Names, Names, Names!!

One of the most important words a first grader knows (how to read and how to write) is their name.   We have done lots of work with this, including making sure everyone knows how to write it neatly with only 1 capital letter.  Along with knowing the letters in our names, we will soon officially begin to focus on the SOUNDS in our names, as well as the chunks, blends and patterns in our names that can help us read other words! We practiced in many different ways with many different materials.  We are getting SUPER good at names now and are using beautiful handwriting in other places, too!

Check out our work from the last few weeks!

Playdoh

Just like when we use our pencils, using our “pinchers” to make the Playdoh into sticks and curves is a challenge.  Our goal was to make the Playdoh letters look just like the name on our name tags.

Inch Tiles

Who’s Name is Longer?

This one was a name practice that we used as a math investigation.  Each kiddo made their name on inch tiles and groups worked together to figure out who’s was longest, shortest, and how many letters their group had altogether.

 

Legos!

Boo…so I just realized that most of the pictures we have of this activity are on kiddos’ iPads. 😦  Maybe I’ll come back and add them after I get them transferred to me, but for now, trust me that this was a challenge!  I had to nudge many kids to create 3D versions (to actually connect the Legos, rather than just lay them on the floor) and that up’ed the ante on the thinking.  Plus–it was a really fun and totally engaging way to practice letters and names!  Goodness, what can you NOT use Legos for?

Good ‘Ole Fashioned Handwriting Practice

 

What’s in a Name?–Continued

We started talking about names last week and are continuing the conversation as we build our community together.

We’ve continued reading great books together,

and discussing the importance of our names and how they tell something about us as people.  They are the first words we learn, they are letters we know, and they connect us to people in our families and our pasts.  They are OURS!!

We worked on name building challenges as well, with inch tiles and with Legos (thanks for that idea, Ms. Lewis!), and we were able to document our work with our iPads (thanks Kirkwood School District!).  We are learning more about how to show what we know, use GRIT when things are hard, share our ideas and questions with our friends, ask someone else before the teacher, and how to send that documentation (pictures, notes, etc.) to Mrs. Bearden in eBackpack.  Seems simple, but it’s hard work in Rm. 202!

Inch Tiles Name Challenge

Kiddos were to build their name with inch tiles.  They were challenged to try their last name if they got their first name quickly.  It was fun and interesting to watch how each kiddo came at this challenge differently, which tiles they used and if they used capital or lowercase letters.  They took pictures of their work when they were finished.

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Lego Name Building Challenge

This time learners were challenged to build their name with Legos (one, two or all three–or four–of their names!).  Then they were to have a friend take their picture with their creation.  We’re still learning to take photos, so some of them are a little blurry. 🙂  The most interesting thing to me about this challenge was how many kiddos build their names in 2D, just putting the Legos flat on the table or floor, rather than 3D, putting them together and building their names UP instead of out (but yes, you will see in the pictures that a few friends tried it that way!).  There were no specifications related to this, but I will probably add that parameter for everyone next time. 🙂

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I have to take a minute and highlight a strategy that we discovered during our Lego building.  I went over to Kaiden at one point and saw this:

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If you can tell, he had only built the LAST four letters of his name.  I asked him to tell me about his thinking and he told me:

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We had to stop the rest of the class and have him share his thinking–this was a great example of what to do when you’re stuck, when you want to quit or you don’t know where to start: do the part you DO know how to do and keep thinking about the part you DON’T YET know how to do.  Often you’ll figure it out while you’re working.  GREAT JOB OF USING GRIT, KAIDEN!!

 

 

What’s in a Name?

We already have done many interesting and fun things as we’ve started this new year together.  And as we get into more “real” learning (yes, I know all learning is important and in many ways the “soft” skills might be more important, but I digress….had to call it something!), I am looking for ways to continue to stress the themes we’ve started with: everyone is valuable, we are different and we are the same, we support each other, we are all starting in different places and that’s ok–we’re all growing and learning together!

