Robinson University–2018 Edition

I know you already know I work at the best school in Missouri, and perhaps the world. :). We have such an amazing community of families and teachers, and we make things happen for kids.  Last Friday was another example of that amazing community working together to provide priceless experiences for all the kids in our school.  Let me tell you about it. 🙂

I am sure at some point on this blog I’ve written about Robinson University (hereafter called RU), but the version that was unveiled on Friday was even better than ever.  Until now, first graders have not “officially” been involved, but instead we made up our own rotations for kiddos to do, alongside the “real” ones that bigger kids did.  This year it was decided that we could indeed join in with the rest of the school.  Yay for that decision!

In short, RU is a program we run on half-days at our school (which are half-days so that teachers can participate in professional development in the afternoons), which are designed to provide unique and different experiences for students–experiences that they may not normally or otherwise have an opportunity to take part in.  They are available during school hours so that EVERYONE can participate.  We’ve done some version of it for the last 5 or so years, but this was seen as the 2.0; many changes were made with structure and offerings that were an improvement on our original ideas.

Children were given the option of some 30 different classes, and all classes were taught or facilitated by parents, friends and community members of Robinson School.  In the past, students had only 2 or 3 classes, as we stretched them out over the entire semester of half-days. Now kiddos choose their 10 favorites and then are assigned 6 of those–one for each half-day, so that they are able to participate in 6 exciting and different experiences throughout the year.

Teachers were assigned as faculty liaisons to work with one of our presenters, and I got to participate in a session about DNA.  I got to work with a fabulous mom of a fabulous student I had a couple of years ago, who is a real research scientist and came with real science to teach us about what DNA is and how it works.  Cool, right?

I have loads to tell you about that (since I was present in that session), but first I want to share some pictures from the other sessions to give you a little taste of the exciting things our Roadrunners were able to do AT SCHOOL last week! :). Check it out. 🙂

Aikido

  • Aikido (a different style of martial arts) is “The way of harmonizing energy,” known as the art of peace.

Let’s Make Breakfast!

  • Come and have fun mixing and making a delicious breakfast of Dollar Pancakes, cheesy scrambled eggs and Island Smoothies. Breakfast always tastes better when you make it yourself! 

IMG_3148-min

Creative Writing

  • Have you ever dreamed of writing and illustrating your very own picture book?  If so, this course will teach you all about the creative writing process from a published children’s book author.

fullsizeoutput_8fb-min

Food Science

  • Let’s make gummy worms! Come explore the Science of food!

IMG_0189-minIMG_0211-min

Happy, Healthy Kids

  • You will learn lots about healthy living and how healthy living makes you feel happier and stronger. We’ll also make fruit ice cream (no sugar/no dairy!) and it is YUMMY!

Healthy, happy kids-min

Microbiology–Learning about GERMS!

  • Let’s test the 5 second rule in this session that investigates microbiology and our germ-filled world! We will explore what germs are, why they matter, where they are and how experiments and can help us learn more about them. 

IMG_7452-minIMG_7463-min

Stop Motion Videos

  • Come and make your very own stop motion video!

IMG_0367-minIMG_0359-min

What Does a Veterinarian Do?

  • We will discuss the skills and tools used in veterinary medicine. We will discuss some fun and interesting cases and work together to learn to think like a veterinarian.

IMG_3613-minIMG_3637-min

(This one was taught by a very special Rm. 111 parent!  Thanks for helping out, Mrs. Hendrickson!!)

Yoga

  • Explore how yoga, movement and breath can be both fun and relaxing. 

I would have LOVED to have had pictures from all the sessions (there were also sessions that including geocaching, swimming, Keynote, School of Rock, World Bird Sanctuary, Jedi training [fencing], cake decorating and so many more I can’t even list them all!!), and unfortunately I didn’t get every smiling Rm. 111 faces on this post, but hopefully by the end of the year of RU I will be able to do so. :). Stay tuned.  The next session is on November 2!

Ok…so here’s the details on the session I was in–it was all about What is DNA?  It was led by my friend Dr. Ariel, who is a research scientist.  She came to teach us about what it is, why it’s important, and we even EXTRACTED some DNA from a strawberry!  Emily, a 5th grader who attended the session (and who can be found on this blog from several years ago when she was a first and second grader!) named him Jeff.  Unfortunately, Jeff gave his life for science and we were amazed when the little cotton-like strands actually came out of the test tube right before our very eyes!  Check it out…

(P.S. I have a GREAT video of the whole DNA extraction process but it it turned the wrong way and I can’t get it to rotate!! Ugh.  If you know to do that and want to give me guidance I’ll do it and post it here later!)

