We tried out a new brain break the other day when we needed to move our bodies. I think kiddos enjoyed it. See if you can figure out the directions. 🙂
Did you figure it out? (Or did I repeat them in the video? LOL) In case you didn’t, it’s an easy “game” where you just walk around until I say “Rock, Tree, House” and then you find a small group and you have to represent each part with your bodies. Easy peasy, fun to do, and got us moving!
I have shared a video of our protocol of “Stand up, Hand up, Pair up” before, and also shared an example of how we got to know each other with a Find Someone Who activity.
Here’s an example of how we used it in a different way: in Science with weather vocabulary.
We have already done some reading, writing and talking about these words, and so much of today was a review and check-in to see what they remembered. There was one word that was new–climate–and we were going to talk about how that new word was connected to what they already knew.
As we did with the previous Find Someone Who, kiddos had a sheet with words and they were tasked to find someone who knew what the words meant and could tell them. I reminded them that “whoever does the writing does the thinking” as we reviewed the directions and then they got to work. I love how again kiddos showed up and did the work in just the way they were asked to. These kids are awesome, y’all! Check it out in action:
I am sure I mentioned it in a previous post, but these are new-to-me Kagan cooperative learning protocols I learned this year from my superstar colleague, Dr. Grayson. It’s so good to have a refresh on how to get kids thinking and talking together and I LOVE how it’s working out so far! More to come, so stay tuned! 🙂
I am sure by now you know that we practice phonics every day in 3rd grade. Last year we began an official program to help all grades K-5 standardize and tighten up their phonics instruction. The program we are now using is called Sunday, and it has five basic parts. Every day kiddos read sounds, write sounds, read words, write words and then learn some new material. Every 5th lesson we have a Mastery Check and kiddos show how they can transfer the lessons they are learning into new situations. Are you ready to see what it looks and sounds like? Here we go!
First we read sounds and write sounds. These are review as well as new ones we’ve learned so far in 3rd grade.
Next we read words (and a few sentences).
Next we write words. These words include sounds we’ve learned together as well as sight words that we have practiced.
After we review, then we learn something new. In this lesson, students are introduced to two new sets of sounds that come after a short vowel at the end of a word. I know it sounds funny, but I do not remember learning this as a child! At least not the “why” of them and/or how to use them. That’s one of the things I love about what we’re doing here: talking to kiddos about what to do as well as the reason why they should do it! Makes it so much easier to apply a “rule” if you know why!
New material: ff, ss, zz, ll
More new material: -ck
I love this hard thinking and work we do every day with phonics! I love that we start with it, as it allows us so many opportunities to practice and apply the new learning throughout the day as readers and writers!
We are learning so many new things about how sounds and words work. What do you remember about phonics?
Have you ever wondered how classroom “rules” are made? Read on to find out!
In our room, these rules are called expectations, and we decide on them together. It has been a process, and kids were involved all along the way. Let me show you!
We started in what may be a surprising way–with questions. I put 6 charts around the room, and kiddos spent time answering them with post-its as they walked around.
Now, not all of these questions will help us create our expectations, but they definitely help me get a feel for what they want, who they are and how they need things to be.
We mostly zoned in on the question that asked “What do you want our classroom to be like?” The answers to that question are KEY to the next step. Check out what they said: like home, family friendly, calm, kind, quiet, fun, respectful and following directions. Sounds like a great place to learn, right? WELL…if that’s what they want, then we have to figure out HOW we will make it that way.
The next step is to have crews brainstorm what our expectations we would need in order for our class to be (or become) those things we mentioned. Teams worked together to suggest what they thought good rules would be.
Can you guess what happened next?
I took the most popular suggestions and put them together on a new sheet, then crews had to choose the most important five expectations.
Once we made crew choices, then we compared those and made the final decisions as a class. Some of them we combined, and ended up with this:
I’m excited to see what happens now that we have our collective expectations and can helped each other to them. Our plan is that following these expectations will help us have all of those things we put on our list. :).
Hey–come closer. A little closer. I have to tell you something. Ready? I teach 3rd graders and we have choice time in our class. Yep. Maybe every day. And they love it.
I know that to some (many?) people that is a controversial statement. To some (many?) 3rd grade marks a change in school. This is the year when kids are supposed to get serious. They’re supposed to have moved on past the play time and ease of primary grades and be ready now for real school, where they should be expected to sit still and work silently (often in a desk), have lots of homework and get ready for middle school (oh man, don’t even get me started about that statement….maybe more on that later…). Gone are the days of games and free time and arts and crafts. Now is the time for work.
While I am by no means an expert on third grade or third graders, I have spent a lot of time in a classroom and have taught grades on both sides of it, so I know some of how parents and teachers alike expect third grade to go. I’m going to suggest there’s another way to do it. A way that values both play and learning, as play IS a way children learn.
