SOLD!!

I was trying to figure out how to break the almost-3-month hiatus (what??)  I’ve had on this blog, and wasn’t sure how best to do that.  There are obviously LOADS of stories I need to tell about what has happened since February when I was last here (and by the way, I had to go back and look at when I wrote my last post–whoa!!  It was way longer ago than I had remembered!).  But…I figure the best way to come back from a long absence is to explain what I’ve been doing, right?  Hence the title.  Can you figure out what it is??  Let me start with a picture. 🙂

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It has really been unbelievable to me how much time and energy it takes to get your house ready to go on the market and then to actually work to sell it!  I have figured out in the weeks since February 16 (when I last posted here) that I must only have “free” time to accomplish one thing at a time. So that thing became house projects, and not running or blogging or reading, or really anything else!!  Man.  But, even though we’re not officially across the finish line yet (don’t close for another 6 weeks or so), we’ve crossed some hurdles and are hopeful it will all work out. 🙂

As I come back and hopefully settle back into a regular routine (which is funny considering that there are also only 18 days of school left!), I will start with some stories about things I’ve learned through this getting-your-house-ready-to-sell process.  It was a lot like what happens in formal learning at school–some ups, lots of downs, hard work and many lessons learned along the way.  And even though I have had many frustrating moments, I’ve come out on the other side in one piece, relatively unscathed. And with more appreciation for the process and new knowledge about lots of different things.

The biggest project I’d say I undertook was tiling my bathrooms.  Right now we live in a 25 or so year-old ranch house, with builder-grade bathrooms (something we just had never gotten around to updating the 6 1/2 years we’ve been here).  Well, buyers these days don’t really love those, so we had to do something about it.  That required a new floor, new vanity, new mirror and paint touch ups.  As I do with most things, I was determined to figure out how to do-it-myself (rather than pay someone to do it), and began the necessary research.

While I know that there are people who do masterful things with tile in bathrooms, my job was just 12 X 12 squares in a 6 X 6 room, which was relatively (at least in my mind!) easy.  In my reading, I found out all about the cement board base (and how to cut and attach it), as well as the do’s and don’ts of how to lay out the tile, attach it, grout it, etc., and so I gathered my materials and got to work.  Ok, not really.  I probably took about 10 trips to Home Depot as I realized something I didn’t have or didn’t have enough of to finish a particular part.  Pretty sure my new friend’s name is Robert.  He waited on me at least 3 or 4 of those times. 🙂

For those of you who know about tiling, this next part will be really boring, so feel free to skim. For those of you who don’t feel free to keep reading (and learn how!) and see what my process looked like.

The size and shape of that bathroom should have been an easy job.   And if you know what you’re doing I guess it is.  Instead, it took me 5 times longer.  Mainly I’d saw I learned how important having the right tools for the job are; if I’d only driven to get the wet tile saw in the first place, and not tried to use the cheap tile-splitter thing (that didn’t work!), I would have been done at least 1 day and a half sooner!

When we were putting the bathroom back together, there was some toilet drama (did you know that’s a thing?) because the height of the floor had changed,  I found some hidden wallpaper that I had to remove (add another day), and the vanity was a little trickier to level than we’d thought it would be.  But goodness, can I tell you how grateful we both are for YouTube?  I mean there really is a video out there to teach you how to do ANYTHING!!

I finally finished and was so proud of the work I had done.  There were many times I had to dig deep and push myself to figure out a problem or redo a part that didn’t work out teh way I first wanted it to.  I had to be really gritty (and not just because of the tile grout LOL) and have a growth mindset.  I’d say that in addition to having a great bathroom at the end of the process, it was also really rewarding just the next weekend when I had ANOTHER bathroom to do and it was SO MUCH EASIER than the first.  The second one was probably 2/3 bigger but took much much less time because of the mistakes I’d made and things I’d learned from the other one.  What a great example of how to take struggles and hardships and use them for good!  And after I had TWO tile floors to tiptoe around on, I felt twice as proud!

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I think the best part of this whole house process has been how it reminds me of what it’s like to be a student.  There were times when I didn’t know what to do, and I had some choices: I could quit, I could cry, I could ask someone for help, or I could try to find out the information for myself and try to solve the problem.   I love those times that help me remember that being gritty and being a problem solver is sometimes really hard.  But being able to do that, use my positive self-talk and come out with a “win” in the end makes it all worth it!  And what a great story to share with my students!

So anyhow, I figured I should explain where I’ve been and say thanks for being here for my return!!  Can’t wait to tell you more stories about what’s been happening lately in the world of Rm. 202!  Please stay tuned! Talk to you again soon!

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!

