10 Lego Math

Last week during our Bike Rodeo in PE, we did a math investigation around how many wheels were on the bikes in our bike row in the gym (yeah, I know…I should have shared that post first.  Sorry. 🙂 ).

It was our first try with math notebooks and working to communicate our mathematical thinking in words, pictures and numbers.  Kiddos are expected to be able to do that thoughtfully and clearly, based on this rubric:

Screenshot 2017-09-27 21.26.34This is an end-of-year expectation, but we learn about it early and work on it all year in different ways.

As I looked over the work kiddos had recorded in their notebooks, I noticed that kiddos mainly just wrote numbers.  Ok, really a number.  Just the answer to whatever question they were working on.  The words and pictures parts were pretty much MIA.  It’s still early, so this is neither surprising nor worrisome–we just need some work on what it means to clearly and concisely show what we did to solve a problem.

While we could have done this in a variety of ways, I took a super smart suggestion from my friend, Mrs. Marks, (who you might remember inspired this Lego Leading/Following lesson) who thought she would walk a bit backward and have her kiddos work on just representing something really small they that had counted, made, etc.  Perhaps because the first “Mrs. Marks” lesson was using Legos, or maybe because they’re the best tool ever, or we all love them or we have a TON of them….but regardless, I framed our next communication lesson around a Lego creation invitation.

With the goal being using words, pictures and numbers (as necessary) to explain their thinking and making their explanation match their creation, kiddos were given a baggie with 10 random Legos.

Then I gave them these directions:

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For the first part, kiddos only worked on steps 1 and 2.

As we moved to the next step, I did a think aloud as I drew and then wrote about my own creation.  We talked about what information would be helpful to know if they were going to build a replica of my tower (because that’s what they will be doing next!).  They gave great suggestions of words to use and we revised and added to the words, also discussing what labels might be helpful.

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Somehow I didn’t get a picture of my tower, but I promise it looks just like that drawing. 🙂

Kiddos’ next step was to work on their drawings and writing, with nudges along the way to add or revise to make sure their thinking was clear and complete.

Today we finalized our thinking, took a picture (to compare our drawings and creations) and posted our work on Seesaw.  We used the recording feature to read our writing and add any details we thought were important.  Next step is that we will build each other’s creations and discuss what information in our work was helpful, confusing, and/or missing.  We will then try again with another creation and see if improve.  Kiddos have been so excited about this work and I’m excited to see how it impacts our math work going forward.

How do you use Legos to learn?  We’d love to hear your ideas.  🙂

How to Judge Fairly

We are learning many things in first grade lately (that’s good, right?) and many of them are about how to argue!

Yes, I know, you shouldn’t argue with your friends (or your enemies, either), but it is a good thing to know how to make a good argument.

Our newest writing unit is about writing reviews, making judgments and arguing about why something is the best–with reasons to support that opinion.  We started by bringing in collections from home and judging which we thought was the best.  We were supposed to write our thinking, giving reasons that would convince our fellow writers.  It was great how quickly they dug in to this work, and how seriously they considered the choice.

We shared our initial judgments and shared our choices with our writing partners.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working on how to strengthen our arguments, by adding reasons, using strong words and phrases like “You might think…but I think…”, adding in quotes from others, and giving details.  We also learned how to strengthen our reasons by considering the opinions of others.  This was a fun day when we got to judge our friends’ collections and write about whether we agreed or disagreed (respectfully!) with their decision of “best in show.”

Our most recent argument was made as a part of our plans for #weekofkindness: we gathered a SUPER chart of ideas and kiddos had to convince me (and their friends) about which ones were the best.  What motivating writing topics!

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We will continue our work over the next few weeks, eventually moving our arguments and reasoning into ways we can make change in our community (which ties in with our study of history and change-makers in Social Studies right now!).  Fun times ahead!  Stay tuned!

Don Tate Comes to Robinson!

