Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Curious Classroom-Some Final Thoughts.



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Hi Friends.  :)

A confession.  I tend to linger in professional development books.  
I often feel like I'm "behind" because I'll read something and linger with it in my classroom for awhile.  
I want to see if the reading really impacts my classroom practice.
I know I'm not really behind.  
Anyone else ever feel this way?  

So I read this gem over vacation:

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A fantastic read!  I know I've said this several times, but I felt so encouraged and empowered as I was reading this!  You too can have a Curious Classroom!  

I blogged about the beginning and chapter two separately.  

A Little Request:  Could you click on "the beginning" link and consider helping me?  It's a piece about my own curiosity and state rocks.  :)  

Today, I'm thinking about the rest of the book and how it had so many authentic suggestions to incorporate and encourage curiosity in the classroom.

Here are 7 I'll be considering as I plan for next year:

1.  Run right to page 44 and check out the wonder board!  Mrs. Limback's First Grade will have one of those this year!  Stay tuned.  

2.  As I consider the start to my day, I'm a fan of soft starts.  I love the lingering in books, the chatting, time to get ready.  Let's go ahead and add some research and journal time on a topic of interest to the child as they arrive at school each day.  (See Chapter 4 for more on soft starts!)

3.  News.  (Chapter 5).  I'll admit, I tend to shy away from this, but am learning rapidly not to do that anymore.  I'll be gathering and organizing kid news sites and webcams to be accessible for students.  I'll use Symbaloo, because that is the tool I like.  :)

4.  See more about experts in chapter 6.  As I reflected on this, my kids were exposed to 7 experts last year, including:  fire fighters, police officers, actors/actresses, the organizer of a food pantry, a dog handler, a park conservationist, and experts at our zoo.  I'm looking to add a few more for this year.  

5.  It was great to be reminded of Genius Hour.  I'll be adding that to my schedule this year.  

6.  Mini Inquiries that connect to curriucular units.  So, I tried to do a more project based approach last year, but didn't feel like I completely hit that mark.  So this year, as I write a yearly plan, I intend to build up time to investigate the questions that students have on the topic.  

*Also a moment here.  I teach P.E. as part of my New-ish gig.  If you do, get right to page 148-149 and read about connecting inquiry and nonfiction writing.  Or find your P.E. teacher and collaborate a little.  :)

7.  Crisis.  Lean right into it.  Ugh.  We had to last year when two of our finest were shot and killed less than a mile from my school.  We had to talk about it.  We had to wonder about it.  We had to "do" about it.  It resulted in a forming relationship with our police department.  It built empathy and concern like I've never seen before.  There were tears from kids and grown ups along the way.    I pray we don't have to lean in like we did last year.  But this one I would say is the most important.  Get right in there friends.  Don't shy away from the hard stuff.  

I was left with these encouraging words from The Curious Classroom:

Let Your fears go.
Take some risks.
Have fun.  


This is a book I'll be hauling around a lot this fall as we settle in!  I hope you have a chance to read it!
Joy!
Kendra


Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Curious Classroom Day 2



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Chapter 2 focuses on Investigating Ourselves as Classmates.  

As I consider the tie-ins to Writer's Workshop here, I have already begun outlining what the first few days of school will look like during this time.  

On page 25, the explanation of Identity Maps is explained.  Examples are shared in the next few pages.  As kids write about themselves in the first days, this gives them not only a positive self identity, but an opportunity to develop a working list of writing topics.  

As I read about identity maps, I also considered Georgia Heard's idea of Heart Maps. As my students are writing in the early days of the school year, I want that positive self identity that comes with this work.  I also want them to see that they have a story to tell, and it belongs to them.  

In the idea of partner venns (pages 28-29) kids are working side by side on a chart paper.  They begin by working on ways to describe their own identity.  Then, they study each other's side of the venn diagram, looking for things that they have in common.  As the students find them, they put them in the center section of the venn.  

