I’m Out But I’m Still Teaching

Today was one of those days that I unexpectedly had to be out with a sick kiddo.  😦 It’s always tricky trying to figure out what leave for a guest teacher to do with your class; many lessons just need you to be there to do the teaching.

It being the last week of the quarter, I had a harder time not doing the lessons I already had planned, so I figured I’d do the next best thing to being there: record myself teaching the lesson and leave the video for the guest teacher to play.  I know, it’s not rocket science, but sometimes I forget (or don’t have time to make it happen before my absence).  And honestly, I ambitiously recorded a WHOLE DAY’S worth of learning one year (which literally took me the length of a whole school day at home to make!) only to have not a single second of it watched by the class. Wah, wah….

Fast forward six years (I know, I guess it affected me and took a long time for me to recover LOL) and I tried it again.  Like I mentioned before, some things are just not possible to leave with a guest teacher, often because of craft or style that I add to the lesson, or just because of background knowledge that isn’t there.  Writing is especially tricky, so that’s the lesson I decided to record and leave for my class and the sub (plus, it was a fun lesson I didn’t want to miss teaching!).

The best part?  I heard from my teammate that they WATCHED the video, that it went well and that my writers did a SUPER job with the writing work time that followed. Whew!  That’s so great to hear. :). Also, it featured my own second grade learner, which made the whole thing extra fun. 🙂

And since I know you’re dying to see what it looks like in our room during writing (or at least in our classroom after school when I’m getting ready for a guest teacher!), here’s the video I left for Rm. 111 and 112 writers today. :). Would love to hear what you think!

 

Welcome to our First Grade Family! (2018-2019 edition)

Welcome to 1st Grade, Friends!

I am so excited you’re here!

The following letter contains 2636 words that will begin to shape your child’s first grade year (I know–it’s a little long.  Sorry!).  You will want to have your family sit and read this so you can all be excited about first grade together.  You should also have dancing shoes on (you’ll learn why later!) and your phone (or other recording device) handy.

Ready? Of course you are! Because you are all about to become…

First Grade and Fabulous!

I am excited for the year ahead – how about you??

Let’s get started! First a little bit about me. 🙂  I am going into my 18th year of teaching and every one of them has been at Robinson!  I even did my student-teaching here long ago, so Robinson is definitely my home-away-from-home.  In my real home I have a fabulous family that I love dearly.  My husband, Grant, is a teacher, too, in Mehlville.  He has taught 3rd, 4th and 5th grade.  We have a 11YO son, Riley, who is in starting MIDDLE SCHOOL, y’all! (Not sure how this happened but we’re excited for a new chapter. 🙂 )  We also have a daughter named Allison–we call her Allie–who is 7 1/2.  She goes to Robinson and you might even know her (if not, I’m sure you’ll meet her soon).  We LOVE (yep, love) Disney World, and travel there often.  Chicago is another one of our favorite places to travel to together.  We also just like to hang out together at home (or anywhere, really) and spend time with each other.  So that’s me.  What about you? Can’t wait to learn more about YOUR family!

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Like I said, this is my 18th year as a teacher, and every year, I begin the school year as a different person. I decide on that first day and then every day thereafter, who I am as a teacher. What is important to me. What I want to accomplish. What I want my students to see when they come to school. I choose that. I don’t let other people tell me who I will be and I don’t just be who I think other people want me to be. I read, I think, I write and then I decide.

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Today is your day!  Choose how you will use it. 🙂

Parents, I am excited to find out who YOUR CHILD will be!  

Another wondering: What is important to you? What is important to your child?

There are lots of things that are important to me: my husband and my kids, sharing ideas, reading, writing, being able to have a conversation, making things, discovering things, sharing what I know, staying healthy and active, sleeping in, staying up late and knowing when to say sorry (and when to say nothing at all!).

As a teacher, there are a few more things that are important to me:

* YOU and YOUR CHILD!:   They’re the reason I’m there, after all right?  It is important for me to get to know your child (and your family!), and know them well.  Not just as a learner, but as a kid, too.  I want to know what they like, what they don’t like, what makes them tick.  Who they are.  That’s ok, right? 🙂

* Respect: At Robinson, it’s pretty much what we’re all about.  I expect respect to be a huge thing in our classroom.  I will respect your child, and I expect them to respect me, as well as everyone else in our community.  This counts when we agree and even when we don’t.  I have a saying that I learned from my good friend Mrs. Ford years ago, that is really important with this whole respect thing.  It’s this: You are not the sun. In other words, the world does not revolve around you, and there are lots of other people in our classroom that have needs, wants, likes, dislikes, etc., that we need to take into account.  I love your child, but I love everyone else, too!  Additionally, it is SUPER important to me that we learn to love each other as people, learn to support each other, learn to cheer when our friends do well (and know that that doesn’t mean anything negative about us), learn to encourage each other when they need it, learn to understand and appreciate how we’re different as much as how we’re the same, and learn to learn together.  We are in this together and none of us will be as successful alone as we can alongside each other.  That’s a life lesson, not just a 1st grade lesson.  🙂

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Maybe you saw our #classroombookaday wall in the mail hallway.  We made it to 560 books last year!  Here’s to another great year of reading in first grade!

