I could not think of a better way to cap off a week spent at #TCEA15 than coming back to Sigler Elementary and spending the day with the students and teachers in 2nd grade for my February #NoOfficeDay. Being a "connected" educator is a must in today's world and I love how connected I feel in the midst of a #NoOfficeDay. This week was National School Counselor Week and the 2nd grade teachers and students had saved a surprise for our Counselor, Mrs. Blanton, @rblanto for Friday morning. The students loved surprising her and I loved being a part of it.
As the excitement of surprising Mrs. Blanton subsided, I started my day with Mrs. Stokes, @robinstokes24 and her students. Mrs. Stokes understands the importance of reading aloud to her students and has seen the positive impact it has made on her students and how it has increased their interest in reading. It was an honor for me to be able to lead the read aloud on Friday morning and read, "Goal" by, Mina Javaherbin, @minajuna. It was a great read aloud that the students could relate to and also had a great message about the importance of teamwork. If you have not read it, I would highly recommend it.
Principal Read Aloud - Goal by, Mina Javaherbin
After the read aloud the students were able to work together as an entire class and practice the vowel pattern they had been working on for the week. On a typical Friday, may you see students "practicing" by taking a spelling test, but not in this classroom. Students were given one of their spelling words and had to find a partner with the exact same vowel pattern and then find a partner who had the same sound, made with
Non-Fiction Text Features
a different vowel pattern. If for some reason, you did not find a partner in time, you had a seat and become the classroom judge to ensure students were partnering correctly. You would think I would be able to find a partner, because you know I was playing, but sure enough...I became a judge after round 2. An hour in each classroom goes so fast, but I had time to work with students during their review of non-fiction text features which they had been learning about through the Comprehension Toolkit! Students worked together to identify and determine the purpose of three text features they could locate in a resource given to them by their teacher. As an AVID campus, our students in 4th-5th grade work on taking 2 and 3 column notes, so I was thrilled to see our 2nd graders break out their 2 column notes to serve as a resource to help them identify and determine the purpose of text features. Students were able to identify captions, photographs and diagrams...just to name a few. It is awesome seeing the toolkit in action!
My next stop in 2nd grade led me into the classroom of Mrs. Valentin, @valentin_luz. Again, the focus was non-fiction text features (can you tell what the grade level has been focusing on with students?), but this time we were specifically focusing on labels...a specific text feature. In order to determine if students could use labels appropriately we used a butterfly, which they had been reading about in their National Geographic Magazine and students had to label the appropriate parts of the butterfly. You can see the before, during and after pictures below.
The students were able to rotate through stations which allowed their understanding of non-fiction text features to be on display through varied opportunities. It also allowed me to be able to work in a small group with each student in the classroom!
After creating my butterfly finger puppet, I transitioned into Mrs. Porter's, @MagdaJPorter, room where students were wrapping up their collaborative work on...you got it! Non-fiction text features! Students worked in partners to finish up their text feature work and then met at the front of the room to wrap up their learning. It was great seeing the students get back together as a whole group before transitioning to the next activity. Often times we forget how important it is to end a lesson as a whole group to restate the objective and allow students to share what they learned.
After students had an opportunity to share the text features, they identified and their purpose, we transitioned into Integrated Curriculum or IC to complete a Mind Missions activity where students had been given 10
stickers and 15 pieces of paper to design an archway that could be used to welcome Kindergarten students to school the following school year. Students had previously studied arches of various shapes and sizes so I was looking forward to seeing them work together, problem solve and hopefully create an arch that would stand freely without their help. The students had been separated into teams and had 5 minutes to come up with a plan before building could begin. The two groups had completely different approaches to their design and ultimately were both successful. I do not measure their success on whether or not their arch was free standing or how big it was. I measure their success on the process they had to work through, after seeing their ideas not work. They had to reflect, respond and try again, which is a great analogy for life and building "grit" within our students! The students were able to design an arch that stood freely with only paper and stickers. The real learning took place after the build was complete and the teacher led them through some dialogue about what was and was not successful and why. I bet if students had to do a similar Mind Missions again, they would have a completely different experience.
Mind Mission Success - The Arch Way
My next stop during my #NoOfficeDay in 2nd grade led me to the end of the hallway with Ms. Zwall, @wendyzwall. Her students had been working hard developing some math problems that they were going to teach each other how to solve. If you have ever read the book, "Never Work Harder than Your Students", this is a perfect example.
The teacher was able to walk the room, listening to student dialogue, watching them teach and learn from their peers and guide their thinking as needed. I was able to rotate from station to station and attempt to answer problems that had been created by the students. If I had a problem with finding the correct answer, it was the students job to act as the teacher and help me better understand what I was doing wrong, so I could find the correct answer. The engagement in the room was off the charts and the students felt empowered to showcase their understanding of math to their peers. They all did a tremendous job!
Teaching Math to the Principal
The next part of my day is one of the students' favorite parts as it is recess time! It was a beautiful day so we were able to go outside and play a little basketball before heading back inside for lunch. Let's just say we ALL worked up an appetite.
Basketball at Recess
After recess and lunch I had just a couple more math problems to work my may through before it was time to go to specials. This #NoOfficeDay was dedicated to music and spending time with Mrs. Caldwell, @caldwellkiera. I do not pretend to be a vocal sensation, but I did participate to the fullest. I played the games that reinforced students' understanding of rhythm and tempo and sang the songs that did the same.
Recovering after singing Old Brass Wagon
At the end of the music lesson, students were able to integrate their understanding of tempo and rhythm into a game which students faced off to see which student could make it into the middle of the circle the fastest. Funny how things work out, but the final duo that had to square off ended up being me vs. Mrs. Caldwell. Guess who won? (with an assist from a student I might add)
Mrs. Caldwell Wins!
My day ended back in the 2nd grade hallway, spending my final hour with Ms. Smith's math class. 2nd grade does a great job of sharing students so there was a smaller number of students in math class, allowing me to work at the teacher table for two rotations and getting to see each of the students. Ms. Smith was kind enough to prepare a learning game for us that reinforced students' understanding of fractions. It was a good ol' fashioned game of "Go Fish" using fraction cards. It is amazing how competitive students will be with the principal is playing with them, but of course, the principal always wins.
Pretty sure that is the equivalent of a full house
Yet another successful #NoOfhttps://twitter.com/CaldwellKieraficeDay is in the books! As more and more educators become connected and stumbled across this blog, I hope they will share with the other teachers they know and the teachers will share with their administrators. Relationships matter and the best way to cultivate those relationships with the teachers and students is to show them just how much you care! We are all busy, but we always find the time for things we value most. It just so happens, I value spending time with our students and teachers!