#FDOFG: …yet

I have written before about how important the word YET is in the lives of my students.  Well in my life, too, actually.  Even though it’s only the third week of school, I’ve already found many opportunities to help kids change their words from totally negative grumblings of “I can’t do that” to “I am not great at that….yet!”

And so like I’ve done with previous classes (this is one of those beginning-of-the-year activities I left pretty much the same because it works for almost everyone!), we talked about caterpillars and butterflies in relation to the idea of “yet.”  And then we got busy being creative!

After our butterflies were dry, we worked on adding a goal to them using this stem:

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It was interesting to see what kinds of things kiddos wrote; some were related to things in school (like reading, writing or art) and some were about other things like bike riding, cooking, and some were applicable to all parts of life, like waiting or listening.  I’m excited to watch as these caterpillars develop into beautiful butterflies and  they see their “not yet” become NOW!!

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Later these will hang in our classroom so we can be inspired by them each day, but for now they are on view in our hallway.  So great and SO PRETTY!!

**On a side note…the pictures from our work time were taken by Ms. Mimlitz (a FABULOUS teacher who works with us in 1st grade!), and may seem different than the ones I usually post.  I asked her to take care of documenting this activity because I was busy helping out as they worked and it was so interesting to see how someone else “sees” what kids do.  The process was so much more beautiful through her eyes; I realized my pictures never have kids faces, just them working.  I had chosen to do that purposefully in order to highlight the thinking, working, creating, PROCESS, etc., instead of interrupting kiddos to cheese at the camera….but as I see that the photos she took are so much more interesting to me, and I can see the JOY of the learners as they are working (I appreciate this as a teacher, but also with the parent hat on–I know I love to see the faces of my own kiddos smiling back at me on the screen!).  Now that I am reflecting on it, it makes me wonder how I’ve never connected the fact that the absence of students’ faces has meant that a HUGE part has been missing!  Seems so simple but such a big deal…I am there for those precious kiddos, and I WANT to see that they are both busy and enjoying themselves!  As I go forward, I will be looking both at what they are doing as well as HOW they are doing it.  Thanks, Ms. Mimlitz for helping to open my eyes to seeing my students and how I share our stories on our blog in a different way! 🙂

What do you see when you watch your kiddos working?  Did you notice the difference in pictures?  How important is it to involve students’ faces/expressions in the storytelling? How do you involve students in the documenting and recording?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

…yet

Last fall, when I was doing my final project for grad school, I came across the idea of “the power of yet,” which goes nicely with all of the work of growth mindset we’ve been introduced to by Carol Dweck.  We began using that word all the time, and I helped my friends learn to add it to the end of many sentences they spoke to me and to each other: “I can’t do this yet...”; “I don’t know yet, but what I think right now is…”; “I’m not sure yet, but I’m going to keep trying!”  At first it was just me, but slowly and surely, I started to hear kids saying it to each other when they’d hear their friends discouraged about something that was challenging them.

I knew it was something that I would incorporate again (and continue, really, since most of us remember it from our 1st grade together), but wasn’t quite sure how I’d bring it up again.  And then I found this book:

IMG_5072I was first intrigued by the use of the ellipsis, since I knew it was something I thought I kids would remember learning about last year.  Ok, and I have to stop and give a shoutout to JK right here for TOTALLY remembering what we talked about.  Before we started reading, we were discussing the title and cover and trying to figure out what we could learn about the story–as well as why the author would choose to use that particular punctuation mark like that.  Well, JK totally whipped out–all casual-like, “Well, that’s an ellipsis, and an ellipsis means that you’re waiting for something, and the mice are always waiting for Nick.  So …and Nick means there’s suspense and you’re trying to figure out what happens next.”  I was TOTALLY impressed, and TOTALLY proud.  And yes, other kids knew it, too.  YAY for first grade punctuation studies!!

Well, while the part about the ellipsis was exciting, it wasn’t all I had up my sleeve with this activity.

My team had copied these blank butterflies for me, with the idea of using tissue paper to decorate them and then make a goal for 2nd grade, and I found them to be a great place to apply this “yet” idea for us this year.  Instead of tissue paper, though, I decided to get out the watercolors.  (On a side note–can you believe we’ve never painted together before?  NEVER.  We got all the way through 1st grade paint-free.  And now we’re going to change that.  Big time.  So paint it was for our butterflies!).

Ok, back to the paint for a second: the thing I noticed when I put a paintbrush in some of my friends’ hands is that I saw work I’d NEVER seen before.  The creativity, the focus and the engagement was beautiful.  Don’t get me wrong–I’ve seen it in other ways, but this was eye-opening for me in many ways.

So after they painted their masterpieces, they were to think of something they don’t know how to do. Yet.  And then they wrote that as a sentence: “I don’t know how to __________yet.”  This was put on a label, and stuck to the front of their butterflies.  These are now flying high on our walls where we are 1) reminded of …yet by the title, 2) encouraged by how if we work hard we’ll be able to do those things, and 3) given something beautiful and colorful to look at.  Fly beautiful butterflies, fly!

And then today, I found a video, that I will incorporate to our yet conversation.  It’s a song and it’s catchy, so I’m sure we’ll be singing it for many days to come!