Saturday, January 23, 2016

Celebrate This Week: Creativity, Innovation, and Teamwork 1/23

It's Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres' blog to read others' celebrations.

This week was a short week because we had Monday off for MLK day and then Friday was a teacher PD day so students had off. Unfortunately, all week I have been nursing a ridiculously awful head cold. So the first celebration for the week is the fact that I could call in sick on Friday and rest without having to make sub plans. I also love having a boss who understands that you are human and sometimes need to take sick days. I haven't always had bosses who didn't make me feel guilty when calling in sick. 

My second celebration has to do with the community that has formed in my classroom. It isn't perfect, we all make mistakes and some days I am ready to pull out all my hair with frustration because some students won't stop talking, but this group of students gets along. I mean, they all get along. They work together no matter who I put in a group together. They help each other, they play together, we have a harmonious existence in our classroom. 

I know that this community has been helped along by the rituals and routines that we have every day at school. We always do a morning meeting and often end up doing something silly together as part of the meeting (this idea is from Responsive Classroom there are many free resources on the website). We almost always recap our day and evaluate how we did today at school (this one came from Learn Like a Pirate which I highly recommend reading). We work together in groups and partnerships frequently. Our norms have been crafted together. We have agreed how we will treat each other and students will hold each other accountable for this respectful behavior. We read books together and laugh and feel sad together as the characters make their journeys through the novel. Our community is strong because of these rituals and routines, but it is also because of these amazing kiddos. They understood the lessons on growth mindset and they have run with them. I don't have to do much damage control when I challenge them. I don't have kiddos who break down in frustration and give up. They get it that this is the time that their brain is growing and that their learning is strongest. This is something amazing that I love celebrating each and every day. 

Last week, we did a STEM challenge day. I have some kits that I got through a project on DonorsChoose (something else to celebrate). These kits are available from Lakeshore Learning. I gave students a choice between building a roller coaster in which a marble would continue to roll the whole time without stopping, building a structure that would withstand 20 shakes on the shake table, or building a grip that would pick up a ball from 12 inches away. We did very little preparation for it. I just gave them a pep talk about group work and reminded them that rock, paper, scissors is often a good way to resolve a conflict, and off they went. It was awesome! I was able to circulate and answer questions and offer pointers and they were working. No group had a conflict I had to intervene with. Only one group had someone I had to coach not to give up. At the end, one group building the structure failed gloriously and they all laughed about it...the boys in that group were the first ones to laugh. No one was feeling awful that their ideas had not worked. Everyone had an amazing time. And I started thinking about how to incorporate this type of challenge more often. 

Although this is something we tackled last week, I am still celebrating. I know we will have this day to look back upon as the first of many days in which we built collaboration and celebrated our community of growth mindset learners. 

What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments! 


  1. You really had the theme of community thread throughout your writing this week!
    Seems like Friday was a day off through most of Wisconsin. My IL daughter was jealous of her WI swim friends that were off yesterday!

  2. Love hearing all about your class, Andrea, and hope the cold will disappear fast! I love the Responsive Classroom ideas, so thoughtful and caring. And the challenges you described are what I've done in the past, too, always full of fun, learning, and collaboration. Have a good weekend.

  3. I hope you are feeling better. Thanks for sharing the positive community that is functioning so well in your classroom. The photos made me smile with students engaged and working together.

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