#FDOFG: ABCs…

The alphabet is a important feature in any first grade class.  And with every primary class I’ve taught, I’ve had some version of the alphabet hanging in our room, ranging from kid-created with paper, kid-created with markers on card stock, and even back to my first year when I proudly hung the brand spanking new one I bought from Bradburns.  There is also usually a smaller alphabet chart for use at tables when kids are writing on their own; this is usually also just a preprinted sheet that I got years ago from our reading teacher or that I found online.

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As this year has started, though, it seems that I’ve been rethinking many of the things I’m choosing to do as I return to 1st grade again (after a year in 2nd with my looping class last year!).  I am trying to be very mindful of the ways this class is different than my first graders even two years ago, tweaking things to work best for them as learners (instead of doing the same things in the same way as previous years).  The alphabet is included in those things.

I know that there has been a connection to ABC books, or to how writers use letters/sounds or come conversations about the word wall (which also has letters on it), but for some reason I’ve never written about that part of our community building, nor do I remember specifically how I’ve presented it.  Weird, right?  Guess it wasn’t very meaningful or exciting to my kiddos, either.  LOL

Well, luckily, since I was thinking about it differently (and perhaps more deeply), I remember what we did this year (ok, and it helps that we just did this the other day. HA!).

We started with a conversation around our Word Wall, which at this point just has our names on it as the only words.  We met on the blue rug in front of the WW, and discussed the letters, the words they noticed, how they might use the word wall to help them with reading/writing, and then enjoyed some ABC books together:

Both of these texts are poems, and are funny and fun to read.  Doreen Cronin is a favorite author of most kiddos, and Lisa Campbell Ernst is a favorite of mine. 🙂  Our classroom library has author boxes featuring both of these writers, as well, so the choices were meant to lead them to other books they might enjoy, too.

After we read, I explained that our work next would include them getting a letter, and then drawing any corresponding picture that starts with that letter on the bottom.  Differently than usually, I allowed kiddos to check out the books we had read or any other ABC books in our room, as well, if they need inspiration.  I’m not sure whey I’ve never provided that scaffold before; guess something about it seemed like I was stealing a struggle or giving them the answers.  Actually, I think it allowed everyone an entry point into the activity, even those with a less developed knowledge of letters and sounds.

With all of the other changes/tweaks I’ve made this year, it made sense to me that our alphabet ended up being a little bit different than in previous years.  Some of our letters had “traditional” sound/symbol match ups (like apple for A and ball for B), but some of them are completely unique to our Rm. 202 2016 alphabet, and that is super cool.

Did you check out the Q and Z?  These are Star Wars related letters, because of a special ABC book we have in our box:

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so Q and Z may not be something you’ve heard of before.  Let me show you their inspiration pages:

Those made me laugh at first, and I even considered having them rethink them, because of how obscure the references were, but then I realized that this would be a great opportunity to embrace something that could be truly “ours.”  Betcha there isn’t another first grade class around that has Queen Amidala and Zam on their alphabet!!

Then, this time I decided to take this whole “the-alphabet-is-special-to-us” idea one step further–I created our own table-top alphabet chart based on our wall version!  It just made sense that the sound/symbol matches could be consistent and (at least in the beginning) take away confusion some kiddos might have as they try to use the system.  I’m really excited at how it turned out!

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I don’t know yet how this will work with kiddos (I just finished making it!), but I’m excited to see how it goes, and to compare the usefulness of this tool with versions we’ve had in the past.  Crossing my fingers that it works as well for Rm. 202 friends as I hope it will!

Second Grade Writing Warm-Ups: Week of May 9-13, 2016

This week I used our warm-ups as a means to throw in odds and ends, as well as connect to what we were doing in Writing (which is usually where our questions come from).  And one of our WWUs even served double-duty by leading to a math conversation.  They thought I was pretty clever when I brought that one up.  Ok, so I thought it was clever.  Maybe they didn’t so much care….LOL  Please leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts on our work this week! 🙂

Monday

There’s not much to say about this one except it’s something kiddos need to know, and we’re about to start writing lots of “You’re a great friend because…” messages and it will NOT be ok if everyone says YOUR instead.

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Tuesday

Ava read the book A Chocolate Moose for Dinner to us on Monday, and we heard lots of words that sounded the same, but meant different things.  We worked to find some more that we could talk about.  We continued to find examples to add to this chart all throughout the week in different texts we encountered.