2 more strategies that struck me from reading chapter two:  Step in, Step out. (page 34)  Also, the Morning Greeting Ritual.  I reflected on this so much when I was reading!  
I use the Responsive Classroom's method of a Morning Meeting to begin each day.  (I'll be writing about this later...)  But what I envision when I consider my schedule, is a check-in ritual around Mid-Morning.  With singing and dancing and a "Lightning Share".   A Lightning Share is a quick trip around your classroom circle to just check in and see what is on the minds of the kids.  I always let them pass if they don't have anything to share at this time.  

I'll say it again.  This was such an empowering read for me!  Get this book!  :)
Joy!
Kendra

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Curious Classroom: Day One



Dear Friends,

For the past 9 days I have wandered around the Midwest.  From porch time in a little town in Nebraska, to hiking in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  It's been a fantastic way to start the summer.

While sitting on the porch in Nebraska, I had the chance to read this gem:  (Also a fantastic way to start the summer)

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Have you read it?  Just go do that now if you haven't.  It was confirming and encouraging and empowering.  After I read it, I left feeling like I could make some easy changes to what I'm doing to encourage more curiosity in my classroom.  I'll be writing more about that in the upcoming days.

But as I was hiking with my family through South Dakota, my 12 year old jumped onto an idea with me.  It was at Jewel Cave Monument, as we were hiking through the canyon that I had an idea.  And Friends, I could use your help.

Big A (the 12 year old) and I were fascinated by the geology of the state of South Dakota.  Which lead to me thinking about the geology in all the states.   Big A and I are wondering if we can collect state rocks from all 50 states.

I teach a unit on the United States, and incorporating some geology into this unit would be an opportunity to authentically model something that I'm curious and excited about.

Big A loves to collect and organize and synthesize information.  It could come in handy at school, but he's really just excited about the prospect of connecting with teachers and their state rocks.  :)  We've had great conversations about what this blog post should look like.

So, if you are willing to help us by sending rocks from your state and a fact or two, would you either DM me on Twitter?  Or you can leave an email in the comments, and I will get in touch with you.  We would be so thankful for the help.

There are no expectations on number/size of rocks.  Just something that we can share and study.  We are also excited to hear about your perspective and thoughts on the geology of your state.

Thanks Friends!
Joy!
Kendra







Tuesday, April 11, 2017

He is Always on Time.



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A Bit of a Backstory...

The past 3 weeks have been hard.  Like, you are side swiped and knocked over.  You get up.  You get side swiped again.  You get up.  It happens again.  It begins to happen so much, you just start crazy laughing when it does.  You are clawing to hang onto every piece of positive you can in your being. 

(Lutheran Girl Looks Around...shhh...)  You might be getting frustrated with God.  Where are You?  Why is all this happening?

After lunch today, I'm standing with a friend in the office when the doorbell rings.  As we begin to visit with our guest, she asks us to heat up her lunch.  She's homeless you see, and a pizza hot pocket from the gas station down the way just really sounded good today.  I learned she didn't want that cold meat sandwich, her mom lives on the east side of town...

Without thinking twice, my friend and I lead her down the hallway to the microwave.  She looks around.  
"Did I bother a school?"  

There's a church over here, you came at just the right time so we could help you.  

"Oh yes.  God is Always on Time."

Stopped me right in my tracks.  

I'll say it again if you missed it, "God is Always on Time." 

I'll keep waiting.  I know when He shows up, it will be on Time.  

Joy!  (In the Time.)
Kendra


Thursday, April 6, 2017

#mustreadin2017: An Update



Oh Friends!  I'm so excited to check in an see what you've been reading!

I just giggled as I was looking at my Goodreads tonight to see how I was doing!   Let's get right to the update shall we?

Here is my January link.   It has my original 20 books.

Here we are in April.  So far I've read:

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I loved it when my sis texted me after she finished this last week.  Such an escape read!
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My 12 year old asked me to read it.  Pulled it off the shelf for me at the library.  Who can say no to that?

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If you are looking to be challenged in a faith walk-this is a book for you.  Wowza.

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I've always wanted to read this book, and found it on clearance one night at the book store.

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I just finished this tonight as part of a book club with a first year teacher and an administrator.

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If I got serious, I could finish this tonight...I'm so close!


