I’m Out But I’m Still Teaching

Today was one of those days that I unexpectedly had to be out with a sick kiddo.  😦 It’s always tricky trying to figure out what leave for a guest teacher to do with your class; many lessons just need you to be there to do the teaching.

It being the last week of the quarter, I had a harder time not doing the lessons I already had planned, so I figured I’d do the next best thing to being there: record myself teaching the lesson and leave the video for the guest teacher to play.  I know, it’s not rocket science, but sometimes I forget (or don’t have time to make it happen before my absence).  And honestly, I ambitiously recorded a WHOLE DAY’S worth of learning one year (which literally took me the length of a whole school day at home to make!) only to have not a single second of it watched by the class. Wah, wah….

Fast forward six years (I know, I guess it affected me and took a long time for me to recover LOL) and I tried it again.  Like I mentioned before, some things are just not possible to leave with a guest teacher, often because of craft or style that I add to the lesson, or just because of background knowledge that isn’t there.  Writing is especially tricky, so that’s the lesson I decided to record and leave for my class and the sub (plus, it was a fun lesson I didn’t want to miss teaching!).

The best part?  I heard from my teammate that they WATCHED the video, that it went well and that my writers did a SUPER job with the writing work time that followed. Whew!  That’s so great to hear. :). Also, it featured my own second grade learner, which made the whole thing extra fun. 🙂

And since I know you’re dying to see what it looks like in our room during writing (or at least in our classroom after school when I’m getting ready for a guest teacher!), here’s the video I left for Rm. 111 and 112 writers today. :). Would love to hear what you think!

 

Kids Teach Kids: Rm. 202 Takes Over–Part 2

I know…Kids Teach Kids usually means students have researched something they are interested in and are sharing their new knowledge with their class–and we will definitely do that version of KTK later on this year–but for now it has to do with some great things we learned from Mrs. Mark’s class last week when we went for a little visit.  Let me explain. 🙂

Last week on Friday (the day after we had tackled our first step of ICEL and put kids in charge of our schedule), I was again looking for ways to enhance engagement and help kiddos dig in a little deeper into things in our class.  I was still considering the problem-solving protocol of ICEL and was contemplating both I and C…

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…and hoped that I could challenge my writers in a different way by having them see what other first graders were doing with their nonfiction book writing.  I asked my neighbor and friend Mrs. Marks (remember her double dog dare from last time?) if she would allow us to come learn from her kiddos, as I had seen some CRAZY great stuff in there on a recent pop in to chat about something else.  She was more than happy to oblige and we went over for a lesson from her kiddos.  My students had a mental list of look-fors and were also directed to ask questions about what they saw during our visit.

We saw some pretty great writing in Rm. 204!  They had added all of the “smart” things we’d been learning about that non-fiction writers put in their books to make their readers understand.  We saw headings, diagrams, pictures, bold words, table of contents, glossaries and labels.  And we saw really excited writers with whole folders full of books!  Needless to say, this was inspiring to my kiddos!  I would have to say, one of the biggest things we walked away with, too, was all of the different sizes of books that were made in Rm. 204; our books are all just regular paper-sized books on 8 X 11 in. paper.

As we left Rm. 204, Mrs. Marks invited my writers to take a little book from her pile to try. We were so excited about the teeny-tiny ones she had!

Of course our next step was to return to our room and get to writing, yes?  Well, almost.  Ms. Turken (our Rm. 203 neighbor) needed our room for a messy project with her class (because we have a sink!), so we were working in her classroom for the morning.  So…our next step was to return to HER room and get to writing.  I didn’t even stop to give directions or even talk about what they had seen from Mrs. Marks’ class–I wanted them to get busy and SHOW me what they learned by using their new knowledge. And boy did they do just that!

See all those tiny books?

