Pumpkin Pie Plans

If you’ve been here much this fall you’ve read many posts about pumpkins.  We’ve read lots of books about pumpkins, planned and created amazing Literary Lanterns out of pumpkins, and then, because of a super lead from Mrs. Meihaus, returned our pumpkins to the wild depths of the Robinson Woods from whence they came.  Ok, not really, but we did take them out to see what would happen next, with our fingers crossed that we’ll grow a pumpkin patch. 🙂

Well, over Thanksgiving, while I was working on dessert with my own family, it seemed to just make sense that our Rm. 202 family needed to make, bake and ENJOY a pumpkin pie together.  I mean, come on, right?  PERFECT!!

And of course, true to 20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher form, this story is going to SUPER LONG because I kept the whole story to myself until the very end.  Apologies–I’ll try to save as many words as I can and instead use pictures and videos of my kiddos instead of lots of teacher words from me!

1.) We used the 3 Act Task that I had learned about a couple of weeks ago to start our thinking about what would be the best way to cut our pie and therefore how many we might need to bake to feed our class.  I showed them these images and asked what they wondered…

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They came up with these questions:

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We decided to tackle the last one:  Which is the best shape of pie to make for all of us?  But even before we could figure out the answer, we had to determine what we meant by the word BEST.  We agreed that it was the pie that fed the most people with the least amount of work and the biggest piece!

We worked in small groups to try out triangles and rectangles to see how we could make those shapes and sizes work.

We eventually agreed that triangles would give us a bigger piece of pie, as well as would be much easier to cut all the same way (so it would be fair for everyone), and so another group got busy working with the recipe.  We used this one, from The Minimalist Baker.  It’s vegan and so perfect for all of the allergy concerns we have in our room (and which was why I tried it for my Thanksgiving, too–everyone could eat it!!).

We did some quick multiplication and figured out we’d need to make 3 pies to get enough pieces for all of the kiddos plus two teachers, and so then we had to look at the amounts of each ingredient we’d need to have (that way I’d know if I had enough of everything at home already like I thought I did).

With some moments that reminded me of the Feast Week work we did in 5th grade several years ago, some of my first grade friends helped me triple the recipe.  Wow!

Once we had the details figured out, the kitchen ok’ed to use (thanks Ms. Barbara!!), and all the ingredients brought to school, we got busy!  We carved out the morning to make and bake our pies so that then we could eat our pie for dessert after lunch.  I have to say THANKS  A MILLION to my Rm. 202 friend Rachel for taking care of pictures for us while we made pies, and man did she take a lot! I cannot decide which ones to share so I’ll just play a slideshow here so you can see her great work and the smiles on all the faces of the Rm. 202 bakers!  Plus I love how things look so different when someone else takes the pictures instead of me. 🙂

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We got a little surprise when we took our pies to the oven to be baked–Ms. Barbara gave us a tour of the kitchen!  What a treat to see where the lunchtime magic takes place and it definitely gave us more of an appreciation for what those ladies do for us every day!

We cut our pie (using our super smart thinking from math earlier in the week!) and then plated it, topped it with whipped cream (well most of us did!) and then chowed down.  Some kiddos were worried that they would not like the pie, so we agreed that they didn’t have to eat the whole thing, but just take a “thank-you bite,” which is a way to say you appreciate the time and energy it takes to make a great dessert.  We got mixed reviews on the pie, but I think the thumbs-up have it with this one.

I’d say these three were the happiest about pie.  Could have probably eaten the whole thing themselves! Love their smiles!!

Ok, I will be done now, and will leave you with this picture.  It sums up what I wanted to happen at that old kitchen table in my classroom and kind of reminds me of what Thanksgiving looks like at home.  Only this one was celebrated with my Rm. 202 family. 🙂  I am definitely thankful for them!

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Rm. 202 Room Tour!