*Reading: I know–you’re thinking, “well isn’t every subject important?”  And yes, to a point, that’s true.  But in my opinion, one of the single most indicators of success in life (and let’s face it, enjoyment as well!) is developing a love of reading.  I ask that you join me in the task of helping your child LOVE reading.  I am sure they’re probably already on their way, but let’s keep it up together!  Read to them as well as with them.   Share your own reading with them.  Read in front of them.  Show them the importance of words and how you can lose yourself in the right text.  HAVE FUN and help them do the same!  I hope that I will do my part to encourage all of these things as well! (In case you want to see more about how important this is, read about our #classroombookaday challenge from a previous year here).

*Writing: Words are important.  They help us to communicate and tell our stories.  When you write those words, you can deepen thinking and learning, as well as better process things you heard or are still thinking about (I know this is one of the most important reasons I write!).  We will write, write, write in Rm. 111, just like we will read, read, read!  (And no, don’t worry about correct spelling or perfect handwriting–everyone is allowed to make mistakes, the message is the most important part!)

* Mistakes:  I expect your child to make them. 🙂   I want them (and you!) to learn to work through it when it’s hard and figure out what to do.   I want them to feel the joy and success of learning something new because they persevered!  Not everything will be easy here. And that’s ok. We’re in it together and I’ll help you all along the way. 🙂 THIS IS A PLACE WHERE WE WILL BE GRITTY!

* Collaboration: I love to share ideas and get ideas and try new things and even when those things fail, I know I am just one step closer to finding what does work. I love to work with other teachers to figure things out and find new solutions to old problems.  But just as much as working with adults, I love to collaborate with students.  I love to hear what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling about things, what they think would be the best way to learn something.  It’s OUR classroom, and often your kiddos’ ideas are WAY better than mine.  I know I’ll share lots of examples with your child (and you!) about how that’s happened to me over the years.

Aside from collaborating with me, though, they’ll be collaborating with each other!  Your child will have lots of opportunities to share with their classmates, to give ideas, ask questions, prove reasoning and challenge each other.  I expect that we will work together to help EVERYONE in our class be the best they can be.  Together we’ll achieve much more than we would if we tried to do it on our own. 🙂  Reminds me of a sign I saw in Disney World at the Animal Kingdom:

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I like to say that in our room, everyone is a teacher and a learner.

And as a new level of collaboration and learning, we will be combining with and I will be co-teaching with Ms. Turken for many things this year.  Be ready to hear your kiddo talk about a whole other class of kiddos, and their “other” teacher, Ms. Turken.  We had such an amazing year last go-round and are excited for another! Can’t wait to share more as we go forward!!

* Curiosity: There is no better way to learn something than to ask a question.  It is DEFINITELY how I learn, and so please understand if you find me asking you (or your child) lots of questions as a means of figuring out how best to meet their needs or to connect with your family.  In turn, I hope you will feel comfortable to ask me any questions you may have, and the perhaps most importantly, your child will feel comfortable to ask me–and their classmates–questions when they need to.  Knowing when to ask for help is an important part of learning. 🙂  Also, WONDER is a natural part of being a kid, as well as a super important part of learning something new.  WONDER is something that I will always encourage, and hopefully many things we learn together will start as someone’s wondering about the world.

 

* Technology : I  love technology because it allows me to connect to new ideas. I like to think about what I want to do and look for tools to help me do it. I want to hear your ideas on technology and what works for you–and I ask that you be open to trying new things (that goes for BOTH you and your learner). We will be using technology in many new and exciting ways this year, so get ready!  You child may be blogging, using Twitter, Schoology, Seesaw (which is an AMAZING app that allows endless ways for your child to share their learning with me, their peers AND YOU!) and other sites (like Skype to connect with other learners around the world), using iPads, making videos of learning and trying out many new things that we may not even know about yet.  Whatever we do, though, the goal is always learning.  We will use technology in meaningful ways to better create new knowledge.  Excited?  I know I am!  PLEASE let me know what–if any–apprehensions you have in this area, either for you or your student.  This will be an important area for us to explore together. 🙂

* Community: Our class, our families, our school, our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country, our world. There are so many amazing people doing amazing things.  I am hoping to integrate your family stories into our classroom this year, taking full advantage of all of the amazing things each one of us has to offer.  That might mean I ask you (grown-ups) to come read to us, teach us something, help us make something, send in things, etc.  We want EVERYONE to be a part of the Rm. 111 family!!  One of our first units this year will be learning about our names and families so stay tuned!

