A Fabulous First Grade Friday in February! :)

Sometimes we have whole days where great things happen!  Last Friday was just one of those days.  🙂

It started in the morning when we got to visit the 5th Grade Black History Museum.  For the past few years, 5th grade has done a project to research famous black Americans and then share their findings with the rest of us.  This year it was extra special for our class because we have LOTS of 5th grade siblings.

It started with an introduction by a few 5th grade greeters and a giant sign:

IMG_6888

Then we were able to walk quietly through the museum and learn about the exhibits from the 5th grade historians.

When we returned, we recorded some of our learning in Seesaw to share with each other and our families.  We were excited to notice that some of the people we heard about in the museum were not new to us, as we’ve been doing lots of reading of our own, including a great book I’ll share more about later, called 28 Days.

Later on in the afternoon, we got to show off our baking skills (which we first honed making pumpkin pie, remember?) as we made brownies to share with families in the Robinson Food Pantry which was open that evening.  All of the first grades baked a treat, which was accompanied by a sweet note.

See?  A fabulous first grade Friday! 🙂

First Grade Favorite Things

This week we started conferences.  If you’ve ever been to a conference (as a parent) or if you’ve ever prepared for a conference (as a teacher), then you know that both sides want to show/see what’s been going on in the classroom!  Some of this happens IN the classroom and during the conference itself, but some of this happens even before families get inside, by what is hanging OUTSIDE of the classroom on the walls and bulletin board.

So luckily, we (Ms. Turken and I) spent some time before school started getting ready just such a place to share our learning goodies with everyone:

It’s pretty great, right?  But yes, it’s pretty lonely. 😦

As we thought about what families would like to see, we weren’t really sure what to put out there, as much of what we’ve been doing has been to hang in our rooms, or hasn’t really had a “product” to display.  Additionally, we agreed that having everyone doing the same thing and then hanging 40 of them out there didn’t really seem to fit the bill, either.

So we decided to do something where everyone has a similar item to share, but where there is still student choice and voice and where everyone’s things look different (well mostly different. :)).

Kiddos were invited to draw their favorite things from first grade so far.  They could choose from the list we provided (in case they couldn’t think of something, because MAN–the list of things we’ve done is LLLOOOONNNNGGG!).

IMG_0832

As we got started with the activity, we added to the list as kids thought of other things and then artists got to work.  It was fun to watch what they chose (great info for things we should do again!), as well as to watch the empty, lonely hallway display start to fill up!

Once we were finished, we had SO MANY FABULOUS first grade favorite things to share with our families–and anyone else at Robinson who walks down our hallway!  What a treat!

What do you SHARE with families for conference visits or open house?  What do you like to SEE when you’re at school for a conference or a visit?  We’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Top 5 Reasons Why Twitter Makes Me a Better Teacher

I have been on Twitter for almost 5 years now (started in July 2011), and I can honestly say that it has been a great decision since day one.  Probably there are lots of people who haven’t evaluated their Twitter decision, but I wonder if the reason I did is because I use it solely for my professional life (where I am often evaluating the effectiveness of decisions I make).  Nope, no celebrities or sports figures on my “following” list; I follow other educators (of all levels, not just the one I teach), authors, librarians, principals, consultants, instructional coaches and other related to education.  I do also have a few family members (although they don’t really tweet), and also news organizations because even thought they are not teachers, they inform my teaching and keep me informed as a person.  I decided that meant they fit the criteria.

I went back to look at if I had already written this post (sometimes I have the same thoughts over and over LOL), and realized I haven’t really ever done that.  I did write about the fact that I use Twitter in a reflection I wrote for grad school a few years ago, and I wrote a post called Why I Blog, inspired by educator and author David Warlick (@dwarlick).  I realized I mentioned Twitter in that post, but only the fact that I’m on it–not why.

So I guess in some ways this post is five years in the making–hopefully that doesn’t mean it will be five-years long!  Here we go!

