Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy Hmong New Year!

Happy Hmong New Year!

In the Hmong culture, the New Year is celebrated to mark the end of the harvest season.  People celebrate with traditional clothing, music, and food.  Read more about the Hmong New year here!  The Twin Cities has a large Hmong population, and both Minneapolis and St. Paul have large celebrations that are free for the public to attend.

The last day before Winter Break was our annual Hmong New Year celebration at school.  The actual assembly wasn't until the afternoon, but the morning was busy with students getting dressed in traditional Hmong clothes and gearing up for the assembly.  

Students worked for months in their Hmong Literacy class (a special- like gym, music, or art) to perfect dances, songs, and plays.  Middle schoolers auditioned to perform in the show.  It is such a crazy hectic day, but always a fun one!

The Hmong staff at school are so generous to let us borrow their traditional clothing.  Before school, teachers got help to put on traditional clothing.  I loved my outfit this year!  What do you think?
Ms. Meredith, Ms. Eichhorn, Me, and Ms. Tarah

Me and Mrs. Elbert
The Hmong clothing is very elaborately decorated.  My whole skirt was hand-embroidered.  My jacket had hand-embroidery and sequins, and my apron was beautifully embroidered with thread and sequins.

The apron on the front of my Hmong outfit.  The yellow and orange designs
on either side of the sequins were all hand-embroidered!
Hand-embroidery on my apron

My class in their traditional Hmong clothes.  If students did not have Hmong clothes
at home, they could wear nice clothes (hence the gray suit in the back row)
Me and a student from last year
All of the performances at the assembly told the story of a girl who was having trouble remembering her Hmong culture, despite her parents' efforts.  In the end though, she knew the importance of her culture and was excited to continue the traditions her family has been celebrating for many years.

These kinders were just adorable singing and dancing!

Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tshiab!
Happy New Year!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 Resolutions!

Hi everyone!  Remember me?  You might not, since it was November 14th that I last blogged!  Isn't that awful?!  Well, now that I have a few weeks to catch my breath, you'll hopefully hear from me more often.

2013 is coming to a close, and it is time to welcome in 2014.  I am excited to see what the new year has to bring!  I am linking up with A Peach for the Teach for a linky all about New Year's Resolutions.  Here are some things I hope to accomplish this year:

Personal: Last January, and over the summer, I was really good about exercising and eating clean.  Thanks to the motivation of Allison at Adventures in Room 204, I was eating clean and getting in shape!  And then…. School started.  I am ready to get back into a routine!

Professional:  We had a workshop at school about differentiation, and one of my teaching partners is really good at differentiating materials.  As we all know, it takes time to come up with quality activities at different levels.  We have some good traction with differentiating reading and Daily 5 stations, but I want to really dive in with differentiating in math.

Classroom:  I like to think of myself as an organized person.  Even though my desk may look like a mess, I know exactly where what it is you're looking for is.  I call that skill (kidding…).  I have been trying to be better about staying organized this year, but with it only being my second year, I still haven't found a system I like yet.  I'm getting there though.

Blog/TPT:  2013 marked the start of Miss Woodward's Class!  In 2014, I look forward to blogging more regularly (again, I'm sorry for being MIA for over a month!).  As far as TPT, I haven't had as much success (yet).  My goal is to create more products, and get them onto TPT faster.  I have about a dozen products that are just waiting to be uploaded!

Just for Fun:  Over the holiday season, I rediscovered my craft supplies.  I dug out my kitting needles and yarn, and crafted some cute cards for friends and family.  I forgot how much fun it was to be crafty (and not for school-related projects!).  I hope to complete more craft projects this year, just for fun.  :)

What are your New Year's Resolutions?  School related or not, I would love to hear about them!

Until next time,
- Miss Woodward

Friday, November 15, 2013

Five for Friday- November 14

It's Friday again, so I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the weekly Five for Friday!  Here's what happened this week in Miss Woodward's Class.