So-I've read 5 books, and have nearly completed a 6th.
What cracks me up?  3 of these books weren't on my list.

I'm not great at sticking to the plan...  it should also be noted, these two were gifted to me after I started the challenge, so of course they are in the stack too:
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What's up next?
I don't know.  The stack of the original 20 is close by.  I keep picking them up and putting them down.  I can't decide!  Stay tuned...

Joy!
Kendra




Saturday, March 18, 2017

SOL Challenge Day 18: Some Thoughts on Play.



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A couple of summers ago I read this book.  Have you read it?  I'll wait...go ahead.

When I started a new position around the same time, the idea of 'Purposeful play' really resonated with me.  I was in a situation where I could structure a framework that allowed for play throughout the day.

And then, at least 3 weeks ago, my Godmother asked in an email, "How is that emphasis working for you this year?"  (Side bar:  My Godmother lives in Michigan.  She is a retired 2nd grade teacher, working as a volunteer librarian in a school setting.  She knows public education and Lutheran education-where I am now.  I figure she is the coolest lady on the planet...)

After considering this question, I had several things I was thinking about.  I'll address a few in this post.

Maker Space:

Play naturally occurs here.  Yes, the idea of creating, collaborating and engineering is at the forefront.  However, first graders will create an opportunity for play.  As an example, 2 students created some origami in Maker Space a few weeks ago.  From that, there was an impromptu puppet show.  It really showed itself as dramatic play.  From that, there was the idea that they could take their show on the road!  From that, there were signs inviting people to see their show.  (They weren't pleased with me when I did say their stage couldn't completely block our doorway.  Shoot!)

For one of the students involved, this opportunity offered some time to work on negotiation skills in play.  For the other student, it offered the opportunity to work on some flexibility in thinking when playing with others.  This organic environment allowed for me to coach and model these skills in a setting that allowed for the students to grow and improve with a positive mindset.


Free Play-Storytelling-Writing:

I participated in the Global Day of Play on February 1st.  The premise?  You simply let the kids play.  And they did.  This day, the class as a whole only wanted to participate in dramatic and fantasy play.

So.Much.Storytelling.

The next day, with a little encouragement, one student wrote out the story that they played the previous day.
As I continued to consider this, the idea of play in Writer's Workshop kept swirling in my head.  As I consider next year, I'm outlining and considering how to incorporate puppetry and storytelling in my Writer's Workshop.

Math Choice-Literacy Block:

At first, I didn't think there was play here.  Only choice-because I was directing more of what they could be engaged in.  However, upon further reflection, I was noticing that there is play!  Hooray!

In these instances, the kids are engaged in manipulative play and play with rules.  (Games)

What am I trying this week?
I'm thinking about Social Studies.   We are beginning a unit on the Marketplace-basic economic principles.  I'm planning on some dramatic play as an experience before we talk about how money moves through an economy.  We'll set up shop.  Come buy your goods from us!

What's my role as a teacher?

Observation.  Observation.  Observation.  You have to get right next to the play and watch.  Listen.  And then it's a balancing act.  When are you quiet?  When do you jump in and guide?  It' can't work if you are watching from afar.   You can also connect your play and learning to standards very easily.  That is another post for another day...


Who is using play?  What is next?

Joy!
Kendra

Friday, March 17, 2017

SOL Challenge Day 17: A Wish Today And My OLW



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A day for wishing!  

My wish for you is that you may fully tell your story...



Isaiah 41:10:  "Do Not be afraid, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, I am your God.  I will strengthen you.  I will help you.  I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."


In December/January I wrote about my OLW.  Fearless.  
Ha.  
I think God has a big sense of humor. 

That girl writing?  So Brave. 
Not right now. 
I don't want to sound like an alarmist.  I'm okay. 
Just a point where there is nothing left to do but look up.
Isaiah 41:10 is my Fearless cry for awhile.
I'm thankful I can still have one.
(There's even a tiny fist pump in there...)
:)
Also, I'm not really reflecting unless there is a YouTube video involved.  
Here we go...It's Country.  :)


Fearlessly Dreaming over here...Stay tuned.  



Joy!
Kendra