#GSPD2019–Play ALL Day!

I have told the story of how I first found Global School Play Day, and so I was looking forward to it as February got closer. :).

I remember when I told my friends that it was coming and how I already knew before they said it what their response would be: “All day?”  Yes, friends, you get to play ALL DAY LONG!  And you’re in charge!

Kids were invited to bring something from home to enhance their day (as long as they followed the no electronics rule), and they came in with some pretty great things to share with their friends in Rm. 111.  We usually start our day with choice time anyway, so in many ways this Wednesday was the same as every other Wednesday.  The easel question for the morning asked them to make a plan, get their things and PLAY!

Once we had lunch count, attendance, morning announcements and the Pledge taken care of, I pulled them together for a quick meeting.  We had to set the ground rules for the day.

Together we talked through these guidelines:

IMG_6839

Really I think many kids didn’t believe me about this whole “play day” thing, but after our meeting I sent them back on their way to get to work play.

Even from the beginning it was fun to watch how varied their choices were in activities.  We had blocks, Legos, cars, toys from home, stuffed animals, trains, board games and even arts and crafts.

Now I’ve worked with kids for many years (and have two of my own), so I’ve seen kids play before.  But, as with every new group of kiddos, there are some unexpected surprises that show up even when you think you’ve seen it all.  Let me share some that happened with this group.

1.) Kiddos incorporated a variety of mediums into one “game.” Wyatt and his friends played with Legos, wooden blocks, cars, recyclables, a stuffed elephant  and army men all together.  At one point they even had a book out as they followed along to build something “official” together with Legos.

Lucy, Riley and Ariya did the same with blocks, a pillow, Legos, LOL Surprise dolls and a wooden dog marionette. 🙂

2.) Kids could sustain long amounts of attention at the same activity.  The “game” that Lucy, Riley and Ariya were playing went on from about 9:00 until 12:30 or 1:00 (except for the time we were away for lunch and recess).  They changed the story, added in details (and new toys) and even had other friends move in and out throughout the whole thing.  They negotiated, took turns, shared ideas, laughed together, pretended–did all those things kids do when they have time and choice to play nicely without the interference of adults.  There was no arguing, fussing, misbehaving….and they probably could have gone on like that for much more of the day if they’d been able to.  They just seemed like they were having so. much. fun. :).

3.) There were many things that were in our play day that were from our “regular” day.  I don’t know if I should take credit for this, or if it’s just the activity itself is fun, but I’d like to say that maybe the way we do things has added enjoyment in Rm. 111?  Anyhow, there were many times I looked and students were choosing to do things they regularly do at school.  🙂

I think my favorite example of this came when I looked over at the easel by the rug and saw this:

IMG_6852

For those of you who are readers or this blog, or fans of phonemic awareness, or maybe teach a primary grade, you recognize that big spiral bound book as the Heggerty teacher’s manual.  Yep, on a play day where he was his choice of activity Brock. is. doing. Heggerty. I CANNOT tell you how big this made me smile and also how really it didn’t surprise me as much as I let on.  Kids love the motions and the pace of our phonemic awareness work and I think they appreciate how much it helps then in so many aspects of their literacy lives. 🙂

He added in some friends and “students.”

The best was when he got out the “choppers.” 🙂

Additionally, someone found a small pad of Catch of the Day tickets and kiddos started passing them out to each other for positive things they saw their friends doing. :). Again, this made my teacher and mama heart happy.  And if you are for some reason NOT familiar with Heggerty and the work it addresses in phonemic awareness, check out where I wrote about it here.

So…we had a SUPER GREAT Global School Play day and yes, we played ALL DAY.  I have one more video to share, and I want to see if you notice the same thing I did when I recorded it.

Listen.  Do you hear it?  I know, right?  There’s that buzz of kids who are engaged, busy, cooperating–LEARNING!  Again, I’m not sure I was surprised (ok, maybe I was), but the whole day went off without behavior problems.  Kiddos didn’t argue, fight, bother each other, mess around..they negotiated, solved problems, made choices and enjoyed their time at school with each other.  Man…that’s what we strive for every day, right?

So that being said, I had to reflect on what I would take away from another Global School Play Day.  First of all, it’s a nice reminder that kids. need. to. play.  I feel like we do a pretty good job of this in Rm. 111, but I can always step up my play game.  Letting kids have more ownership of their play, leaving them alone to do what they choose is one way I could improve.

Additionally, I was reminded of how long it takes to settle into a groove.  You, know, to achieve “flow?”  Where you are so busy doing and enjoying what you’re doing that you don’t even notice time passing?  That happens so little in a classroom where our day is broken into small, segmented subjects and we transition from one thing to another so frequently.  Granted, we do this for a reason, but it’s probably good to ask whether its best for teachers and their schedules or kids and what they need.  Just watching the girls and the length of time they were “into” the world they were building made me wonder how (or if) we could accomplish the same thing in an academic situation by allowing kids more freedom, choice and TIME to settle into what they are doing?

I love that I work with a team of teachers who also think this way and who are willing to chew on this idea with me.  We have taken on the idea together and are really working diligently to figure it out.  For ourselves but mainly for our kids.  Because they deserve it. 🙂

 

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of January 21-25, 2019

Hi!  How are things where you are?  It’s COLD in Missouri, and we’re enjoying a day at home. 🙂 . I realized I didn’t update you on last week’s books, so here’s what the wall looked like last Friday, after another great week!  We are up to 291! 🙂

img_6675

We had a short week this week, so only added 10 titles.  They are all good ones though (Man, I say that every week don’t I?  I guess they’re ALL good titles!):

A couple of cool things happened this week with our books.  First of all, we read another SUPER book by Peter Reynolds, and it sparked ANOTHER super project (which I’ll share in the next few days! Stay tuned!), and also, Mrs. Fry brought out some really great big books!  I have been in first grade for almost a decade altogether, but somehow I forget about those!  And goodness–I should bring them out more often–what fun it was to read together and also hear a new story!  Plus everyone can see so easily!  We read a new David book this week (Thanks, David Shannon!  Those are always a hit!), and also enjoyed a new story about the Hindu holiday, Holi.  It was BEAUTIFUL and we all wanted to read it again. :).  I did not get this title on the wall until after this picture, but we also celebrated Children’s Multicultural Book Day on Friday and Mrs. Davis read Outside My Window to us, sharing the importance of seeing the world outside ourselves and reading texts that show the whole world!

What did you read this week?  What do you suggest for us? 🙂 . Stay warm and happy reading!

#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?

IMG_5700

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! 

IMG_3148-min

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.

fullsizeoutput_8fb-min

Food Science

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

IMG_0189-minIMG_0211-min

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!

Healthy, happy kids-min

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. 

IMG_7452-minIMG_7463-min

Stop Motion Videos

  • Come and make your very own stop motion video!

IMG_0367-minIMG_0359-min

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.

IMG_3613-minIMG_3637-min

(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:

Screenshot 2018-09-30 18.10.47

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!

IMG_5366

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.

Screenshot 2018-09-30 21.46.16

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!

fullsizeoutput_8d6

How were these words sorted?  What do you notice?

fullsizeoutput_8da

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

fullsizeoutput_8e0

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!

IMG_5583

 

#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:

IMG_5641

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).

IMG_5277

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. 🙂

fullsizeoutput_851

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! 🙂