Full of Learning in Target

Drawing the Ozobot’s path with directions.

What a wonderful day in Target! Went spent the start of our morning waking up our brain with some puzzles and teasers, then we dove in to the Ozobots. This time, I gave the students large sheets of white butcher paper, and they were able to draw their own pathways and experiment with different codes on their own. The students loved making their robot pause, go “turbo” speed, make u-turns, turn around and go another way, follow their name in cursive, and on and on… We are certainly using our Convergent and Divergent Thinking Skills! We also connected our Ozobot coding to Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind.

Planning Ozzie’s actions.

Putting the Ozobot on its path!

For Learning Skills, we built candy corn towers with candy corn and toothpicks. You can tell by the mess in my room that is was great fun! How was this a Learning Skill? We were learning to deal with frustration! The tricky part was the candy corn breaking if it were pierced from the side. We practiced perseverance and flexible thinking. About half of the students were able to transition their thinking and try using BROKEN pieces of candy corn to build. The broken pieces actually worked better, but some students could not get over the idea of using WHOLE candy corns for all the joints. The tallest tower was a monstrous 7″. This activity was much more challenging than than the students thought it would be.

In Learning Centers we used recyclables to make something useful. Students received a Mystery Bag with a set of materials: an empty waffle box, a couple of toilet paper and paper towel rolls, a sheet of laminating film, 2 pieces of string, a strip of crepe paper, 4 straws, and some rubber bands and paperclips. The odd assortment turned into many useful products: a shoe, a double decker bag, a mop, a fishing pole, binoculars, an oven, a bowl of spaghetti, and a kid’s game. It was a lot of fun!

Festive Fall Fun in Target

What fun we had today! First, we programmed our Ozobots to travel from their home along a defined pathway, but then through a river without a path. The Ozobot was trying to get to a store which may have been distributing candy! The students cracked the code and most were successful in programming their Ozobot to get from his home to the store safely and efficiently.

For a STEM experience, we built pumpkin catapults using popsicle sticks, plastic spoons, and rubber bands. We needed to launch tiny mellowcreme pumpkin candies. The goal was to build a free-standing catapult with a lever that would launch the tiny candy pumpkin into the air. After building and testing our catapults, we held the first-ever Pumpkin Catapult Olympics! We used our catapult creations to participate in events that measured distance, hit a target, landed in a bucket, knocked down a tower, flew through a hoop, and pole-vaulted over a stack of books. The students made some great catapults!

As a surprise, I shared a special snack with the students, and we read a story, Spookley the Square Pumpkin. The story is about being different, and learning to accept our uniqueness, even using it to an advantage.

This Week in Target

Thank goodness we are back to a regular schedule!

Today students had to be super great self-directed learners so that I could introduce them to OZOBOTS in small groups! OZOBOTS are little programmable robots that our class was awarded by the NES Foundation’s Teacher Grant Program. The students absolutely loved planning moves for our little robots!!!!


Coding an OZOBOT

An OZOBOT at work!

While I was teaching about OZOBOTS to one group, the rest of the class completed an assessment on writing equations with variables, solved a logic matrix grid, and drew pictures from squiggles.

We read about Habit 2: Have a Plan, and we set a short-term goal for this week.

Finally, we learned to play Mancala, and I PROMISED the students I would post the link for the online Mancala game. See if you can beat the computer!

Last Week in Target

Even in a shortened day, we can pack in a lot of fun and learning! We continued to work on writing equations with variables, and we practiced EVALUATIVE THINKING with our new Obstacles games (thank you, Foundation!!!) The students had a blast planning their survival strategies using odd tools they are dealt.

OBSTACLES game cards

Our Mystery Bag held blocks and popsicle sticks, and the student partners were directed to build a tower as tall as they could. There was only one rule: the base of the tower could only be one block! I was proud to see the towers exceed three feet! Below are some photos from our Mystery Bag activity.