  • Personalized Professional Learning–in my pjs!:  Because I have been particular with who I follow, I am pretty certain that every time I log on to Twitter I will read a tweet that includes something I didn’t know.  Whether it’s someone who’s tweeting from a conference they’re attending, someone tweeting an article they’re reading (or have written!), a blogger publicizing their latest post, someone tweet a meanginful quote, a chat in which I’m participating about a specific topic or just a statement about the day, I feel smarter for having spent that time there reading.  Sometimes I am able to read the whole thing right then, but often I will retweet or save the tweet for later so I can find it when I have more time.  Either way, I am able to cater the learning I am doing to my needs, on my time, and like I mentioned before, to where I am (and what I’m wearing!).
  • Publicizing: While it’s certainly not the only thing, having someone to read the blog you’re writing is kind of an essential thing to keeping a blog going and having a conversation.  I use Twitter as a place to publicize my blogs, as well as the ones that my students write.   I use hashtags to add to the readership, and cater them to the topic of the post I wrote.  For my students’ writing there is always #comments4kids, and some typical hashtags I add are #2ndchat (2nd grade teachers), #1stchat (because I taught 1st grade last year and many things I write about could apply to that grade as well), #moedchat (MO educators), #ksdpd (my school district), #803learns (my school’s new hashtag), #tlap (Teaching Like a Pirate), #LearnLap (Learn Like a Pirate), #elemmathchat (elementary math educators) and #miched (Michigan educators–just met many of them in a chat last week!).  Often I add in ones specific to ELA (#rwworkshop, #tcrwp, #kidlitchat), science (#elemscichat) or social studies #elemsschat).  I could really go on forever with hashtags because they are kind of endless, but adding them can maximize the number of people who see my posts as they far outreach the number of followers I have.
  • Quick Sharing: Sometimes I do have time to write a blog (at least not at that moment), so I use my Twitter feed (@jenbearden) or our class Twitter feed (@jbeardensclass) to share what we’re doing through out the day.
  • Collaboration: One of the BEST things about Twitter (maybe I should have put these in order!) is that it has allowed me the opportunity to connect and collaborate with classes and teachers from all over the world–something I would not have been able to do otherwise.  I forged a relationship with a fabulous educator in Australia early on (Hi, Tam!) and even 5 years and a couple of grade-level changes later, we’re still working together because of our connection on Twitter. I have found many connections on Twitter that allow me to bounce ideas off of others (even if I don’t really know them I know that they’ll respond).  One of the best layers of collaboration that I’ve found lately is the ability to reach out to authors.  It really is mind-blowing to 2nd graders (ok, sometimes to me, too!) that the REAL author of the book they just read would take time to talk to them and answer their questions.  We’ve been able to connect with many fabulous writers this year and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that my kiddos are now the ones who suggest that we tweet at them our thoughts.  Some of our favorites are Ralph Fletcher (he might be our bestie by now; we LOVE his books and he has become a mentor to my students as he has been to me for years and years; Betty Birney (she came to our school so we reached out to her before she came and told her how excited we were); Mary Casanova (also visited our school and we shared our favorite parts of her books); Kate Klise (we had a super author visit with her and have since asked her some writing questions), Marla Frazee and Maribeth Boelts (used their books for a craft study last year and still tweet to them when we find new books by them this year), and Charles R. Smith, Jr. who wrote an important text we used in Social Studies recently.  Lastly, my kiddos have been able to connect with other classes from around the world simply via tweets on our class feed or even better with Mystery Skype–which are set up through teachers on Twitter.
  • Validation:  Sometimes you just need to hear someone else say you’re doing a good job, you know?  While I by no means do what I do for a pat on the back, or to toot my horn, but it does feel really nice when someone else agrees that what you’re doing is a good idea.  Having someone retweet your idea or respond to you and tell you they agree with your thought feels good.  Often it doesn’t even take anything on the other end, but just for me to see that someone is doing something similar based on their tweets or retweets.  This often happens during chats (which could fit into the collaboration section, too), as you can talk to other educators about a common topic, learning and growing together, as you share ideas.

