#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of October 1, 2018

Remember when I shared the smart story about Jonah’s thinking and how we flip-flopped the display wall?  It’s been great to see how kids have differently interacted with it throughout this past week since the change.  I even had a kiddo put up book covers! Something else exciting happened this week, too. Can you see what it is?

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You do?  YES!!  We made it to 100 books this week!  Well, officially we’ve read 105, but it was a great feeling to watch those 5 rows get put up and know that we’re well on our way to filling it up and sharing SO MANY GREAT BOOKS with this year’s group of amazing first graders!

Here’s what we read this week:

So many good ones–about so many topics! Can you tell what we’re learning about right now?  What titles do you suggest we read this next week? 🙂

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!)

 

What Do You Do All Day Anyway?: Phonics

So far in this series, I’ve shared our journey from our first Heggerty lesson through to our 3rd try with getting it right, after doing some reflection and thinking about videos of our lessons.

Kids have been asking about what part of our day we will record next, and that has yet to be determined (there are so many options!), but in the meantime I thought I’d share another part of our day that has been going pretty well.  It’s kind of a big deal in first grade to understand how phonemic awareness and phonics work together to help them understand words and apply that knowledge to reading and writing.

We started a new program this year and I’m excited for how it’s going so far, as well with how it has affected kiddos’ thinking already.  Let me share a little about what we do with phonics every day in Rm. 111.  Oh, and since you may be wondering (because I know for a long time I was unsure, too) about the difference between phonemic awareness and phonics, here is a chart from Heggerty’s website to explain how they are different but related:

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First of all, I feel like I should introduce you to a very good friend of all of us in Rm. 111–Rasheed the Lion!

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Isn’t he fabulous?  He has a SUPER name with lots of interesting features, like a capital letter, a digraph, a long e sound (made with double letters!) and a consonant at the end.  It has 2 syllables, 7 letters, and is a pattern of tall letter, 2 small letters, tall letter, 2 small letters and another tall letter.  We’ve been learning LOTS of things just like that about our own names, too, and have put them all on our word wall.

One important thing we did at the beginning of our study was learn how to correctly write our names AND how to spell and write the names of our friends!  They are important words in our lives and we need to know how to use them quickly and accurately. In our Rug Clubs (which are small groups we work in while we study phonics), we practiced with white boards and markers (which every first grader LOVES) and a “marked-up” version of our name that showed us exactly how to form each letter.

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Each student got their own name written in this form so they could practice how to write it quickly and correctly.  At this point, many first graders were still working on using lower case letters in their names.

See Rasheed’s pencil?  It’s because he knows how to use Professor Words when he studies names, and we do, too!  We looked at our own names and were super-smart professors as we shared our thinking with the rest of the class.  We pointed out vowels (short and long), as well as blends and digraphs, as well as number of syllables and anything else that was interesting.

After we had studied everyone’s names (including names of our friends in Rm. 112), we started to study other words in the same way.  We call these words SNAP words, because we should be able to say them in a “snap.”  Most of them are words that we learned in kindergarten, and we are reviewing them before we begin to learn new first grade words.

Most recently, we’ve been working on sorting words by a variety of features.  Students have worked with their carpet partners to identify vowels (short or long, how many, which ones, etc.), number of letters, number of syllables, etc., and then shared their sorts with the class.

Here’s a fun phonics game for you to play:  can you name the way these words are sorted?  Leave us a comment to tell us what you notice about how we chose to sort each group!  We’d love to hear how smart you are about phonics, too!

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How were these words sorted?  What do you notice?

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Here’s another one.  Look carefully–it’s different than the last one!

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This one looks easier than it is!  How did Rm. 111 friends sort these SNAP words?  Tell us in the comments!

One last thing…check out our word wall as of last week.  We were AMAZED that we added 37 SNAP words to the wall!  Can’t wait to watch it fill up with more words that we can read in a “snap!”  Stay tuned!

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#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of September 24, 2018

This week seemed to be extra busy with reading! We were able to add 17 books to our display, and we’re SO CLOSE to 100!!  Hoping to hit it this upcoming week and share the good news with you on the blog next time.

But for now, here’s what our wall looks like:

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We added lots of different titles:

I think my favorite story from the week actually comes from a first grader, not a book.  It’s a story of perspective, and taught me something about how adults see things differently than 6-7yos.  Let me explain…

On Wednesday, I was excitedly adding a big load of pics to the wall, and telling the students around me about how we were almost at 100.  Jonah, a friend from Rm. 112, commented on how he didn’t realize we had read that many books, and that he didn’t know how many pictures were actually up there.  Incredulously I asked him, “Don’t you ever look at our display?  How have you not seen all those books out there??”  He looked at me very matter-of-factly and said, “Well I do, but I look at the WALL, not the PICTURES!”  At first it seemed a little funny, but then I realized that, yes, indeed, the thing at eye-level for first graders is a big. blank. wall.  I know I should look up there at all those pretty book covers, and kiddos do too–if I tell them to, but yep, most kids who look at our display probably just see a wall.