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Wednesday

We are continuing to work on writing like scientists and exploring plants and pollinators in pretty much all of our day; reading ,writing, and science are all connecting right now in a marvelous way.  This warm-up was to help us think of what we’d learned so far, as well as to emphasize the idea that scientists write in a very specific (and different) way depending on what they are studying.  You’ll notice we also discussed how many words can be made from the same base.   Oh, and I may have spelled some of those green words incorrectly.  I apologize if that’s the case.

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Friday

We were WAY over due for a writing celebration for our past fiction unit in Writing, so I had a quick survey for them as their warm-up on Friday.  This is the one that turned into a great math conversation about graphs and data collection.

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Second Grade Writing Warm-Ups: Week of April 25-29, 2016

I think I mentioned last week (and probably the week before when we started them), but I am SO happy with how these warm-ups are really giving us a bang for our buck, and helping me get the thinking started BEFORE we sit down for our Writer’s Workshop mini-lesson.  It seems like they have more time for writing and I talk less!–or maybe it’s just at a different time, but still…:)

Here are last week’s warm-ups, a little late:

Monday

We are working on publishing now.  Can you tell?
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Tuesday

I know, this is totally lame, and didn’t really require them to do much thinking, it was just a quick check-in since they were supposed to be finished publishing their stories and I wanted to see how it was going.  Guess I figured that if they had a title, they probably had a story….yeah, not so much.  It was also just a great enticement for them to finish because we heard many intriguing titles and want to read them!!

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Wednesday

We are just between two writing units and this was a preview of the next one.  It was not the first time I’d asked this question, but it was great to see the additional things they could tell me, and even the domain-specific words they could use to talk about it!

Thursday

Ok, so this is not technically a writing warm-up, but it was timely for us and was something we needed to discuss.  You know, sometimes you change the plan. 🙂 And I should mention, they had some great answers and thoughts on what to do next time!

Friday

We have a FABULOUS thing at our school on half-days called Robinson University, which means that my kiddos are not in my room for much of the morning, and so didn’t have time to talk about a writing warm-up.  We just did a math warm-up instead. 🙂

 

Second Grade Writing Warm-Ups: Week of April 18-21, 2016

This was our second week of second grade writing warm ups, and they have been just as successful as they were when I first started them in 5th grade (remind me of this for next year when I forget that again, ok? LOL).

We’re in the drafting/revising/editing part of the writing cycle, so that is reflected in the warm-ups I had them try this week.  Check ’em out!  We’d love to know what you have to say about them, too, so leave a comment when you’re done! 🙂

Monday

This warm-up goes with the one we did last Friday, as we added details to our fiction with adjectives.  And yes, I quickly realized there were WAY TOO MANY WORDS on this chart, when someone’s first response was “Wow–that’s a lot….”  Oops.  I think they got it, for the most part, though.  Since this day we’ve been recognizing them everywhere and talking about how they help the reader.  Many have added some to their drafts.   I’ll revise for next time.  🙂

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Tuesday

This question is obviously very general, mainly because I knew that our focus in Writers’ Workshop this day would be to finish up (hopefully!) what we’d been working on for the last few days (rather than something new).  We had a design challenge planned for pretty much the whole morning and so our time would be cut a little short for writing, as well.  It also helped me get a better gauge on where everyone was with their drafts.  There are a couple of post-its that say “I haven’t revised yet.”  These friends obviously needed more time!

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Wednesday

I tweeted this picture after we did on it, because I was so impressed by the work they had done on it!  The endings they chose to post were really thoughtful ones, and then our synthesis of what makes a “good” ending was also great thinking!

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I had them finish this stem “A good ending…” and this is what we decided upon:

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We had a great conversation about how a “good” ending is not any one thing, and that it depends on the story you’re writing, as well as your goals for how you want your reader to respond to your text.  Notice the adverb that someone pointed out from our conversation on Monday. 🙂

Thursday

I’m not even sure where I learned that phrase, but long ago I was taught that about the idea of editing being a “courtesy to the reader.”  We touched on it at least a little last year in first grade, but I wanted to get their thoughts on it now, as we began editing our pieces for publishing next week.  And since I knew they might need help (or at least a reminder) with what courtesy means, I added it to the question.  They had great suggestions about how it helps the reader understand your message, as well as making it so they know what to read and how to read it, but we had to really focus our conversation in on HOW to do that.  Many 2nd grade writers still talk a good editing game, but don’t always show that knowledge in their actual final drafts.  We’ll continue to work on that next week as we finalize our published texts.