 

The E in ICEL: Rm. 202 Kids Take Over–Part 3

Our class has been doing some super work lately with trying to figure out how to be our best learning selves and problem-solving about how to do that.  I’ve been helping them by thinking through the ICEL protocol:

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An unexpected transition to the E in ICEL (which is the ENVIRONMENT in which your students are learning, the WHERE of learning) came when we were in Ms. Turken’s room on Friday morning.  As we were working on writing after visiting with Mrs. Marks’ friends, I noticed how differently focused, engaged and quiet my kiddos were.  I noticed the different ways they spaced themselves out,  as well as the people they were working with (along with the fact that many of them found quiet places to work alone).  I noticed that they were all writing, they were all productive and they were all using supplies kindly, efficiently and in the correct way.

We took a second before we left their room to have a chat about what they noticed.  I wondered if they felt the difference.  They mentioned things like the corner of the room where there were two low beach chairs and a low table where kiddos could read.  Callahan thought it was like the Zero Zone in our library. He and Kaiden found that to be a great place to work quietly next to each other.

We all noticed that there were many different kinds of spaces to use for work: places for singles, partners or small groups; places with chairs, and places to sit low and kneel on a rug.  Keira found a bench where she could lay down to do her writing.  Rachel was tucked away on a little bean-shaped table around a corner working alone, and Peter found a hexagon table on the other side of the room where he could work alone as well.  Ms. Turken’s room has a kidney table (or some kiddos call it the rainbow table) where there were 5 or 6 kids all writing and chatting together; Penny chose the rolley chair.  Even with that many kids all in the same place, they were focused on their work.  A low rectangle table looked similar to that on the other side of the room.

Even their rug was a mystery.  It’s the same rug that we have in our room, in generally the same part of the room, and has books on three sides of it just like ours.  But no one seemed distracted by the books, kiddos didn’t sit WAY at the back and everyone seemed to be focused on the teacher chair and the easel.

We agreed that there were some things that we could take back to our space and try to emulate in our room so that we could try to get the same results.  Maybe there were some things we didn’t know we needed until we saw them somewhere else.  Our next step was to have kiddos draw pictures/maps with their ideas for what our new layout could look like, but this was a little bit problematic because we hadn’t done much map work like that before.  I was able to see in their illustrations, though, what was important to them.  We all agreed the Zero Zone was a must, and that we could try different tables/spaces; all of our tables are round ones.

Since I knew the whole “zone” idea was a big one to them, I suggested another place they could visit that had zones.  I hoped this would give them another vision for what they might want/need.  I called on my friend Mrs. LeSeure, who is both a master at space planning and who I knew had already gone through many designs in her own room this year.  My son, Riley, is in her class, and with 27 students and an interesting room shape (it’s a small octagon I think), they have had to be very creative with how they put the people and the furniture in there for the best results.  Just like Mrs. Marks, she agreed to let us come over and learn from her kiddos.

The next school day, which was Monday, she sent some of her friends to take my first graders to explore their space.  The 4th graders were each in a different zone of their room, and groups rotated to each place, learning about how that space is used and how they decided it was an important place for them.  Half of my class went as a time, and then we came back together to share out what we had seen.

We talked and put together a chart of our thoughts.

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As students shared their reasoning behind what they liked about each zone and why they thought it would work for us, we decided if it was something that was possible for us to actually do.  We agreed that probably all of this chart was, except for the pet.  Mrs. LeSeure has a turtle named Javy, and kiddos thought he would help some of us be calm and focused while we work.  It’s a bit of a jump right now, so I assured them that when we get the worms from Mrs. Berger after the holidays and can work with them with their composting, it will work in the same way.  Crossing my fingers that that will happen. LOL

By that point, it was the end of the school day and we had to go home.  But I knew that my work wasn’t done.  I asked Rm. 202 kids if they trusted me (as well as Riley and my kindergartner, Allie) to do some work after school.  Then they could try it the next day and we could see what happened.  They agreed and left VERY EXCITED to come back the next morning.  And now I know YOU’RE very excited to come back and read about it in my next post, right?  I’m excited to tell you the next chapter. 🙂

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! 🙂

Pentominoes!

This week we went to visit Mrs. Berger on Thursday instead of Friday. And this week our Kingore lesson was on pentominoes!!

In case you’ve never heard of them, pentominoes look like this:

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Mrs. Berger explained about the pentominoes, and then about our job: use the pieces that are shown and fit them into the outline on each page.  This was a tricky deal, and they got harder on each page.  We had to use our grit (which smells like cookies, remember??) and try, try again if it didn’t work the first time.  We had to turn and rotate our pentominoes so they fit, and often it wasn’t the way we first thought they’d go.  We had to use our positive self-talk to remind ourselves that we could do it, and I thnk at one point I even heard someone growl.  Ok, well, she said “grrr!” which is maybe what her grit sounds like! LOL

After we finished (which was after about 15 minutes), kiddos got to do whatever they wanted with their pentominoes for a little while.  Man, where they creative!  Many noticed that two pieces seemed to stick together and they looked like a microphone.  This was a big hit.

Then I saw lots of animals, people and just creative shapes emerge.

What fun and challenge we had with Mrs. Berger today!  We never cease to stretch our brains when we work with her!