IMG_4820* Taking risks: I like to take risks.  I hope you do too. It is scary sometimes and it fails sometimes but sometimes, more often, it is just A-MAZ-ING! Usually when you do something scary you do things you never thought you could.  You surprise yourself.  And then you want to do more! Someone smart once said “Fear and Excitement are shades of the same color”. Cool, huh?  (Parents, this is true for you as much as it is for your kiddo!! 🙂

HANG IN THERE….You’re almost done!

OK…if you made it this far and are still with me, congratulations, you (and your kiddo) are a rock star. Stop reading right now and do some kind of victory dance.  No really, go ahead.  Dance.  I’ll wait.  Better yet, have someone video tape your dance and send it to me!  I’ll even post it on our blog! (Did you see the posts where I did that with my last class?  They didn’t believe that I’d do it, either. 🙂 )

So….what now? How can you best prepare for the extreme awesomeness of first grade?

  1. Have a great summer! Be extraordinary.
  2. Read something.  Write something.  Wonder something.  This will get your learning muscles warmed up. 🙂
  3. If you have any questions you can always email me. Anytime. No question to big or too small.
  4. Think about what I said about who you want your child to be. Most importantly, remember that everyone else in our class is thinking about that too. Be gracious to those who are brave enough to set lofty goals and make the effort to become an even better version of themselves.
  5. Talk with your family about how you would define HOME.  I really want to make our classroom a comfortable, warm place were our school family can feel safe to get down and dirty, taking chances and making mistakes and LEARNING TONS!  I want this to include pieces of each of our homes.  I will send a survey to you later, where you can give share your ideas, but I wanted to get your thinking about it now. 🙂
  6. THIS ONE IS FOR THE KIDDOS!: Look around your house (or your computer, maybe) for a picture of your family.  I’d love to be able to decorate our room with us–pictures of all the people who help make us who we are and who encourage us to do our best.  I want to be able to fill our room with love, support and smiling faces, so please bring a 3×5, 4×6 or 5X7 picture (framed if possible–but don’t stress over this part!) with you to Open House or on the first day of school.  And if you don’t have one, don’t worry!  We’ll take your picture!

Despite having now used more than two thousand words, there are no words to describe how excited I am about working with you next year!

Here’s To Being First Grade and Fabulous!

♥ Mrs. Bearden

PS. If you didn’t get up and dance before and are now wishing you did, there is still time to do it. Anytime. Send me that video with your best moves (we’ll check these out together once we’re all in school together.  Fun, right?).

When you have had a chance to relax, digest this letter (maybe talk about it with your family or friends) and get your first grade brain tuned up, I would love for your child to write to me to introduce yourself, ask questions, maybe respond to something you read in this letter that made you think.  An email, postcard or a good ‘ole letter via snail mail is great!  Don’t worry–there’s still loads of time before school starts!  You can send your letter to Robinson, c/o of Mrs. Bearden at 803 S. Couch Ave., Kirkwood, MO 63122.

I look forward meeting you!

Mrs. Bearden: Email–jennifer.bearden@kirkwoodschools.org; Phone–314-213-6100 x4211 (after August 9)

Twitter: @jbeardensclass (This is our class feed, and we will tweet here together with my supervision and instruction.  It’s a great way to stay on top of what’s going on in our classroom since you don’t get to be there every day!  Follow us!)

Blog: http://www.20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher.com Feel free to leave me a comment here to let me know what you thought, what you wonder, how your summer has been, etc….this is always a great place to talk to me! 🙂  Also–if you have a minute while you’re here, go ahead and subscribe to the blog feed.  That way you’ll never miss anything that happens here.  I add things often and you’ll want to read it all!!  Just click on the button on the right side of the page and add your email address. 🙂

**Thanks to @terSonya for help with writing this post! Like I said, I love to share ideas!**

I’ve Got Some Questions…

I have been navigating this cyberspace for 7 years now.  I’ve had many great experiences, learned and shared many things, and met many great people.  I’ve changed my view along the way and rethought my audience, but have always tried to write things that were engaging to my readers.  Often I could gauge that engagement by how many people commented on my posts, and/or how often readers connected with me on Twitter or Facebook regarding my writing.

So…while I honestly write as a means of reflection, I also strive to make this blog a conversation around teaching and learning.  And I’ve found that recently I seem to be writing to myself…I figure there are many reasons that might be happening, but am hoping that maybe you’ll help me more specifically with figuring out some of them by answering some questions.  I’d LOVE to learn more about what you, my blog reader, is thinking!

  1. What kinds of blogs do you read and revisit often?
  2. What kinds of blogs do you comment on, and what makes you want to do that?
  3. Do you find yourself reading blogs/posts that are more word-focused, video-focused, photo-focused, or some combination of all of those?
  4. If you write a blog, what do you do to help invite conversations and interactions?
  5. What other suggestions do you have?