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What did you work on as a writer this week?  What do you think of our warm-ups?  How would you have answered them?

Culture–Final Drafts!

We worked for much of last quarter on culture, based on many versions of Little Red Riding Hood.  Here are our final drafts of the books we published about the cultures of the various regions and countries we studied (not all kiddos wanted me to share, by the way–since I know now that I should ask!).

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Khalani B.–THE MIDWEST

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Charlie B.–THE WEST

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EmilyM.–GHANA

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Evan R.–THE WEST

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Ja’MiaM.–CAJUN

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MillieR.–GERMANY

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Baron E.–CHINA

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Nate R.–CHINA

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Sara R.–SPAIN

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EllaMarieG.–GERMANY

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Makayla M.–SPAIN

Thank you for reading!  We worked so hard and would love your feedback! 🙂

Writing Warm-Ups: Second Grade Debut

A couple of years ago, I tried writing warm-ups in 5th grade.  The idea was the same as our math warm-ups, and would give kiddos a way of getting their thinking ready for whatever my writing lesson was going to be for the day.  For some crazy reason I stopped doing these, and totally forgot about them.  Until this week.  And then I forgot again between Monday and Wednesday and finally remembered to try one on Thursday.  So this 2nd grade debut of Writing Warm-Ups only has two examples.  But hopefully they’re really great and that will make up for it. 🙂

Thursday

We are in the middle of a fiction cycle, and were to going to begin revising.  Our lesson on this day was about adding details into your draft and making the story more interesting for your reader.  This got them thinking about that before we started, and so when we read our mentor text and got into our conversation, they were ready.

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Friday

Can you tell what today’s revision lesson was about?  Yep–leads! And since I knew I’d want them to collect some good examples for us to use in our discussion, I had them do that as their warm-up.  Again, a win/win because it got them thinking, and saved time during our Writer’s Workshop since had already done that work.  They did a great job of paying attention to how the intros sounded and were able to make connections to how writers need to make their leads hook the reader so they’ll want more.  🙂

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It’s only been two days, but I can already tell these are going to give us a really big bang for our buck.  Stay tuned–I’ll have more to share next week. 🙂

 

 

Culture Projects Come Together

Remember how I told you about how we started reading all sorts of versions of Little Red Riding Hood?  And then how we started researching the cultures from which each version came?  Oh, and how I only was able to tell you those parts of the story because of the changes I’ve made this year?  Ok, good, glad you’ve been here so far for this much of the story, cuz here’s the rest. 🙂

Kiddos spent many days researching the cultures of many countries and several regions of our own United States: Germany, Ghana, Spain, China, the Midwest, the West and the Southeast (Cajun culture).  They worked in groups of three to discover important facts about many culture and geography topics: language, flag, location, landforms, holidays, food, games, religion, school, art and music.  One group decided to add info about clothes, as well.  This part of the project took longer than I had expected, mainly just because there were so many topics to find out about, and 4-Squares to fill in.

After enough days of research work for kiddos to have something to put in their planners, we worked together to draft what we thought our topic sentences should sound like.  Each group worked on their own to add in specific details about each topic, but we all used a general common starter for our first sentences to add continuity.  We worked on some general ones, first, to get the idea of a paragraph (topic sentences, details and a conclusion) solidified in our heads, and then tried one from one of our countries together.

Once we had agreed upon our starting points, kiddos got busy crafting their own words into their organizers.  These would then become each page of their book.  We saved the introduction and conclusion for last.

Eventually we got to the point where we were ready to put all of these fabulous facts and wondrous words into a draft of a teaching book that we could later share with our classmates.  There were many options for how to do that, and students were allowed to choose whatever format made the most sense for them. Most students chose to use Keynote at the way to create their book, as adding in the text features we would need would be the easiest in that app.  One friend thought Notability would be best for her, and two friends decided to hand write their books.  Regardless of the how, though, we add worked toward the same goal together.

Students then spent the next few weeks (yeah, i know, this project was LONG!!) putting together the words first (you have to build the house before you can decorate it!) so taht they could then plan how they would add in text features to enhance their reader’s understanding of the topic.  For that lesson we talked a little about “app smashing”, where you take more than one app and “smash” it together with one or more others to create something even better than you can do with any one single app.  Kiddos made plans for their text features and showed me what they were thinking, many of them smashing together their camera and Notability or their camera and Keynote.  Some friends smashing Safari in there, too, and used images from the internet.