I LOVE when I get to use that title.  It’s usually the same one I use for every author visit. Ok, I should be more inventive, but hey, that’s what happened, right?

Anyhow, Robinson (and especially Rm. 202) LOVES their authors, but this one seemed extra special.  Most of the authors we’ve hosted have been amazing, but most of them have also been women (yes, I’m talking about you Mary Casanova, Deborah Hopkinson, Kate Klise, Betty Birney and Lisa Campbell Ernst!). Oh, ok–we have had a male visit us before, and although not an author, Mr. Schu was equally amazing.  But this time our new author friend was an African-American male!

We’ve been learning so much about diverse literature this year and have made many new friends (both in text and real life).

I already told you a little about how we were introduced to Don Tate when we visited the library.  We also spent several weeks reading (and loving) his books and admiring his illustrations.  The other day we even tried our own hands at art like Bill Traylor in It Jes’ Happened (which we learned today was his FIRST BOOK!  Man–what a great way to start your career!  This book won awards!!).

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After we read the book, we collected the information we’d learned about Bill from the story:

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Then we decided to do the same thing!

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First we made our way to the recycling station to find some discarded things on which to paint.

We found our canvases, got our paint (only blue, red, yellow and brown!) and got busy sharing things we had kept deep inside (which was a line from the story).

We ended up with some quite fantastic masterpieces!

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If you want to see what some of us said about this experience, check out our blogs here.

Ok, so the day finally came and this was us:

We headed down to the library to FINALLY meet our new friend and learn some amazing things about being an author and illustrator.  He talked to us about being gritty and not quitting, about how everyone has their own special talent, about how to make masterpieces out of your mistakes and also how it TAKES A YEAR TO MAKE A BOOK! You better believe I’ll mention that the next time a first grader tells me that they’re done after 10 minutes! LOL  I went live several times during the visit and the easiest way to share that is through this link to our Periscope channel.  It’s totally worth a few minutes to click on that link!

He talked, he listened, he answered our questions, and he DREW FOR US!!

We listened, we laughed, we learned and then…

Thanks for your time, your books, and your inspiration Don Tate!

 

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!

Painting, Twister and a Song, Oh My!: Dot Day 2016

I have been a fan of Dot Day for a few years, and tried with my last couple of classes.  Last year was the first year I seemed to get it on the blog, though, sharing our dot paintings and writing pieces that graced our hallway all year.  They really were amazing.  But as I went into this year’s Dot Day, I wanted to see what else there was out there to connect to the day and to the book it’s created from: The Dot by Peter Reynolds.

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Because of my participation in most things Twitter, I found out about some great resources to use for Dot Day activities, and even had a place to share our Dot Day fun!  I was geared up for an even better Dot Day than last year, and when the day came, kiddos were as excited as me!

We started the day by reviewing our plans and then, of course, reading the story!  And who better to share the story of The Dot than the author himself?  Yep! We had Peter Reynolds read to us from this video on YouTube:

After that, I actually reread to Rm. 202 kiddos again, to make sure they “got” the story and so we could discuss what was actually happening and also how this story perfectly connects to our Robinson Mindset:

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We used some discussion questions that had been shared with me from my Twitter friend Ms. Hachen, and these really helped us understand Vashti’s problem, how she solved it and then how she made her mark on someone else in the same situation.

Then we enjoyed a song.  Two or three times because it was so great. 🙂

And then after we got the point of the day and our minds were focused on dots and making our mark, we got busy actually DOING it!

I had put together a flipchart to give kiddos a visual of their art options:

screenshot-2016-09-17-21-42-36 and basically anything that was round, or could make a dot was fair game.  And once they got busy creating, we were AMAZED at what we could do!  We made dots and watched them splatter. 🙂  And thanks again to the AMAZING Ms. Mimlitz who was our photographer and took some great action shots of our work!

