Mystery Skype in First Grade–FINALLY!

I have talked about Mystery Skype many, many times on this blog over the years (because it’s an AMAZING learning experience and man is it fun!!), but if you’re new here you might not know much about it, or even what it is.  If that’s the case, please check out this post that I wrote a few years ago to explain how it works, then come back and read about how it’s going in first grade this year!!

While Mystery Skype encompasses a long list of skills and concepts that first graders need to know and apply, we chose to begin it now because we were going to begin a geography study and knew this would be a SPOT ON and FUN way to do what we needed to do with our kiddos.

Rather than just jumping right in, we did a little bit of work beforehand, and talked about what we already knew or what we noticed about maps.  Kiddos got a partner and a map and talked.  Like we figured, they already knew a lot about how maps work.

I didn’t get a picture of the chart, but kiddos’ post-its showed that they already knew about how blue means water; that usually the green parts mean land; that the stars, dots, etc., stand for places/cities; and that there is a place (which we will later on call the key or legend) that tells you what all those symbols mean.

Ms. Turken’s class was a day ahead of us in our geography study and so had had a chance to talk about regions and where certain states are in our country.  The next day, then, we joined forces and put our kids together to do some co-teaching and kid-teaching about what they had learned.  Rm. 112 brought their maps to share and we talked about how we could use this new learning to help us determine where someone was during a Mystery Skype.

In addition to the idea of using regions to help us, we also highlighted how the Mississippi River is another important natural feature we can use to help us narrow down locations.  We marked it on our maps, and the practiced asking yes/no questions and kiddos figured out which state I had chosen.  During this practice round, we also talked about borders and how we can ask if the state borders another country or a body of water.

After both groups had had a chance to practice (one with me and one with Ms. Turken doing the same thing), we were ready to try it for real. 🙂

Luckily, Ms. Turken has many family members who live in other places and who are game to play with us!  Since we had two Skype sessions scheduled, we decided to use them as an opportunity for more teaching and learning.  One group asked the questions and then the other were the observers, so see how it worked.  We would then switch the next day.  We talked to one brother on Thursday, and very quickly figured out he was in Colorado.  We were EXCITED that we had figured it out!

Kiddos showed that they were TOTALLY listening and learning in our practice rounds, and asked great questions about all that we had discussed.  They used regions, the Mississippi River and borders to help them!  Way to go, first grade friends!

Then on Friday, we talked to another brother, and the second group got a chance to try out their Skyping skills!

Again we were able to use what we know to determine his location! YEEHAA!!  He was able to use his phone to show us some great pictures of the water he lives and works next to, as well.  We liked that part. 🙂

So…we’ve begun a really exciting Mystery Skype journey that has taken us to Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Colorado already.  Wonder where we’ll go next?!  Stay tuned!

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 8

What a SUPER week for reading in first grade!  Ok, well it’s always great, but when we’re doing #classroombookaday AND the Global Read Aloud at the same time, it’s extra magical. 🙂

Our count is up to 132 and here’s what our wall looks like:

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Isn’t it beautiful?  I mean, really?! I could stand there and study it all day long–and I’m sure many Robinson kids could (and would!), too, if we’d let them. 🙂

This week we read these books:

As I have written briefly about (and even mentioned here!), we started the Global Read Aloud this week, and have loved beginning our study of Australian culture and Mem Fox’s books.  Along with the “assigned” GRA books, we have also added in a nonfiction book about koalas (to help us understand Koala Lou), as well as two other Mem Fox stories.  We ended our week on a sweet note as we read about how Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge shared memories with Ms. Nancy and helped her remember. 🙂

As is usual in my classroom, we added in some beloved authors’ books to add to the collection.  This week it was another Todd Parr book (yep–there are still some we haven’t read yet!) and another Ame Dyckman, because well, she’s awesome and why not?  I also shared King Baby by Kate Beaton this week because we had also read The Princess and the Pony earlier this year.  That one got lots of laughs. 🙂