I am SO excited about the changes that have recently happened in Rm. 202.  (In case you’re just joining the story, be sure to catch up here before you go on.  I promise it’ll help this video make more sense. 🙂  Or at least it will make you super happy because you read the stories of some super cute and super smart kiddos solving problems!) But beyond the changes we’ve made in our room, I’m even more excited that the room tour is finally finished so we can officially show it off to you–from a kid’s point-of-view!  With the help of Rm. 202 kiddos, my own kiddos Riley and Allie, and even Ms. Turken (our next door teaching neighbor), we created a video to show how each zone works and explain what we might do in each one.  It ended up a little long (almost 10 minutes!), but we promise it’ll be worth your while to watch it (and maybe even share it, too!).  Grab your popcorn and press play below when you’re ready!  Here we go!

I wanted to take just a second to put in my two cents about the positive changes I’ve seen in my students since we first started addressing ICEL and working to create a more engaging, motivating experience in Rm. 202. 🙂

One of the biggest positives that has come out of our room redo is the amount of time my students spend engaged and learning.  While I thought I was doing a great job of making things interesting, open-ended, giving lots of choice and opportunity in their learning, my students’ behavior was showing me that they needed more.  Or at least that they needed something else.   What I realized after our zone creation was that our environment previously offered TOO MUCH choice. Too much room for interpretation and too many things that were confusing to many kiddos.

Watching the way Rm. 202 students interact with both our room and each other now, I can see how much more confident and safe many of them feel.  Before, when I thought I was providing a place to be free and creative, for many I was creating a space that was unfriendly and unpredictable with too many unknowns.  I see now that, in many ways, I KNEW how things were supposed to work, but students were less sure.  Now that areas are clearly marked and labeled, and THEY HAD A JOB in creating these areas, students are never unsure about what is allowed and what is not, nor do they wonder where they should go to work on certain things.

Another thing I didn’t anticipate but that I LOVE is how clean our room has been over the last few weeks.  Partly this came about because when you move things around you end up throwing away a lot of junk, sweeping under things, decluttering, etc., but I know it’s always because now EVERYONE knows where EVERYTHING goes!  No longer is there a question about where the games are housed, or where the Lego shelf is supposed to be, whether or not you should have books or iPads in a certain part of the room, or where the art supplies go.  There are a couple of kiddos who have really taken it upon themselves to help keep this up, too, and this makes the whole thing so much easier.  We’ve begun teaching a couple of kiddos exactly what it means, too, when I say “clean up”–as this was a skill in which they were lacking.

I am SO GLAD that we did this, and am super glad that the benefits can be seen by all of us who live in Rm. 202–not just me.  I don’t know if you caught it, but I believe that in the video section about The Kitchen, Mara mentioned that zones help us feel more calm.  I can totally see now that my students needed more freedom within a  STRUCTURE with STRONG BOUNDARIES, not just freedom that came willy-nilly or with lots of breathing room.  There are some kids who can function in any situation, but there are some who have a hard time figuring things out when there is lots of “gray.”  This renovation, if you will, added a layer of black and white that we didn’t know we needed.  And the best part is that it all happened BEFORE we left for Winter Break, so now we can start the New Year fresh and clean in a brand new room, looking ahead to some amazing days to come!  🙂

Happy New Year, Rm. 202!

Before you go, can I ask you a favor?  If you’re a parent of a friend in Rm. 202 and you have a specific story to share about how our redo has helped your kiddo, will you share it in the comments?  We’d love to hear more about the positive ways our problem-solving has helped.  If you’re a friend of Rm. 202 and have a question, comment or suggestion for us, will you share it also?  We’d love to tell you other parts of the story that maybe we missed. 🙂  THANKS FOR VISITING!! 

How Many Fingers Did We Cross?

Last night I send these tweets to an author friend of Rm. 202’s:

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After the conversation ended, I knew I had the plan for what we’d be doing in math this morning. 🙂 #reallifeproblemsolving #wehadtofigureouthowmanyfingerswerecrossed

So…I started by sharing the Twitter thread and telling them all about the conversation I’d had with Ame Dyckman–the one that started with shrimp and chili dogs and ended with unicorns and crossed fingers. LOL  I told them all about how I’d really been wondering how many fingers we would have crossed and that I knew they could help me with that solution.  First we practiced crossing our fingers (and our toes–this was really hard for some kiddos! ha!), and then I reminded them of the problem I needed their help with:

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We agreed that we were figuring out the total for 23 people (22 kiddos plus me!) and that our explanations needed the have the criteria on the right side of our chart.  Kiddos worked with their learning partners, and could choose any (or all!) of the parts of the problem the wanted to work on.