Ultimately we will share our final drafts on our blogs, or print them to create actual books for our classroom (or both!) or we could publish them as ebooks and share with other readers in our school…we haven’t decided on this yet.  The first step was to share with each other, though, and we did this the other day before we left for Spring Break.  Kiddos were able to project their book on the big screen (either by AirPlaying from their iPad or just by displaying it through my computer since they had turned it in to me through eBackpack).

While we were listening to kiddos share about their cultures, two other meaningful things happened, thanks to my friend and teammate Mrs. Appelbaum (remember her and her amazing Tower Garden adventures?).  One, kiddos had a big sheet where they were to collect information from their classmates’ books; they could write or draw anything they found interesting, a connection they made, something didn’t know, something they wanted to remember, etc.  It made it so much easier to pay attention through the 12 books we were able to share that day.

The other super smart thing that happened was that I was able to knock out much of the grading part of this project while the presentations were taking place.  This project was a big part of kiddos’ social studies, speaking and listening and writing grades.  I was able to sit with our rubrics on my lap and make notes about what I observed right in the moment.  this is really a big deal because I usually leave things like this until the last minute, and this was just such a smart, efficient suggestion.  Thanks, Shannon A.!

While my kiddos’ final drafts are WAY better than this one, here’s an idea about what they ended up looking like.  I’ll share theirs when we all come back in 4th quarter, but here’s mine (well partially finished one) about Australia:

 

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Please let us know what you think!  This project has definitely been a motivating and engaging one for us in Rm. 202.  Can’t wait to share the final drafts with you!!

 

28 Days That Changed the World

Last year I found the most amazing book.  Books, really.  I am almost certain it as a Twitter find–since that’s where most of my teaching gems come from–but regardless, I ran out to get it and it became the basis for the conversations in our classroom during our history unit.

Here’s the main one, written by Charles R. Smith, Jr. :

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It goes through all the days of February and gives a little story about an important figure in African-American history, working forward from the 1700s to today.  The synopses are short, interesting and my favorite part is that they are not just the “big” ones taht you are used to reading about.  There are women and men, as well as children, and often the moment that changed history wasn’t even a person, but a court case or event.  We read through this book last year during our history unit–where our focus was on people who change the world–and loved it, as well as learned a lot we didn’t know.  OH, and I didn’t tell you anything about it.  Since  I have this thing–well used to–where I wait until the end of a unit/project/story to tell about it.  And then don’t actually do it.  So here’s to telling you this time around. 🙂

Oh, just a quick mention of some other FABULOUS books I found at this same time: the I Am series by Brad Meltzer.  They are along the same vein as the 28 Days book, and are little biographies about important people (not just African-Americans, though).  The illustrations are SUPER cool, and make it a really interesting narrative non-fiction text to share together.  The voice of the famous person comes through and kids are hooked from the first page.  We’ve read almost all of them (I just got Lucille Ball and haven’t had a chance to share that one yet!):

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Somehow I only took a picture of a few of them. 😦  We also have Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller and Lucille Ball.  They are pretty great!

This year as we got ready to start February, I knew I wanted to incorporate this book again, but obviously in a different way than we had done it previously.  I was really glad that my kids were as excited as me to reread the stories again, and it’s been great to see how they anticipate who will be highlighted each day.  We really enjoy this time of our day, and I can really tell that they are learning about the people/events and their impact on our world, as they make connections between them and other things we talk about in the course of our day.  This book is more than just a book for the friends in Rm. 202.

One thing I wanted to be able to do to deepen our understanding (or at least solidify our memory) was to do some writing about each day’s text.  We had been doing some work with non-fiction, as well as main idea/details, so I figured it would make sense to write a summary paragraph to tell others about what we were learning (we had decided we’d hang them on our bulletin board outside our room).

We have been using the 4-Square organizer to make sure we have all of our thoughts (in read aloud, during Social Studies, in Writers’ Workshop as we write opinions about things), and so we decided they would make sense for this, as well.  And ultimately, I want kiddos to learn how to use the organizer to meet their needs, not just to use it when I say to, or to see it as being just for one time or place.  We wrote the first few together, discussing our topic sentence and then adding in details to explain the text for the day, like this:

IMG_0616-min After we got our thinking down on the planner, someone would “publish” it and we’d hang it outside on our board.

