Saturday, March 16, 2013

Marshmallows are Cylinders- Tales of a First Grade Something

Yesterday, I was teaching my kiddos about fractions.  Yes, fractions.  If you're like my sister, who thinks teaching first grade is all about coloring and snacks, you're welcome to visit my classroom anytime :)

Anyway, after the big part of our lesson, the kids were making connections about sharing their favorite treats with their friends.  One of my cherubs said he wanted to share a marshmallow..."but don't worry, Ms. Moran, it's one of the big ones that you roast."  So I draw the circle on the board and we discuss how the pieces have to be equal and all that jazz.  Meanwhile, one of my students who has autism is frantically waving his hand in the air.  I call on him, and he says, "Actually, a marshmallow is a cylinder, not a circle."

And my classroom erupts into applause.

I'm not kidding.

I've had more than one person comment on how my kids cheer for each other.  They clap and cheer and hug and high five and say "good job!"...and they mean it.

I got a new student in the past week or two, and when my principal brought the new student to my classroom door, no less than three of my little gentlemen greeted him by introducing themselves and offering their right hand for a handshake.
No, I did not tell them to do that...for the record, I was at a workshop that day in another town, and I had no idea a new student was coming, so I had no way of coaching them into doing that.

Did they come to me doing these things?  Absolutely not.   Are these things that I've taught them because they meet common core standards or because they are on the pacing guide? Not at all. But I hope they are things that stay with them forever.


Because acknowledging the accomplishments of others is a huge building block in terms of respect.  Because being happy for other people is a huge step in being happy with yourself.  Because the good we do in life comes back to us, and we would do well to teach our children that.  Because introducing yourself and offering your right hand for a handshake is the first step in getting a job; it's the first step in a college scholarship interview.  Because being friendly and honest will take you far in life.

Are my kids perfect?  No kids are.  No adults are, either.
Do my kids have a concept of what it means to be an encouragement to other people?
More than they realize.

And even on the days when they say the worst things imaginable (literally- things I wouldn't even think of) to one another and to me, at some point, they will congratulate the struggling student on sorting his words correctly in our phonics lesson, and I'm reminded of how far they've come, how far I've come.

As for a marshmallow being a cylinder, don't little guy was absolutely correct.
And I let him know.
*Secret*- it's okay to let kids know they're right when they are.
I explained that we could stand the marshmallow on the table to divide it, so we were looking at it from above, so we could see it as a circle.  "Oh, skyview...", he said.

Yes, dear.  Skyview.


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