If you Google “quotes on play” you can sit for hours and go through all sorts of things that people say about play. Here are just a few:
As an early childhood educator, I was taught–and firmly believe–that children are the crafters of their learning and my job is one of a facilitator. I provide the opportunities and invitations, and kiddos do the thinking and discovering as they figure things out and own their knowledge. Yes, there are times when you have to give them information, but more often than not, leading them there and having them find out things for themselves is the best way. The more they do for themselves, the more they remember and the more ownership they take. Also, it’s way more fun to figure things out than to always have the adults around you be the experts telling you all the things.
Why do I even mention this? Because like I mentioned before, people find choice time–or art, LEGOs, games, building, recess–to be a no-no for older kiddos. I need you to know that this is an expectation in my classroom, and we will work hard through play, choice and fun.
Especially at the beginning of the year, unstructured time with new people in a new classroom is crucial–both for students and for me. As I give them time to make choices of what to do and who to work (play) with, I am learning as much as them. I can get info on who they work well with (and who they don’t!); what they do when they are frustrated; what makes them happy; what they enjoy doing; how long they can stay engaged with an activity; what they know about problem-solving, creativity and figuring out what to do on their own; how well they clean up after themselves (or don’t LOL); more about their language skills; and countless other things. They can learn about their friends, meet new ones, relieve stress, create things, learn a new game or skill, become comfortable in our classroom and of course, it’s FUN! I honestly do not know what I would do in my classroom if there was not time or room for kids to play. It’s good for all parts of them, and it’s good for me, too. Some of the best conversations I have had with kids have come during unstructured time in our room when they don’t feel pressure to be “on” or like I’m expecting something from them. They are at ease and are often more likely to share things that then help me in future interactions with them as learners.
I look forward to the ways we will play and learn together, and how I can encourage kiddos to do new and hard things by presenting the challenges to them in a fun, welcoming way. Sharing my own stories of play are important, too. I’m sure we will make mistakes, get messy and learn a TON together. Hope you are along for the ride!
Tell us, what is your favorite way to play? Leave a comment and we’ll be sure to respond soon! 🙂
If you haven’t had a chance to read part 1 of these highlights, be sure to do that first! Don’t want to miss anything. 🙂
What to Do With a Box
We read a great book called What to Do with a Box by Jane Yolen. It’s about a kiddo who does amazing things with a box and their imagination. After the book, kiddos saw this on our carpet:
As they thought about which box they wanted to use, they were matching it up with what they thought their box could become. There were not at many parameters for this one–“Make something new out of your box,” were the only directions. They could add anything we had in our classroom to the project. Oh, except paint because we haven’t gotten that out yet. LOL. They could choose to work alone or with a partner, putting their boxes together to create something bigger (and probably better!).
Once we finished, kiddos created an “exhibit” to tell about their creation. They wrote 3 sentences to tell about what it was and how they made it. We set them all up around the room in a mini-museum and then did a gallery walk (after we talk about what they meant and how to follow museum etiquette, of course! 🙂 ).
Oh, and by the way–kids LOVED this! It was definitely one of the highlights of the day, and probably the week. Which was kind of the point, really. I always have a goal during these first few days (and always, really!) of helping kids see that learning is fun, that our classroom is a safe place to make and share your ideas, to create things, to make mistakes (and messes!) and a place to explore new things by yourself and with your friends. I want to set the stage for the year from day 1!
“My Favorites” Game
Kiddos played a game with their crews where they answered questions about their favorite things. This was one fun and can be played over and over again with different groups. Oh, and this one was a good place to teach kiddos how to roll dice in my room. Yep, you heard it right. I HATE the sound of clicking dice on floors and tables, and also hate when learning time is spent running after roll-away dice, so I have a lesson the first time we get the dice box out. I know you’re wondering what that lesson looked like. hee hee If you have a student in this class, be sure to have them teach it to you, and if you don’t leave a comment and I’ll add a video to show you. ;). Anyhow, they really enjoyed this way of learning about their friends.
I love a puzzle! I have loved doing jigsaw puzzles all my life, and even today usually do one daily, on an app on my iPad. Every year on Global School Play day, our class puts together a 500+ piece puzzle together over the day. So as we begin the year together, I had to introduce puzzles to the class. Besides being fun, there are sooo many other skills that doing puzzles supports. Kiddos practice problem-solving, perseverance, stamina for hard things, focus, communication, play and free choice options, cooperation, and also just time to be with friends and/or make new ones. And guess what? They loved this, too. 🙂 Check out these amazing puzzle-solvers!
Library Tours–our classroom and Robinson’s!
We spent some time getting to know our classroom library, as well as the Robinson library–the latter with a scavenger hunt. So fun! I usually do this during the first days anyway, but we definitely had to do it sooner. They were dying to go book shopping and of course I had to oblige!
