 2!

Ok…so here’s the details on the session I was in–it was all about What is DNA?  It was led by my friend Dr. Ariel, who is a research scientist.  She came to teach us about what it is, why it’s important, and we even EXTRACTED some DNA from a strawberry!  Emily, a 5th grader who attended the session (and who can be found on this blog from several years ago when she was a first and second grader!) named him Jeff.  Unfortunately, Jeff gave his life for science and we were amazed when the little cotton-like strands actually came out of the test tube right before our very eyes!  Check it out…

(P.S. I have a GREAT video of the whole DNA extraction process but it it turned the wrong way and I can’t get it to rotate!! Ugh.  If you know to do that and want to give me guidance I’ll do it and post it here later!)

 

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 13–WE HIT 200 BOOKS!!

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. 🙂 ).

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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!!

10 Lego Math

Last week during our Bike Rodeo in PE, we did a math investigation around how many wheels were on the bikes in our bike row in the gym (yeah, I know…I should have shared that post first.  Sorry. 🙂 ).

It was our first try with math notebooks and working to communicate our mathematical thinking in words, pictures and numbers.  Kiddos are expected to be able to do that thoughtfully and clearly, based on this rubric:

Screenshot 2017-09-27 21.26.34This is an end-of-year expectation, but we learn about it early and work on it all year in different ways.

As I looked over the work kiddos had recorded in their notebooks, I noticed that kiddos mainly just wrote numbers.  Ok, really a number.  Just the answer to whatever question they were working on.  The words and pictures parts were pretty much MIA.  It’s still early, so this is neither surprising nor worrisome–we just need some work on what it means to clearly and concisely show what we did to solve a problem.

While we could have done this in a variety of ways, I took a super smart suggestion from my friend, Mrs. Marks, (who you might remember inspired this Lego Leading/Following lesson) who thought she would walk a bit backward and have her kiddos work on just representing something really small they that had counted, made, etc.  Perhaps because the first “Mrs. Marks” lesson was using Legos, or maybe because they’re the best tool ever, or we all love them or we have a TON of them….but regardless, I framed our next communication lesson around a Lego creation invitation.

With the goal being using words, pictures and numbers (as necessary) to explain their thinking and making their explanation match their creation, kiddos were given a baggie with 10 random Legos.

Then I gave them these directions:

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For the first part, kiddos only worked on steps 1 and 2.

As we moved to the next step, I did a think aloud as I drew and then wrote about my own creation.  We talked about what information would be helpful to know if they were going to build a replica of my tower (because that’s what they will be doing next!).  They gave great suggestions of words to use and we revised and added to the words, also discussing what labels might be helpful.

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Somehow I didn’t get a picture of my tower, but I promise it looks just like that drawing. 🙂

Kiddos’ next step was to work on their drawings and writing, with nudges along the way to add or revise to make sure their thinking was clear and complete.

Today we finalized our thinking, took a picture (to compare our drawings and creations) and posted our work on Seesaw.  We used the recording feature to read our writing and add any details we thought were important.  Next step is that we will build each other’s creations and discuss what information in our work was helpful, confusing, and/or missing.  We will then try again with another creation and see if improve.  Kiddos have been so excited about this work and I’m excited to see how it impacts our math work going forward.

How do you use Legos to learn?  We’d love to hear your ideas.  🙂

The BEAUTIFUL Skin We Live In!

Seems like I have been waiting FOREVER to share this post with you, but I wanted to wait until the final products were hung up before I finally wrote a about it.  Man, it’s been hard!

If you have every visited my classroom, or if you have read this blog before, you hopefully know that diversity and community are two important parts of my classroom.  I have done much over the last year to incorporate more diverse texts into my classroom (and life!), have celebrated cultures of our classroom families, and stressed with my kiddos how amazing it is that we are NOT all the same!  Different is BEAUTIFUL!

I used some similar books from years past, because they are great and still worked to share that diversity, appreciation, celebration, inclusion message I wanted to send.  Kids really enjoyed them. 🙂

I have done portraits many different ways over the years, but wanted to really focus on making them LOOK like us, especially the beautiful COLORS of us.  It was a fun experiment to find just the right combination of paint to represent each kiddos’ face, and we had some great conversations about what we noticed, what we liked and what each color looked like.

The walls in this new room have afforded me the best place so far to display these masterpieces.  They are high and smiling at us and we can see them from everywhere.  I LOVE that you can see each kiddo’s personality in their portrait and even if they weren’t labeled we’d be able to tell who is who because they did such a FABULOUS job creating them.  But most of all I love that they represent how beautifully and wonderfully made  is each and every one of my Rm. 111 kiddos. 🙂

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