Hour of Code: Our Favorite Part of the Week!

Remember when I showed this picture from my last post?

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Remember that kiddos wanted to code?  Well if we had asked them that a week before, many of them would not have had any idea of what that even meant.  But thanks to friends in our school like Ms. Turken (our Rm. 203 neighbor) and Mrs. Sisul (our AMAZING principal), we are now ROCKSTAR coders and LOVE to spend any minute we have creating with code.org and our Scratch Jr. app on our iPads.

In response to that question I asked in our teacher group, Mrs. Sisul suggested that she come spend some Hour of Code time with my class. OF COURSE I said yes!

She started by explaining to Rm. 202 kids how they are all smarter than computers.  Some of them weren’t so sure about this, but then she explained that everything a computer does has to be entered by a human, who writes in a special language telling the machine what it should do.

Then we watched in intro movie about people who code and how and why they do that.  Next she explained about how there are two languages that computers understand, BLOCK and JAVA SCRIPT.  We were going to start with the block kind of coding, using a really popular movie as our topic–STAR WARS!!

We got started and indeed were able to spend an HOUR OF CODE before we went home that day.  In fact, we probably could have spent DAYS and DAYS of CODE if we were able to.  Rm. 202 coders are so excited by what happens when they put the right blocks in the right places and the game works the way they want it to!  Many of them got all the way to level 8 and were able to CREAT THEIR OWN GAME by using blocks.  Amazing, right?  Many kiddos have been using Scratch Jr. to do some pretty great things, too!  I’m excited by their excitement and by how well this fits into the creativity, curiosity and wonder that is a foundation of our classroom culture.  Thanks for teaching us this new language, Mrs. Sisul–we’re excited to become fluent in using it!  Hope to be able to share more soon! 🙂

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week 9

This was a short week at school (we only had Weds-Fri), so our list is a little smaller than other weeks.  But believe me it is no less amazing! (Oh, and by the way, I realized that picture looks like we’re a little closer to filling up our door than we actually are….still a couple more weeks away. 🙂 ).

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Here’s the close up of the week (which I realized I don’t usually share):

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This week we started with another Mo Willems title we hadn’t read, as well as a Kate Klise book that kiddos read last year before she came to visit.  On Thursday we were lucky to have Mrs. Sisul swing by with her brand-spanking new copy of Hotel Bruce, which she had promised to read to us when she came with Mother Bruce earlier this year.  She had a great story about how she had gotten her copy from her favorite local bookstore and had also celebrated Bruce’s book birthday last Tuesday.  We read two Pigeon books for our punctuation study, and The Reader for the Global Read Aloud this week.   Two of our books were recommendations from our friend Rachel, and then lastly we were lucky to have a familiar 4th grade friend come and read to us on Friday.  Remember when Allie came to read Naked to us?  Well, during that visit they had asked if Riley could come, too, and Friday he finally came!  His grade was having a whole day reading celebration and so he spent some of his time reading Mustache Baby Meets His Match to us.   We LOVED it!

Another successful reading week!  Our count is up to 161 so far, which is SO AMAZING!  Can’t wait to see what this coming week holds! 🙂

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week 6

Wow–I feel like every week I say “I can’t believe it’s been this long already!” but again, I say I can’t believe it’s been SIX WEEKS of the bookaday challenge.  But even more, I can’t believe we’re already at 124 books!!  I love that some said today, “I wonder if we’ll get to 1000 soon!” Ok, so maybe it means I need to do some more place value work, but I also think it speaks to the love of reading and books that is growing in Rm. 202.  And I love it!

Beyond just sharing the “door picture” like I’ve been doing every week, I want to highlight a little about what has happened with some of the books we read this week, as well as some wonderings that have come up this week as we’ve been reading.

First our latest picture:

img_4361I feel like I say this every week now, too, but looking at this just makes me happy!

We started the week reading a book recommended by Mrs. Sisul when she was in our room last time–Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers.  We’re already fans of Stuck and Lost and Found, and had wanted to try some others (I have a couple of others in the TBR basket right now actually!).   We were supposed to take a vote after we read it and let Mrs. Sisul know if she should share that one with the rest of Robinson, too, and we voted YES!

A quick favorite this week was Are We There, Yeti? by Ashton Anstee, which we actually learned about because of our love of all things Emily Arrow.  Oh, come on, you know her–the Dot Day song lady.  Well…since we’re subscribed to her YouTube Channel, we know there are loads of other great book/song combinations she’s created, and this was one of them.  I’m posting the song below, but beware, it’s very catchy!!  I’m planning on using the lyrics to this song as our shared reading text next week, which I think will be really cool.

We added two more Elephant and Piggie books this week (how you can not LOVE those?): I Will Fly Today and Can I Play Too?  Both were great, but we laughed especially loud at the joke in CIPT: the friend who wants to play is a snake, and Elephant and Piggie are trying to play ball.  Lots of craziness ensues, but the end is a happy one where the snake thanks them for playing “with” their friend.  Yep–they throw him!  We definitely LOL’d when we saw that one. 🙂  And speaking of Elephant and Piggie (thanks Mo Willems for writing these amazing little gems!), we ended the week with a box from Amazon that had two new books in it!!  Thanks Raebers!  We’re excited to read I Love New Toy on Monday. 🙂

Kaiden brought in a big pile of books from home this week (I love that kids are starting to do that regularly and share their favorite titles with the rest of us!), and we shared two of them so far: Zoo Looking by Mem Fox and Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony.