One thing we noticed about Mrs. Marks’ books that was different than our work was that they were using mentor texts to help them with their own writing.  Kiddos got ideas as well as examples for text features from the books they were reading, and then made their own texts based on those texts.  We had been just using what we were experts at and what we have personal knowledge of.  This mentor text idea was very helpful to many of my kiddos, and was the support that many of them needed to get moving on their writing.  Oh, and Ms. Turken’s room has markers, which was also a great addition (ours have been put away for a while because we couldn’t take care of them….). 🙂

We have not quite finished this writing cycle, but will do so by Tuesday, so I will share what our final products looked like.  Thanks Mrs. Marks’ friends for adding some spice and excitement to our Writers’ Workshop!  We love to learn from our friends and when kids teach kids great things can happen!

Rm. 202 Kids Take Over–Read Aloud!

Last week I was having a reading conference with a friend, and as we were talking about TBR piles and good book recipes, another idea came to me that would help one reader, and then in turn many others: kiddos doing read aloud.

As I continued to talk to this friend about books, I suggested that he choose a book from his new TBR pile to share with the class.  We talked about how he would have to prepare to do this, including practicing holding the book up so that everyone could see the pictures.  It was totally picture-worthy while he was working.

And maybe the best part was when he turned to me and said, “Wow, this is hard.  My arm hurts!  Is it hard for you, too?” We had a great little chat about how teachers have to have strong arms. 🙂

He continued to work and was ready to present to us.  Man was he excited!

Check out the stories he shared with us:

Well…as you can imagine, this sparked interest by many other people to be able to share with us at read aloud time.  And what a great idea, as I considered all of the many things kiddos learn on both sides of this opportunity.

We began to schedule read alouds in a couple of ways: I gave some friends the assignment based on books we were reading in our small group together, and some friends just began to request a spot.  And since then it’s become a “have-to” for everyone.  It’s just such a good idea that we (ok, probably I) decided all should participate!

Amber took the next turn, and did a super job of matching up to what my lesson would have been that day anyway–good readers use evidence from the text to support their thinking.

Then on Friday, Emily took her turn and taught us about fiction/non-fiction (as well as using some pretty great teacher moves for management!) with The Little Work Plane.

Now don’t worry if you don’t see your favorite Rm. 202 friend in this post–each will get their turn.  While I had originally never intended to take this path with readers in our room, it’s a SUPER example of how organically ideas come up for us, and how kids’ ideas are often the BEST ideas! Thanks, Rm. 202 kiddos for taking chances, learning new things and then sharing that learning with the rest of us!

Second Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of February 22-26, 2016

I have three warm-ups to share this week.  We had a surprise snow day (which was a little funny because where I live there was no snow!) on Wednesday, so no warm-up that day!  We are in the middle between our money unit and addition/subtraction up to 1000, so the problems reflect that.

Monday

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As we discussed this problem, we tried a similar one:

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Tuesday

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Friday

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IMG_0737-minWe modeled the solution to this one in three different ways (which we related to the ways we had done 2-digit addition earlier this year).

Ok, now for a confession…I was surprised when my kids made some of the connections they did this week between money and 3-digit addition.  I know, right?  Probably shouldn’t happen that way, but it was honestly something I hadn’t really noticed, or at least thought about it as specifically as they did.  I think it was nicely pictured in the problem from Tuesday, where we solved each problem in red–they made connections between how you can add whole dollars just like the hundreds in the 2nd problem (and that’s just like 100 cents, making the amount with pennies); the tens were dimes and then the ones were pennies.  Ok, so that part is not surprising to me–obviously I have this knowledge as an adult–but I honestly didn’t expect kiddos to use this to help them solve the 3-digit addition.

It went even farther yesterday when I had a kiddo working on a pre-assessment for this next unit and was doing the problem 451-238.  He told me he needed the money bag so he could use coins to help him.  Since I always allow kiddos to use whatever manipulatives or strategies they need to figure things out I said “ok,” but I honestly was thinking this would hinder him more than help him, or that he’d end up more confused.  When we first looked it he seemed confused with how he’d subtract 8 from 1 (which told me he wasn’t really solid with regrouping yet).  He started by making $4.51 with half dollars, dollar coin, dimes and a penny, and seemed a little unsure about it as this point, too, asking me about names and values as he made his amount.  But once he got his $4.51, he could easily take about the $2 from $2.38, as well as the $.30, which he did with 3 dimes (and I wonder if he made that $.50 that way on purpose since he could think ahead to having to break it apart later on).  Then he sat with only 1 penny, and the need to subtract 8 cents.  And so yes, here’s where the money came in handy–the concrete nature of being able to think about trading a dime for 10 pennies (which is what he is doing abstractly when regrouping) helped him see the constant value and how he could then actually take about the 8 pennies (8 ones) from what was there.  He then counted the money he had left and told me it was $2.19.  We then talked about what that would be if we were just talking about hundreds/tens/ones instead of money and by drawing it in a chart he eventually saw it as 219.

