Hour of Code: Our Favorite Part of the Week!

Remember when I showed this picture from my last post?

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Remember that kiddos wanted to code?  Well if we had asked them that a week before, many of them would not have had any idea of what that even meant.  But thanks to friends in our school like Ms. Turken (our Rm. 203 neighbor) and Mrs. Sisul (our AMAZING principal), we are now ROCKSTAR coders and LOVE to spend any minute we have creating with code.org and our Scratch Jr. app on our iPads.

In response to that question I asked in our teacher group, Mrs. Sisul suggested that she come spend some Hour of Code time with my class. OF COURSE I said yes!

She started by explaining to Rm. 202 kids how they are all smarter than computers.  Some of them weren’t so sure about this, but then she explained that everything a computer does has to be entered by a human, who writes in a special language telling the machine what it should do.

Then we watched in intro movie about people who code and how and why they do that.  Next she explained about how there are two languages that computers understand, BLOCK and JAVA SCRIPT.  We were going to start with the block kind of coding, using a really popular movie as our topic–STAR WARS!!

We got started and indeed were able to spend an HOUR OF CODE before we went home that day.  In fact, we probably could have spent DAYS and DAYS of CODE if we were able to.  Rm. 202 coders are so excited by what happens when they put the right blocks in the right places and the game works the way they want it to!  Many of them got all the way to level 8 and were able to CREAT THEIR OWN GAME by using blocks.  Amazing, right?  Many kiddos have been using Scratch Jr. to do some pretty great things, too!  I’m excited by their excitement and by how well this fits into the creativity, curiosity and wonder that is a foundation of our classroom culture.  Thanks for teaching us this new language, Mrs. Sisul–we’re excited to become fluent in using it!  Hope to be able to share more soon! 🙂

Our First Writing Celebration!

We have been working on getting our Writers’ Workshop set up, as well as learning about and writing Small Moments.

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We used the analogy of a watermelon and its seeds to help kiddos think about a BIG idea and the SMALL parts of that larger story.  This picture was really helpful for kids to have a concrete idea of what I was talking about.  After I drew my initial picture, writers tried their own watermelons. 🙂

Wednesday was the day we were finally ready to share our finished writing pieces.  This was our first for the year, and so we did have to start with a few instructions on how it would go.  I also tried something new this time (which, by the way, I SHOULD NOT have done on our first try at a writing celebration…oh well, lessons learned), and had kiddos do writing compliments on their iPads using eBackpack and the MarkIt tool.  Writers circulated and read their friend’s stories, leaving kind words about what they noticed and what they liked.

Great job on your first celebration, Rm. 202 writers, and great job on your first stories!  Way to start the year as writers! 🙂

2nd Day of 2nd Grade Selfies!

Last year we shared our super-sweet pics of ourselves on the 1st Day of 1st Grade.  So what could we do this year but share super-cool pics of ourselves on the 2nd Day of 2nd Grade??

While some of these are silly and some are serious, I think in many ways they show the personalities of the kiddos who took. And if I’m being honest, they weren’t all actually selfies, because I told them where to stand and probably micro-managed the whole thing a little too much.  Boo. 😦  Sorry!

But the whole idea of selfies came from this article posted by my principal in our school’s ShareTank (which is a Facebook group where teachers can share learning and ideas with each other).  It’s all about using selfies and other strategies to give kids more control and voice in the classroom.  It is, after all, OUR classroom not just mine.  And I know from the work I did on my Masters’ project last fall that choice and voice in the classroom increases engagement and perseverance, so why not?!  I feel like I tend toward this direction anyway, but I can always do better at making sure my students are helping to direct their learning, with me alongside helping to facilitate that journey.  I feel honored and humbled to have that opportunity. 🙂  Here’s to a great year of student-centered, student-directed, everyone’s-engaged learning!!

Pictures of the Day–April 14, 2015

Somehow I think I’ve started a new feature: Picture of the Day.  It’s actually something I was thinking about trying my hand at for next school year (because I need something else to do, right?), but in true form, I decided to try it now, too! (And I should get over to my family blog and pick it back up, too, shouldn’t I?  That’s actually where I first got the idea….oh well, one project blog at a time I guess….) Anyhow, it’s funny how you look at things differently when you know you want to post something every day.  It’s kind of like how I teach my kiddos that writers look at the world differently than “regular” people–they EXPECT to see interesting things that they can capture in words, and sometimes in pictures!  So today when someone said, “Hey, look, they all have on the same shoes!” I HAD to take a picture of it.  That’s our first picture of the day–cute first grade feet in Converse tennis shoes, all in different colors and sizes!

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Cutest ever, right?? 🙂

And since it’s not fair to just show shoes, here are the cutie-pie faces that go with those awesome kicks:

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Say cheese! Diego, Makayla and Peyton 🙂

And since kids can’t get all of the focus here (after all, there is 1 KOOKY TEACHER in Rm. 202, too!), my friend Landen took a picture of something else cool we noticed today: Mrs. Appelbaum (she’s kind of like a celebrity around here lately!) and I were twinsies with the color and patterns in our outfits!  And I must mention that Landen both offered to take the picture AND AirDrop it to me so I would have a copy. 🙂  Gotta love those growing tech skills, huh? IMG_4399

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??  🙂