We have a Mem Fox author box in our library, so Kaiden thought this would be a good one to read to introduce our class to her writing.  He brought Please, Mr. Panda because we’ve been working so hard on using kind words and being respectful.  That one hdd a great lesson about how it feels when people are rude to you as opposed to how it feels when others use manners.  We liked them both and learned form them, too!

I found a great one–The Best Book to Read–at the library on my last visit and was excited to finally share it with my kiddos on Thursday.  We had a great conversation about what the “best” book to read would be, and how that means something different to everyone. Mara suggested that every book is the best book to read.  She ended up being right!  This book also started some great conversations about libraries, and what special places they are, as well as an important discussion about library cards and what amazing treasures those can be!  It started a plan for a walking field trip soon!  We are so excited!

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Lastly, Mrs. Sisul came back again (isn’t it amazing that our principal reads to us!?) to read Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev.

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It was on her list during the first rotation of Principal Read Alouds, but I had her save it for a later time.  Her visit today was purposely tied to our conversations lately about including everyone, being kind to others, and the fact that I had found an Emily Arrow song about it!  Perfect, right??  I know, eventually I might stop gushing about her amazingness, but for now I’ll just share another song. 🙂

Mr. Schu in the Lou!

Sometimes I write in order, partly so the stories make sense, but also so I don’t forget anything.  Sometimes, though, things happen that you just have to tell about.  Today was one of those days!

Yeah, did you hear?  Mr. Schu was in the Lou!!  Oh, come on.  Lou, like St. Louis!  YES–HE WAS IN ST. LOUIS, AND HE WAS IN OUR SCHOOL! AND HE READ TO US!

Ok, sorry, I’ll stop yelling.  I just LOVE that librarians and teachers and authors can be celebrities.  And he is definitely a celebrity to me Mrs. Sisul our principalour fabulous librarian, Mrs. Meihaus;our fabulous librarian, Mrs. Meihaus; and lots of teachers who know him from Scholastic (Mrs. Scanlon!) and Twitter (loads more wonderful people I don’t want to mention so I don’t forget anyone. 🙂 ).

Mr. Schumacher (which is his real name), was in town for something with Scholastic (I am guessing…he’s the Ambassador for Libraries so he’s all around talking to kids about books.  Yeah, I’m kind of jealous of that job!), and was kind enough to take an invitation from many Kirkwood Schools (along with many other places from the way everyone’s talking about him, too!).  We were one of the grade levels that was lucky enough to meet him.  Our turn was this afternoon, and we visited with our friends Ms. Lewis’ class.

Much of Mr. Schu’s job includes sharing book talks as a means of getting books in kids’ hands, and that’s what I expected him to do; I knew our class would lean LOADS of new titles we wanted to read.  But then he stopped telling us about a good book and started READING a good book to us.  Amazing.

The book he shared with us was this one (which none of us had ever heard of before):

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This book is much like our favorite Pete the Cat books, and we loved how it had reading and SINGING!  Oh, and we added in dancing, too!

I didn’t catch the whole thing, but here’s a highlight of the awesome Mr. Schu with some even more awesome first grade listeners:

And then, what do you do when you meet a celebrity, but take a picture with them??  We had to, of course. 🙂

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And then take a silly one, just for fun. 🙂

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We love you and the books you share, Mr. Schu!  Thanks for coming to St. Louis!!  Come again soon?  If not, we’ll have to schedule a Skype call! 🙂

Principal Read Alouds

We are SUPER lucky to have a literary principal at Robinson School.  Is that the right word for a book-lovin’, read-aloud-givin’, kid-supportin’ administrator who visits to share GREAT NEW BOOKS with students?  Whatever you call it, we’re very blessed.  I know some of it has to do with her past life as a teacher, but she’s also a mom, and a veracious reader herself.  And she wants to share that with us!  LOVE IT!

So…thus far she’s been in 3 times (which is pretty great since we’ve only been in school for 3 weeks!), and shared some great titles with us.

For her first visit she brought Excellent Ed, and helped us think about what we’re already great at, then make goals for things we’re still working on.  This fit in perfectly with our butterflies. 🙂

Then she came back to read Stuck to us and teach us to “try one more time!”  That lesson has come into play loads of times already, even just right afterwards when Nicholas was telling the story about how he learned to tie his shoes when his dad gave him one more demonstration. 🙂

And THEN she came back again today and read us a funny story that we can all pick up when we head to our Book Fair starting tomorrow (great timing, huh??), Mother Bruce. This was a great one, but on the first read I wonder if Mrs. Sisul and I thought it was funnier than Rm. 202 kids did.  Oh well–the adults were entertained! LOL

Oh, and I must mention one more thing about this whole principal read aloud thing…I love Mrs. Sisul’s excitement for literacy and books and how she inspires my kiddos to be readers when she comes so jazzed up about books (and yes, that is definitely the right word for it!), but what I love even more is that she takes her time to show Robinson kids they matter by doing this, too.  Goodness knows principals have tens of thousands of things to do in a day (all of which are important), but I appreciate that she makes time for kids first.  My Rm. 202 friends know Mrs. Sisul as a friend, a reader, an adult with a connection, a lover of humor, someone with grit and most of all a person.  She’s not just a disciplinarian or a stranger in the office that no one ever sees–she’s a part of our community and we LOVE to have her visit.  🙂

Ok, Mrs. Sisul–what will you bring us next??   (Please don’t make us wait until November for the next Mother Bruce book!! 🙂 )

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!