So when I saw this unit shared by our friend and AMAZING coach (and I don’t use the word AMAZING lightly) Amy Wessel, I knew I needed to find a way to use it–it matched up with all of those goals I already had in place.  Plus it was interesting and fun and we LOVE those things!

Ok, so I didn’t follow the unit completely as written, but I did utilize the book list as well as the ideas for “homework” to use with families.

Let me tell you the story…

As you’ve already seen from our #classroombookaday tweets and posts, we are a class the LOVES to read and often bases lessons/discussions on a good book.  So of course as we started to talk about our names, I went to the book list shared by Ms. Wessel, as well as some others I had found on my own at my library (which is another AMAZING thing!).

Together we read Hello, My Name is Octicorn (which isn’t so much about names as it is about accepting those who are different than us and making new friends but has NAME in the name LOL) and Thunder Boy, Jr. (which was surprisingly about a boy who has the same name as his dad and wanted his OWN name that told about him).

Then, since I wanted them to get into those iPads that had shown up in our room, we went on a little letter hunt around our room.  They were supposed to find all the letters of their name, take pictures of them, then crop the images and upload them into Notability to build their name (which is similar to the directions from our Outdoor Adventure Writing Outdoor Adventure Writing from the other day, too).  THEN they were to take a screenshot of that image and later send it to me in eBackpack so I could see it (and share it here!).  Oh, and they were supposed to take a selfie to use as their lock screen (which is how we tell everyone’s iPads apart when they’re laying around).  See?  Told you they know how to do LOADS of things already!!

They’re a little messy, but I did write/draw the directions for them, since it really was a long list of things to remember and do:

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They did a great job of following the directions, talking to each other when they needed help (I had to encourage this with some friends, as they are still learning that I am not the only one with the answers!), and sharing things they found out with the rest of the class.   These images will become the Home screen on their iPads for now.   Check out some of our creations!

What a great start!  Can’t wait to share more! 🙂

Call Me That Name Again

No, it’s not a challenge.  It’s a request: call me that name again. What name you ask?  I’ll tell you that part in a second.

First I have to apologize for the times I veer off the this-is-a-classroom-blog road and head down let-me-tell-you-a-story-about-myself lane for a bit.  I think it’s probably telling me that I need to start another blog.  But there’s time for that later.  Now back to that name…

I’ve been called many things in my life, starting with Jennifer–which makes sense since that’s my name.   For a long time when I was littler I was Jenny (sometimes spelled with an “i” and sometimes with a “y”), and some people (mainly family) still call me that today.  During junior high I apparently had an identity crisis, because I had a new name every week: Jen (with one “n”), Jenn (with two “n’s”), those two versions of Jenny, and then for a couple of days I had people calling me Jenna.  I know.  Weird.

Somewhere in college I started with Jen primarily, and now even introduce myself that way.  Only a few people call me Jennifer.

There are other things that they call me though, too.  Mrs. Bearden.  Wife.  Mom.  Sister.  Daughter.  Teacher.  Tweeter.  Reader.  Writer.  Crafter.  Blogger.  Then last summer I earned a new name–Runner–when I finally started my goal of losing weight and getting more active.  I was on a roll and loving every minute of my journey towards being able to run 5K without stopping.  This was a huge feat for someone who has never really exercised before, but I did it!  And then you know what I did?  I made that goal, along with my weight-loss goal, and then I stopped. Ugh!  November came and it was a little bit chilly outside, so I didn’t run one night.  And then I didn’t go out the next night.  And then by that time it was really cold outside and I wasnotmotivated to go outside and run.

So fast forward to today.  It was 80 and BEAUTIFUL today, and I went running again!  No, unfortunately, I couldn’t go out and instantly run my almost-4-miles I was up to a few months ago, but I was out there, getting back into it.  Walked a mile and ran one, too.  And I have a goal to run a 5k with my family in May.  So I’m out there again, and you can call me that name again: Runner.  And since I said it out loud to all the world to hear it, I will have all of you to hold me accountable, right?  🙂

What names do you call yourself?  What would you like to be called?  Maybe there’s a goal in there somewhere you can work towards…:)