Saturday, January 11, 2014

Celebrate this week-Re-Energizing Our Classroom~

Thank you Ruth Ayers for giving us this opportunity to connect and celebrate! I love being part of an
online community and celebrations are the best reason to connect!

This week's celebration actually began over winter break. It began when I stumbled on one of Pernille Ripp's blogs, Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension in this post @PernilleRipp shared strategies for   welcoming the return from winter break as if it were the beginning of the year.  "Goodbye January humdrum, welcome January excitement."  As I read Pernille's blog I began to think about how these ideas would fit into the community of our classroom. Many of the strategies she shares are responsive to the community. Rather than going into my classroom over break and making adjustments I wanted to see, I choose to wait and to make these changes as a class.

Welcome Back!~

I wanted to get my kids excited to come back to school and I wanted them to start thinking about changes they wanted to see on our room, so I wrote a post on our Kid Blog and asked parents (via remind101) to have the kids jump on the blog. The kids started sharing ideas for changes. Some of their ideas surprised me, I am not sure these ideas were even on my radar. Having an idea of what the kids were thinking allowed me a bit of time to think about how these changes would benefit our classroom community and their function in our space.

Morning Meeting~

On our first day back our  morning meeting was dedicated to sharing our (extended) winter break stories and discussing classroom changes. Kids shared what they liked about our classroom and what they thought would make our classroom better and why. I was impressed at the quality of their conversation. Ideas were shared, debated, tweaked and then brought to life right there in our morning meeting! I was surprised to hear ideas shared that included safety, more ample work space on the tables, improved traffic patterns and organization. Not only did they have ideas these FIRST GRADERS had reasons!  
We jotted down a few quick notes to help us remember all the changes we needed to make. 

And began making the changes we could…

Welcome to YOUR New Room~

Most changes were made as a class and happened as a part of our morning meeting. I waited until after school to move the furniture (for safety). The next morning when the kids came in I had the pictures (shown here) playing in a slideshow on the "big screen." The kids were so excited, here's the chatter I heard~ 
"Wow, I just don't know what to say!"  "It feels like a new room!"  "This is exciting!" "Oh, that was my idea!"  "Look, we have a new room!"  "Awesome!"

The kids know this is THEIR space, it fits THEIR needs, and THEY have power in this space, THEIR ideas are respected.

Our Class Promise Reflection~
After our space was set we started to reflect on ourselves in our space.  We reviewed our promise and our ability to practice this promise. The kids are refreshingly accurate in their reflections. Students who felt they were doing well shared strategies for listing, following directions, and showing self-control with those who are still working to practice their promise. The tips shared are endearing.
"I am a good listener because I get up early so I can just relax before coming to school."
"I go to bed early and sleep a lot."
"I just move if someone is bothering me."
"I look at the teacher and think about it."
You can see their promise practice strategies and goals here and hear their sweet voices as they explain their thinking.


What's Next? 
I am working to build more independence and more time for creativity in the new year. As I listen back to the VoiceThread I realize the kids think the key is listening to me! I am not the only teacher in our classroom. I thought the kids understood their are 22 teachers in our room, sounds like we might need a little work here!
Thanks @pernellripp for such an inspiring blog post! Our year os off to a fantastic start thanks to your willingness to share your thoughts! You have 22 HAPPY and RENEWED learners in our room! (this includes me)


  1. This is awesome. I love that your kids got a say about their room! And the conversations you can have with 1st graders. This post got me going and I will be having this conversation with my freshmen. I hope they take this as seriously as your kids did!

  2. Absolutely a great way to start the new year. the kids always have great ideas, don't they?

  3. I love how you included your students in what they wanted for their room. I'm impressed 1st graders are blogging. I teach 5th, so 1st grade blogging is a whole new world to me. You are doing a great job prepping them for the future, and I love having them reflect on changes and improvements.

    Your room looks like it is ready for a great 2nd part of the year. I may borrow your idea.

    Thanks for sharing,

  4. I love how you are incorporating learning from another blog. I've read her blog before. She's got great ideas.

    Blogging with 1st graders is impressive. I'm a 5th grade teacher, so the little ones are a whole new world to me.

    I love that you are teaching them the reflective practice and helping them to have ownership in their class.

    I may borrow this idea. I hope you have a great year.

    Thanks for sharing,

  5. Thank you, Deb, for sharing. I will return to school tomorrow. I had initially thought of reviewing routines and procedures, but now I think of reassessing them together with my third graders. They have always been active in creating the classroom community, why not now. I like the vibrant colors of your classroom.

  6. Thanks for sharing the link that inspired this post. I love the pics, it's always fun to step into other's classrooms. It's so fun to get a glimpse into the thinking in your room.

  7. Beautiful and inspiring, Deb. I love this and can't wait to share it with others.
    Happy teaching,

  8. I love visiting your blog! What a great idea to include the students on how to improve the room. It sounds like it did bring home the point that it is their space, for their needs, for their learning and exploring. I like how you ended with the thought that they don't see that there are 22 teachers in the room, rather still view you as the sole teacher, and how you intend to remedy that. How exciting to hear about the quality discussions, the ideas backed up with reason, that took place in 1st grade. It makes me want to do the same thing in my first grade classroom. I wonder what my students would suggest? What reasons would they give for their suggestions?