Classroom Ninja Training: Strategic

Aug 30, 2015

Our firsties have been learning our behavior expectations through their ninja training: bravery (taking risks), perseverance, curiosity, responsibility, and respect.  The activities that we have completed and lessons that have been taught are not that different from years past.  But after our math PD this summer, we realized that some skills needed to be added.  Taking risks (for example: sharing an answer that may be different from others) and perseverance (not giving up even when it is hard) were two important ones because they impact the participation and engagement of students.  Strategic behavior is another important skill for a productive classroom.

So our ninja training continues with strategic behavior!

When I think about the word strategic, two things come to mind.  One is strategies.  First grade is a year of many strategies.  Math strategies to solve word problems, reading strategies to attack words that are unknown, comprehension strategies to understand text, and writing strategies for all those words that are just challenging to spell for a six year old.  Our students have to be strategic about the strategies that they chose to use and that takes a lot of practice, scaffolding, and experience.
The second thing that comes to mind is everyday problems.  Students need to be strategic about how to solve their problems.  They are getting older and have to start taking on that responsibility of not always relying on an adult.  For example, when I hear "my pencil is broke" I remind them that there is a way to solve that problem that we have practiced.  But it is the responsibility of the student to solve that problem on their own.

Maria started this lesson with the book "There's an Alligator Under My Bed" by Mercer Mayer.

The illustrations make this book so much fun!  My girls have had me read over and over and over again!  The little boy on the cover knows that there is an alligator under his bed.  He has to be very strategic about how he gets into his bed so that he does not get too close to the animal.  The parents in the book do not believe that there is an alligator; therefore, it is up to the boy to solve the problem on his own.

Oh my goodness!! What a perfect book for strategic problem solving!

To follow up on this book, Maria created a problem/solution chart.  We first saw this over at "My Silly Firsties."  The idea works perfectly for this day of ninja training!  This is just the beginning of our chart.  Ummm...the paper towel issue is a real one for our school!

Then it was time to test our their strategic skills.  All the first graders headed outside to an obstacle course.

As our year continues, we will revisit this word OFTEN.  It is so important that they be strategic and think carefully about the strategies that they use.

Do you have any lessons that you love to help your students be strategic problem solvers?


  1. I think I need this! As I'm sure you can imagine, many of my kiddos do not have "common sense" strategies. Sometimes it makes for an interesting day!

  2. You ladies are AMAZING!!! You must have spent all summer coming up with this great beginning of the year "strategic" lessons! Well done!


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