Wednesday, August 21, 2013


This post is dedicated to my 2013-2014 fifth grade students, who have already shown me on Day 2 that this year has no limits.

I was going to take a break from blogging today because...well, I'm tired. I shared this with my students yesterday, but I am not a writer. It takes a lot of energy for me to sit down and write (blog) about what happened. But I have set a goal to do more blogging just so that I can communicate with parents and students, other educators out in the world, or just to have some place for me to reflect on my day and teaching.


My students blew me away today. I was speechless. I almost cried. I think I just could not believe what had happened and the words that came out as they debriefed the activity.

We have been building our community and developing relationships with one another so that when we start our fifth grade learning, we can collaborate and work effectively with each other. So one activity (of many) that our team thought to do was the Human Knot, or also known as the Human Pretzel. You stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle and grab hands with someone who is not standing next to you. The goal is to untangle the "knot" without letting go of hands.

The recommended group size is 10-12 people. So you can imagine the chaos with 24 students. Before the task, I honestly told my students that I did not think that they could accomplish the task. And of course there were gasps and cries of concern, "How can our teacher not believe in us?" So I had to rephrase my statement. I did not think that they could accomplish the task TODAY. I didn't tell them why. But seriously? 24 kiddos untangling themselves on the second day of school? I had secretly hoped for disaster so that we could reflect on how communication broke down or how we can change things up for the next time we do it AFTER getting to know our community.

But what came next was pure amazement. Students began to struggle, which I expected. They began to pull and untangle individually until they realized that that was affecting others in some way. So then they began to talk (mm, it sounded more like shouting to me...) to each other and I heard, "What if...?" They began to try out different ideas that someone had just blurted out and found out if the idea worked or if it didn't work and tried something else. What was so amazing was how they were working together (on the second day of school!) and listening to each other to achieve the goal of getting untangled. They also admitted to me during the debrief that a goal that they seemed to all have was to prove Mrs. Hong wrong... :) I saw leaders emerge, I heard disagreements break out, I witnessed observers (half of the class who had already untangled themselves and were waiting for the other half) giving feedback and suggestions, I cringed when arms looked like they were being pulled out of their sockets,...until I saw it with my own eyes: two circles emerged...UNTANGLED.

Now if you think that is should have heard the discussion we had afterwards about why they thought they were successful! There was a comment about how they were yelling, but not yelling to be mean: they were being passionate about the task at hand. There was another comment about how they were communicating, but not just talking...they had to listen to one another as well. There was another comment about how they encouraged each other to participate in the task at hand. And there was a comment about how two circles emerged instead of one and that meant that our results may not be what we thought they would be. I mean, I could go on and on and on...but can you imagine the look of shock that was plastered on my face? Wow...what great reflections!

What an incredible second day of school and I cannot wait for all the collaboration and teamwork that will occur in Room 201 this year. I am blessed to have such a great group of learners! Now to accomplish the Human Knot/Pretzel without talking! :)

I wish I could post the pictures/videos I have of my students, but I don't know who has turned in permission forms yet. So I hope to update this post with pictures and videos...soon! :)

*Don't mind the "Title Text Here" should have said, "IN THE BEGINNING...going nowhere..."


  1. This is an inspirational post--for two reasons: I am so excited for how excited you are about blogging now (it's easy to want to share every day when your kids are doing amazing things, isn't it?) and because the story you told was beautiful! I got chills and energy just reading it! Way to go, Rm 201--you are already 5th grade leaders! Can't wait to see (and read) what's to come!

    1. I left out so many details and emotions I felt...only because I am tired and can't remember at this very moment! And this blogging thing is becoming more natural! Thanks, blogging mentor. :)

  2. Charlie came home so excited to share the human pretzel story! He said, "mrs hong was so happy she had tears in her eyes!" He also shared what an awesome class he was apart of! Wow, very inspiring and exciting after only a few days in 5th grade with you!!
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Jennifer, I sure did have tears in my eyes! It was just a shock that they were able to accomplish what I thought they'd accomplish the following week on the second day of school! We do have an awesome class and I can't wait to see how the rest of our days turn out! Thanks for reading!