Ok…and now let me tell you a story about some books we didn’t love.  In some ways I feel bad about writing this.  Feel like we’re supposed to just read “good” books, so to speak, and/or find something that I like in every text we read.  But then again, reading is personal and everyone likes different things, right?  It might have just been that the timing of when we read them was not ideal.  One afternoon this week I had a “we-just-need-to-sit-down-and-enjoy-a-book-together” moment, after a really rough morning.  I explained how reading with people I love, experiencing a good book together makes me feel better.  And then….we read Pig the Pug.  And Pig the Winner.  And, oh my goodness…no one felt any better!  The looks on the faces of some of my friends was priceless as we read about how greedy and mean and inappropriate Pig’s choices were.  He would NOT make a very good Roadrunner and his books were FULL of unexpected behaviors.  Ok, so at least we learned some things we should NOT do.  There–I found something positive to say. 🙂  Oh, and we didn’t add it to the wall yet (because Ms. Turken hasn’t read it), but we then had to read The Grandma Book (by Todd Parr) and How to Find a Fox (both very funny) to make up for those first two.  Then we could move on. 🙂

We read Jabari Jumps this week and enjoyed finding parts that we could relate to, as well as encouraging him on as he tried something that he was scared to do.  I was so happy as my friends were telling him, “No, don’t stop now!” and how we could discuss positive self-talk that we can use when we’re nervous about something new.

Only One You and Animalogies were both used as prompts for learning activities–one with Mrs. Berger and another for an art project that we’re doing for a school celebration in a couple of weeks.  We read Even Superheros Have Bad Days.  We were a little worried–after those yucky books the day before–and because the title seemed to signal bad news.  BUT, we read this one and LOVED it!  It was a perfect connection to another book we have read,  We Can Get Along.  It had some SUPER examples about how superheroes COULD do some pretty terrible things when they’re upset, but then INSTEAD they could also choose to respond in more appropriate, expected ways.  This book ended up being EXACTLY what Roadrunners do–use breathing strategies and Peace Places and other things to help them get back to center.   Whew!

And then there’s One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree…  I read this one last year, and I know it’s great, but this year it was perhaps an even greater read, because Mrs. Sisul came to share it with us as her principal read aloud.  She was very excited about it, and her love of both the book and reading to kids showed.  And this made us love it even more!

I didn’t get a recording of the whole thing, but I had to get at least a little so you could hear what it sounded like. 🙂

See?  Told you it was good. 🙂  Oh, I forgot to tell you, but first graders made some predictions about what kind of book she’d bring with her to share with us, and we predicted something by Todd Parr or Mem Fox because that’s who we’re studying.  Good guesses, first grade. 🙂

 

#GRA17 is FINALLY HERE!

I think it was two years ago when I first officially joined the Global Read Aloud.  We were reading The Year of Billy Miller that year and I was teaching 2nd grade.  I was invited by my Tweep Tam in Australia and was excited to collaborate worldwide with other kids and teachers reading the same text.  Then last year, as I returned to 1st grade, I brought Ms. Turken along for the ride and had an even more amazing journey exploring and responding to Lauren Castillo books!

As we moved into this fall, excitement was high to join this project again, and THE DAY IS FINALLY HERE! We are so jazzed to be studying Mem Fox (and old, familiar favorite author!) and sharing our learning along the way.  We will for sure use Seesaw to show our friends and family our thinking, but also hope to collaborate with other kids via Skype, too.

We started with a short video about Mem Fox, and some wondering about both her life and Australia, where she lives.  Then, I shared a book I had written when I was teaching 2nd grade (as a mentor text during a culture study we were doing in Social Studies).  It was a little indulgent–I got to have a Peter Reynolds moment and say “Australian Culture, by ME!”–but also helped give kids some background on Australia before we read.

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Kiddos wrote and drew about what they learned and uploaded their thinking to their Seesaw journals.

Today we came back, ready to hear Koala Lou (the first week’s book), but instead we first teased kiddos with a habit that we’ve learned that good readers do–take a sneak peek.  We studied the front and back covers and kiddos made predictions about what they thought the story might be about.  They did a pretty good job of guessing some things that actually happened in the story.  Again, these were uploaded into Seesaw so we could share our learning. 🙂

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Then…finally, last thing today, IT WAS TIME to finally hear the story!  We gathered in Rm. 112 and it sounded something like this:

We are SO EXCITED to see what comes next!   Art maybe?  Have any suggestions for us? 🙂

 

Happy Half-Day: October 2, 2017

Yesterday we had a 1/2 day.  Just about one a month, teachers and students are released early and we head to an afternoon of professional learning (and yes, kiddos head home!). Check out some pictures of the fun and learning we had during our morning together. 🙂

IMG_1694Have you seen the SUPER AWESOME patio we have on the back of Rms. 111 and 112?  Yeah, it’s pretty amazing.  We have plans for how we can use this place for whole group situations (anyone wanna buy us an outdoor rug?), or maybe adding some different seating so kids or groups could work out there on nice days.  On this day, it was perfect for a picnic lunch with our first grade friends.  I think it’s funny how few students that looks like, but trust me, there are 40 kiddos and 3 adults out there in that space together. 🙂

AND…since it was so nice, we ventured outside to read again (remember the post about how reading in the trees makes you feel good?).  Since we could only go to our front yard and we only had a little bit before it was time to go home, Ms. Turken and I gave kiddos the choice of reading-to-self or listening-to-reading while we were out there.  As is usual, we were about 50/50 in each place.