PLEASE, please, please take a few minutes to let me know what you’re thinking!  I’m a learner at heart, and this is an important place for that to happen!  Can’t wait to hear from you, friends! 🙂

 

It’s Summer–What Are You Reading? 2018 edition

If you’ve been around the block on EduTwitter, or even if you’ve been around for a while on this blog (when I used to post regularly!), you probably know about #IMWAYR–It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?  I have written about with highlights from my classroom , and also many times with my own reading.  This usually happens during the summer (which seems to be the only time I have time to both read and write!).  So here we are again, and I have a big ‘ole list of good ones to share. 🙂

It’s summer, and here’s what I’ve been reading!

Sprinkle Sundays, Mia’s Boiling Point and Smart Cookie:  I think I’ve written before on this blog about how I have a strange love of the intersection of cupcakes and books, and I started by summer reading headed down that road.  These all focus on middle-school girls and the first two also include their “tribes,” as well as at least one “mean girl.”  That whole structure is predictable, and as a 40-year-old mom/teacher it was a little silly (although I’m sure I acted exactly the same way when I was 12!), but I enjoyed them nonetheless.  I loved the way the girls were empowered to do their own thing, to become entrepreneurs, and also how they showed how cooking/baking can provide a powerful avenue for stress-relief and creativity.  Each of these stories has a strong family element, and show complicated relationships and problem-solving.  Maybe I’m just a sucker for a sweet book, but these did not disappoint. 🙂

Masterminds Trilogy by Gordon Korman: Without giving too much away (in case you haven’t read these yet but want to!), this trilogy tells the story about a special group of teenagers who discover just how special they are and then work (against most of the adults in their lives) to find answers to the questions that arise.  These books are all page-turners and I breezed through them!  They are the first that I have read by Korman, but I am interested in the countless others he’s written now. 🙂 . Thanks, Rachael, for the recommendation!

IMG_4274-min Epidemic by Reid Wilson:  So far this is the only non-fiction book I’ve read this summer.  I am a big fan of the NPR show The 1A, hosted by Joshua Johnson, and recently heard Reid Wilson, the author of this book, talking about the Ebola outbreak of 2014.  Unlike when I was a hypochondriac child (and would have been surely convinced I HAD ebola), I was interested in this topic and grabbed the book recently at the library.  It’s definitely science-heavy and also filled with way too many acronyms (which he thankfully explains), but was both interestingly written and informative.

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Who Stole New Year’s Eve? by Martha Freeman: I have read many other of the mysterious adventures of Alex Parakeet and Yasmeen Popp on Chickadee Ct, and Who’s Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas? is one of my favorites.  I have read it so many times on my own, and also to my students.  This one followed the same structure and involves most of the same familiar characters.  Loved it, too!

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 Rosetown by Cynthia Rylant: This one represents an old, favorite author I haven’t read in a long time, and who I really know mostly as a picture book author.  I have long been a fan of Cynthia Rylant, and so when I saw this on in the NEW section at the library, I snagged it.  Might add it to my class read aloud list for this year.

 

IMG_4269-minMoo by Sharon Creech:  I had to admit my hesitation of this book to Sharon Creech when I started reading it.  For some (dumb) reason, the fact that it was written in verse scared me.

I know–that makes NO SENSE, but it did. Can’t explain it.  But, as I told her, I should have trusted that EVERYTHING by Sharon Creech is amazing, and that since some of my favorite books were written by her, this would be a quick favorite, too.  And indeed it was.  Who knew I liked cows so much?

IMG_4709-minOne Hundred Spaghetti Strings by Jen Nails: See how I mentioned that I love books about food?  This one was definitely a “judge-a-book-by-its-cover” moment and I picked it just because it looked like it would be a story about a girl who cooks.  And it was.  I loved the way the character used food to figure out problems in her real life; this reminds me of how my husband uses cooking as his outlet, and also how I sometimes bake when I am in need of some “me” time to think things through.   I liked how all the recipes she made in the story were included in the back of the book.  Didn’t try any of them, but they looked tasty and like they might actually work!

The last four I’m going to mention were not the ones I read last, but I am mentioning them last because of the impact they had on me.  They are from authors I already love–Kate Messner and Katherine Applegate–but were titles that were new to me and that were about topics that were timely and hit on “big” ideas.  It’s one of the things I love about middle-grade fiction–helping kids work through important ideas and hard topics in the midst of a good story.  I am excited to try at least of these with my class this year; even first graders can handle deep conversations about big things.

