3 Things and 3 Friends

I have to start this post by fully disclosing that neither of the ideas I’m sharing today are mine. 🙂  Remember my FABULOUS teammates Genie and Rachael?  These ideas are theirs and I tried them in my room and they went really well.  Thank you for sharing, friends!

As I am sure you have figured out by now, building a strong community of learners is very important to me–as it is to many teachers.  So we spend the beginning weeks of school getting to know each other, both as learners and as people.  We laugh together, create together and hopefully start to build a trusting relationship that will help us as we learn together throughout the year.

One way I help foster these bonds is by going through an exercise called 3 Things (or at least it was called 3 Things this year–I have too many students to do it the original way of 5 Things as Mrs. Hong taught me!).  It’s pretty basic, but has been very much worth our time.  The conversations we’ve had around everyone’s 3 Things have been great and the inferring that happens during the exercise is great, too.

It’s pretty basic: each person brings in 3 things that tell us something about them and we have to guess (or infer) what those items mean.  I started by sharing my 3 things: a picture of Mickey Mouse, measuring cups and a Kirkwood School District pencil.  Everyone then has 3 minutes to talk in their 3 Friends groups (which I’ll explain in a minute 🙂 ) and decide what the items mean.  Every group shares their ideas with the class, I chart them, and then we hear the “real” answers from the spotlight person.  Easy peasy.  Here’s what my chart looked like:


Now, honestly, the first two of mine were pretty obvious: Mickey Mouse is to represent my family’s love of Disney World and the time we spend in the Happiest Place on Earth.  I can’t really explain what it is about that place, it’s just that it’s become our home-away-from-home and has a special feeling.  Just being there is amazing.  But I digress…

My second item is measuring cups and represents my recent love of baking and creating things for my family, primarily my kids.  If you dig a little deeper there’s a story about how we’ve been learning about eating locally harvested “real food” and are trying to cut out processed food from our diet–this was the spark for my new baking hobby–but that was obviously not a story that kiddos inferred from my picture.

That last one is a pencil.  It represents a couple of different things.  First of all, and most glaringly it is my love of writing.  But I also picked this particular pencil (and a pencil instead of a pen) for two other reasons:  it represents the annoying trouble there has been in my room for YEARS with never being able to keep pencils sharpened (EVERY pencil sharpener I have ever tried has broken.  I think my room is cursed!), as well as the fact that Kirkwood is my home, and where I have always been a teacher.

Since I shared my 3 Things, we’ve randomly chosen two kiddos every day (a boy and a girl) to share their own 3 Things.  Kiddos have taken this very seriously, and with each group that goes, they’re getting better at picking tricky things that get us really thinking.  They’ve been really good!

Then the other simple but powerful thing we did was called 3 Friends (thanks for sharing, Ms. Turken!).  Again, it’s not very complicated: you and two other people get in a group and do a couple of simple things–make sure you know each others’ names and find out 3 things you have in common.  The groups then introduced their 3 new friends to us, and shared what they had in common.  We took a quick poll to see who else had those common interests, too.  Then we come back to these groups everyday in 3 Things, helping to solidify the connections we’re making.  I’m thinking that as we go on, we’ll create new 3 Friends groups periodically that have different goals or functions in our room.

What would you choose for your 3 Things?  Post your list here and we’ll see if we can figure you out!  Play along with us! 🙂


Light Bulb Moments

In case you haven’t noticed, read-aloud (chapter book) time in our room is a big deal.  This ain’t no lay-on-the-floor-and-rest-after-recess-time.  My kids will tell you that read-aloud is one of the most important times of the day–we use the chapter book to connect to reading, writing, vocabulary and many other things.

Right now we are deep in the middle of The Secret of Zoom by Lynne Jonell.  In Reader’s Workshop, we’re working on inferring in fiction text.  So today as we read our chapter book, we focused on noticing and recording inferences we were making about the story.  We reviewed the meaning of inferring (which we defined as background knowledge + text=inference), and then got started.  There were a couple of parts when I paused in my reading to say “You might be able to infer something here,” but for the most part I just left them to their listening and thinking.  Then I read a sentence and K, who was sitting right in front of me made a rather loud noise, somewhere in between a gasp and a screech.   She covered her mouth, grinned, and then scribbled something in her notebook.  And I knew exactly what she was thinking.  She had figured out something in the story–she had made an inference.

Now, every time you infer something in a story, you don’t make a big deal like that; it’s not always so obvious.  But this was a really great illustration for us.  Some kids in my class have a hard time knowing when they are inferring; they know what to do, but they don’t always attend to when they’re doing it.  But I’ll but from today on, they will know that when you have a “light bulb moment”, when you say “Ahh! Now I get it!” or when you think “aha!”, you’re probably inferring.  It was cool to watch several others do the very same thing–most without the screech–as we continued to read.  And I’ll bet we’ll notice more of it tomorrow.  I love how the thing that really made it visible, too, is something I couldn’t have planned for (the best learning moments happen like that!).  It came very naturally, and was really powerful for them.  Next time you think “aha!” or have a “light bulb moment”, pay attention –you might be inferring something, too. 🙂