We needed some mini versions of ourselves so we made some! This activity came after the book Happy in Our Skin, and we had fun creating a beautiful classroom line of US! We’ll use these as decoration as well as a way to keep track of who’s in charge (which is what we call helpers in our class!).
Ok, that’s all for now. But like I said before, keep coming back, because there will be A LOT to show you as we go through this year! I already have a list of things that aren’t on this list of “first week” things. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next post! Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave us a comment to let us know what you think about what’s going on in Rm. 204!
Yesterday’s grand opening meant an air of excitement, brightly frosted cupcakes and lots of money spent on new books to add to my ever-growing collection. I mean, come on—is it possible to have too many books?
The inside of the shop is small, but nicely decorated and clear on who’s important here: the little readers who fill those tiny chairs and spend time finding a new favorite book! There is definitely a South City vibe, which is great. And the best part? I can walk there! (Although I guess that does cause some trouble in that it limits the size of my book haul to whatever I can carry! 😆 Oh well, I’ll figure it out. Maybe a wagon??)
Speaking of “book haul,” let me show you what we bought!
I found two new titles I am excited to share with my kiddos, and one that is an old favorite—but in paperback!
I hope to be able to visit this little gem of a store for years to come and that they get to grow and grow, putting books into the hands of Little Readers all over town! Visit them, will ya?!
I have been busy in my new room, and yesterday I made a breakthrough! Have been working on getting the library–which is all around our meeting area rug–put together and the rough draft of it is pretty much done. I’m so excited to share what’s starting to take shape. There are many small details I have to fix, but I am so excited for our new class to gather in the library every day for learning!
Check it out! And I’d love to know what you think–leave a comment below! 🙂
I was thinking about a suuuppppeeerrr cute shirt that was delivered today:
Of course, the first thing I thought was about how I already miss my old team, but also how excited I am about the prospects of a new one and what we will accomplish together this year. I thought of all the young teachers and learners that will start with me next month—and how I get to tell them all I’m their teacher on Monday!
And then I thought about how weird it feels to say “3rd grade strong” or “I’m on the 3rd grade team.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am totally on board with the strong and the team part, but the 3rd grade part feels very strange in my mouth. Saying it doesn’t yet roll off my tongue.
I’ve taught primary for lots of years, and always felt perfectly confident claiming the “1st and 2nd teacher” title, I knew exactly what the meant: I teach kids to read, lots of kids loose their teeth, I encourage independence and problem solving rather always looking to the teacher for help, there are still sometimes tears because we’re not first in line (this is of course not an exhaustive list 😀). If I heard someone else claiming the title also, I could immediately commiserate or celebrate with whatever story they were telling.
The same thing happens with “4th and 5th grade teacher.” I spent almost a decade on that end of the elementary spectrum, building on what had happened in primary—extending learning and challenging kiddos to do great things with those basic skills they had developed early on. I knew that being an “intermediate teacher” meant dealing with new hormones and drama, but also being able to be more sarcastic, have deeper conversations about books and current events, and teach a really great unit on multiplying and dividing fractions (really—I still miss working through that one with 5th grade mathematicians!).
That same thing doesn’t happen now. I know some of this comes from not actually haven’t been a 3rd grade teacher yet, but I think some of it is also the “between” nature of third grade. It’s not a primary grade anymore; I’ve heard all about how this is the year we begin to read to learn, since we’ve already learned how to read. It’s a year of great transition and growing, both socially and academically. Thirds graders are still little enough to really love their teacher and love school, but are old enough to push a little further, so harder things. But it’s not yet a true “upper grade”, and all that comes with that.
That brings me to the title of the post. I wonder if 3rd grade is a little like being in kindergarten again. Just like when kiddos bring their preschool suitcase with them to the primary grades—ready to be big kids and do “real” school—3rd graders are doing that same thing as they begin their intermediate journey. Their bags are fuller now: stuffed with reading and writing strategies, lessons they’ve learned about how to be good friends and have a growth mindset, math skills and memories of their “firsts”—when they did great things for the first time and were really surprised.
What does that mean for me as I embark on this journey with them, as a first time traveler as well? I’m at the same transition stage as my students, only I know both what has been and what will come a few years down the line. I wonder what this “between” time will do for me as both a teacher and a learner. What tools will I add to my own toolbox? What skills and strategies will be in my suitcase at the end of this year that aren’t there now?
You know what? Not knowing is kind of the best part. I’m heading out on a new adventure, uncharted territory of sorts, jumping into the deep end of a pool in which I’ve never swum (or is it swam?? Sorry grammar police 👮). I am going to do new things that I know will be hard and might feel impossible. I’m going to attempt things that will fail, but also accomplish things I never thought possible. Just like my students will. And they will be there to celebrate with me, cheer me on along the way and pick me up when I fall. And I will do the same for them. We’ll do it together. 😀