Day 33: Ahhhhh!!

I feel like I owe you an update.  I am pretty sure I haven’t share the amazing things happening in our class since Fix-It-Up Friday when we first got serious about our norms and expectations.

Remember this web of mistakes?

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Well we did some work and started creating some “We will…” statements that we are committed to living by.  The rough drafts started like this:

Over the last few weeks we’ve tried them out and been using them in our conversations.  I believe we’ve gotten to our final draft and the norms ended up looking like this:

img_4605Don’t they kind of look like super hero words?  Like POW! BANG! SPLAT!  I’m trying to decide if we should have kiddos illustrate them before we hang them…what do you think?  Just not sure if will help or just hinder the message.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the yellow parts as they highlight the important parts of each statement.

Ok, and so what does the title of this post mean–Day 33:  Ahhh!??   Well every day we keep track of how many days of school we’ve had, connecting to place value and counting.  We add a sticker to a ten-frame that goes on a place value chart and we also write the number of the day.

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Ok, so I know–not rocket science and not super exciting, but it was here–on Day 33 (which was last Friday)–that I felt like we’d turned a corner.  It was the first day pretty much all year that I felt like we could finally breathe and just say “ahh!!!”  Things seem like they are settling down, we are settling in and are becoming a family.  We’re working together and we’re finally looking (and more importantly sounding) like a community.  It’s pretty great.

BUT I must say it hasn’t come without LOTS of work.  We have put in probably at least an hour or more each day teaching, reteaching and practicing what first grade learners look like and sound like.  We’ve been learning and using the Robinson Mindset, as well as helping solidify the ideas of our class norms.

One of the most helpful things for us right now has been very concrete, visual versions of the expectations we’ve created together.  They hang along the top of our windows, and remind us of what each part of our day LOOKS LIKE and SOUNDS LIKE.  We often stop during the middle of a subject or activity and do a reflection on whether this is truly what someone (including us!) would see in the room at that moment.  If not, no big deal, the invitation is to FIX IT!  Find a way to make things look and sound the right way!  We’re right in the middle of our SCIENCE/SOCIAL STUDIES chart, and even have plans for one that demonstrates the line/hallway as well as other places around school.

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One more way I know we’re “there?”  Kiddos have started using the words we’re practicing!  The other day when a friend was interrupting on the rug, Xenia turned to her and kindly said, “We will take turns.”  When a friend was not quite with us in a conversation, Ciyah reminded them that “We will listen and follow directions.”  What??  This is happening on a regular basis now, as well as friends kindly reminding their friends of what they should be doing instead of whatever undesirable behavior they are engaged in (because “We will remind our friends.”).  I am loving how calm things feel and how much more we’re laughing and enjoying each other.  The last few days we’ve noted how tired we are at the end of the day–but it’s that good “we’re-pooped-because-we’ve-done-so-many-amazing-learning-things” kind of tried, not the “man-we’re-tired-and-cranky-because-no-one-listened-all-day” kind of tired.  Jack suggested that our days have flown by, too, because we’ve been so busy!  I don’t know about you but this make my HEART HAPPY!!

Cannot wait to see what the remaining 140something days have in store for us as we have set such a strong foundation for our year!  The sky’s the limit in Rm. 202!!  Please be sure to come along for the journey.  It’s bound to be exciting!!

Our First MYSTERY NUMBER SKYPE!!

I was so excited to get my kiddo started on some “techy” type things and so today was a great day–we did our first MYSTERY NUMBER SKYPE!  What’s a Mystery Skype you ask?  What’s a Mystery Number Skype? (Check those out so you can get the big idea–believe me, they are one of the coolest things we do in Rm. 202!

Well today was the day!  I hadn’t really made a big deal about it, which was fine because they didn’t know what it was anyway, but boy did they pick it up quickly!  I explained the general idea (we have a number and the other class has a number and we use a 20-Question type game to figure out each others’ numbers), and then we practiced with the number 18.  We talked about words we might use (like greater than/less than, tens place/ones place), and ways we could cross off the most numbers at once (we kept track together on a hundreds chart) and then matched up with a partner to plan for what we would ask.

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At 9:30 we were ready, and our Skype phone rang!

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We answered and got right to work.  Our first point of business (after we said hello, of course!) was to figure out who would ask the first question.  We did so with rock/paper/scissors!

We won (rock over scissors!) and asked the first question.  Eventually we will have jobs for each kiddo, and will keep track of our questions for future reference, but for now we were lucky to have Mrs. Sisul tweet for us! Here’s an example (and you can check out the rest of the session on our class feed at @jbeardensclass) of what happened!

Rm. 202 kiddos did such a great job and were SUPER excited when in just about 5 or 6 questions we got to the point where we could guess their mystery number!

What a great start to our Mystery Skyping journey! We are ready to go and excited for our next call!  Who’s in?  If you’re interested, please leave us a comment so we can get in touch with you!