 

Robinson University–1st Grade Style!

Our school has begun a really great program that we run on 1/2 days called Robinson University.  Somehow I participated in it all last year and never wrote about it, though.  Ugh.  Basically the big idea is that all the adults at our school offer a variety of classes to the 2nd-5th graders, giving them the opportunity to try out things that they may not have the chance to participate in during their regular school day or even in after school activities.  Last year I taught a sewing class with Mrs. Uhles, and there were many other exciting things available otherwise.  The ones I can remember (and surely I will forget some good ones, so I apologize in advance!) were things like coding, cooking, gardening, art, outdoor adventures, dodgeball, chess, yoga, card games, board games, The Olympics, Rig-a-Ma-Jig, crab soccer, LEGOS (lots of LEGOS!), 3D animation, and even a musical!  This year there are many amazing offerings again and we’ve added geocaching, jewelry making and loads more–all based on kid recommendation and adult expertise!

Needless to say, these days are super motivating and pretty much EVERYONE comes to school to participate with HUGE smiles on their faces. 🙂  Ok, that’s like most days at our school, but it’s especially true on 1/2 days. 🙂

Well…on RU days, though, kindergarten and first grade do their own version of exciting adventures, but geared more towards a early elementary lens, and without so much ado (the big kids go to all different classes with different teachers and different kiddos and rotate to more than one class!).  We have had great opportunities to plan amazing experiences for our kiddos so far, too, and have used our 1/2 days to extend the learning that is going on in our classrooms at the time.  For our first 1/2 day in September, we spent time exploring with scientific tools in the Robinson woods, learning and applying knowledge about light and sound.  For our second go-round (which was just before Veterans’ Day), each teacher worked with their small group to teach about a branch of the military.

For this last one of the semester, we decided to give our kiddos a sneak peek of what the big kids are doing, and even get them ready for when they’ll be making their big choices in 2nd grade.  After the team talked it over, we agreed that we’d still do rotations so that kiddos could get a variety of options, and that we each wanted to do something that was our passion.  We each offered something so different and it was so much fun!

Kiddos had short rotations of an engineering challenge with Mrs. Mafigiri, play and improv with Mrs. Marks (she had costumes and toys and puppets!), an introduction to coding with Ms. Turken and I offered a couple of great read alouds.  I know, you’re surprised by that, right?  Ms. Mimlitz, our more than amazing TA was also in the loop, and took kiddos out for some fresh air and play time.  Luckily it was a beautiful day!

I know that the kiddos had a SUPER time in all the other stations, but since I was really on in my session, it’s the only one I can share details about.  Sorry. 😦  Promise I’ll make them good. 🙂

Since the other teachers had a theme in their stations, I wanted to make sure that my read alouds and our activity was around a central idea, too.  We had found a great list of picture books that promote a growth mindset from weareteachers.com and knew it would be a great place to use as a resource!  Since growth mindset is a BIG DEAL in our Robinson community (and is even in our Robinson Mindset we recite every morning) so it’s the direction I went with our stories.

I ended up choosing two great stories that I knew would allow for great conversations and would fit into my time frame.

Before we read, we reviewed what we knew about having a growth mindset and I shared with them some words that one might use if they were using a growth mindset–things that they might hear in their heads when they were using their self-talk.  I had these sayings on speech bubbles stuck on popsicle sticks and we made the characters “say” them at various points in the story (I didn’t get a good picture of them individually, but you’ll see them in our final product later on in this post!).

Once we had read and discussed, we worked to create some visuals to help teach the REST OF ROBINSON about using a growth mindset.  We had gotten the OK from Mrs. Sisul to use an empty bulletin board in a downstairs hall where everyone walks, so we were excited to fill it up with first grade faces.  I had each first grader (and then lots of Robinson adults!) choose either a saying that they used a lot to remind them to use a growth mindset OR one that they struggled with using and wanted to try to use more often.  Either way kiddos posed in front of my book-covered classroom door with their speech bubble and CHEESED!!  Let me show you. 🙂

screenshot-2016-12-20-11-20-43

Pretty great, right?  Yeah…and the first time we walked by, of course we had to stop so everyone could say “that’s me!” or “there I am!” 🙂

Here are the sayings, up close:

And now, since I know you want to see all of those cutie-pie faces a little closer (so you can say, “Hey, that’s my kid!” or “Hey, I know her!”), here’s a quick slide show of all of the pics on that board.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanks for reading about Robinson University!  We’re excited for our next 1/2 day when kiddos will get a chance to choose two of their favorite activities from this first try to spend more time exploring!  What a great day that will be. 🙂