Kiddos had time to work, choosing all different parts of the chart to solve.  I’m pretty sure this work went on for about 35 or 40 minutes, with partnerships working pretty steadily and cooperatively together to solve our problem.  As I worked through the room and conferred with each pair, we tweaked some things, I asked questions to help them dig deeper and many groups worked to make sure their posters could be understood without them standing by to explain what the numbers/pictures meant.

After their work time was up, I called everyone back to the rug to explain the next step.  While kiddos are familiar with the term “gallery walk” from math in kindergarten, I hate to admit we have not done as many of them as I’d like to this year.  Because of this, I needed to make sure that they had a very specific goal and job as they went around; the scaffold of a specific question to look for was helpful for many and the “roaming” was kept to a minimum.  So, during our gallery walk, their job was to hunt for the answers to our chart questions with their partners.  They could take notes if they wanted to (Aadish thought it was like being a spy), and the suggestion was made to take post-its with them.  They could only talk about math: questions they had about the posters, answers they saw, wonderings they had.  After a few minutes, we’d meet again on the rug to see what we’d found out.

Here’s a bit of what that gallery walk looked (and sounded) like:

Once we gathered on the rug, we got to dig into some solutions kiddos had found.

We started with the first one, “How many fingers would we cross if everyone crossed 2 fingers?”  Several teams tossed out their answers and we had everything from 46 and 44 to 24 and 30.  What?? Rather than have every group explain their thinking (and perhaps confuse everyone or make it harder to get to our solution), I went with the two answers closest together–44 and 46.

We started with having Allie and Ayonna share their poster and telling about their thinking:

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If you can tell from their poster, A and A decided to organize their thinking by writing everyone’s name so they remembered to include everyone.  Then, as we talked about how to count all the 2s, we decided that we could make groups of 2s to make 10.  10s would make it really easy for us to then count the total number of fingers.  We made an equation at the bottom to show the total of 46.

After A and A shared their thinking, we talked about the 44.  Ella and Chase were sure they had gotten the right answer, and said they weren’t convinced 46 was right.  This was a great addition to the conversation, and while I somehow didn’t get a picture of their work, we studied their poster, where they had also counted pairs of fingers, but with drawings (they traced their fingers).  Rather than list them in rows and columns like on the poster above, the fingers were randomly placed on the page, and readers had to follow arrows around the paper to follow the thinking and see the way they counted.  We talked as a class about the two examples, and Lucas suggested that even without counting, he was convinced that 46 was right because A and A had made their work organized and also included an equation.  After looking at the pairs of 2s on E and C’s poster, we realized they had only drawn 22, and therefore were a couple short.  They worked to add in their last fingers and agreed with us that 46 fingers was the right solution.

Callahan and Jesse showed us how they figured out 1o crossed fingers here:

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They wrote lots of 10s, and then made sure to label each 10 so they knew they had enough (23).  We talked together to clarify which line of numbers was which (fingers or people), and added labels to make that more clear for readers.  They counted the total number of fingers by making 2 groups of 100 with tens, and then finding 30 leftovers.  Their equation ended up being 100 x 2= 200, then 200 + 30= 230 fingers.  At the bottom they started work to figure out how many it would be if we did the 20 fingers and toes.

Lastly, Jamie and Kaiden showed us how they knew that if we crossed ALL OUR FINGERS AND TOES it would be 460 fingers and toes!! (We were amazed by this number and figured Ame Dyckman would be impressed, too!).

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Their thinking looks a little like Callahan and Jesse, with groups of 200 (made of 20s), though, rather than 100 with 10s.

After this one, we realized some connections between our numbers–like that we could have used the 10s numbers to help us with the 20s (because 20 is a double of 10)–and so figured that we could use that same thinking to figure out “how many fingers if we cross 4?”

