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! 🙂

#FDOFG2017–Nature Hunt!

During our first days together, we do many things that allow us to work together, get to know each other, learn and practice routines and procedures, and also just have fun.  One thing we did that was a big hit was a nature scavenger hunt!  We are lucky to have an amazing naturescape in our backyard (which was recently made over to allow us even more natural places to play and learn!), and so it was the perfect place to go!

Kiddos were put in small groups of 4, and then we gave them a job to do and a bag in which to collect their finds.

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We were blessed to have 4 adults with us during this time, and so we had lots of eyes on each group as we explored.  It was pretty much up to each team where they went and they could fulfill the categories of the hunt in whatever way they chose.  It was fun to see how many different leaves they found, how many “circles” there were in the woods and also what teams considered “treasures!”

Perhaps the  best part of the hunt, though, was when we found something we weren’t even looking for:

IMG_0675-minCan you see it?  There’s a friend in there….

Here, look again.  With some help from some first grade fingers:

Yes!  We found a turtle!  He was walking right there across the path, and thanks to the eagle eyes of Jeremiah we got to see him!  It was really hard not to touch and prod and want to pick him up (we didn’t–we left him in his home there), but we did the right thing and just watched as he walked and enjoyed the surprise visit! 🙂

What a fantastic morning outside!


Yes, I’m jumping on that bandwagon. 🙂 (It’s only taken me a couple of weeks to finally get on! LOL)

If you’ve been on Twitter lately, you’ve seen many posts and tweets related to people’s #OneWord2017 (it’s likely the reason you clicked on this post in the first place! 🙂 ).  As a practice I try to really think through things before I try them out, but then again, I guess I am also “that person” who tries things because I want to see how they’ll work out–especially when it’s related to a blogging/Twitter challenge.

So…here we are with me explaining my #OneWord for 2017.  And from the get-go, it seems like my #OneWord is different from the many I’ve seen online so far.  I have seen many tweets with words like BELIEVE, AWAKE, JOY, INTENTIONAL, etc., and I totally see great connections between those words and things I would also like to make happen this year.  I’m taking an little bit different direction, though, and choosing this as my #OneWord2017:


It’s different, no?  Well, that’s kind of just like me, right?  Let me explain what I was thinking when I picked this word.  I purposefully chose a word (and picture) that sent me in loads of different directions with its connections and impact and am hoping it can apply to all parts of my life (not just my professional one).

So…I’m hoping that OUTSIDE will encourage…

  1. …me and my students to get literally outside.  I have always thought that being part of nature and playing is important to creativity, health, etc., but haven’t yet fully embraced it and gotten my kids (at home and at school) outside as much as I’d like.  Two years ago I made a commitment to extra recess every morning because of that reason, but then for a variety of reasons went backwards on that decision.  Here’s to picking it up again.  Anyone wanna come play in the woods with us tomorrow?
  2. …me and my students to think outside the box.  I know it’s a bit cliché, and many even subscribe to the idea of “Don’t think outside the box, think like there is no box!”, but for me this goal can apply to many things.  It can be applied to so many different scenarios from reading books we hadn’t ever thought of, trying a new strategy for presenting information, sharing our thinking or even how we structure our day.  Because it’s so open-ended, I think it will be easy to find ways to take on the challenge and change my thinking.  Who’s up for jumping out of that box with me?
  3. …both my students and me to venture outside our bubbles.  While this goal sounds a lot like the previous one, my intention is that this applies to the people with which we’ll interact over the next year.  I want both myself and my Rm. 202 friends (my colleagues and family members and friends as well) to be challenged to reach out to new people, to seek out different perspectives, to strive to understand others’ cultures and ways of life.  I am becoming aware that now, perhaps more than ever, surrounding yourselves with people who look just like you, think just like you and act just like you can be very dangerous.  When we are only privy to what we already know and already think, we can quickly begin to see the rest of the world as “other” and then quickly begin to shelter ourselves even more.  Unfortunately, we also miss out of great things that the rest of the world has to share with us.  We miss out.  Diversity makes us all better.
  4. …me to get outside the walls of my classroom.  Just like when you stay in your “bubble” as a person, being in the “bubble” of your classroom and never venturing out means you’re missing out on the greatness that is blooming in other people and places in your school.  Other teachers are doing things in new ways, with new ideas and finding new avenues to inspire students and you (I) owe it to my own students to do whatever I can to plug into it!  Maybe it takes away some of my planning time, maybe I’m uncomfortable because I’m introverted, maybe I’m fine with how I’ve always done things (which, by the way, is not my own thinking, but I can see how others function that way), maybe I just don’t want to…but it is my duty to push past all of those “maybes” and try stretch outside myself (and the comfort of my four walls).  And who knows?  Maybe there’s a new friend, new strategy or new experience waiting for me that I don’t even know about yet.  Who wouldn’t want that?