IMG_4273-minWishtree by Katherine Applegate:  I know Katherine Applegate because of Ivan, and had heard the buzz about this book a few years ago but hadn’t yet read it.  And in full disclosure I didn’t actually “read” this book either–it was an audio book in my car on our recent family vacation.  (On a side note, this is one of our favorite things about traveling–sharing great stores together as a family.  Last summer it was Roald Dahl themed, previous years we devoured all of Christopher Paul Curtis’ books (we are HUGE Mighty Miss Malone fans), some years its just a mishmash of different ones none of us have heard.  Regardless of the author or the book, everyone loves this routine!).  So…the first big surprise was that the book is told by the tree.  Ha!!  I would NEVER have thought of that as a storyteller, but of course it makes perfect sense.  This one had some important things to say about being different, accepting others (specifically refugees/immigrants) and standing up for what’s right.  It’s a new favorite for sure!

IMG_4268-minThe Seventh Wish by Kate Messner: Here’s another title that I was SUPER late to the game on.  Sometimes teaching primary means I don’t always get to novels I want to read because I live in picture book world for much of the school year.  Sorry to have waited so long, but this one was TOTALLY WORTH THE WAIT!  I knew that this book dealt with the topic of addiction, and it did not disappoint with the reality of the story.  I have not personally been affected by drugs, but I can see how easily and quickly it can happen–even in “good” families with “good” kids raised by parents who did everything right.  No one is immune and I liked how through a sweet family story I got a peek into that world.  At first I wasn’t sure about the magic fish part, but now I’ve convinced that somehow that fantasy element balanced out the depth of the “hard” parts of the text.  I am SO glad I got to this one, and would recommend it to anyone. Ok, everyone, really! 🙂

fullsizeoutput_4b7-minHome of the Brave by Katherine Applegate: Oh my goodness.  Kek may be my new favorite character.  And remember how I was afraid of Moo written in poetry? This one was too, and was also had cows.  I LOVED the insights into immigrant life we got in this one, too, and how the story was told in such a real way.  Being able to see Kek’s bravery and spunk in the story was heartwarming and I love the way the story really dug into the definition of what home is, and where you find it when it seems so far away from where you are.

 

fullsizeoutput_4b6-minExact Location of Home by Kate Messner:  I found this book (which I had never heard about previously) after I read The Seventh Wish and decided I needed to check out all the rest of her books.  I loved the geocaching element of this story, as it’s an activity I learned about a couple of years ago in an after-school club I lead with a friend (plus there just aren’t many geocaching stories around I’d say!).  The “big” topic is in this book is homelessness, and the reality of how 1) quickly it can happen to those who least expect it, 2) it can happen to anyone, and that we probably know someone who is homeless (or as in this story living in a shelter) and might not even know it, and 3) homeless people are not crazy, weird, wrong, dangerous–often it happens because of things out of their control and they deserve the same respect as EVERYONE else.  People are people.  As I read this one, and connected it with the “home” theme in Home of the Brave, it got me thinking about a possible theme for my classroom this year….I’m excited to explore that topic with my students: what does it mean to them, how can we create stronger connections between home-school, and how can I make our classroom an extension of home.  I might try this as a read aloud this year, too, because like I mentioned in the last one, even little kids can tackle big topics.

And…right now I’m reading two more.  I feel a little funny putting them together in a picture here because of how completely opposite they are (one about Hurricane Katrina and the other about middle school girls who take a cooking class–ha!), but hey–variety is the spice of life, right?

I’ll share more when I finish. 🙂 . Come back to check it out, will you?

So I’m wondering a couple of things…

  1. What are you reading or have you read this summer (or whenever!) that I should check out?
  2. What topics/themes do you like to read about?

PLEASE leave a comment and let’s chat about books!!  There’s still a lot of summer left and I can’t wait to hear about what you’re reading!

 

 

Welcome to our First Grade Family! :)

Welcome to 1st Grade, Friends!

I am so excited you’re here!

The following letter contains 2636 words that will begin to shape your child’s first grade year (I know–it’s a little long.  Sorry!).  You will want to have your family sit and read this so you can all be excited about first grade together.  You should also have dancing shoes on (you’ll learn why later!) and your phone (or other recording device) handy.

Ready? Of course you are! Because you are all about to become…

First Grade and Fabulous!

I am excited for the year ahead – how about you??

Let’s get started!

First a little bit about me. 🙂  I am going into my 18th year of teaching and every one of them has been at Robinson!  I even did my student-teaching here long ago, so Robinson is definitely my home-away-from-home.  In my real home I have a fabulous family that I love dearly.  My husband, Grant, is a teacher, too, in Mehlville.  He has taught 3rd, 4th and 5th grade.  We have a 11YO son, Riley, who is in starting MIDDLE SCHOOL, y’all! (Not sure how this happened but we’re excited for a new chapter. 🙂 )  We also have a daughter named Allison–we call her Allie–who is 7 1/2.  She goes to Robinson and you might even know her (if not, I’m sure you’ll meet her soon).  We LOVE (yep, love) Disney World, and travel there often.  Chicago is another one of our favorite places to travel to together.  We also just like to hang out together at home (or anywhere, really) and spend time with each other.  So that’s me.  What about you? Can’t wait to learn more about YOUR family!