Last week, we had a short week with a weird schedule, which made for a little bit of a problem.  We didn’t get to finish our text for Feb. 11, then we weren’t in school for February 12-15 (that’s 4 days) and so when we returned on February 16, we had 7 pages to work on!!  There was NO WAY that we would have been able to sit and do all that work together as a whole group (can you say behavior problems?!), so we needed a new plan.

Well…it worked out SUPER well that we just happened to have 7 groups already in place for our culture study.  Each group was in charge of planning and then writing one of the  paragraphs after we all read them together.  Great plan, huh?? We thought so. 🙂

Kiddos knew what to do, since we’d been using the planner already, and I was really  impressed with how well they have been able to add appropriate, relevant details to the topic sentences (which I had given them already in their planner).

While I have a REALLY WONKY panoramic picture of it (the end of our bulletin board is inconveniently up a flight of stairs 😦 ), I’m really excited about how it all looks out there, and I love that there are things for us to share with our Robinson neighbors!

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We still have another week or so before we’re finished with the book again, but I’ve got other plans for continuing our study far beyond the end of February.  I have been doing some behind-the-scenes work with our librarian and some other teachers to find even more recent stories of Robinson personalities, or other Kirkwood figures that these friends might know.  I think it is essential to teach kiddos that change-makers are not just old people, in black-and-white pictures who have been dead forever.  Important figures in their lives are not just from long ago and far away, nor are they just “famous” people they read about in books.  I want them to see versions of themselves in the smart, successful people I teach them about; I want them to see the possibilities for their own futures.  I’m excited to finish the plan I have for this next step.  And yes, I’ll be sure to share!

**UPDATE:  GREAT story that happened today as we were reading about Thurgood Marshall for Day 22….I was talking about how he was a Supreme Court Justice and how often that means that a judge has been an important lawyer. I explained how the Justices are appointed by the President, which is a BIG DEAL, and how Thurgood Marshall had been part of a big deal court case that we knew about.  “Do you mean Plessy vs. Ferguson?”  WHAA??  Love that they could throw that one out there.  “Nope, not that one.”  “Are you talking about the 14th Amendment?” “No, not that one, either.” “Oh, I know!!  Brown vs. the Board of Education!”  Um, yeah–that one. 🙂  Isn’t it pretty great that 2nd graders can whip out those names like that?  I think so.  Way to go, Rm. 202 friends!  Love that you’re soaking it in, and making connections, and more importantly I think you’ll make CHANGES with that knowledge someday.**

Valentine’s Day 2016

I didn’t want to call this post just Valentine’s Day, partly because we tried to celebrate it differently (does that surprise you?), but also because it didn’t really happen on February 14.  This story is from Thursday, but in elementary school world, it was the last day of school before Valentine’s Day so alas that’s what we celebrated.  Ok.  I’ll move on.

As with the 100th Day, this day felt a little contrived to me–what 7-YO has a Valentine?  Ok, well maybe their mom, but no REAL Valentine.   Or maybe the whole class is their Valentine?  Anyhow, I began thinking a week or so ago about what we could do that made this day about something real and “normal” in our classroom.  I decided to connect to the conversations we’ve been having about caring and showing each other that they are important.  I mean Valentine’s Day is about love, right?  Caring is love. 🙂

So I formed our day around these three essential questions:

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Since these are big, “chewy” questions, we didn’t really answer them, but we did think about them as we went through the day, and referred to them at various times, as well.

Our first job of the day was to read a book together, which was about a dragon who wrote Valentines for all of the people she loved.  It was an ABC book, and while we didn’t do anything with all of the letters of the alphabet, we did take some time to tell the people we care about how we felt about them (remember our questions?).

This was one of those areas where I wanted to be really purposeful with Valentine traditions, rather than “cutesy” or just fun.  Last year we did a pretty cool Makerspace situation, and while it wasn’t a real Makerspace since I gave them their purpose, they were able to create and try and discover and explore, which was great.  This time I wanted them to be able to both give love and get some back, so we decorated our Valentine bags with words.

I gave them the big idea and even some stems that they could use:

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These were not “have-tos,” but I wanted to give them some place to start so that we didn’t end up with 20 different “I’m glad you’re my friend”s.

