Riley Helps Out: Rm. 202 Kids Take Over–Part 4

The subtitle of this should add: “And Allie does a little bit, too!”

After kiddos left on Monday and we had our chart of what they wanted in our new room layout, Riley and Allie and I got busy.  And in case you’re new here and aren’t sure who I mean, let me show you my cutie-pie kiddos.  Riley is in 4th grade this year and Allie is a new kindergartner at our school.  It has been fun to have them join me at school, and is also great how often they help me in my teaching.  They have such great ideas and different takes on things than me–I like to throw things at them and see what they think I should do.  They are often the ones that help me come down off the ledge and keep me from doing things that are TOO crazy in Rm. 202.  Thanks, kiddos. 🙂

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And…this year Riley has become the superstar room planner of my dreams. 🙂  Because he has been in such a responsive and collaborative classroom this year, he’s learned a lot about how to really think through how your space works and how to fix things when they don’t work the way you wanted them to work.

So after reviewing the chart my class had made and thinking about how we could best use the furniture and room space available to us, we let the ideas fly.  I love that I could hear what the conversations had been like in his room as he said things like “Let’s just try it and see what we think” or “What about this?”  He had some great ideas for where each zone should go and gave conclusive support as to why they made sense.  My favorite part was when he used our cubbies to create the hands-on zone on one side of the room, explaining that the height of the cubbies would create a nice sound barrier as kids worked there.  It’s a place my cubbies have NEVER been and I had NEVER thought of putting them there.  The block box fits PERFECTLY into the corner of it and there’s plenty of floor space and table spaces for kids to work creatively and collaboratively without bothering each other.  Genius!

He suggested the corner be where we put the reading zone (again–a place I have NEVER put the library in the 5 years I’ve been in this room), because it allowed us to have a white board to put charts, share ideas, and it created a cozy space.  He wanted the shelves to face outward so we could put the soft pillows against them to provide a nice place to sit.  AND we found a way to use 3 cubbies to stack tall enough for a lamp to light the area.  It’s one of the only places in my room with an outlet, so again–genius move, Riley. 🙂

The rug is next to our ActivBoard now and is a nice, open space for our class to meet together, or for partners to work or even for kiddos to work alone with lots of space.  I have lots of favorite parts, but the back corner near the sink is now officially called The Kitchen, and has our big ‘ole kitchen table to work at.  I’ve always wanted a space like that in my classroom, to  help bring home to school, and I think it’s going to be just what I’d hoped for.

While I wanted to have a tour and some pictures in this post, I think those make more sense in later parts of the story.  In fact, my kiddos will be working on how to present how our room works as we begin this next week together.  I want them to tell how it’s changed our lives and explain the best parts of the new layout.  Stay tuned for that!

Also in the plans for next week is an invitation to Mrs. LeSeure’s class to come check out our space.  Without them and their expertise, I don’t think our space would have been so well-imagined.  You guys rock!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We talked and put together a chart of our thoughts.

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

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

Do You Really Want a Turtle?

By the second day of school, my new Rm. 202 friends were already asking me about why we didn’t have a class pet.  What??  Were they serious?  They had found out about Mrs. L’s turtle, Javy (because of a sibling we have in 4th grade), and many had seen Ms. Turken’s water turtle, Bradford, who lives next door to us in Rm. 203.  And so already my friends were turtle-crazy.

The problem?  It was the second day of school, I didn’t have a turtle, nor did I really know anything about them (or had we decided yet as a class if we needed one or could take care of it!).  So Ms. Turken and I devised a little plan: her class was going to learn about turtles anyway, because of Bradford and their interest in them, and they could teach us about what we might need to know about what would be the best kind of turtle to have as a pet (I had noticed that Mrs. L’s turtle–who is actually a “cousin” to Bradford–is a box turtle, as opposed to Bradford, who is a water turtle): box or water.

Well, they worked and researched and wondered and wrote and last Friday they were ready to share their information with us.  They came over after lunch on our half day to present their research.  We were SUPER impressed with how organized and professional they were with their words and how well they used the microphone, stood so we could see them, and were so quiet and listening when it wasn’t their turn.  Again a group of first graders was knocking my socks off!

Like I said, Rm. 203 friends were SUPER turtle researchers and taught us a lot.  And yes, now our turtle craze is even greater than before.  We even found this book to read together to teach us more:

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And luckily, I now also have a connection to a turtle.  Updates to follow on whether or not a turtle joins the Rm. 202 family to come….:)

 

Birthday Flash Mob

Ever heard of a flash mob?  Ever seen one?  Well if you were at our school last Friday, March 30, you could have both seen one and participated in one like we did!

It was our principal, Mrs. Sisul’s, birthday that day, and our head custodian, Mr. Maus’ birthday was on Saturday.  So Mrs. Kesler, our music teacher, helped our whole school learn a dance that we surprised them with that afternoon.  The dance was planned by another 5th grade class, Mrs. LeSeure’s class from Rm. 202 next door.

Check out the video here:

After the flash mob-dancing-singing part, we all got to enjoy an ice cream sandwich treat before we went back to finish out our Friday.  What a great end to a great week back from Spring Break!

Check out how great we all look there on the driveway!  We’re getting ready to surprise Mrs. Sisul.

  

    

Mrs. Sisul sharing some hugs with our class!  WE LOVE HER!!

Happy Birthday to Mr. Maus, too!  (Sorry I got your balloons instead of your smiling face!)

One thing I love about our school is that we really know how to celebrate each other!  Great idea, Mrs. Kesler and super job on the dance, Mrs. LeSeure’s class!

How do you celebrate birthdays at your school?  Have you ever seen or been a part of a flash mob?  Tell us about it!