There is just something different about reading outside, in the sunlight with the breeze blowing on you.  SO glad these kiddos like it, too!  Can’t wait for the next beautiful fall day we can do it again–I still have another great location for us to visit. Stay tuned so you can see what happens next on our reading journey! 🙂

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 7

Hello, #classroombookaday friends!  Another super week and we’ve read loads of great ones!  Here’s our wall as of Friday:

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We added 15 this week and are up to 115 books so far! Many of them are the same as last year (as kids have asked me), but so many of them are brand new ones I’ve never heard of before now.  I love how we are finding new authors and then reading ALL of their books, as well as reuniting with old author friends from before. 🙂

Here are the highlights from this week:

You probably already know (if you read last week’s post) why there are so many Todd Parr books on this list!  We have been HUGE fans of Todd Parr and are set to read all of his books.  Perhaps the most fun part of this week was when Ms. Turken (and my kiddos) and I got to MEET HIM!! He was at our local bookstore to share and sign his newest book Love the World and we were there.  🙂  Super excited for this pic with our new friend. 🙂

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I think I mentioned before, but it is worth repeating that I love how easy it is to share big messages with little kids by reading Todd Parr’s books.  Everyone of them is accessible by all levels of readers and are about BIG IDEAS.  We have had SO many deep conversations as we read and I’m so thankful for those lessons.

This week also added several stories that are related to things we’re learning:

Night of the Veggie Monster is a mentor text for our Small Moments unit in Writing, we’re using Ollie the Stomper as we’re learning about building good reading habits in Reader’s Workshop and the other two accompany our study on Light and Sound in Science. LOVE that literature is involved in these subjects.

The last ones were just for fun.  Hug Machine has a fabulous Emily Arrow song (see below), the Sam book was a new one from our pal Mo Willems that we hadn’t read, Betty Goes Bananas is from the same author as the Mr. Panda books we’ve read (Steve Antony), and we’ve read several of the other “if you want to….DON’T” books along the way this year, too.  Oh, and I wish I had a video of this, too, but I feel that I should mention that a puppet named Mr. Giggles read that Betty book to us and it was super fun.

Whew!  What a great reading week.  I’m excited for this week to come, as well, because we start the Global Read Aloud!! Stay tuned to see lots of Mem Fox added to the list!!

 

#FDOFG2017–Readers Gonna Read (Part 2)

Before you read more about what’s going on with books in first grade right now, be sure you’ve read the first part, where we got started in our classroom library, began our #classroombookaday challenge, spent some quiet time during our day and visited the Robinson library. 🙂

As I mentioned in the last part of my last post, figuring out what kids like and who they are can happen in many ways–books are one of those ways.  Aside from just paying attention and taking note, we wanted to be able to share our favorites with friends, and so Ms. Turken and coordinated a Favorite Book Museum.  Each kiddo brought in (or checked out at school) their favorite book.  The reason it was their favorite could be for anything–someone special read it to them, it was a favorite from when they were little(r), they could read it themselves, it was funny–whatever.  I was able to take a picture of each kiddo smiling brightly with their favorite, and these fabulous pictures will grace many parts of our room (book boxes and our outside bulletin work-sharing board to name a couple).  I took them in front of our giant map, because reading takes you places!  Before I even go any further, I know you’ll want to see those so here they are.  And yes, they are precious. 🙂

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Aside from just being able to enjoy our books ourselves, we wanted to share them with our classmates–both from Rm. 111 and Rm. 112.  We did this in a format called a Favorite Book Museum.  In the past I’ve done this with bigger kids and called it a Reading Museum (which had a little bit of a different feel and protocol).  This time around, kiddos put together an “exhibit” with their book, a picture of their favorite part and a card with their name (just like exhibits have in a real museum!).   Children were given a chance to walk around to view other kiddos’ exhibits, looking for connections as well as for books they might like to read in the future.  We started in our own classroom and then traded rooms so we could see everyone’s favorites.