Johnny helped us think this through and figured that if we counted 46 twice that would the same as doubling.  We drew this to help us figure that out:

fullsizeoutput_facThrough our discussion and brainstorming we figured we could count by 10s to figure out most of it (and Callahan even found another 10 by using that 4 inside of the bottom 6! This made it SUPER EASY!!).

So…after our work we had decided we’d crossed A LOT of fingers hoping for a new book. 🙂

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We ended by noticing (and we’ll come back to this much later) that the 4 is a double of 2, the 20 is a double of 10, and also that the answers doubled as the numbers doubled.  Kaiden added some arrows to show our connections. 🙂

Wow….I’m tired writing about that, but I am pretty sure my kiddos were equally tired working on it!  It’s the kind of math that reminds me that real life problems are the best and that when kiddos have a real reason to figure it out, the motivation is through the roof!  Everyone works hard and stays engaged because they have to know the answer!  Thanks for the inspiration, Ame Dyckman!!

Marshmallow Challenge 2016

In 2012, Mrs. Hong brought the Marshmallow Challenge to Robinson.  Since then I’ve done it with almost every grade I’ve taught (5th then 2nd and now 1st graders!).  It’s been interesting to see what each group of kiddos excels with and which parts of the challenge are hardest for each group.

Just as a reminder, the rules are as such:

 

We used these same guidelines, except that kiddos had 25 sticks of spaghetti and we only had 15 minutes.  Otherwise, the challenge was the same.

We worked in our Crews, which are small groups we use throughout the year in different situations, but that stay the same all year long.   It should be noted that we hadn’t worked with this group for a while….

Anyway, groups got started and were off to the races.  For the record, I noticed that only 1 group decided to draw a plan before they got started.

Kids had a variety of ways to tackle the challenge, with many groups thinking about squares as the base of the tower, but not quite figuring out how to connect that idea to the final product.  Many groups seemed to be working individually at the same table, rather than together on the final tower.

And at the end of the 15 minutes, we had these towers:

The only tower that was standing belonged to Crew 6.  And as you can see, there are not squares to be found, but many towers with lots of legs sticking out of the bottom of the marshmallow.

The next morning we debriefed this experience, thinking about things we’d keep the same (plusses) and things that we would change (deltas).  Perhaps it was because of how I asked them to think about the question (or perhaps just because we had a really hard time!), but there were not many plusses, just a team or two that said that Crew 6’s design was a good one.  No one mentioned anything that kiddos had done or how we had worked together that worked to make us successful.  We did, however, have many things to say about what we’d change.  Many kiddos from all the crews gave ideas, but basically the class agreed that we didn’t do a very good job of telling our groups what we were doing.  We didn’t share out ideas with our friends and pretty much were only concerned with our own ideas.  And so as you can guess, it didn’t go so well.

BUT, because we know that FAIL means First Attempt In Learning and because–since we are Roadrunners– we have grit and a growth mindset, we knew we could try again, change somethings and see how what happened differently.

The second go-round I had kids start with a 3-minute talk about what they would specifically do differently.  Most teams decided to draw a plan this time, too.

After 3 minutes, teams got busy building.

This try brought up a really interesting problem.  About 5 minutes in, I started to hear rumblings of teams who were “copying.”  Shortly I had heard from all the crews individually that someone from another team had “copied” their idea and stolen their plan for their tower.

We had to stop the clock and have a quick conference on the rug.  I had kiddos voice their concerns about what was happening and why they were upset.  Someone complained that another group was doing the same thing as they were. “So what?” was my response.  I’m pretty sure they weren’t sure what to say, so I pressed harder.  “Why does that bother you? Say more about why it’s a big deal that another team “stole” your idea.”  We had to then get to an understanding of the challenge, and that everyone could “win,” based on the way the challenge was laid out.  The idea was not for some team to be better than another one, but that it was possible for everyone to have an idea that was successful, resulting in a tower that stood up tall.  We talked about the idea of that old adage: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and how when someone uses an idea you have, you should be proud (rather than mad) because it means they thought it was a good one.  Ms. Mimlitz and I gave honest examples of how many of our best ideas were inspired by things others had done or said.

