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Friday, December 11, 2015

Hour of Code

Our class participated in the Global Hour of Code this week. While these kids have been working through since the beginning of the year, they experienced some unique and engaging activities this week!

Scholars worked with Roamers (small robots) in the library. Mrs. Berumen challenged scholars to program the Roamer to navigate through a holiday maze. To learn more about Roamers, visit: Roamer Robots

Scholars also had the opportunity to work with Digital Design students from CHHS. These students came to our classroom, introduced the "Hour of Code' and shared their expertise. Scholars downloaded the iPad apps Lightbot and The Foos, then practiced coding skills as they progressed through levels being assisted by our visiting experts.

Finally, as a culminating project, scholars integrated literacy and technology using the iPad app ScratchJr to retell a simple story. The ScratchJR app provides a platform for creating interactive stories and games. Scholars learn to design projects, solve problems (debug) and express themselves creatively.

The story...

The criteria...
The Results...






To learn more about the Hour of Code and why this 21st century skill is so important, please visit:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Celebrating Birthdays in First Grade:)

In the past, 1st graders have celebrated their birthdays at school by bringing treats to share with the class...sugar filled, dye infused, character themed confections that put the average 6 year old on a sugar high lasting hours.

So, I must admit that I was not totally disappointed when the decision was made that edible treats would no longer be allowed at school. This was a best health decision made due to a growing number of dietary restrictions and food allergies.

Now, I have worked with 1st graders long enough to know just how important birthdays are! 1st graders begin the countdown months in advance..."You know my birthday is next month!". Then weeks..."One more week 'til my birthday!" Then days..."Not tomorrow, not the next day, but the day after that is my birthday!" Until finally, "Today is my birthday!" My challenge was to find and engaging, meaningful way to celebrate birthdays in the classroom without giving up coveted instructional time.

So, this is how we now celebrate birthdays in our classroom. On the day of the birthday, during Writing Workshop, the birthday person sits in the teacher spot and the other students gather around. The birthday person is interviewed as the class asks questions, generally revolving around 'favorites'. (favorite color, favorite character, favorite food...last week, after our study of landforms, the question, "What's your favorite landform?" popped up! I might have laughed out loud!) I act as the scribe, recording the information on the board. Following the interview, the class goes off to create a personalized birthday card for the birthday person. The cards must include a picture and message on the front and a letter - date, greeting, body, closing and signature - on the inside. The birthday person acts as the teacher walking around, answering questions, issuing feedback and keeping students on task. When all of the cards are complete, they are wrapped up in ribbon and given to the birthday person to keep.
This has turned out to be a beloved activity in our classroom and, by my observation, a much more meaningful and special way to celebrate. The quality of the cards and letters written during these times is superior because the task is authentic - the kids want to create something special for a friend.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Learning about Freedom, Service and Valor

Our school has a school wide assembly every Friday morning. I love that our entire school community comes together in one room for celebrations, recognitions and learning.

This week's Friday Assembly was truly something special as we hosted honored guests. We were joined by Retired Corporal USMC Hershel Woodrow Williams. He is a United States Medal of Honor recipient. He spoke to us about his career with the Marines and the experiences leading to his being awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest award that can be given to military personal for acts of valor.

To read the Medal of Honor citation: MoH Citation

We were also joined by Sargent Willingham, Corporal Rodriguez and  Lucca, a Marine Hero who was awarded the Purple Heart for her bravery after losing a leg to a roadside bomb while out on patrol in Afghanistan.

To learn more about: Lucca

Singer, songwriter and recording artist, Phil Vandel, was in attendance as well. He shared a few songs along with a message to set goals, work hard and follow your dreams.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Gathering Weather Data at Our Very Own Weather Stations

Our class has been visiting the Weather Stations in Cannon Garden regularly to observe and record weather data. The study of weather is part of our science curriculum and is an ongoing investigation in first grade.

See below for expectations, concepts and key questions.

Student Expectation

The student is expected to record weather information, including relative temperature, such as hot or cold, clear or cloudy, calm or windy, and rainy or icy; AND demonstrate that air is all around us and observe that wind is moving air.

Key Concepts

  • We can observe weather conditions around us using our senses.
  • Tools such as wind socks and thermometers can be used to gather weather information.
  • Weather data can be recorded in charts, tables, and graphs.

