Empowering Children

Looping and First Days
Lori Jackson

It is sooooo good to be back in a looping configuration! I have twenty one returning students and six new kids, five of whom are parental requests. It was like a reunion this morning with many parents lingering to visit with me and with one another. When the bell rang makring the beginning of the day EVERY child grabbed their book tubs, which my come back crew found stocked with the books they had picked to begin the year with and the new kids found some carefully made choices made based on my discussions with their previous teachers. Only one child had books randomly selected. They all settled eagerly and willingly into reading and you could have heard a pin drop, it was so quiet. What a contrast with the chaotic beginning of the year hallways and many of the classrooms.

During calendar they oooed and awed over the number line, saved from last year, which ended on the number 170. Today marked our 171st day together and our lst day in 2nd grade. We skip counted by 11's, 10's and then by ones to 171 (their choices). Several jumped on the 'remainder' when we counted by 11's. So glad the math vocabulary is sticking. I have enough calculators for everyone this year and they really caught the pattern on 11's--the new kids a bit impressed that you could count by 11's and having some problems with the calculators. None of them had ever used them at school and only one child had one at home. Talked about which way was faster and agreed ten because we all know how and we had to think harder with 11. Ones takes FOREVER. Spent lots of time talking about some of the changes in the room--the red couch is a hit and so is finally having a nice rug for meeting. They were very attentive and very detail oriented.

We read the top five poems as voted on last spring in reverse order from 5 to 1. Can't help wondering what anyone in the hallway thought, as three related to snow. Introduced our poem for this week, as selected last spring by Travis. He stood up and explained his drawing, telling us that the he drew the giant grumpy because, you know, he was kind of rude. It was like, he said, the giant never said please and just sort of yelled. I drew the pancakes, that was hard, he said, I made sure there were 100. See the five piles? And Jamie did some quick work and said I bet there are 20 in each stack--and there were. He explained how he knew that 5 tens is fifty, and then fifty more is another 5 tens, so 2 tens in each pile and that makes twenty, see? Amazing.

We read an old favorite, Chrysanthemum, with me demonstrating thinking aloud as I read. Some one questioned the meaning of miserably and used think aloud to demonstrate how I could figure it out. Hmm, that sounds like misery and misery is....It means you are unhappily they called. Hmm, maybe miserably means unhappily, you suppose? And one of the girls said try reading it and say unhappily so we did. Sounded right...any other clues we can use? Look, she is so unhappy. Anybody would be unhappy after a day like that! And so we agreed that miserable is a great word for unhappy (and we added both unhappily and miserable to the our jar labeled "Words That Make Us Feel Sad..."

We circled up for handshake and talked about our job for literacy block today, to read one book of our choice and to fill out a reading log entry. Amazing how much my kids remembered about genre! The rest of the morning spent finishing up first log entries, with returning kids helping out the newbies. None of my new students, save one, knew the
difference between fiction and nonfiction (let alone the sub genres).

Lunch--no problems! Same seats, same time, no problems!

And the rest of the day went just as smoothly, outside of settling a few bus related confusions.

OOOOOOh, I love looping.

Lori Jackson has been teaching for nine years in Todd County, South Dakota. She is currently teaching as part of a 1-2 looping partnership. Her undergraduate work was complete at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, having accumulated too many credits not to, she is currently pursuing her master's degree in reading at Sinte Gleske University in South Dakota. She is a CGI trainer/mentor teacher and uses the philosophy of Whole Language to guide her classroom practice.

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