Yet….is now!

I have loved looking up at these butterflies all year:

They are pretty, but also help us remember that we are about possibilities in Rm. 202; we don’t know to do some things now–YET–but we will some day if we work hard and keep going.

I’ve been thinking about how/when we’d return to these goals (written during our first days of 2nd grade together), and Valentine’s Day seemed like as good a time as any.  Our focus was showing how we care about each other, and it’s definitely because of how we love and care for each other and work together that our yet has become now.  So we took some time to review them, and then make new goals to hang up and work on.

Kiddos took their butterflies and reviewed the goal they had written.  If they knew it was something they knew how to do now, they wrote “NOW I DO!”, along with the date, on their butterfly.  It was pretty exciting to see that almost all of us were able to celebrate achieving our goals, and we assured the others that their yet would come. 🙂  Check out how proud these kiddos are of their progress!

(There was one more, but he didn’t want me to post his picture. :))

After we took down our butterflies and declared our progress on them, we need something new to fill our wall.  It was looking a little lonely:


So we got to work.  I don’t have the finished product to show you, because we’re still working, but here’s a sneak peek at what will go up here:

It will be beautiful for so many reasons!  I’ll share soon. Come back, will you? 🙂

A Little Further Into the Woods

Since we’ve begun our Little Red Riding Hood culture study, some exciting things have happened!  Let me tell you about what’s going on!

Alongside the LRRH books that we shared was another book, full of all sorts of organizers, charts, and a map.  This would be where we’d record our thinking and learning throughout the study.

Screenshot 2016-02-07 15.22.10LRRH_culture

As we read a book, kiddos would fill in a chart that marked certain features of each story, which we would later use to compare stories and use the information to learn more about each culture represented.

Additionally, we kept track of where our countries are in the world, by adding a star on the map for every one we read.  Later on, we added a US map to our book (which I don’t have a picture of yet) as we learned about regions.


As we read different versions, we also compared how certain books were alike and different…


…as well as finding other things that we needed to add into our book (note to Mrs. Bearden to make sure to put this in there next year!):


Once we got the background of the stories, talked about characters, compared and contrasted and decided on our favorites, we were ready for the really fun part–researching more about the cultures from our books.

Each kiddo chose their top 3, then randomly came and declared which culture group they wanted to be in.  I wanted it to be about the country/region/culture, not the people in the group, so this part was all done first, then I shared their groupings.  Each group has 3 people, which is kind of ideal.  I could hardly get the directions out before they were ready to get going (kind of like with our spelling investigations this week–they were eager!).  I had found books for each group to start their research, but groups had to go book shopping to find the right ones.  Once they had books, they were busy digging in, collecting information about land (not culture, but related to the geography focus), language, holidays, food, games, religion, school, music, art and then a topic of their choice.

After our initial book search, kiddos were allowed to use website that I had found, as well as World Book Online and Kid Info Bits, which we have subscriptions to from our library.

Screenshot 2016-02-07 17.09.06

We even had an opportunity to learn about German culture from someone in Germany! I sent out a request on Twitter for friends from our countries/regions of choice, but was unable to work out any Skyping situations.  Then I remembered that Mrs. Appelbaum’s daughter is studying German in GERMANY and that she might be available to help us out!  She was more than willing and so we worked out a FaceTime call for last Thursday afternoon.  Those girls were so excited (and so was I!)!

We are just about done with research and are excited to start writing–we’re going to take all of our information and make books to share with other Robinson kiddos!  Stay tuned for updates on that part of our work!