Fundamental Questions

  • What observations can we make about weather conditions?
  • What is the wind made out of?
  • How can we record weather data?

We begin our time in the garden by reciting the 'Garden Pledge'.

          I pledge allegiance to the Real School Garden for which it exists.  
          I pledge to be safe and not run.  
          I will honor all living things, including my classmates.
          I will be respectful of other learners in the garden. 
          I promise to have fun and to learn something new with a smile. 

This is followed by a brief walk through the garden to make observations and enjoy nature.

When we come back together, we record both quantitative data, using tools, and qualitative data, using our senses.

  • What can you tell about the season by observing the trees and plants?
  • How does the temperature feel? 
  • How does the sky look? 
  • Can you hear the wind? 
  • What evidence do you see that tells you the air is moving?
  • Do you observe clouds moving?
  • Can you smell rain in the air?
  • Air temperature - degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Water temperature - degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil temperature - degrees Fahrenheit
  • Wind speed  - anomometer and windsock
  • Wind direction - windsock and weather vane
Learning about the weather in such an authentic way is just one thing we will be doing in the garden. This space holds an endless supply of learning opportunities!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cannon's Cardboard Challenge

Last  Friday, many Cannon scholars participated in a cardboard creation challenge. The results were amazing. This project was a fantastic way for scholars to nurture their creativity skills and begin to regulate their own learning by setting a goal and owning their own learning!

Check out some of these creations:


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Our Garden

Yesterday was a most amazing day as Cannon's backyard was transformed into the most beautiful learning garden! Special shout-outs go to Real School Gardens, Mercedes Benz Financial Services, The City of Grapevine, GCISD Board of Trustees, GCISD staff, and our own Cannon community of staff and parents.

Yesterday's lessons were about vision, community collaboration and hard work!

Future lessons will be around stewardship of this gift, responsibility and continuing to build this garden.

The curriculum connections are limitless. Scholars will utilize the garden to learn about plants, animals, interdependence in nature, wind power, solar power, the water cycle, nutrition, weather, and environmental studies... just to name a few. The garden will serve as a space for peaceful reading, inspired writing and mathematical thinking.

Additionally, scholars will grow the lifelong skills of collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and citizenship.

I believe the garden will give scholars a space to build skills and develop habits that will last a lifetime.

It is certainly a privilege to serve in a school where vision becomes reality and where an entire community is willing to come together to create a most remarkable learning environment for kids.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Book Talks in 1st Grade

After attending a conference with Penny Kittle, author of Book Love,  last spring, I set a goal to incorporate 'Book Talks' into our 1st grade daily schedule.
Book Talks are an opportunity to present a wide range of books from a variety of genres to students on a regular basis. Books Talks are like little commercials for books. I always begin with..."This is one of my favorite books!" (After about the 4th day, one student said..."you sure have a lot of favorite books Mrs. Boynton"... message received...I love to read and you should too!)
I show the cover and a few pictures from the book. I tell a bit about the book, sometimes reading a small excerpt. Then the book goes on the chalk rail (it's funny that I still call it a chalk rail...I haven't used chalk in 20 years!) as an invitation to think about this book and to create the desire to read it! I follow this procedure each morning as we begin our day, Monday through Thursday. By Thursday, there are 4 books in the collection. No one has read them yet but the kids are talking about them! On Friday morning, I review each of the books and students vote on which one they want to be read aloud. We use Kahoot to vote on the books. It's quick, the kids really enjoy it AND it displays a graph of the voting results so we can review drawing conclusions about graphs every Friday in a most authentic way! The remaining books go on display in the classroom library and are favorite choices when kids visit the library during Reading Workshop.
Please note that I am not doing Book Talks instead of Read Alouds but in addition to daily Read Alouds.
In just a few weeks of school, I have noticed that this practice has increased engagement and love of books! I received an email from a parent last week reporting that her daughter didn't really like to read last year and that over the summer it was difficult to get her to read. She said that in just the first few weeks of school, her daughter has made a shift and now talks about books, enjoys reading at home and does it without prompting. I'm not sure if the practice of Book Talks played a part in this shift but I'd like to think so:)

This week we had a holiday on Monday, so there were only 3 books to choose from.

And the winner is....The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes!