#FDOFG2017: Ten Black Dots

Remember when we read The Line and did drawing starts with Mrs. Berger?  It was a great experience for Rm. 111 kiddo and an opportunity to use our creativity and grit.  Well…we went back last Friday and did it again!  Not the drawing start part, but the creativity and grit part. 🙂

During our second visit to Mrs. Berger’s room, she shared Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews with us.  Many of us had heard it before, but maybe as a math book instead of an invitation to think in a new and different way.

We read and discussed the book and looked at the many ways Crews imagined what those ten dots could become.  And then, just as she had done with drawing starts, Mrs. Berger asked me to give it a try (and somehow even though she does this every year, I was totally surprised.  LOL).  So…I stared at the big white paper, trying to see something besides big black circles

IMG_0911-min

To be honest, I could have made the caterpillar I have done most every other time (boo–I know that’s not very creative!), but I figured I should try a little harder.  So I kept thinking and started moving those dots around on the blank page.

After the dots, I added some details and then stood back to see if they could figure out what my dots had become.

So…my ten black dots became:

IMG_0932-min

A fancy lady’s hair!

The funniest part to me is that most kiddos thought it was a self-portait!  Ha!

So after my beautiful example, kiddos were give a pile of dots (ours were red and yellow) from which they had to count out ten and then create something marvelous.   Kiddos went to their personal “offices” and got busy.  They were given about 20 minutes to work, and friends were challenged and then encouraged to work the whole time, adding more details if they thought they were finished before time was up.  The sound of quietly working kiddos and the creations that emerged as fabulous!

And so in the end, our ten black dots became…so many great things!  Check out our thinking:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Again, first grade grit and greatness shined through and we ROCKED this challenge!!  Can’t wait for the next one! Wonder what it will be! 🙂

The E in ICEL: Rm. 202 Kids Take Over–Part 3

Our class has been doing some super work lately with trying to figure out how to be our best learning selves and problem-solving about how to do that.  I’ve been helping them by thinking through the ICEL protocol:

screenshot-2016-12-17-20-13-19

An unexpected transition to the E in ICEL (which is the ENVIRONMENT in which your students are learning, the WHERE of learning) came when we were in Ms. Turken’s room on Friday morning.  As we were working on writing after visiting with Mrs. Marks’ friends, I noticed how differently focused, engaged and quiet my kiddos were.  I noticed the different ways they spaced themselves out,  as well as the people they were working with (along with the fact that many of them found quiet places to work alone).  I noticed that they were all writing, they were all productive and they were all using supplies kindly, efficiently and in the correct way.

We took a second before we left their room to have a chat about what they noticed.  I wondered if they felt the difference.  They mentioned things like the corner of the room where there were two low beach chairs and a low table where kiddos could read.  Callahan thought it was like the Zero Zone in our library. He and Kaiden found that to be a great place to work quietly next to each other.

We all noticed that there were many different kinds of spaces to use for work: places for singles, partners or small groups; places with chairs, and places to sit low and kneel on a rug.  Keira found a bench where she could lay down to do her writing.  Rachel was tucked away on a little bean-shaped table around a corner working alone, and Peter found a hexagon table on the other side of the room where he could work alone as well.  Ms. Turken’s room has a kidney table (or some kiddos call it the rainbow table) where there were 5 or 6 kids all writing and chatting together; Penny chose the rolley chair.  Even with that many kids all in the same place, they were focused on their work.  A low rectangle table looked similar to that on the other side of the room.

Even their rug was a mystery.  It’s the same rug that we have in our room, in generally the same part of the room, and has books on three sides of it just like ours.  But no one seemed distracted by the books, kiddos didn’t sit WAY at the back and everyone seemed to be focused on the teacher chair and the easel.

We agreed that there were some things that we could take back to our space and try to emulate in our room so that we could try to get the same results.  Maybe there were some things we didn’t know we needed until we saw them somewhere else.  Our next step was to have kiddos draw pictures/maps with their ideas for what our new layout could look like, but this was a little bit problematic because we hadn’t done much map work like that before.  I was able to see in their illustrations, though, what was important to them.  We all agreed the Zero Zone was a must, and that we could try different tables/spaces; all of our tables are round ones.

Since I knew the whole “zone” idea was a big one to them, I suggested another place they could visit that had zones.  I hoped this would give them another vision for what they might want/need.  I called on my friend Mrs. LeSeure, who is both a master at space planning and who I knew had already gone through many designs in her own room this year.  My son, Riley, is in her class, and with 27 students and an interesting room shape (it’s a small octagon I think), they have had to be very creative with how they put the people and the furniture in there for the best results.  Just like Mrs. Marks, she agreed to let us come over and learn from her kiddos.

The next school day, which was Monday, she sent some of her friends to take my first graders to explore their space.  The 4th graders were each in a different zone of their room, and groups rotated to each place, learning about how that space is used and how they decided it was an important place for them.  Half of my class went as a time, and then we came back together to share out what we had seen.

We talked and put together a chart of our thoughts.

fullsizeoutput_12e7

As students shared their reasoning behind what they liked about each zone and why they thought it would work for us, we decided if it was something that was possible for us to actually do.  We agreed that probably all of this chart was, except for the pet.  Mrs. LeSeure has a turtle named Javy, and kiddos thought he would help some of us be calm and focused while we work.  It’s a bit of a jump right now, so I assured them that when we get the worms from Mrs. Berger after the holidays and can work with them with their composting, it will work in the same way.  Crossing my fingers that that will happen. LOL

By that point, it was the end of the school day and we had to go home.  But I knew that my work wasn’t done.  I asked Rm. 202 kids if they trusted me (as well as Riley and my kindergartner, Allie) to do some work after school.  Then they could try it the next day and we could see what happened.  They agreed and left VERY EXCITED to come back the next morning.  And now I know YOU’RE very excited to come back and read about it in my next post, right?  I’m excited to tell you the next chapter. 🙂

Global Read Aloud Week 3: The Reader

This week was the half-way point of the Global Read Aloud.  We have so enjoyed the texts we’ve read so far, and this week’s book was no different.  Lauren Castillo has become a new friend to all of Rm. 202 kiddos and we enjoyed interacting with another of her great books: The Reader.

screenshot-2016-10-20-08-23-19

As we read this beautiful story of a boy, his dog, a cold, snowy day and a good book, we discussed many parts and made many predictions.  We talked about who we thought “the reader” was, where we thought they were going, and we even connected a part of the story with the punctuation investigation we started the other day (which OF COURSE I’ll tell you more about later on!).

We got to this page of the book, when the boy heads toward home, and thought that maybe something was missing (sorry, Lauren Castillo!).

screenshot-2016-10-23-15-00-49

So…we added it. 🙂  And the best part was that Rm. 202 kiddos knew that it needed exclamation points to make it sound exciting, and they also suggested that it be written in all capital letters because that also tells the reader how it should sound. 🙂

screenshot-2016-10-23-15-02-49

Great, right?  And of course, no disrespect to the way it was actually written.  Reading lots Elephant and Piggie books makes us see speech bubbles EVERYWHERE!!

After we read and talked, we decided to get artistic and kiddos were invited to paint in response to the story.  They were asked to answer one of these two questions: Where is YOUR favorite place to read? or What is YOUR favorite thing to do in the winter?   Once their paintings were complete, they chose a paper to matte their piece, and wrote a card to explain their creation.  We brainstormed words we might want to use and created a chart to use a resource in our writing.  I CANNOT wait to see what these look like altogether on the bulletin board at school, but I had to go ahead and share them individually with you here from home.  They sure are pretty!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And I know I have said this every week of the GRA so far, but maybe this is the week that we finally join the slow chat about the books we’re reading.  Maybe. LOL 🙂

 

 

Blowing Up Our Word Wall!

Yesterday I was sitting with my friend, Ms. Turken, as we worked on a geometry assessment, figuring out a new schedule and just musing about some first grade topics in general.  I had some ideas to throw at her related to my class library, my classroom layout and most importantly the way our Word Wall is being used–or really NOT being used.

We talked about the purpose of a word wall as we understood it, which is to be words that kiddos are accountable to know how to spell.  Yeah–it’s full of words that most kids know how to spell and read already.  It’s not words that most kids need support with so its use is minimal.  That’s where we were in Rm. 202.

I sat down with my class today (in front of the Word Wall, naturally), and asked them what they were thinking. I asked what a Word Wall is for, and I got two decidedly different answers (which was not very surprising, actually).  I had one friend tell me it was for sight words that we know, and someone else said, no, it’s for words that we need help with.  We talked about how we needed to be clear–and agree upon–what we wanted the wall to be for us.  I asked many kiddos if they personally ever use the wall to help them spell.  Nope. No. Not really.  Yes, but only for names.  We agreed that having words like it, is, it, get, and, am, etc., is not helpful.   I talked with them about what other kinds of things they might want to have on there, and also went to my word wall word stash to make a few suggestions if they needed help.  The word BECAUSE came up (as it has several times in multiple conversations of the last week) as a word that most of us need to reference, and so we agreed it would go up there.  Someone suggested color words, then we also talked about number words and other categories.  This led to the idea that we could organize the words by type, rather than by alphabet.

I gave them a few minutes to work with a friend (or on their own) to suggest categories or specific words that we might want to put up on our wall.  While they worked, I started to take down the letters.

Kids had great ideas for categories of words, like colors, numbers, names (which were already on our Word Wall but that are now in a square together instead of by first letter separately), school words, seasonal words (like Halloween, fall, parade, etc.), and just sight words or other “regular” words that might be tricky.

After school I was able to make a start at putting it back together.  It already looks great, and I am SUPER excited with how the kiddos like it and how they begin to use it differently.  After all, it is THEIR word wall and should be organized and created in a way that makes sense to THEM.  Otherwise it’s just letters that no one pays any attention to.

img_4788-min

A fresh start…

img_4789-min

Color words and the beginning of “school” words

img_4790-min

Number words (yes, I know there’s no eighteen. Somehow I lost it. I’ll fix that. 🙂

img_4791-min

Names. I will add girl once it gets printed.

Can’t wait to share more soon!  Please tell us what you think! 🙂

 

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):

screenshot-2016-10-09-17-55-24

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!

Global Read Aloud 2016

Last year I learned about the Global Read Aloud from a Twitter friend of mine named Tam Scharf who lives in Australia.  She is a great collaborator and friend to me, despite the fact that we have never really met, have only spoken in person once (well really it was over Skype), and don’t even live on the same continent or teach the same grade (anymore at least–we both taught 5th grade we first “met” in 2011).  I love that that story actually describes many teachers who are important parts of my professional learning network.

But anyway….the Global Read Aloud 2016 started this week and we are off to a running start already!  We began with a short introduction to what it is,

who we would be studying and what they could look forward to doing over the next 6 weeks. We watched a video and checked out the website of Lauren Castillo, the author and illustrator we’d be studying.  Very shortly they were hooked and SUPER excited to join the almost 900,000 kids who would be studying the same books!

This week’s book (as you can see in the video) is Nana in the City, and is all about bravery.  After we read and discussed the story, we got busy answering this question:

screenshot-2016-10-06-22-01-41

We got busy thinking and drawing and I was really impressed (and a little surprised) with what they came up with.  Check out our work!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We are excited to read more and write more and share our thinking!  There are some other friends in our school who are also participating and we’re hoping to share our thinking with them, as well.  Tomorrow we plan on joining a Twitter chat about Lauren Castillo’s books, too, so we can talk about what we like, what we think and who we are.  We may also build cityscapes to teach others about where we live.  The opportunities are endless!  I’m excited to share more and we go along!! 🙂

Our First MYSTERY NUMBER SKYPE!!

I was so excited to get my kiddo started on some “techy” type things and so today was a great day–we did our first MYSTERY NUMBER SKYPE!  What’s a Mystery Skype you ask?  What’s a Mystery Number Skype? (Check those out so you can get the big idea–believe me, they are one of the coolest things we do in Rm. 202!

Well today was the day!  I hadn’t really made a big deal about it, which was fine because they didn’t know what it was anyway, but boy did they pick it up quickly!  I explained the general idea (we have a number and the other class has a number and we use a 20-Question type game to figure out each others’ numbers), and then we practiced with the number 18.  We talked about words we might use (like greater than/less than, tens place/ones place), and ways we could cross off the most numbers at once (we kept track together on a hundreds chart) and then matched up with a partner to plan for what we would ask.

img_4531

At 9:30 we were ready, and our Skype phone rang!

img_4540

We answered and got right to work.  Our first point of business (after we said hello, of course!) was to figure out who would ask the first question.  We did so with rock/paper/scissors!

We won (rock over scissors!) and asked the first question.  Eventually we will have jobs for each kiddo, and will keep track of our questions for future reference, but for now we were lucky to have Mrs. Sisul tweet for us! Here’s an example (and you can check out the rest of the session on our class feed at @jbeardensclass) of what happened!

Rm. 202 kiddos did such a great job and were SUPER excited when in just about 5 or 6 questions we got to the point where we could guess their mystery number!

What a great start to our Mystery Skyping journey! We are ready to go and excited for our next call!  Who’s in?  If you’re interested, please leave us a comment so we can get in touch with you!