I’m not even sure that this covers all the bases (I’m sure that as soon as I hit PUBLISH I’ll think of something else I’ll want to go back and add), and in some ways it’s hard to even put it into words how much I feel like Twitter is an important resource for me.   I’m hoping that this list at least gives some small idea of it’s great possibilities for helping both me and my students explore and connect with the world!

Why do you use Twitter?  What would you add to my list?  Leave a comment and tell us what you think!!  🙂

 

 

 

LRRH–Inspiring Sharing and Caring

I started the story recently about our culture/geography/literature study of Little Red Riding Hood.  We’ve done many things along the way with stories and maps and learning about regions (which I promise to share later!), but today there’s another story to tell.

Today we read Little Red Riding Hood: A Newfangled Prairie Tale by Lisa Campbell Ernst.  The connection was to the Midwest region (at least as far as our SS unit was concerned), but my kiddos made many others kinds of important to connections in addition!

Screenshot 2016-01-20 13.44.55

The Little Red story here is very different than most others (and I won’t spoil the ending for you), and so gave us some new things to think about and respond to as readers and thinkers.  Before I was even finished, the suggestions came spilling over and kiddos could not contain themselves.  Many of them were related to this picture, which is on the last page:

FullSizeRender 21-min

Like I mentioned, the muffin-related ideas came quick and fast and I grabbed a marker and started recording so we wouldn’t forget the conversation:FullSizeRender 22-min

There are many layers to this list, and they’re not all related to the 100th Day, but that was a catchy title that Tyrin suggested.  We did decide, though, that we wanted to make these as part of our 100th Day festivities and share them with our 2nd grade friends–and there happen to be about 100 of them.  Seems like a match made in heaven. 🙂

We hope to address some of the others (and I’m sure add many more!) in the days to come.  Many of them could relate to a service-learning project and all will touch the hearts (and stomachs!) of our community.  As I keep saying, I can’t wait to continue to share this story!

 

 

3 Writing Celebrations in 1 Day!!

We have been working through the writing process, using seeds we’ve put in our Writers’ Notebooks.

Screenshot 2015-10-13 20.20.44

Once we got to the end (which took WAY longer than I remembered it would!), we were ready to CELEBRATE with our friends!  The best part about what we did was that we did it with more than one class!  Mrs. Appelbaum’s class was finished with their pieces, too, so we got together.

As with many things, the way Mrs. Appelbaum did her writing celebration was a little different from me, so she taught me something new and it was super!!  First, she shared with Rm. 202 kiddos the directions her class had come up with to share their work with a partner:

IMG_5456-minThere was also a comment sheet she had come up with, where readers would give the writer feedback based on these starters: “Something I liked about your writing was…”; “Something I learned was…” and “Something I wonder now is….”  I’ve done compliment sheets before, but they’ve always been completely open-ended.  The structure of her sheet was helpful for those that needed ideas, but was also still open-ended enough for kids to make choices on how they’d respond.

From within minutes of when we started, the room was “a-buzz” with that fabulous sound of excitement, learning, and laughing as kiddos proudly shared the work they had done to create meaningful writing pieces.

This is a short video, but here’s what it sounded like:

While you can’t really get the same experience from seeing pictures of it as if you were there, I do think you can imagine the experience.  Sometimes just seeing the pride and happiness on their faces is story enough!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ok, these next few will look really similar, but they’re from the 2nd go-round, where Mrs. Appelbaum’s friends came to hear our writing.  We were excited to try out her “rules” and the compliment sheet on our work!

I don’t have pictures of the last share we did, but after we had practiced with the Appelbaum team, we invited our friends from Ms. Turken’s class (they’re first graders) to listen to our writing, too.  This was the first time they had been to a writing celebration and we were hoping to teach them well about how it was supposed to work.  You’d never have known they were newbies–they were writing rockstars and worked really hard to give us meaningful comments on our work!  Hopefully we can share with them again when they’re finished their own writing pieces.

Whew! What an exciting day of celebrating our hard work, our meaningful writing ideas and our using grit and perseverance to share great stories!  Way to go, Rm. 202 kids!