Before we could visit the museum, however, we needed to make sure that we knew how we were supposed to act and what we were supposed to do.  I think in the past I have taken for granted that all of my kiddos have been to a museum and understand what I’m talking about when I mention using a quiet voice, not touching things, only using eyes to look and not fingers, as well as just connecting the whole museum idea anyway.  This time I decided it would be a good idea to find a video that might help anyone who needed some support in this area.  We watched this short little video with our Rm. 112 friends first:

After we were sure we were all on the same page, we go busy with our visit!

This was another great, positive literary-focused community experience that we will build on throughout the year.  We will probably even hold Favorite Book Museums again throughout the year, watching how our tastes change and grow.

Have you ever been to a book museum?  If so, we’d love to hear about your experience!

#FDOFG2017–We’ve Got GRIT!!

Like I mentioned in our first post about our first day in first grade, we’ve been busy, as there are LOTS of new things to learn at the beginning of the year.  Any year really, but especially in first grade!  This post is about something every important around our classroom and our school–GRIT!

You might already know about how we have a Robinson Mindset that we have learned and use, and that we start everyday with together.  One really important part of it is: I have grit! In fact, it’s so important it’s the first line!

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So…knowing how important this idea is, we have to make mighty sure that kiddos know what it means and how they use it and get it.  Most of them have at least some knowledge from kindergarten (and their super smart parents who may have already taught them about it!), and so we started there.  We charted what we remembered:

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Aside from just being able to talk about GREAT though we have to be able to use it, right?  Pull it up from deep down inside even when things are super tricky and really hard.  So next we did an activity that gave them the chance to do that–PUZZLES!!

First I talked about how I do a jigsaw puzzle everyday!  I have an app on my iPad that lets you build puzzles, and has a new “puzzle of the day” each morning.  It’s one of my favorite things to do, and helps keep my brain awake and active.  I LOVE how it feels when you’re working a really hard puzzle and then you finally figure it out!  I want kiddos to feel that same feeling, as well as realize that some things are even hard for grown-ups!

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We picked partners, and also the puzzle we’d do–there were some that were 24 pieces, some that were 60, and some that were 100 pieces!  After some quick directions about where to go and how you HAD TO KEEP WORKING, we got busy.  As a side note, I was watching for what would happen with GRIT during this activity, but I was also collecting data on partnerships that worked well.

Some teams were able to finish their puzzle, and 1 team even got to start (and mostly finish) another one.  We worked for about 20-30 minutes and then gathered to debrief.  We talked about what we had learned about what helped us and what was tricky.  Some of their smart strategies are the ones that I use as an adult to do my puzzles, too!

As with many things, we decided (well, actually they asked!) if we could do this whole puzzle thing again.  Some said if they’d have had more time they could have finished, and some wanted to tackle the same puzzle after our conversation and try some of the new strategies they’d heard from their friends.  We (Ms. Turken, who we work with ALOT now, and I) decided that this was a GREAT idea.

We planned a read aloud first, which highlighted the idea of trying new and different ideas, not giving up and working to complete your task even when it’s tricky.  We read the book Stuck by Oliver Jeffers together as two first grade classes.  This protocol is always fun and helpful as there are SO MANY FIRST GRADE BRAINS to learn from and different perspectives to consider.

After this book and some super creative thinking about how the boy in the story (Floyd) used his GRIT to get his kite (and then everything else he threw in the tree) unstuck, we checked out the posters our classes had made separately and noticed the similarities and differences.  Many strategies were similar, but there were ideas that were specific to each one and it was great to be able to share these new ideas with everyone before they got to work again.

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We had planned to use the SAME partners and do the SAME puzzle, but we did do one thing DIFFERENT: we traded teachers!  This time Ms. Turken worked with Rm. 111 kiddos and I stayed to learn from/with Rm. 112 kiddos.  It was an opportunity for us to get to know each other better, as well as for me to see her kids in action, perhaps seeing different things than Ms. Turken did.  Being able to share new insights on our students is one of the things we’re already loving about working so closely together!  Lots more friends finished puzzles this time than they did on our first go-round.

These are some Rm. 111 friends I worked with that day–look how engaged they are!

After our work time, we gathered one more time to discuss how it went, and shared things that had we had changed, things we had learned or things we had noticed.

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Ms. Turken led the conversation as we shared our smart thinking! (And yes, I promise I will include more pictures of me–seems funny to see someone else’s face all over my blog! lol).

What a great day of learning, and one that we will keep coming back to for a VERY LONG TIME!!