I wonder if the angst was really because of a mental-model they all have (even at 6 years old) that “copying” is “cheating” and this is inherently BAD.  I would rather them learn that in many cases sharing so that others can be successful is a GREAT thing; when someone else succeeds, it doesn’t mean you have failed.  It actually doesn’t say anything about you at all!

After this little pow-wow, we got back to work, with teams asking each other about what they were doing, and visiting others’ workspaces to see another crew’s plans.  In the end, I believe that everyone had the same design (we’ll work on innovation and differences later, the big lesson this time was about sharing!), but I believe that most tables had a tower that was standing!  For sure we all ended this challenge with smiles on our faces, new understandings about success and excitement about solving our next problem!

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Crew 1 and their tower

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Crew 2 (I promise it was standing just before this!)

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Crew 3 and their marshmallow tower

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Crew 4–all smiles about their tower!

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Crew 5 is pretty proud!

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Crew 6 with smiles and a standing tower!

Math Warm Ups: Week of Oct. 19-21, 2016

I used to blog our math warm-ups every week.  Then this year I changed our warm-up plan again and sometimes they are questions other than math problems and so I never really got into that routine.  This week, however, they were indeed all math warm-ups so I thought I’d share what we’ve been doing!

(This was a short week of school, with only 3 days and 2 warm-ups.  Small but mighty math thinking!)

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My kindergartener, Allie, created this one for Rm. 2o2 kiddos and was very excited to share it with them.  I was impressed with how they are getting better at telling stories and creating word problems to solve.

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Some highlights of the answers to this one:

We also tried one during math on Friday as an extension after we’d talked about the warm-up together.  We’re learning how to use Padlet, so it’s been the place we’ve been sharing our thinking lately (and since we’re still working on the logistics, some friends didn’t quite get their answer on the board).

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Great thinking lately, Rm. 202 friends!  More to come soon!

Outdoor Adventures: PLTW Design Challenge!

Hopefully you’ve read about how we’re learning about light and sound and how great PLTW is going in our classroom.  (If not, feel free to check it out before you go on with this post–LOL).  On Friday we got to the point where we were ready for the design challenge.

We had learned about the design process earlier on in the unit, and also were then reminded of the problem from the story about Angelina, Mylo and Suzi.

Since we had learned and explored about light and sound already, we were ready to answer that question from the end of our book:

If you were Angelina, Mylo and Suzi, how would you help them communicate over a distance to get help?

Luckily for us, we have a fabulous woods and Naturescape in our backyard in which to actually try out this challenge!  We will do that on Monday, but first we had to figure out how to answer the question.  We got into groups and had a limited list of supplies (which we happened to be carrying in our backpack):

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Kiddos had time to design and build their devices and then will test their creations in the woods on Monday.

Callahan and Lucas figured out how to make their device reach higher and shared their thinking:

We also had an unexpected problem-solving situation come up after I talked with my first grade teacher-friend, Ms. Turken.  I asked her how the challenge went with her class, and she told me they had these issues:

  • It was day time, and bright outside, so the light part of the devices didn’t really work
  • It was during recess and so the “outside sounds” made it hard to hear the sound coming from the lost kiddos and their devices.  Also, since our woods are right next to a neighborhood, lawnmowers also made it hard to hear.
  • There were too many groups–her class had 7 groups to “lose” and then “find”
  • Only 2 adults were available during the time of their challenge

We decided to take on this problem and see if we could figure out how to use this knowledge (and their struggles!) to make the challenge work the best for us when we took our turn to try it out.  We headed out to the woods to have a chat, because I figured it might be easier to think about it in the actual setting.

We gathered on the stage (built by the amazing Riggs Construction!) and talked about our options.  I was excited to hear how kiddos were thinking through the problems I presented, thinking about how we could address them with what we know.  We had many great suggestions:

  • Allie thought that we should be sure to focus on the sound part of our devices instead of just the light parts.  She said their group had made sure to put both light and sound on their device. 🙂
  • Many kiddos took the number of groups problem, and thought of ways we could fix it–split our class in half, send one group then another then another to find the “lost” ones, and so one.
  • We noticed that the time of day we were outside (which was later than when Ms. Turken’s class was outside) was not so loud.  There were no kids at recess, no one was mowing and all we heard was the wind in the trees.
  • Aadish suggested that everyone’s groups all go out into the woods to get “lost” at the same time.  We could then try to use our devices to communicate with others, and as we saw each other, groups would join together to look for others.  He suggested that the person who knew the woods the best could be the leader of each group.
  • Keira asked, “But what if everyone wants to be the leader?”
  • Aadish and the class agreed that maybe we could do the challenge more than once, giving more than one kiddo a turn to be in charge.
  • We even thought that we could do our evaluation and redesign right there in the woods before our next try to see if we could make our devices communicate even better.