The Greatest Star on Earth: Kate Klise

I love introducing kiddos to authors.  Whether it’s via Twitter, a new book or an actual author visit, helping students connect with the “real” people who write the stories or information they love is a great treat.  Perhaps the best part is how special and important they feel when we send a question or comment to a writer and they answer.  Ralph Fletcher is particularly special to my class as we have read both Marshfield Dreams and Fig Pudding by him this year (and he responds to all of our tweets!), but my students have also personally connected with Lisa Campbell Ernst, Maribeth Boelts, Marla Frazee (who I just realized illustrated Clementine!), Mary Casanova, Betty Birney, and also Kate Klise (who was just at our school this week!).  The way they feel so special and important when an adult responds to their words is pretty priceless and immeasurably motivating. The way these writers have both encouraged and inspired my students to some of their best work is pretty amazing. 🙂

So when I heard that we were having an author visit shortly after Winter Break I was really excited….but then I heard the name of the author and thought how completely strange it was that I had never heard of her; I pride myself on being up on books, writers, reading and things of that nature (by the way, Twitter has been HUGE in helping me with this–you should totally check it out!).  Luckily this was not a problem, because our amazing librarian, Mrs. Meihaus, works hard to introduce us to the writer and their books so that when they do come, we’ll be ready. 🙂

Our class read just a couple of her picture books (and since then I’ve found out she has written over 25 others!), and found that we really enjoyed her writing voice, as well as Sarah Klise’s (her sister is her illustrator) pictures.  We tried out Shall I Knit You a Hat? and Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother of Earth, and when she was here she read us Grammy Lamby and the Secret Handshake.

Once she got here, we were all abuzz, excited to hear what she would tell us about herself and teach us about writing.  A couple of friends took their Writers’ Notebooks to be sure to catch Ms. Klise’s smart words.

Basically, her presentation was a workshop where she taught us (2nd and 3rd grades) the necessary elements for writing a good story.  She told funny stories, made us laugh, and most importantly got us involved in the show.  We hung on her every word!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And, because authors are rockstars in our world, we had to take a minute for a photo opp!  Thanks SO MUCH, Kate Klise, for taking time out to spend the morning with 2nd graders who are working to grow as writers and share their stories with the world!



Info Text Writing Reflections

Ok, friends–here’s the post you needed to work on your blog reflections tonight!  Remember, this is the EQ we talked about in class:

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 3.12.12 PM

Your job is to explain the whole on-demand writing thing (because not everyone that reads your post will know what we’ve been doing!), as well as find as many ways that your writing is different as you can–using evidence from your writing to explain.  I hope to finish writing a post all about all the things we’ve learned, but here’s a quick list of things you might mention in your post:

  • paragraphs
  • length
  • use of interesting language or domain-specific vocabulary
  • how you added subtopics of more information than the first time around
  • how you used text features (more of them, more thoughtful, how you decided what to use)
  • if the writing experience was easier/harder for the post assessment than the pre assessment
  • anything else you notice about how your writing is different!

When I get the other post done, I’ll link to it here, to check back soon! Oh, and if you need a link to your blog, here’s one. 🙂

Can’t wait to see what you figure out!  Happy reflecting!

Mrs. Bearden

Narrative Writing Lessons

Happy Tuesday, friends!  It’s our first it’s-so-dark-and-rainy-we-had-to-turn-on-the-lights days of the fall.  Kind of gloomy, but also one of my favorite things about this time of year!  Weird, huh? we’re going to do some thinking together about writing RIGHT HERE ON THE BLOG!  I’m going to give you your job and then you will leave a comment on this post to share your thoughts with me and with the other writers in our room.  Ready?  Ok, here we go!

Below are two of the anchor charts we’ve been using during our study of narrative writing.  Reread them to yourself.

                       CAM00089              CAM00090

Now I want you to think about something from these charts that you know you have tried during this unit, either in your Writer’s  Notebook or your story.  Tell me about how you have used it in your comment below.   You could start your sentence with something like: “During our study of narratives, I learned…and I tried it in my writing by…”  Your words might sound different than that, but use the starter if you need it!  I can’t wait to hear about your smart thinking!  The pieces you are writing are pretty great, Rm. 202, and I’m excited to see where we continue to go as writers this year!