1.  Celebrating!
A good friend and coworker, Mrs. Elbert, celebrated her birthday this past weekend!  She is such a special lady, and I was excited to be able to share in her special day.  And now she is expecting her first child, so we had even more to celebrate!

Me, Mrs. Boos, Ms. Eichhorn, and Mrs. Elbert celebrating Mrs. Elber't's birthday.

2.  Pushing through the Polygons

 We started our unit on polygons in math this week.  For my ELL students, learning polygon names and characteristics is really hard.  One of the first things we did with polygons was create a foldable to help remember polygon names and qualities.

On the outside flap, we wrote the name of the polygon (triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, parallelogram, pentagon, hexagon, octagon).  On the inside flaps, we cut out an example of the polygon, and wrote characteristics of the polygon.

The only materials we needed were large 11" by 17" paper, some shapes to cut out, scissors, glue, and a pencil!  It was a simple project to introduce polygons!

3.  You've Got Mail!

For writing this month, 3rd grade is working on writing letters.  My team and I decided to make the task into a grade-level project.  We set up each student with a pen-pal in one of the other classes.  Their job is to write a letter to their buddy and address it to the correct class.

Each classroom is going to have a mailbox outside their class.  Once students write their letters, they will give it to the "mail carrier" of the class.  The "mail carrier" will deliver the letters to the correct mailbox.  The "mail carrier" will then collect the mail from their class' mailbox and distribute it to the students.  

Here is my class' mailbox.  I made it out of a cereal box covered in paper.  I used velcro squares to attach it to the wall in the hallway.  Isn't it neat?!  Can't wait to see how this writing project turns out!

4.  Dia de los Muertos

At the end of the day, we mix up all of the 3rd graders and have an intervention time.  Some groups get extra help in reading, and some in math.  In my group, we have been reading about Dia de los Muertos lately.  A middle school teacher saw the book laying on my desk and offered to bring in some authentic sugar skulls.  The kids went nuts for them!  Lots of "oohs" and "ahhs" were heard.

5.  Best for Last… Curriculum Night!

Thursday night was Curriculum Night at our school, and I was the representative for 3rd grade.  The idea behind the event was giving students and parents ideas of reading and math activities to do together at home.

Time and time again at conferences, parents tell me that they don't have access to the public library, and don't have books at home.  In my room for curriculum night, I printed off a variety of books from Reading A-Z for parents and students to take to read together.  I made sure to have a variety of levels available.  Some parents took four or five books!

I am also a firm believer in having kids talk with their parents about what they are reading.  To get the conversation going, I had students create a "story cube".  I found it on  I printed it on card stock for durability, and had them cut and tape it together themselves.  I also showed them how their parents can roll the cube, and the students can answer the question on the cube using the book they just read together.  I printed off 50 of these cubes, and I had less than 10 left at the end of the night!  At some points, my room was so busy that I couldn't even greet everyone in there!  It was awesome!  I really hope that parents and students start to read together at home.

What happened this week in your class?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tried it Tuesday- Putting Daily 5 Together

It's time for Tried it Tuesday!  I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper to fill you in on something I tried this week.  

As you know, I am using The Daily 5 to manage my literacy block this year.  It took us over a month to build the habits and behaviors needed for independent reading and writing.  I have been really reluctant to put it all together and give students a choice in what independent work they get to do.  I was also a little slow in putting together reading groups and a reading groups schedule.  Now that I have groups and a schedule done, I decided to mesh the Daily 5 together!

Here is my new Daily 5 Check-In board.  After each "round" of group work (for me) or independent work (for kiddos), we meet on the carpet to "check-in" and see how it went.  We talk about who showed "model behavior", and also share about what they read or wrote about.

On the left, I have my list of reading groups (sorted by color).  Below it is my schedule for the week.  I see each group twice.  But, my lowest group I see every day, and my highest group I see once a week.