A sturdy tower

Mystery Bag group work

A creative tower!

Target News

Today and this Tuesday are short days for us, so we don’t get to all our segments in one day. Today we worked on Learning Skills. We are finishing up Habit 1: Be Proactive by drawing and creating a visual thought bubble of the self-management tasks we can do to Be Proactive. Just understanding what it means to Be Proactive requires abstract, intangible conceptualization. However, if you were to ask your child what they could do to Be Proactive today, hopefully they will tell you about things that interest them and things they’d like to do, nd what they enjoy the most and spend their time doing. Maybe they could also tell you that Being Proactive is:

  • knowing the difference between right and wrong
  • making your own right decisions
  • taking charge of your actions.

If anyone would like to schedule a phone or in-person conference, please send me an email. I am here Tuesday and Thursday afternoon next week. I would be glad to meet you before or after your homeroom conference.

Overdue update from Target

It has been a long time since we had a regular day in Target!!! We missed Target twice in September due to inclement weather and fall break, and there was a half-day due to testing. On the half-day I kept the yellow folders; they did not go home that week.

Last week I was very ill and was not at school. I know how disappointed the children are when we don’t have Target. The good news is…we had Target all day today!!! And we will have Target AGAIN on Thursday!!! The students are super thrilled with the make-up time we’ll have.

Today, math skills consumed our day! We practiced PERSEVERANCE in translating word problems into equations with variables. I learned that the students are not ready to move from the tangible to the intangible method for writing and solving algebraic equations. I was so proud that the students kept working and didn’t give up! You’ll see our work in the yellow folder. The word problems are not very high-level; the hard part is translating the problem into an equation writing the unknown part as a variable. All answers should be correct since we worked every problem together.

In thinking skills we began verbal analogies. We practiced evaluative thinking as we judged relationships, some visual and some verbal, and made similar comparisons in analogies. We had worked on picture analogies in the past, but the verbal analogies were new. The students did very well!

In learning skills we talked about PERSEVERANCE and how important it is to keep working even when something is hard. We took some super fun brain breaks with Go Noodle, and then we listened to a Bruno Mars/Sesame Street song called “Don’t Give Up.” It’s one of my favorites! We also practiced some divergent thinking building with our Keva planks.

The most exciting part of the day for me???? The Nickajack Foundation Grant Program’s Prize Patrol visited my room to tell me that I had been awarded BOTH of my grant requests!!! Mr. Hill and the grant committee came in with balloons and certificates and took photos! The children were not exactly sure why I was so excited, but they were very congratulatory of my accomplishment! I explained to the students how appreciative I am for the hard work of the Foundation to raise money that goes right back into our classrooms, providing new and innovative learning tools. I am so appreciative of everyone who is a member of the Foundation and those who support the fundraisers. One of the biggest parts of my grant requests is a class set of Ozobots!!! The Foundation is providing a set of programmable miniature robots so that we can learn coding and robotics in first and second grade.

A Peek at this Past Week

We were certainly busy on Tuesday with plenty of meaningful activities!

In math skills we continued to write variables from word problems (Algebraic Thinking; G2), and solve for the variables. We’ll practice again next week, and then have a short assessment on writing equations from word problems.

In thinking skills, we read Ira Sleeps Over, and we listed the pros and cons of the character’s big dilemma: to take his bedtime bear to a sleepover or not. We used EVALUATIVE THINKING (G4) to help us judge the situation and reach the best decision. Most of us agreed with the character: take the bedtime bear!

In learning skills we continued to discuss Habit 1: Be Proactive! In kid language, we know that We are in Charge of ourselves. This idea is a big theme in the gifted standard of becoming a Self-Directed Learner (G10), and it also fits right in to our school’s B3 charge to Be a Better Brave. We used “Tell about…” prompts to discuss different times we were in charge or not, and how we can act on being in charge of our thoughts and actions (Self-Reflection; G8).