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Like I said, this is my 18th year as a teacher, and every year, I begin the school year as a different person. I decide on that first day and then every day thereafter, who I am as a teacher. What is important to me. What I want to accomplish. What I want my students to see when they come to school. I choose that. I don’t let other people tell me who I will be and I don’t just be who I think other people want me to be. I read, I think, I write and then I decide.

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Today is your day!  Choose how you will use it. 🙂

Parents, I am excited to find out who YOUR CHILD will be!  

Another wondering: What is important to you? What is important to your child?

There are lots of things that are important to me: my husband and my kids, sharing ideas, reading, writing, being able to have a conversation, making things, discovering things, sharing what I know, staying healthy and active, sleeping in, staying up late and knowing when to say sorry (and when to say nothing at all!).

As a teacher, there are a few more things that are important to me:

* YOU and YOUR CHILD!:   They’re the reason I’m there, after all right?  It is important for me to get to know your child (and your family!), and know them well.  Not just as a learner, but as a kid, too.  I want to know what they like, what they don’t like, what makes them tick.  Who they are.  That’s ok, right? 🙂

* Respect: At Robinson, it’s pretty much what we’re all about.  I expect respect to be a huge thing in our classroom.  I will respect your child, and I expect them to respect me, as well as everyone else in our community.  This counts when we agree and even when we don’t.  I have a saying that I learned from my good friend Mrs. Ford years ago, that is really important with this whole respect thing.  It’s this: You are not the sun. In other words, the world does not revolve around you, and there are lots of other people in our classroom that have needs, wants, likes, dislikes, etc., that we need to take into account.  I love your child, but I love everyone else, too!  Additionally, it is SUPER important to me that we learn to love each other as people, learn to support each other, learn to cheer when our friends do well (and know that that doesn’t mean anything negative about us), learn to encourage each other when they need it, learn to understand and appreciate how we’re different as much as how we’re the same, and learn to learn together.  We are in this together and none of us will be as successful alone as we can alongside each other.  That’s a life lesson, not just a 1st grade lesson.  🙂

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Maybe you saw our #classroombookaday wall in the mail hallway.  We made it to 560 books last year!  Here’s to another great year of reading in first grade!

*Reading: I know–you’re thinking, “well isn’t every subject important?”  And yes, to a point, that’s true.  But in my opinion, one of the single most indicators of success in life (and let’s face it, enjoyment as well!) is developing a love of reading.  I ask that you join me in the task of helping your child LOVE reading.  I am sure they’re probably already on their way, but let’s keep it up together!  Read to them as well as with them.   Share your own reading with them.  Read in front of them.  Show them the importance of words and how you can lose yourself in the right text.  HAVE FUN and help them do the same!  I hope that I will do my part to encourage all of these things as well! (In case you want to see more about how important this is, read about our #classroombookaday challenge from a previous year here).

*Writing: Words are important.  They help us to communicate and tell our stories.  When you write those words, you can deepen thinking and learning, as well as better process things you heard or are still thinking about (I know this is one of the most important reasons I write!).  We will write, write, write in Rm. 111, just like we will read, read, read!  (And no, don’t worry about correct spelling or perfect handwriting–everyone is allowed to make mistakes, the message is the most important part!)

* Mistakes:  I expect your child to make them. 🙂   I want them (and you!) to learn to work through it when it’s hard and figure out what to do.   I want them to feel the joy and success of learning something new because they persevered!  Not everything will be easy here. And that’s ok. We’re in it together and I’ll help you all along the way. 🙂 THIS IS A PLACE WHERE WE WILL BE GRITTY!

* Collaboration: I love to share ideas and get ideas and try new things and even when those things fail, I know I am just one step closer to finding what does work. I love to work with other teachers to figure things out and find new solutions to old problems.  But just as much as working with adults, I love to collaborate with students.  I love to hear what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling about things, what they think would be the best way to learn something.  It’s OUR classroom, and often your kiddos’ ideas are WAY better than mine.  I know I’ll share lots of examples with your child (and you!) about how that’s happened to me over the years.

Aside from collaborating with me, though, they’ll be collaborating with each other!  Your child will have lots of opportunities to share with their classmates, to give ideas, ask questions, prove reasoning and challenge each other.  I expect that we will work together to help EVERYONE in our class be the best they can be.  Together we’ll achieve much more than we would if we tried to do it on our own. 🙂  Reminds me of a sign I saw in Disney World at the Animal Kingdom:

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I like to say that in our room, everyone is a teacher and a learner.