I’m excited to see how this connection to money plays out for some of my friends who need to actually hold/touch/feel the addition and subtraction.  Yes, it’s something we’ve done with other kinds of math tools and strategies, but I wonder if this might even be the best connection, yet, since it’s all based on place value anyway.  Oh yeah, and maybe that’s why this unit was placed after this one in the sequence….

The conversation around this problem the other day was the kind of thing that reminds me that I don’t know everything.  Obviously I know this, but it’s refreshing when kiddos remind me that they are figuring out things I hadn’t thought of.  I love sharing with them those moments, too.  It reiterates the fact that I am not the only teacher in the room, and that I have things to learn as well as they do.  And I hope it’s a lesson that all of us will remember–and use–for days to come.

First Grade Bloggers!: Part 5–Teaching the BIG kids!

Alright….one more time…here are the links to the first four parts of the story.  And this one is probably the biggest and best: this part of the story is about how 20 super smart first grade bloggers taught their FIFTH GRADE BUDDIES about how to blog.  Yup–you heard me right: the little kids taught the BIG KIDS something.  Before I even tell you what happened, I feel like I should start with my some of my kiddos’ words about how it felt.  Wait—maybe that will tell the story better than anything else I could say. 🙂

Evan—“It felt spectacular. I felt good teaching a 5th and I’m only a 1st grader. It was hard. He kept on asking me questions and I wasn’t sure how to answer.”

Peyton—”It made me feel happy. It filled up my bucket to be a good teacher to a 5th grader.”

Lauren—“I felt happy because I got to see my buddy and there were words that were popping up that were funny.” (I think this is about the auto-correct feature on their iPads 🙂 ).

Ella Marie—“It felt awesome. I got to make blogs and I like blogs! I saw something new and I told my buddy about it.”

Sara—“I felt happy because we could make a blog together.”

Charlie—“I felt like I was the most important teacher in the world! I like that my buddies are funny!”

Diego—“I felt so happy because usually big kids but usually little kids were the teachers!” (Doesn’t this one just say it all?!)

Kylie—“I felt good because we got to experience new things that I didn’t know about, then I figured out I did know about it.”

Emily—”It felt good because I felt like a teacher and also it felt good to teach a 5th grader!! Little kids usually get taught by bigger ones.” (Again–what an authentic audience!)

Thomas—“I was really excited because it was my first time writing with a 5th grader. It opened up my grit.”

Amelia—“I felt really happy because I didn’t know how to spell a word, and my LB helped me. It filled up my bucket!”

The assessment we used to tell us we did a SUPER JOB of explaining blogs to our buddies?  Their questions to their teacher as they left our room: “Dr. Grayson, can we have our own blogs, too?”  What more could we ask for??  🙂

Robinson Goes HOLLYWOOD!

See the guy in this picture?:

Well, he’s a movie-maker.  A real one.   Ok, I don’t think he’s a Hollywood movie maker, but he does work at a local university as a filmmaker, and he was making a movie with footage of our class!

Our school is working on a movie to highlight the fabulous things we do each day with teaching and learning, and I was asked to talk about how technology has changed the way I teach and the way kids learn in my classroom.  I did a short piece earlier in the day, and then he came to take some shots of us as we utilized the iPads during our math rotations.  My kiddos were pretty excited about being famous!  Can’t wait to see the finished video that showcases the amazing things that happen at our school every day.  It’s a fabulous place to work and learn!

Here are a few more that I took while he was there:

I took this opportunity to introduce my friends to QR codes, which they were really excited about using!