Once again this year I am seeking donations of your recyclables. I included a memo in this week’s yellow folder:



How to Back the Jack!

Parents, Back the Jack is going on this week and next!  Remember to donate to the campaign in order to fund teacher grants and technological improvements for the whole school.  The class with the most participation wins a snow cone party!

Pep Rally Reminder: We are having the Back the Jack Pep Rally on Sept 8 at 1:30.  Please wear your Back the Jack shirts and have kids make signs if possible.  Come out to the hallways by your classroom for a special appearance by the Campbell High School band and cheerleaders.  We will be giving away stickers and possibly t-shirts to enthusiastic participants!
Coming Up: Join the GREAT SKATE on Sunday, Sept. 17th from 11am-2pm as we celebrate the end of the Back The Jack campaign with our annual Great Skate Fundraiser.  

Target this week…

We are still working on hallway expectations: “On your tile, single file, with a smile!” (If you’re smiling, it’s difficult to talk!) I have given the students an incentive: earn 10 compliment for our hallway behavior, and they’ll earn a round of frisbee golf. Last year, we practiced perseverance when we learned how to play frisbee golf. It was a new game to all, and they tried and tried to succeed without giving up. The students are extremely motivated to exhibit great hallway behavior, earn compliments,and get another chance to play Frisbee golf.

In the yellow Target folder you’ll see Rofregs and Backletooks. These are logic puzzles that are solved by determining the rule for making a Rofreg or Backletook. It doesn’t matter what a Rofreg or Backletook is; it just matters what rule makes a set of numbers qualify as a Rofreg. The Backletooks rule was very challenging since it involved multiplication.

In math skills, we had an assessment on equations using conventional variables, solving for the variable in one-step equations. The students rocked it! Next in math, we learned how to write equations from word problems, using variables as the unknown quantity. Next week, we’ll investigate some more difficult word problems, and we’ll try writing our own word problems and equations.

In thinking skills, we learned a new game to practice Divergent Thinking, called SCRATCH. In Scratch, you think of as many ideas as you can about a particular word. We play the game to demonstrate fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration in our thinking, all key components of a great Divergent Thinkers! The more ideas you can generate: the more fluent a thinker you are. The more ways you an see an idea: the better you are at flexible thinking. The ideas you generate which nobody else thought: then you’re an original thinker. And if you add lots of detail to your ides: you used elaboration. Of course, to make it all memorable, we sang our F2OE song to the tune of “Locomotion”. Ask for a solo!

In learning skills, we began reading The Seven Habits of Happy Kids, by Sean Covey, (son of Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People). We learned Habit 1: Put First Things First. In kid language, “we are in charge of ourselves.” In the story for Habit 1, a character is bored, and he begs each of his friends to do something for him to make him not-bored. The character learns that the interests of his friends aren’t all that interesting to him. So when he finds the activity that suits him the best, he takes charge of his own time, finding something he enjoys and something he is very good at doing (repairing a radio). The next time your child complains about being bored, tell him/her, “You are in charge of your own fun!” just like Sammy Squirrel.

Assessment of Learning & Creation Station

This week students completed a pretest of Student Learning Objectives (SLO) that are used as the growth measure for what’ll learn in Target this year. Since the pretest questions were about things we haven’t learned yet, the test was frustrating. It lasted about 45 minutes, so we took a short recess break after the paper/pencil test. After returning to the cottage, we registered our answers in the computer using iRespond remotes. (Pretty cool!!) Once we got that part set, we needed the rest of our recess, and then it was time for specials.

Since our morning had been long and mentally exhausting, we used more of our creative energy after specials and after lunch. We finished two craft projects. One was a self-portrait showing what we look like when we are a self-directed learner. The second was a 7″ square of construction paper that we transformed into something else entirely. That project was based on the book, Perfect Square. We still had time for STEM building with Planks, Magna Blocks, Magna Tiles, and Bill & Betty Bricks.