And as a new level of collaboration and learning, we will be combining with and I will be co-teaching with Ms. Turken for many things this year.  Be ready to hear your kiddo talk about a whole other class of kiddos, and their “other” teacher, Ms. Turken.  We had such an amazing year last go-round and are excited for another! Can’t wait to share more as we go forward!!

* Curiosity: There is no better way to learn something than to ask a question.  It is DEFINITELY how I learn, and so please understand if you find me asking you (or your child) lots of questions as a means of figuring out how best to meet their needs or to connect with your family.  In turn, I hope you will feel comfortable to ask me any questions you may have, and the perhaps most importantly, your child will feel comfortable to ask me–and their classmates–questions when they need to.  Knowing when to ask for help is an important part of learning. 🙂  Also, WONDER is a natural part of being a kid, as well as a super important part of learning something new.  WONDER is something that I will always encourage, and hopefully many things we learn together will start as someone’s wondering about the world.

 

* Technology : I  love technology because it allows me to connect to new ideas. I like to think about what I want to do and look for tools to help me do it. I want to hear your ideas on technology and what works for you–and I ask that you be open to trying new things (that goes for BOTH you and your learner). We will be using technology in many new and exciting ways this year, so get ready!  You child may be blogging, using Twitter, Schoology, Seesaw (which is an AMAZING app that allows endless ways for your child to share their learning with me, their peers AND YOU!) and other sites (like Skype to connect with other learners around the world), using iPads, making videos of learning and trying out many new things that we may not even know about yet.  Whatever we do, though, the goal is always learning.  We will use technology in meaningful ways to better create new knowledge.  Excited?  I know I am!  PLEASE let me know what–if any–apprehensions you have in this area, either for you or your student.  This will be an important area for us to explore together. 🙂

* Community: Our class, our families, our school, our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country, our world. There are so many amazing people doing amazing things.  I am hoping to integrate your family stories into our classroom this year, taking full advantage of all of the amazing things each one of us has to offer.  That might mean I ask you (grown-ups) to come read to us, teach us something, help us make something, send in things, etc.  We want EVERYONE to be a part of the Rm. 111 family!!  One of our first units this year will be learning about our names and families so stay tuned!

IMG_4820* Taking risks: I like to take risks.  I hope you do too. It is scary sometimes and it fails sometimes but sometimes, more often, it is just A-MAZ-ING! Usually when you do something scary you do things you never thought you could.  You surprise yourself.  And then you want to do more! Someone smart once said “Fear and Excitement are shades of the same color”. Cool, huh?  (Parents, this is true for you as much as it is for your kiddo!! 🙂

HANG IN THERE….You’re almost done!

OK…if you made it this far and are still with me, congratulations, you (and your kiddo) are a rock star. Stop reading right now and do some kind of victory dance.  No really, go ahead.  Dance.  I’ll wait.  Better yet, have someone video tape your dance and send it to me!  I’ll even post it on our blog! (Did you see the posts where I did that with my last class?  They didn’t believe that I’d do it, either. 🙂 )

So….what now? How can you best prepare for the extreme awesomeness of first grade?

  1. Have a great summer! Be extraordinary.
  2. Read something.  Write something.  Wonder something.  This will get your learning muscles warmed up. 🙂
  3. If you have any questions you can always email me. Anytime. No question to big or too small.
  4. Think about what I said about who you want your child to be. Most importantly, remember that everyone else in our class is thinking about that too. Be gracious to those who are brave enough to set lofty goals and make the effort to become an even better version of themselves.
  5. Talk with your family about how you would define HOME.  I really want to make our classroom a comfortable, warm place were our school family can feel safe to get down and dirty, taking chances and making mistakes and LEARNING TONS!  I want this to include pieces of each of our homes.  I will send a survey to you later, where you can give share your ideas, but I wanted to get your thinking about it now. 🙂
  6. THIS ONE IS FOR THE KIDDOS!: Look around your house (or your computer, maybe) for a picture of your family.  I’d love to be able to decorate our room with us–pictures of all the people who help make us who we are and who encourage us to do our best.  I want to be able to fill our room with love, support and smiling faces, so please bring a 3×5, 4×6 or 5X7 picture (framed if possible–but don’t stress over this part!) with you to Open House or on the first day of school.  And if you don’t have one, don’t worry!  We’ll take your picture!

Despite having now used more than two thousand words, there are no words to describe how excited I am about working with you next year!

Here’s To Being First Grade and Fabulous!

♥ Mrs. Bearden

PS. If you didn’t get up and dance before and are now wishing you did, there is still time to do it. Anytime. Send me that video with your best moves (we’ll check these out together once we’re all in school together.  Fun, right?).

When you have had a chance to relax, digest this letter (maybe talk about it with your family or friends) and get your first grade brain tuned up, I would love for your child to write to me to introduce yourself, ask questions, maybe respond to something you read in this letter that made you think.  An email, postcard or a good ‘ole letter via snail mail is great!  Don’t worry–there’s still loads of time before school starts!  You can send your letter to Robinson, c/o of Mrs. Bearden at 803 S. Couch Ave., Kirkwood, MO 63122.