Next was getting them into a spot so we could start our bags.  We did this in a version of the game Scoot, where they would “scoot” around the room (in a certain order that I’d share) until they wrote on everyone’s bag.  I had them get into alphabetical order–like dragon’s Valentines had been in the book–and then gave them a spot to start.  Basically I started in one corner of the room and just snaked the line around, putting each kid in a seat/spot as we went.  They would then rotate one slot each “scoot,” following the person in front of them each time. It was honestly kind of complicated, taking the layout of our room, but they got it by about the 4th or 5th rotation and then I didn’t have to lead them anymore.  I was honestly surprised.   Surprised but really impressed and happy. 🙂

I wish I had taken a picture of each one, to document how sweet their words were to each other, but I didn’t.  I only have ones of how great they look all lined up in the hall.  That is where they were as we delivered Valentine’s cards to our friends.

I didn’t get pictures of their bags, but I did get a pic of their words to me.  Check out how caring and lovely they were to me:

Pretty great, right? 🙂

Later on in the day we had a party.  Mrs. Raeber, along with many other parents (and grandparents!) came to help us have a fun time at the end of our day.  We had a snack, played a game, read some winter/Valentine’s Day books and make a keychain.  What a perfect collection of fun, low-key things to do!  These parents are super good at giving us lovely things!

Check out some pictures.   They are pretty sweet. 🙂

There’s more to share–but that’s for another post.  Hope you have a great weekend, and that you feel loved and cared for this Valentine’s Day! 🙂

Writing About Reading

I figured out today why I have such a hard time deciding what to write on this blog: I like for things to fit nicely into categories/tags/subjects/projects, and so often, the things we do around Rm. 202 are not that way.  I find that maybe I’ve gotten to that place where many of our subjects overlap–just like I’ve always hoped they would!  I know, that sounds like I’m not doing it on purpose (which of course I am, as I carefully plan how and when and why), but I think sometimes when you’re in the middle of something you can’t really see the big picture (isn’t there some quote about forests and trees that would fit here? LOL).

So as I think about how to describe what we’ve been doing in Writing lately, it’s hard to explain just the writing part, because it includes reading (which is perfect, as those two subjects go hand-in-hand anyway, right?).  We have been working on writing opinion letters, with most of our topics being about the series books we’re reading in our book clubs.  Luckily, though, there are lots of other things to have opinions about, so we’ve been trying out that structure with other topics, too.

We’ve gone through many versions, with me teaching mini-lessons and kiddos then trying out the big ideas.  We’ve talking about format of a letter; stating opinions; adding reasons as well as details and support for those reasons; using transition words like one reason is, another reason is, last but not least (which many kiddos were doing already just based on learning them last year!); as well as just using interesting words and making our letter match our audience.  The procedure became that they would write a letter, but then rather than actually delivering it to that person, they’d give it to me, and I’d note what they did right and what they could work on for next time.

We wrote about books, 100th Day of school suggestions, ideas about why their weekends were good, as well as many other things about which you could have an opinion.  I was noticing, though, that over the last few weeks our letters had been getting shorter and less detailed (which was obviously not the goal!).  We had a class meeting and Millie suggested that the reason this was happening was because they had written so many letters that actually they were getting really sick of it and weren’t trying their best anymore.  While this was sad, I totally saw how that could be, and as impressed by her insight.  Others agreed and so I made a plan that we would work our hardest to create our best final letters (to Mrs. Meihaus, our librarian, about our vote for the Show-Me Reader Award) over the next 3 days and then be done.

So as I thought about what we would do for those next 3 days, I knew I needed to give another model to my writers about what that letter should look and sound like.  And since I wanted them to write about books, I did, too.  My letter was about my favorite read-aloud choice, Fig Pudding by Ralph Fletcher.  It looked like this:

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I had hung the letter up there before the day started, and it was one of the first things (thankfully) that kiddos noticed when they came in.  Yeah, the first response was “Wow, that’s long!”  Later on, I had them look at it, studying it to answer this question: How do I write a STRONG Show-Me letter?  Not surprisingly, they were able to notice a whole page full of things that I had in my letter that they needed to put in theirs.

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As they made their list, I marked their ideas on the actual letter (notice the different colors and the things we boxed in) so we could reference it later.  I was impressed to see that they had been paying attention, and that they could come up with that all on their own!

After this, I gave kiddos a graphic organizer to use to plan their letter and we got busy.  We’re almost done, so I’ll share our progress in the next few days.  It’s pretty good stuff!