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The final products are not quite ready to share (since I want to wait until they’re all hanging up and our writing is finished!) but you’ll get the idea as you check out our creative process. 🙂

Later on, it was time to have some more active Dot Day fun…

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This was both Dot Day-related, as well as a great opportunity for us to continue to practice managing our bodies and using self-control as we work together!

After we had made our physical marks, thought about how we were like Vashti and could make a mark on the world, we did some reflecting through writing using this sheet:

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We have done first drafts on these sheets, and will revisit and revise them next week so they can hang along with our paintings.  I can’t wait to share them!

We had had a day full of DOT fun, and we had to end it with one more run through of the Dot Day Song.  Just because it was so great!  And we’ve all been singing it since then. 🙂

And to be honest, this wasn’t the end of the fun.  Come back for the second half of our Dot Day extravaganza soon!  There’s  Skype and another art project to share!

No Voice Day!

Today was kind of tricky.  I have an unfortunate beginning-of-the-year-my-kids-got-me-sick cold, and it’s taken my voice. 😦  Luckily my throat doesn’t hurt (no, I don’t have strep–don’t worry, friends!), but it’s hard to not talk when you’re a teacher. LOL  The hardest thing–especially when we’re in the midst of a #classroombookaday challenge–is the read alouds.  I couldn’t NOT read aloud today (especially when there are texts that go with subjects as well as the ones just for fun), so I figured we’d “read” them on YouTube instead.  I know it’s not really rocket science, but it’s the first time I’d done it, so I was kind of excited about it.

Today was a 3-book day, and two of them were videos.  We started the day with How Full is Your Bucket? for Kids, which is one that kiddos know from kindergarten.  It’s a great story, and is a super book to use with kids anyway, but this one was chosen also because we’ve been having some empty buckets at the end of the day lately. 😦  Everyone needed a reminder. 🙂

Check it out, in case you haven’t ever read it (or even if you have!):

Another one we “read” like this was The Night of the Veggie Monster which is a mentor text for our Small Moments writing unit we’re starting.  It’s so funny and is a story every kid can relate to personally.

Kiddos were so excited about this kind of read aloud that I might start to incorporate it more frequently just as a change of pace. 🙂

I’m wondering…

Kids:  What did you like best about these stories today?

Parents: What did your learner tell you about our #classroombookaday choices today? 

Teachers: How do you use videos for read aloud?  What suggestions do you have?

Thanks for sharing your voice!

 

Do You Really Want a Turtle?

By the second day of school, my new Rm. 202 friends were already asking me about why we didn’t have a class pet.  What??  Were they serious?  They had found out about Mrs. L’s turtle, Javy (because of a sibling we have in 4th grade), and many had seen Ms. Turken’s water turtle, Bradford, who lives next door to us in Rm. 203.  And so already my friends were turtle-crazy.

The problem?  It was the second day of school, I didn’t have a turtle, nor did I really know anything about them (or had we decided yet as a class if we needed one or could take care of it!).  So Ms. Turken and I devised a little plan: her class was going to learn about turtles anyway, because of Bradford and their interest in them, and they could teach us about what we might need to know about what would be the best kind of turtle to have as a pet (I had noticed that Mrs. L’s turtle–who is actually a “cousin” to Bradford–is a box turtle, as opposed to Bradford, who is a water turtle): box or water.

Well, they worked and researched and wondered and wrote and last Friday they were ready to share their information with us.  They came over after lunch on our half day to present their research.  We were SUPER impressed with how organized and professional they were with their words and how well they used the microphone, stood so we could see them, and were so quiet and listening when it wasn’t their turn.  Again a group of first graders was knocking my socks off!

Like I said, Rm. 203 friends were SUPER turtle researchers and taught us a lot.  And yes, now our turtle craze is even greater than before.  We even found this book to read together to teach us more:

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And luckily, I now also have a connection to a turtle.  Updates to follow on whether or not a turtle joins the Rm. 202 family to come….:)