I look forward meeting you!

Mrs. Bearden: Email–jennifer.bearden@kirkwoodschools.org; Phone–314-213-6100 x4211 (after August 9)

Twitter: @jbeardensclass (This is our class feed, and we will tweet here together with my supervision and instruction.  It’s a great way to stay on top of what’s going on in our classroom since you don’t get to be there every day!  Follow us!)

Blog: http://www.20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher.com Feel free to leave me a comment here to let me know what you thought, what you wonder, how your summer has been, etc….this is always a great place to talk to me! 🙂  Also–if you have a minute while you’re here, go ahead and subscribe to the blog feed.  That way you’ll never miss anything that happens here.  I add things often and you’ll want to read it all!!  Just click on the button on the right side of the page and add your email address. 🙂

**Thanks to @terSonya for help with writing this post! Like I said, I love to share ideas!**

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!

Lego Challenges With Mrs. Sisul

We had an amazing 1st-day-back-from-Spring-Break today!  Our principal, Mrs. Sisul, has been learning about engineering and STEM with Legos, and volunteered to come set us up with some Lego challenges if we were interested.  Well, yes, of course, Rm. 202 friends were interested!  Luckily she was free this afternoon and came on up with her big ‘ole box of Legos!  Check out what happened! 🙂

She started with a quick reminder of what STEM means (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and then introduced what we would be doing: every kid would get a card with a challenge and they would work to do that challenge with Legos.  Pretty straightforward, right?  Well, they she led us through a great line of thinking about how we work best, and how kiddos would have the choice of how they tackled the challenge: alone, with a partner, a group of 3, a group of 4–whatever worked for each kiddo.  She shared her example that she knows that as a learner she likes to be able to bounce ideas off of another learner, and so she’d focus on finding another person to work with.  She asked me to share my strategy, and I talked about how I knew that that plan would DEFINITELY not work for me.  I am the kind of learner who needs to process and plan by myself first, and then I might want to work with someone else to blend ideas, get a critique or ask a question.  I know that if I went with a partner right off the bat, I wouldn’t have anything to share with them–so if I was Mrs. Sisul’s partner, I wouldn’t be a very helpful partner!  Right off the top I could tell that Rm. 202 kiddos were thinking about what would work for them, and they knew what would be best.  We had all sorts of groups–singles, partners and groups of 3.  Some kiddos worked alone, but right next to another friend so they could get feedback that way.

Ok, once teams were developed, Mrs. Sisul gave the guidelines for how kiddos would get their Legos.  She walked them through a planning session where they were to really think through what kinds of Legos they’d need.  She would call names of kiddos 3-4 at a time, and they’d have 30 seconds to “block shop” and then get started.  Once everyone had an initial visit to the pile, they were free to come back for more.  And since it would be virtually impossible for me to explain the amazingness with which these kiddos followed this protocol, I had to record it.  Check out what it was like when Mrs. Sisul dumped the Legos:

Once we got started, I roamed around and got some footage of them working. I know, kiddos wanted me to do the challenges, too–but I couldn’t document it to share with you if I did that!  Maybe next time. 🙂

Here are some videos that share more of their thinking while they got started:

This one has some great thinking about what happens when things are hard (which this was for some of us!):

There’s one more, and it’s really the one I’m the most tickled about.  It’s an example of what happened in our room when we put 20 kids and 2000 Legos together.  I want you to think about what you see first, but then I’ll tell you why I liked it:

As I watched this video, I noticed these things:

  • quiet voices
  • pleases and thank yous
  • kiddos finding pieces for others
  • sharing
  • everyone just taking what they needed
  • no one grabbing, hogging or arguing
  • kiddos respectfully letting others into the circle
  • focus
  • engagement
  • motivation
  • laughter
  • encouragement
  • respect for self, learning, others and the environment

What did you see? (Please leave us a comment and let us know–Rm. 202 kiddos would LOVE to hear what you thought and would LOVE to know you watched their super hard working!)

Ok, I know you’re wondering what some of those challenges looked like, and how they tackled them.  Here are some examples.  And yes, they told me I could. 🙂

This was definitely one of those touchstone moments in our classroom that we will return to for many days and weeks to come (darn, I only wish we’d done it earlier in the year!).  I know that we walked away with many things (and I hope to share what those were in THEIR WORDS soon), but one of them definitely was that there is not one way to solve a problem.  We could each access each of these challenges in our own way, and use whatever skills, ideas–and Legos!–that we wanted to in order to achieve our goal.  One friend even decided to do the same challenge twice to make it even harder for himself!  We are builders and thinkers and problem-solvers in Rm. 202 and this was definitely right up our alley!  Come back any time, Mrs. Sisul!