WHEW!  WOW!  I was tired after all that smart thinking and was super impressed with how they were considering ways to make our experience the best it could be.  I know we’re ALL excited to see how it goes when we’re actually in the woods tomorrow!  Stay tuned and we’ll tell you all about it!

Day 33: Ahhhhh!!

I feel like I owe you an update.  I am pretty sure I haven’t share the amazing things happening in our class since Fix-It-Up Friday when we first got serious about our norms and expectations.

Remember this web of mistakes?

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Well we did some work and started creating some “We will…” statements that we are committed to living by.  The rough drafts started like this:

Over the last few weeks we’ve tried them out and been using them in our conversations.  I believe we’ve gotten to our final draft and the norms ended up looking like this:

img_4605Don’t they kind of look like super hero words?  Like POW! BANG! SPLAT!  I’m trying to decide if we should have kiddos illustrate them before we hang them…what do you think?  Just not sure if will help or just hinder the message.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the yellow parts as they highlight the important parts of each statement.

Ok, and so what does the title of this post mean–Day 33:  Ahhh!??   Well every day we keep track of how many days of school we’ve had, connecting to place value and counting.  We add a sticker to a ten-frame that goes on a place value chart and we also write the number of the day.

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Ok, so I know–not rocket science and not super exciting, but it was here–on Day 33 (which was last Friday)–that I felt like we’d turned a corner.  It was the first day pretty much all year that I felt like we could finally breathe and just say “ahh!!!”  Things seem like they are settling down, we are settling in and are becoming a family.  We’re working together and we’re finally looking (and more importantly sounding) like a community.  It’s pretty great.

BUT I must say it hasn’t come without LOTS of work.  We have put in probably at least an hour or more each day teaching, reteaching and practicing what first grade learners look like and sound like.  We’ve been learning and using the Robinson Mindset, as well as helping solidify the ideas of our class norms.

One of the most helpful things for us right now has been very concrete, visual versions of the expectations we’ve created together.  They hang along the top of our windows, and remind us of what each part of our day LOOKS LIKE and SOUNDS LIKE.  We often stop during the middle of a subject or activity and do a reflection on whether this is truly what someone (including us!) would see in the room at that moment.  If not, no big deal, the invitation is to FIX IT!  Find a way to make things look and sound the right way!  We’re right in the middle of our SCIENCE/SOCIAL STUDIES chart, and even have plans for one that demonstrates the line/hallway as well as other places around school.

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One more way I know we’re “there?”  Kiddos have started using the words we’re practicing!  The other day when a friend was interrupting on the rug, Xenia turned to her and kindly said, “We will take turns.”  When a friend was not quite with us in a conversation, Ciyah reminded them that “We will listen and follow directions.”  What??  This is happening on a regular basis now, as well as friends kindly reminding their friends of what they should be doing instead of whatever undesirable behavior they are engaged in (because “We will remind our friends.”).  I am loving how calm things feel and how much more we’re laughing and enjoying each other.  The last few days we’ve noted how tired we are at the end of the day–but it’s that good “we’re-pooped-because-we’ve-done-so-many-amazing-learning-things” kind of tried, not the “man-we’re-tired-and-cranky-because-no-one-listened-all-day” kind of tired.  Jack suggested that our days have flown by, too, because we’ve been so busy!  I don’t know about you but this make my HEART HAPPY!!

Cannot wait to see what the remaining 140something days have in store for us as we have set such a strong foundation for our year!  The sky’s the limit in Rm. 202!!  Please be sure to come along for the journey.  It’s bound to be exciting!!