Each student has a magnet with their name on it.  When we check in, I first move the students who will be working with me.  The other students tell me where they want to go and I move their magnet for them (eventually, they will move their magnets on their own).  Their choices are: Read to Self, Buddy Read, Word Work, or Work on Writing.  Listening Center is currently closed for repairs.

I'm not crazy about how this board looks (it's just painter's tape and white board marker), but so far, it is functioning well.  I eventually want to make a cute title and picture for each choice.  For now, what I have will work.

The kids were super great about making a fast choice and getting started with their work right away!  AND, when I was working with students, I didn't have to micro-manage from my table!  Everyone was focused and working quietly around the room!  Daily 5 at it's finest!  :)

Tried blending the Daily 5 together… worked!  

Side note:  It is currently snowing here in the Twin Cities… We are forecasted to get 4-7 inches.  Welcome, winter weather!  I missed you so much…

What did you try in your classroom this week?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Feeling Inspired

Last week, I came across this TED Talks Education video.

In it, Rita Pierson discusses connecting with students.  The message is so powerful.  Take a peek for yourself, and enjoy!

What did you think?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Five For Friday- November 1

Okay, okay, okay.... I promise this was typed up and ready to go on Thursday night.  And then a caught a cold.  And slept all evening on Friday.  So here I am, posting on Saturday.

It's Friday!  You know what that means.... I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!  It was quite the busy week in Miss Woodward's Class!

1.  Mix-it Up Day

Our school hosted Mix-it Up Day on Tuesday.  Students were encouraged to sit at other tables at lunch to  help to identify, question, and cross social boundaries.  The kids went through the line and got their food, then grabbed a number that told them what table to sit at.  At each table, there were conversation starters.  Many of the teachers joined in for Mix-it Up Day, and it was so fun to hear the conversations that were going on across grade-levels!

2.  This is what it's come down to...

Yep, we still have lice at our school.  Ick.  To try and prevent the lice from coming to school from home, we have resorted to keeping the students' backpacks and coats in plastic bags.  Who knows if it helps, but we can at least try to prevent kids from bringing in lice from home.

3.  New 'Do
I bought a new "bun form" for $5 at Charming Charlie, and tried it out on Tuesday!  I had a little trouble putting it in myself, but others that have used one have said that they are super easy to put in!

4.  Halloween Fun

We had so much fun on Halloween!  Read about it here!  Here's one of the highlights:

Four FAB superheroes!  :)

Yes, those are metallic spandex bodysuits.

5.  End of Quarter

Today marks the end of Quarter 1 for us... which means no kids!  It was nice to have no students today, to recover from a busy day of Halloween fun.  We did have some PD, but also had (much needed) work time to enter grades and wrap up some loose ends.

How was your week?  Link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Happenings

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Does your school get to celebrate Halloween?  This year, we did, and it was such a fun day!

In this post, I gave you some ideas for things to do on Halloween.  Here's how my day ended up!

Meet four fab superheroes!

Ms. Tarah, Miss Woodward, Ms. Eichhorn, and Ms. Meredith

Our first initials actually spelled out TEAM, so it was perfect!

We spent quite a while (and oodles of hairspray) to get our hair look like it had been blown back from flying to school.

Oh yeah, some of my students dressed up too!

How cute are they?!

We also made these cute paper bag pumpkins.  I got the idea from this post at This Old Art Room.

One of my partners had directions for a monster glyph project, so we did that in the afternoon.

Here were the guidelines for the glyph:

- BODY: favorite shape
- EYES: Boy= 1 eye   Girl= 3 eyes
- HAIR: How old you are
- TEETH: How many people in your family
- LEGS: Your favorite color 

How cute are these little monsters?

We watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown".  The kids loved the part where Charlie Brown kept getting rocks in his goodie bag.

We ALSOOOOOO listened to the scary stories that our classes wrote.  Each 3rd grade class has been working on writing a scary story together.  Yesterday, Ms. Meredith recorded us reading them on her iPad, and added in our sound effects.  Take a listen to ours!  I'm so proud of my kiddos!