Ok…for now that’s where I am.  Ready to reach OUTSIDE and see what’s there for me this year.  I’m excited by the prospects and looking forward to where I’ll end up.  I hope you will go along for this journey with me.  And while we’re at it–how would YOU interpret OUTSIDE? How would you write about it if it was your #oneword2017?  I’d love to hear your thinking and add your thoughts to my list! 🙂

Outdoor Adventures!: Light and Sound

Today was a half-day at our school (because of teacher professional development in the afternoon), and so first grade took advantage of an awkward schedule to have an outdoor adventure!  We have been outside with Rm. 202 friends before, but today were had ALL OF FIRST GRADE outside in the Robinson Naturescape learning and exploring together!

The teachers planned a STEM day focused on our current PLTW unit on Light and Sound, adding in the component of the AMAZING outdoor spaces we have in the back of our school.  We took out a tub with a variety of tools, like binoculars, magnifying glasses, color tiles, flashlights, mirrors and spectroscopes.  Kiddos had the job of exploring outside and discovering something new about light.  Eventually we will have to represent that learning (using iPads, drawing or building tools), but for now we were just out and about and having fun with wondering!!

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As you watch the slideshow with your kiddo (if you’re a parent!), ask them these things:

  1. What was your favorite part of being outside today?
  2. What was your favorite tool to use as a scientist?  How did you use it?
  3. What did you find outside while you were exploring?
  4. What did you learn about light?
  5. What do you still wonder?

We came in and as a quick way to debrief, I had kiddos share what they were thinking about after their adventure.  While you can tell that they were thinking of many things other than light (like dead animals–we found a DEAD RACCOON back there today!!), it was obvious that kiddos were thinking and having fun, and that they  LOVE BEING OUTSIDE!  I think at least half of my kiddos asked me when we’re going out again. 🙂  I’m excited to see how we can use this chart of great ideas in other parts of our learning soon, like for reading and writing ideas, topics for math and even further thingsto study for STEM or Genius Hour (which we’ll get to later on this year!).

fullsizerender-minWhat a great day we had! 🙂

Outside Adventures!

On Tuesday we spent the morning outside.  Shortly after our morning announcements, the pledge, Morning Meeting, and a quick Pinkalicious story shared by Rachel and read by Ms. Mimlitz , we headed across the street with our iPads in hand with some important work to do.

Once we get settled under a grove of really big, shady trees, we read a couple of books together (which is part of our regular routine, especially now that we’re keeping track of our books with #classroombookaday), and played a rousing game of Simon Says.

Next, I gave some directions for collecting some important information.  Kids had been a bit distracted by all the nature around them anyway, so their next job was to “collect” the most interesting things as pictures on their iPads.  After walking a big circle around the area to show kids their limits, I set them loose.  They were given about 15 minutes to check out all they could find and WOW was there a lot to look at!  There were even some kind horticulturalists working nearby that pointed out some things for us to see!

During this time we had an emergency drill (which was handy since we were in our emergency drill spot anyway), and since it was probably already 90 degrees and we were HOT, we headed back inside shortly thereafter.

But we weren’t finished!  The next step was for kiddos to crop their pictures, zooming in on the MOST INTERESTING part of the photo.  I wanted them to really think about why they had taken the picture, as well as what the story was about that image.

These were the next directions.  And let me tell you (and I’ll elaborate about this later on, too) that it is a little UNBELIEVABLE that kiddos know how to do this already at this point in first grade!

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Kiddos did some great work, and we will build on this as we work together this year.

Check out our Outside Adventure WRITING!!  Like I said (and I’m sure I’ll continue saying it!), what these kiddos can do with their devices already is nothing short of amazing!

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Thanks for reading!  Please leave us a comment and join the conversation!




Into the Woods

We have the most AMAZING woods behind our school, and it’s such an adventure when we get to go out and play (and learn, of course!) out there!  We have gone several times this year, and just the other day we got to explore with our 5th grade learning buddies.  They had a job (which was given by Mrs. Sisul, our principal, and unknown to me!), but I think it has to do with reasons why the woods are such a great place to learn.  We’re working on vamping up our outdoor spaces, and this is a great example of how important they are to the kids of Robinson School.  The “big” kids used their iPads to take pictures and then create a Keynote of slides that capture the essence of what happened on their adventure in just one image.  Check out what they did!  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what goes on with our students! They truly never cease to amazing me with their creativity. 🙂

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