It really made me start thinking about who that display is for, and how I can make it more kid-friendly.  While there are LOADS of ways that we interact with it on a daily and weekly basis, and I can point out how the space is filling up and how we’re close to 100, there is probably a better way to do it.  Starting with putting the pictures at the BOTTOM of the wall instead of the top.  That’s where kiddos are anyway, right?  It would probably makes more sense to them that the wall is FILLING up anyway, if they could see it reach up to the top and ACTUALLY FILLING up, rather than coming down the wall.

I know it’s a small tweak, and obviously one I hadn’t thought of, but I was SO GLAD we had had that little conversation, because it got me thinking about how many other things I do that maybe I think are kid-centered, kid-led or kid-friendly, but that are instead geared toward me.

So I’m fixing the wall. I’m flipping it all upside-down and we will indeed watch the wall FILL UP as we go through this year.  Can’t wait to share the changes with you next week!!

In the meantime, have you ever had a kiddo tell you something that flipped your thinking upside-down? I’d love to hear about it! 🙂

#WDYDAA: Phonemic Awareness Revisited

I started a series a couple of weeks ago to help families (and any other blog readers!) know what happens in Rm. 111 all day.  We started by sharing Phonemic Awareness, for which we use Heggerty’s program.

Since my last post, we have done some really important work in regards to what our phonemic awareness time is supposed to look like and sound like.  We have watched our videos and reflected on what we are seeing that are “pluses” and “deltas.”  After we had recorded and reviewed three different sessions, I gave Rm. 111 friends a challenge to see if they could have a “perfect” session of our Heggerty lesson.

Take 1 and Take 2 of our Heggerty Reflections

As you can see, these two sessions don’t look that much different.  I have to admit that part of the problem here was my fault–we recorded with my iPad in selfie mode, so many friends were super distracted by seeing themselves on the screen and could not focus on our learning.  Oops.  One super easy way we decided to fix it for our third take was to simply turn the iPad around.  Sometimes it’s so simple it’s funny. 🙂

Before our next lesson, we reviewed what the expectations were for them as learners (we reviewed both our listening rules as well as both sides of our charts), and got ready to show how amazing we were.  Additionally, a friend suggested that we invite Mrs. Wessel to come back to see us in action since we’d worked on our learning behaviors, since she had been there for our first session.  It was a great idea, and thankfully she was free!  It was also great that she could come, because she also served as our videographer again (which was much less distracting than my iPad on the table LOL).

So…I’m writing this post to show you what our Heggerty lessons look like now–to both highlight our learning but also how smart we are and how we have such growth mindsets!  We were determined to get it right, to show what we know, to help everyone learn and to follow all of our listening rules (which are to have eyes watching, ears listening, voice quiet and a still body).

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Listening rules (and our Zones of Regulation chart, which I will share about later!)

I’m really proud of my Rm. 111 learners and how they’ve grown!  Celebrate this chart and this video with us, please. 🙂

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Our third Heggerty reflection chart.  Beckett asked to make this chart for us, and made the plus and delta that way because he knew that we’d have LOADS of good things and a small amount of deltas.  LOVE IT!

We’d love to hear what you think! Kids LOVE when they know people see their smart work and want to give them a shout out for it!  What questions do you have about our phonemic awareness lessons? I KNOW my friends would love to tell you about what we do everyday–and WHY we do it! 🙂

 

Exploring Light and Sound!

We have been working on exploring light and sound in science right now, within the context of a story about three friends who get lost in the woods while on a hike.

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In small groups in our room,  kiddos rotated through several stations where they explored light in a variety of ways: mirrors, shadows, spectrascopes, and colored tiles.  Kiddos used flashlights in each station to see what they could discover about how light looks, how it travels,  how colors work and how to create shadows.  I love their faces in the pictures and how you can tell just what they are thinking in each picture, exactly what question they are trying to answer or what they are trying to do.  They applied this exploration to what they knew already and also what we had read in our story.   Kids worked in Rm. 112 on sound in addition to their discovery stations in Rm. 111.

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We’re excited to finish up this unit with a novel engineering challenge based on our Global Read Aloud book, as well as with an interview where kiddos can apply and  demonstrate their light and sound learning.  Can’t wait to see how it goes!

One More Time: Analogies with Mrs. Berger

We had one more Kingore lesson this past week with Mrs. Berger.  This time it was analogies.  Man, these can be hard for first graders, but like with most every time, we had some great examples before we got started.  We tried some together (with pictures to help us out!) and then she read to book Animalogies to us, which was written by some other kids and involved analogies that were all about animals!

And…just like last time, we smelled brownies!  What great opportunities we’ve had with Mrs. Berger to think in a new way, stretch our brains a bit and show how creative we are! We will definitely continue to put these skills to work in the classroom as we go forward in first grade! 🙂