Friday, October 31, 2014

boracay, philippines

We've just spent a great week in Boracay. With water so turquoise and sands so white, it's no wonder this is a premier tourist destination! I definitely recommend this boutique hotel and this delicious restaurant (BEST chorizo burger).

Our beach bum had a lot of first on this trip: first plane ride, boat ride, bus ride, and swim in the ocean! 
It was also her first bug bite and tiny sun burn (despite slathering on the sun screen!)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

deconstructing/reconstructing a rubric

For our performance task in our Physical Well-being unit, I simply printed the standards and indicators being addressed on half sheets of paper, had the kids describe each in their own words, and add a picture for understanding. It was pretty cool listening in on conversations that were had as cards were finished and students began organizing them for Emerging, Developing, and Proficient learners! I highly recommend this as an end-of-unit learning experience:

Friday, October 24, 2014

visible thinking: think puzzle explore

This week in Math class I introduced a new Visible Thinking routine, the Think Puzzle Explore
It was perfect and I felt SO energized afterward!

When we first starting talking, the kids, knowing that "Math" was on the schedule and hearing that "visible thinking" was a big part of the day's plan (like that's any different from any of the learning we show in class?), asked plainly, "How are we going to do Visible Thinking in Math?!" 
To which I could only reply, "Don't we do that everyday in Math? Isn't a big part of what we do in addressing problems and tasks to explain our thinking, put the processes our brains go through on the page for others to see and understand?"
A resounding: Ah. Yes, Mrs. Phillips.

Our big topic right now is multiplication, and we're really just starting out, with kids at very different levels. 
The routine looks like this:
Think: What do you think you know about the topic/idea?
Puzzle: What are you confused about? What are your puzzles, wonderings, or questions about [multiplication]?
Explore: How can you explore this further?

The kids got cozy around the room and spent a good 30 minutes (after the settling in that comes with the week-before-a-much-needed-holiday) just thinking on the Think and writing down their prior knowledge and understandings.

We gathered then, to discuss what the kids think they know. I typed out their responses as we went to make the thinking actually visible.

Next, the kids got cozy again to address their puzzles. 
Again, gathering to discuss with documentation. 
So now, on our "math board," we have a class set of thoughts and a class set of puzzles. 

In our room this was the perfect way to get kids interested in a personal math inquiry - particularly in a topic with which they are beginning to feel comfortable (thank you, grade 2 teachers!), but are still scared to delve totally in to (I need to know all the facts fluently up to 10?!).
We are exploring everything from the different strategies we can use to solve multiplication equations to the invention of multiplication to the various ways to practice personal facts fluency.
After our October break (off to Boracay with baby and in-laws!) we'll do some exploring and sharing of our new learning.

Friday, October 10, 2014

visible thinking: zoom in

Today we started a new Visible Thinking routine, Zoom In, that I'm hoping to keep up with in the class.
[Side note, I'm attending a weekend workshop with Ron Ritchhart in November at our school and I'm really looking forward to it!]

I've started with this image of a Story Rollercoaster, which is just another way of representing the plot structure. As you can see, only one small part is revealed:

We started discussing the piece a class, focusing on the first two parts below. As more parts are revealed, we'll move onto the other two parts.

This kids had some really interesting ideas! Everything from it looks like kids are in bathtubs to I see one person of each gender so maybe it's about being fair [one of our dispositions] to I think there are people from all over the world. Of course there were a lot of connections to personal experiences, too.

The best part was the way the kids started building on the ideas they were hearing, which they quickly told me is called piggybacking. Love that they know this term! Also, going from obvious observations to more thoughtful conclusions was eye-opening for a lot of them.

Next week I'll reveal more and we'll continue, but the level of engagement involved with this was so so great! It's the perfect way to start tuning into narrative writing.


My niece, above, started Kindergarten in September and she was so resistant... but she's loving it! The teacher in me is so happy for her.

This is such an interesting read about the power of daydreaming for our learning. Pretty sure we'll be taking daydream breaks every now and again moving forward.

I love throw pillows but how do you keep them fluffed? Ours always look so sad.

Is it weird that I'm a thirty-year-old woman (a mother no less) and still, when Mean Girls (do I really need to link that?) is on tv, I definitely watch it and make my husband watch it with me?

We watched the first season of Silicon Valley in like three or four days. So then we watched Kumail Nanjiani's stand-up, Beta Male. The part about the mongoose is really funny. And then the part about the hobo in the attic is really funny. I may have had a glass of wine while watching, though, and a glass of wine after a pregnancy and five months of breastfeeding, well, ends up being sort of a lot of wine!

And in case you're wondering, here is the correct response to the question "Which of the seven dwarfs best describes your wife in bed?"

Friday, October 3, 2014

girl problems

We be havin' 'em.
Plenty of 'em, too.
Aside from enlisting the help of our guidance counselor, Information Literacy teacher, specialist teachers, and our principal, we've been working really hard in class on learning to understand one another.

As frustrating as it has all been, now that we're knee-deep in our social learning, it's been pretty interesting!

We started with this essential question, a part of our year-long Learning to Learn unit:
How can I contribute to a learning community?

The kids did some personal reflection, and we shared what it should look like, sound like, and feel like in our grade 3 classroom.

Of course, they gave all the traditional answers, all the ones that we, as teachers, want to hear.
These are now our "Guidelines to Happiness" and are posted in the room.
Naturally, that wasn't enough.

We followed up with this:

The kids got themselves together in small groups and brainstormed problems that they have. (The pictures of their work beside are to make their responses visible). 
This was great, because there was a range of them!
So we discussed.

Next, groups chose one problem to dramatize (but with no solution).
As a class, we discussed potential solutions, and kept a running list:

During those discussions, the kids kept talking about how they would feel if it happened to them, or similar experiences they've had, which lead to a mini-inquiry into the word empathy.
They paired up to figure out what it means, thought up some examples, and presented their findings informally with other pairs.
It was a tangent, but a good one, and we'll revisit it next week with some scenarios.
(Isn't that what inquiry learning is about?)

Then, more personal reflection...
Kids wrote in their notebooks to complete this sentence frame: 
I can help others solve their problems because I

Now this was awesome because they were really able to dig a bit deeper, having spent so much time focused on potential problems.
We put on to set the tone in the room.

Students shared if they were feeling brave.
Then, we made a list together of the skills and qualities that problem-solvers have as they came up during sharing. 
I printed them quickly and the kids signed up as experts in those areas:

Now, if someone is having a problem in our class, they now go to the expert sign-up list and see who might be able to help them.
They actually do this, yes. It's brilliant.

So far this has been a focus in our classroom for the last month.
With the support of my so-fantastic colleagues, girl problems are definitely less!