FlipGrid is the Best!
Building Conceptual Understanding and Fluency Through Math Games
How Does a Unit Happen?
A Great First Day!

FlipGrid is the Best!

You may have heard your child talk about our new favorite app at school FlipGrid. FlipGrid is an amazing discussion platform that allows students to post videos of learning, and then watch each other’s videos. FlipGrid has so many features that make it so loved – the selfie stickers, the ability to easily navigate through the app, and the social media elements of being able to “like” peer’s videos and keep track of views.

So far this week we have launched three different topics in our class grid:

  • What is your favorite thing to do at choice time?
  • How would you solve 8+9
  • Read us your word study list

FlipGrid also has a “Welcome” topic which allows students to post a video telling a little about themselves.

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In an effort to encourage more home-school connections, we have created a grid just for YOU! Our new grid is titled “Grade 1 & 2 Home Learning” and our first topic is up and ready for your child to post. Here are the steps to joining our class FlipGrid:

  1. Download the app FlipGrid on your mobile device or tablet
  2. Enter the code “myishome”
  3. The password is your child’s name in all lowercase letters (ie. rayshaun)
  4. Help your child to tap on the “WELCOME” topic to create a video introducing themselves, maybe even showing some special part of their home
  5. POST a video together in the “What did you do this weekend” topic.
  6. After your child makes the post, return to the topic to watch their classmate’s posts.

Building Conceptual Understanding and Fluency Through Math Games

In our Grade 1&2 classroom one way that we build BOTH conceptual understand AND fluency at the same time is through partner math games.

Partners playing "Guess My Number"

Partners playing “Guess My Number”

Collaborative and Competitive games offer students a high level of engagement and fun, and are a great way to explore fundamental number concepts like the number sequence, 1-1 correspondence and computation strategies. Math games also encourage students to explore number combinations, place value, patterns, and other important mathematical concepts.

In the book Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics Grades K-3, Van de Walle and Lovin share that the research about how students develop fact mastery indicates that drill techniques and timed tests do not have the power that mathematical games and other experiences have. Appropriate mathematical activities are essential building blocks to develop mathematically proficient students who demonstrate computational fluency.

This year we have added a new component to our practice of incorporating math games into the classroom: A Math Games Scoreboard. The scoreboard helps bring accountability to the students in regards to finishing a game till the end, and also helps us practice collaborative skills like being happy for the winner and closely following the rules of the game.

Below are pictures of some of the math games we have learned to love so far this term.

  • Roll & Record
  • Racing Bears
  • Fill a row - place value cards
  • Connect Four: Addition and Subtraction

How Does a Unit Happen?

The unfolding of a PYP unit is a complex, thoughtful and unique process. This post will detail the way that we launched and are currently engaging in our FIRST UNIT OF THE YEAR. Our key focus in this launch is to build good habits and practices that promote meaningful learning.

Our first unit falls under the Transdisciplinary Theme of Who We Are. This theme has a heavy social studies focus, but being transdisciplinary it also incorporates many other domains like science, math, language and the arts. We follow the process of the Inquiry Cycle to help guide us through our units.



At this stage we like to access student’s prior knowledge in relation to the Central Idea.


We take our time unpacking the language within the Central Idea too. In this unit children will be looking deeply at the concept of BALANCE, so to get their brains primed for this thinking we did a Thinking Routine called SEE, THINK, WONDER in connection to the image below.

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We looked closely at our own understandings of the concept Well-Being recorded our thinking in a whole-group brainstorm.


As part of this unit we are also zooming in on some key attitudes, skills and learning profile attributes. To tune in we took a close look at the concept of COMMITMENT and created a class commitment book.

As the final part of our tuning in process, we looked at the characters in the book Big Red Lollipop and used our understandings to analyze the characters’ well-being.


At this point we were ready to find out more about well-being. The video “WAYS OF WELL-BEING” which was created by a group of high-school students served as a great provocation for us. Following the video we discussed the different forms that well-being can take and sorted our ideas into different categories.



Now that we have accessed our background knowledge, developed new shared understandings and sorted out the information we have gathered, we are ready to go further. This stage is often characterized by individual or group research. Students have developed enough of an understanding of the key concepts to be able to develop their own wonderings and inquiry questions. Below are the inquiry questions that students developed independently.


Each student has selected a wondering that they are interested in. Our next step will be to use our library and digital resources to research our topics and decide on how we will present our research (posters, writing, making a movie, giving a speech, performing a play).


A Great First Day!

Our first day of school is always a great time to get to know each other, build community and familiarity with the environment, and establish some classroom agreements. Here are a few of the learning highlights from the day:


First we read the “Morning Message” which will become a fixture of our daily morning meeting. We use the morning message as a tool for practicing our sight word recognition. As we progress through the weeks I will begin to make some “mistakes” in the morning message, and see if the students can revise them for me.

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My new favorite book for discussing classroom agreements is This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers. The book tells the story of a young boy who imposes many rules upon his pet deer. It is a great example of how agreements can be more effective than rules because they require buy-in from all stakeholders. Together as a class we thought about how rules and agreements are different, and came to the conclusion that rules normally involve very few authors whereas agreements normally include everyone involved.


The book and conversation served as a great provocation for our collective creative of a Class Essential Agreement. The above chart is a starting off point where we captured the students big ideas. We will continue to add to this chart throughout the week and then synthesize our discussion into a few key agreements. Finally we will finish the agreement by collecting everyone’s signatures at the bottom of the chart.


Learning each others’ names is always a challenge at the beginning of the year, but a very important way to begin building relationships. We read the book Chrysanthemum today, which tells the story of a little mouse who has a very unique name. To build on this story we will be creating name towers in Math Workshop tomorrow, and comparing our names in bar graph form. We will also be sending a “Class Facebook” home which will have the names and faces of all of the students (and teachers) in our class community.

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As part of a class routine that we will continue all year long, we created and constructed our August Calendar today. The students designed their own number squares according to the features of August that we discussed together, and then had to place the squares in their correct spot, working forwards and backwards from the number 14.

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