It’s My Blog-i-versary!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to me!  I cannot believe it’s been a while year already!  Ok, actually it’s been a year and a week or so, but I was on vacation for the actual day.  So let’s celebrate now, how ’bout it? 🙂

I’m sure you were around since the beginning, but if you haven’t checked out the early days of 20somethingkids, here are a few posts from way back then–here, here and here.  It’s so funny to look back at the beginning of a journey, because it’s then that you realize how far you’ve come.  I laugh out loud when I read the first posts I wrote, because they’re really crude.  Not really written about anything.  But then, at that point I wasn’t really sure where my blog was going.  Or even where I wanted it to go.  And what’s funny is that it has gone places that I wouldn’t even have expected.

I’ve learned and shared things about myself over the last year, shared learning with my families, my colleagues and the world, and experienced so many new and exciting things with my class.  Even though I didn’t really have any expectations back then–expect that I’d try out the whole “blog” thing–I have to say that they’ve been exceeded.  I’ve had fun along the way and welcomed many new readers.  Hopefully one of those is you!

So as I begin another year in cyberspace, I welcome you to join me on the journey.  If you read and like what you see here, please share with your friends.  Invite them over for a read.  If you’re a reader, and you haven’t followed or commented yet, please do so!  I love to get feedback on what happens here, and I reply to every comment I get. 🙂

I’m excited to see what happens during the next year, as I begin another exciting learning year with another great bunch of 5th graders!  This year will also bring a whole new team of colleagues, a smaller class than I’ve had in YEARS (I’m starting out with only 20–nice, right? 🙂 ), Masters classes for me, and the beginning of incorporating Common Core standards.  I have many new technology ideas to try out, and I know I’ll have lots of lessons from kiddos that I’ll learn and will want to share.  You’ll want to be here for that, right?  Can’t wait to share it! 🙂

What’s been your favorite post from the first year of 20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher? What suggestions do you have for me? Leave a comment and share your thoughts! I really appreciate it!

Teachers Write!

Yes, yes we do.  And for those of you who were wondering, no, we don’t really have the whole summer “off’, either.  No, we do not have to get up and get dressed and go to school, but we spend many, many hours learning new things that we’ll use in the next school year, planning with our grade level teams, reading and writing, and well, just becoming better teachers so we can help out students even more effectively in the fall.  Ok, but I digress….

So that being said, one of the exciting learning adventures I’m taking part in this summer (along with Mrs. Meihaus and Mrs. Berger–a few Robinson teachers you may know!) is an online writing camp called Teachers Write!

Every day for the next couple of months, there are assignments posted on the Teachers Write blog, and we do them and then post what we write for others to read.  Seems easy, right?

That’s totally what I thought going into this.  I mean, I’ve been a writer for many years.  Not a published author, but a writer nonetheless.  I thought that this writing camp thing would be a piece of cake.  But cake it is not.

Ok, let me explain.  It’s not necessarily the writing part that is hard for me, it’s the sharing part.  Up to this point, I’ve primarily written for myself and my students.  If I share my writing, it’s on my terms, when I want to and how I want to.  Usually its pieces that I’ve chosen to write, and I share them during the revision stages, so that my kiddos can help me fix it up and make it better.  That’s scary in itself, because kids can be really honest, but again, it’s on my terms.

This is a whole different ball game.  This time it’s writing prompts, and the “campers” I’m sharing with are other teachers and–get this–published authors!  Talk about pressure.

But I signed up for it, right?  And what an amazing opportunity for growth as both a writer and a teacher of writing.  So I guess I’m game.  Nothing but good things can come of it, and no one will die in the process.  I just need to put my pride aside and let people teach me something.  Goodness knows I have tons to learn!

Alright.  Here I go.  Taking the plunge.  Jumping in with both feet.  Wearing my floaties and nose plug and hoping not to drown. 🙂

Stay tuned for examples of my “homework.”  I’d love your comments.  Really, I would. 🙂