Flip That Room!

There seems to be a theme in my 5th grade class….(I’m not sure if I should take it personally, or just be really impressed that my kiddos are so creative….).

Today was a day full of lots of things: learning, noise, fun, business, reading, noise, creating, collaborating, noise.  But luckily most of it was not just what I call “noise noise.”  Much of the noise we made today was “learning noise.”  Noise that indicates lots of thinking and creating and sharing is happening.  And yes, it was loud.  But sometimes that’s just how we roll.  Especially when there are 25 of us in the room all talking at once!

So back to the theme I mentioned….we had to stop at one point today and regroup a little bit.  Writer’s Workshop was a wee bit rocky, and so rather than fight against the trouble we were having, we stopped, gathered together and agreed to try that lesson again another day.

Instead, I had them help me with a problem. I told them that I need their help to figure out how I could help them best be learners during our last few days of 5th grade.  We have work left to do, and we want to try to have a little bit of fun, too.  They had some great thinking, which culminated in the idea that parts of our classroom (or how they were using it) were not really working for us.  We agreed that we could work together to fix that problem and create a space that we could do some amazing end-of-the-year work in for a few more weeks.

We started with every kiddo creating their own dream plan of what our classroom would look like.  Then kiddos met in their tribes, presenting their plan to the 4-5 kiddos in their group.  From their, the tribes created a new plan incorporating the best features from each individual plan.  Then we shared out as a class, and voted on the one we thought would work best for us.

IMG_2571 IMG_2572 IMG_2573 IMG_2574 IMG_2575

Here’s what is sounded like during that time.  Remember, it’s loud, but it’s not. just. noise.  They are busy solving problems!

Can’t wait to share the final product next week!  Seems like another theme this week is that I forget to take “after” pictures!  Stay tuned!

List-Group-Label: Science Work with Weather Words

I wrote about this topic last year here.  And like last year, I started my weather unit today with the same activity.  But that doesn’t mean that our experience was the same.  I have a different group of kiddos, with different knowledge and understanding, and I gave a different set of directions of how this protocol would work.  So yes, it’s similar, as many things are year-to-year, but it’s not nearly the same.
As with most every unit we begin, we start with vocabulary words that students will need to know.  Today we used the protocol List-Group-Label to do this introduction.  Here’s the big idea of how it works:

So, like I mentioned before, I had a couple of added directions this time around that helped further thinking.   When tribes got to the GROUPing part, rather than tell them how to make their poster look, we talked about how they needed to make a decision about the best kind of graphic organizer to use for their information.  I also took this opportunity to introduce the phrase “You gotta build the house before you decorate it.”  We talked about how you could “fancy” up your poster if you had some time at the end, but that the most important thing was to get your thinking down first, to show what you know about weather in an organized way.

We spent about 10 minutes on the list-group-label part, then took a short gallery walk to each tribe’s poster.  As they visited other posters, they were to notice what words others used, how they organized their thinking, and if there were any ideas they could “steal” to add to their own sheet once they returned.  After spending about 30 seconds at each poster, they had two minutes to tweak their own work before we were finished.

It was great to hear them work together in their groups to put words together, and think about how they could label each category.  Look at it in progress:

 

And then here is what we ended up with after our work time:

The Legendary 4

The Crazy Dragons (they even signed their work with their tribe name!)

The SBF

The J.A.A.Zicles

The Wild Spirits

Please leave us a comment and let us know what you think.  We’d love to continue to learn with you.   What other words would you suggest we put on our lists?

 

Marshmallow Challenge!

Welcome back to school!  We have been very busy already this year–hence the reason why I haven’t updated in a while–and are getting into a groove.  Forgive me if the next few posts are out of order (at least the order in which they happened); I still need pictures of certain things before I post about them.
Anyhow…we have spent much of the last 6 days getting to know each other better as learners (and people in general, really), as well as focusing on how to work well with a group.  One thing that our tribes did together early on was to take the Marshmallow Challenge.  What a great idea shared with me by my new friend and teammate Mrs. Hong! When you’re done here, you should definitely check out her class blog. 🙂

Alright, so here’s the basic idea:


We got ready, and I set the timer.  They built and taped and created, and at the end of the challenge we stepped away from our structures and….Every. Tower. Fell. Over. 😦

For a few minutes my friends wanted to claim “FAIL” on this activity and say it didn’t work.  But instead, I led them to reflect on what went right.  After a conversation, we figured out that many groups had the right idea of focusing on building a strong foundation, many had made a plan first, each group had a common goal and all groups worked well together to create a spaghetti structure.  Even if they fell over, we were successful in a lot of ways.  And so that day, we planned to do the challenge again, knowing that the next time there would  be many things we’d change–but many things we’d try again. 🙂

And so today was that day.  We planned and prepared before we went to lunch, knowing that when we returned we’d get down to business.  It was so great to watch the tribes busy, talking together about what to do this time around.  Many had plans drawn on paper, and most mentioned specific things they wanted to do differently.  Many groups decided that instead of trying to make their tower really TALL, really FAST, they’d focus instead on making it STRONG.

We got ready, and I set the timer.  They built and taped and created, and at the end of the challenge we stepped away from our structures.  This time, this happened:

WAY BETTER, RIGHT?! I was so proud of them!  And yes, granted, two of them still fell over, but sadly it was right at the last minute!  Those last two were upright and fine until the timer buzzed.  Bummer!

Like I said, we focused on what we can learn from this situation.  It wasn’t about the tallest tower, or whether or not it fell over.  It was about the team, the working together, the learning about our strengths and building on them.  And they totally rocked all of those things!  I can’t wait to see the other amazing things they are going to accomplish together this year!

TRIBES!

We have a new theme in the room this year–WILD about learning.  I will add pics to show it later on, but just picture lots of animal print.  Believe me–it’s FABULOUS!

So one thing that I always do at the beginning of the year is create a set of groups that we use all year for a variety of activities.  These groups don’t change, unlike many others in our class.  I always have a name for the groups, which is usually based on our theme.  They originally started back when I taught 4th grade and needed to have groups to vote on laws that we made for our class state.  They were legislatures, in effect.  Back then they were called Districts, and then last year (during a construction theme) they were Zones.

As I thought about this year, I latched on to the “wild” part of our theme, and that lead me to thinking about tribes.  That tribe idea lead me to Survivor.  You know, the show on CBS?

Originally I was just going to use the idea so that I had something clever to call our groups, but then I realized that there was actually more of a connection to that show than I had realized.  We made a link to the purpose of the tribe on Survivor–to help each member of the group “make it,” to focus on the strengths that each member brings to the situation, and to work together to solve problems.  Then I remembered how on the show, each tribe gives themselves a name–a name that tells something about the group as a whole.

So a new tradition was born.  One of our first activities together was to create tribe names and explain what that name meant about the group.

May I introduce to you, the 5 tribes of Rm. 202:

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to save the explanations for another time, but I wonder: do you think you can figure out what they may mean?  And if your kiddo is in one of those tribes, can you figure out which one?  Teachers: do you have groups like these in your classroom?  Tell us about them!