Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gave it a Whirl Wednesday

If you all were like me, you absolutely loved the recent Bright Ideas Blog Hop.  I love seeing what others are doing in their classrooms, and freshening up my bag of teaching tricks.  But, what I usually do is see something (or in this case, great idea after great idea), get overwhelmed, and forget to try any of them.  

So, I am super inspired to start trying new things and share them with you.  So, there you have it.  The very first "Gave it a Whirl Wednesday" Linky Party.

I'm just going to pick one simple idea and "give it a whirl," and on Wednesdays (or maybe every other Wednesday - just being honest. LOL), I will share how I tweaked it and made it work for my students and me. Sounds fun.  Yes?

Even better, I invite all of you to try a Bright Idea, and link up!  See guidelines at the end of this post.

Alright the first idea I tried last week comes from Lori over at Conversations in Literacy.  As someone who is passionate about teaching kids about reading strategies, and reading for meaning, this post really spoke to me.  Her idea was "Tabletop Twitter."  Head over to her post to check out how she uses this with her 3rd grade class, and then pop back over here to see how I modified it for my 1st/2nd grade students. 

Alright, now that you are all caught up to speed, and super interested in this great idea, I will tell you what I did.

I have a 1/2 grade combo this year, so I dropped the Twitter reference to make it easier for them because I have never "tweeted" in my life. We have been working on a Heroes unit, and have already spent considerable time studying MLK.  I wanted to introduce a new piece of text on another hero, Rosa Parks.  We used this text to do our closed readings for the week.  

But, before I gave them the text.  I posted some images that I thought would allow them to use some critical reading strategies that good readers use: Making Connections and Questioning.  I used Google images to find photos that I thought were thought provoking, and would allow students to dig into their background knowledge and connect to some big ideas that we have been learning about.  

I also included one quote from Rosa Parks that I thought would bring about an interesting discussion.

We did a carousel, meaning that students rotated from one poster to another in groups.  First, students were given time to think about the image, and discuss it with their small group.  Then, they were asked to write 1) a question, 2) a comment, or 3) a connection.  For accountability, I asked students to put their student number after their writing.

So this is a sampling of what I got from my little smarties.  

Love this connection to previous learning!

While the kids were writing, I went around and put a star next to my favorites.  This really encouraged my kids to do their best thinking. But, you will have to use it with caution.  I stressed to my students that I would only give stars to original thoughts.  So that took care of any ideas some kids might have had, to copy a comment that was already starred.

This comment sparked a great discussion about how Rosa wasn't just tired of giving up her seat, but of all the ways she and African Americans were being treated unfairly.

Some other great pics I used.

After the carousel, all the posters were pinned up in our meeting area. The kids referred back to them often as we did each reading of the text.  I am so proud of my students!

The next step for us was, now that we have finished reading the text, I had the kids go back and add new questions, comments, and connections.  I gave the kids colored pencils to do this, so that I can distinguish their thinking before reading and after reading.  I was hoping to see richer more complex thinking, and that kids were really getting the big ideas.  

And I really did see a lot of good info on the posters.

The problem was that most of my kids already knew many of the big ideas contained in this text, so there wasn't enough new info to see a big difference from before and after.  Text choice is key here.

In summary:  This lesson would work especially great if used at the beginning of a unit on a topic the kids did not have a lot of schema about. Ah, live and learn. I saw a great quote posted by a friend this week. "There are no mistakes.  Only lessons."  Lesson learned.

I hope you got some new ideas about how to use Lori's great "Tabletop Twitter" idea, and will come back next "Gave it a Whirl Wednesday."

Want to link up?  I am keeping the guidelines super simple:

1)  Pick one great idea that you have been wanting to try.  Maybe one shared from the Bright Ideas Blog Hop.  Click the image to get started.

2) Try it in your classroom and write a blog post about your experience.  Make sure you give credit, and a link back to the original poster of the idea!

3) Link back to this post. 

4)  Link up below.  

Can't wait to see what you all have been up to!

See ya,



  1. Thanks for hosting the link-up Nicole!

    I love the idea of having the students add to the "tabletop twitter" with colored pencils afterwards to distinguish between the two. Looks like an amazing lesson!!

    Mrs. Pauley’s Kindergarten

  2. Thank you, Nicole, for trying out my Tabletop Twitter! I loved seeing how you used it and your kids did great with it!! It really gets the kids to thinking and writing. Thanks again!
    Conversations in Literacy

  3. Great idea for a linky Nicole. It's great when you can try someone else's ideas!

    :) Shelley
    The Perks of Teaching Primary by: TheWriteStuff



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