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….:)


3 Writing Celebrations in 1 Day!!

We have been working through the writing process, using seeds we’ve put in our Writers’ Notebooks.

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Once we got to the end (which took WAY longer than I remembered it would!), we were ready to CELEBRATE with our friends!  The best part about what we did was that we did it with more than one class!  Mrs. Appelbaum’s class was finished with their pieces, too, so we got together.

As with many things, the way Mrs. Appelbaum did her writing celebration was a little different from me, so she taught me something new and it was super!!  First, she shared with Rm. 202 kiddos the directions her class had come up with to share their work with a partner:

IMG_5456-minThere was also a comment sheet she had come up with, where readers would give the writer feedback based on these starters: “Something I liked about your writing was…”; “Something I learned was…” and “Something I wonder now is….”  I’ve done compliment sheets before, but they’ve always been completely open-ended.  The structure of her sheet was helpful for those that needed ideas, but was also still open-ended enough for kids to make choices on how they’d respond.

From within minutes of when we started, the room was “a-buzz” with that fabulous sound of excitement, learning, and laughing as kiddos proudly shared the work they had done to create meaningful writing pieces.

This is a short video, but here’s what it sounded like:

While you can’t really get the same experience from seeing pictures of it as if you were there, I do think you can imagine the experience.  Sometimes just seeing the pride and happiness on their faces is story enough!

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Ok, these next few will look really similar, but they’re from the 2nd go-round, where Mrs. Appelbaum’s friends came to hear our writing.  We were excited to try out her “rules” and the compliment sheet on our work!

I don’t have pictures of the last share we did, but after we had practiced with the Appelbaum team, we invited our friends from Ms. Turken’s class (they’re first graders) to listen to our writing, too.  This was the first time they had been to a writing celebration and we were hoping to teach them well about how it was supposed to work.  You’d never have known they were newbies–they were writing rockstars and worked really hard to give us meaningful comments on our work!  Hopefully we can share with them again when they’re finished their own writing pieces.

Whew! What an exciting day of celebrating our hard work, our meaningful writing ideas and our using grit and perseverance to share great stories!  Way to go, Rm. 202 kids!

Pictures of the Day–April 17, 2015

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY!! I wish I could share my amazing Spring weather with you (although obviously some of you are enjoying the same warm temps and sunshine as me….but for those of you that aren’t, here’s what I see outside my end of the school:1428698639931And then there are the other pictures I chose for today.  They all include big ‘ole smiles that show how happy a place Robinson is. Happy Friday!

This smile come from a SUPER example of how Peyton used one of Marla Frazee’s craft moves in his own writing: just like the pictures in Roller Coaster, he added a detail to his picture of Fredbird from his Cardinal story. It says, “The Cardinals won and Fredbird goes CRAZY” and his feathers are falling out because he’s so excited.  LOVE that he’s using the examples of authors we’re learning about–exactly what we’ve been talking about!

We were working on another text in interactive writing today, and I wasn’t going to include another picture of our MANY words we’ve been writing, but there was something about this cute face that changed my mind. Great work, Landen!

There’s not a lot I need to say about this picture except look at that great crown and that AMAZING first grade smile! Say cheese, Sara!

Remember how I said that Robinson is a happy place to be? Here are three more reasons why–my other two teammates Rachael and Rochelle, and the fact that people just show up and give you ice cream and say Happy Friday! What a treat on a beautiful day. 🙂 I LOVE MY JOB!!


Mystery Skype–Ecuador Style!

This week we were busy with a whole LOAD of fabulous things, but maybe our favorite was when we did a Mystery Skype with Ms. Turken on Thursday!  She is a beloved teacher who used to work at our school, but who has taken a year away to teach English in Ecuador.  That’s pretty amazing, right?

Well, when we had an opportunity to chat with her, we were beyond excited!  The best part, though, in my mind, was that most kiddos in my class didn’t know that she was where she was, so we decided to do a Mystery Skype with her.


It started in much the same way as the ones we’ve done previously this year–with us asking questions, using the computer and our big world map to figure out clues related to the answers, and then narrowing in on the location of our Mystery Skyper.

Sammy uses Google to help us figure out Ms. Turken's location.

Sammy uses Google to help us figure out Ms. Turken’s location.  I think at this point we’re even trying to zoom in as far as her town–Riobamba.

This map has been a very busy place in our classroom lately!

This map has been a very busy place in our classroom lately!

This was a special Mystery Skype, though, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, Mr. Kieschnick’s class came to sit in with us, so that they could learn how to do Mystery Skype, too.  That meant that we had 40 heads to help us figure out the clues instead of just our 20!  We kept talking, too, once we knew Ms. Turken’s location, since, of course, the real reason we called was to visit with our old friend.  She told us all about her life in Ecuador, including the food, her classroom where she teaches English, and she even gave us a little tour of the house where she’s living.  We learned many things about her (which I think I will leave for my students to tell you in the comments!), and had a great conversation.

So many kids in the room for this one!  That's Mr. Kieschnick in the corner of this picture.

So many kids in the room for this one! That’s Mr. Kieschnick in the corner of this picture.

And then, something very cool–and unexpected–happened.  Since Ms. Turken teaches English, but has to know how to both speak and understand Spanish to do that, someone asked that she speak to us in Spanish so we could hear what they sounds like.  Well, that’s a little bit weird unless you have a reason to be saying something, or someone to speak to in Spanish.  Remember how I told you that Mr. K’s class was there?  Well, a friend of his, Andres, piped up and offered to have a quick conversation with Ms. Turken in Spanish while we all watched and listened.  Perfect!

Ms. Turken began by asking him about school (escuela).  They went back and forth, and I know enough Spanish that I could figure out they were talking about math (mathematicas) and books (libras).  So while I couldn’t join in on the conversation, I could at least follow along.  Sophia, whose dad is from Peru, was also helpful in translating much of it to those sitting by her.  It was so cool to see the looks on everyone’s faces while Ms. Turken and Andres rattled away in another language–I know I heard “How do they do that?” several times and definitely saw big smiles and wide eyes on the faces of many.

Thank you, Ms. Turken, for a great morning, getting to know more about you and the adventures you are having in Ecuador!  We’re excited to learn more (she sent us questions to research) and to speak to you again soon!