Just click on the link to listen to our story!  :)

How was your Halloween?  Did you do anything fun in your class?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Writer's Block... Solution?

I need help.  I don't like teaching writing.  

As you know, my students are all ELL's, and they write like they talk.  I notice three main problems with my students' writing:

1.  They use present tense verbs only.  (Fun Fact: In the Hmong language, there are no past-tense verbs.  Interesting, yes.  But it's sabotaging my littles' writing!)

2.  They omit endings.  For example, they will write, "Yesterday, I walk to the store and bought some apple." (again, present tense verbs, as well as plural endings).

3.  Their sentences are simple.  VERY simple.    I want them to add more and use interesting words. Part of the problem with that, is that they lack the vocabulary to use in their writing.  We're working on the vocabulary.  Read about it in this post.

For ELL's, we work every day to develop their English language proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  Our school uses the SIOP model.  By working with these students, I have come to realize that speaking and writing work hand-in-hand.  I need them to write exactly what they are thinking.  I need them to understand that their writing should sound like fluent speaking.

I know they have great ideas for writing.  I am just stuck as to how teach good writing to such a low group of writers.

But, I may have found a solution to get the ball rolling.  I recently found Jivey's blog, and read her section about Mentor Sentences.

Here she is modeling her use of Mentor Sentences!

I love the idea of showing students what great writing looks like, and getting them to notice all of the great things about it.  For my kids, it will take some practice.  They don't have the knowledge of what plural nouns, vivid verbs, and pronouns are.  But I feel like using Mentor Sentences could be a great start to help my kids write great sentences.

How do you teach writing?  I would love some advice!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tried it Tuesday: E-mailing Students

Today I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried it Tuesday!

I really can't take credit for this idea.  I heard that one of my partners, Ms. Tarah, was doing something like this in her class, and I had to try it!  (Thanks, Ms. Tarah!)  Ms. Tarah uses her classroom computers to give students a chance to e-mail her, and she will e-mail them back.

So, for my Tried it Tuesday, I tried e-mailing with my students!

Here's how I set up my system:

1.  Create an account with Gmail.  You'll need to choose a username and password.  Keep in mind, it will be used by students, so make it kid-friendly.  I made mine without symbols and capital letters.  You'll also have to enter your name, birthday, primary email, and a few other little things to complete the account.

2.  Once you get your account all set up, you need to create e-mail threads for each student.  Click on the "Compose" button to start a new e-mail.  Send it to yourself (your class Gmail username).  In the subject line, enter a student's name.

3.  In the body of the message, type a little something to your student!  To start, I sent them directions of how to send me messages.  Then click "Send" to finish it off.

Other ideas of what to e-mail your students:

- Questions about books they are reading
- Links to game websites
- Links to books they can listen to online

4.  Repeat steps 2-4, creating an e-mail thread for each student.  Once you are all done, they will show up in your class' Inbox.  You can see that all of the messages were sent from "me".  Really, you are just sending messages to yourself.  By creating them this way, you can keep all of your students' e-mails in one spot.  

5.  Then, students can start to e-mail you!  They simply click on their own name from the Inbox page, and click "Reply".  Once they are done typing, they click the "Send" button.  
On the Inbox page, their new message will show up on the top and in bold.  Then I can click on the new messages, and reply to my littles!

I just introduced this yesterday, so we haven't had much practice with it.  But I will update you as we work through the process!  This will be a choice during our Daily 5 time; eventually they will be independent with e-mailing!

What sort of technology do you use in your classroom?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween Ideas

Does your school celebrate Halloween?  Last year, we were not allowed to celebrate anything.  I'm not usually a Halloween person, but I am happy that this year, students and teachers are allowed to wear costumes!  Halloween is also the last day of the quarter for us, so I'm okay with breaking our usual routine a little bit, to have a little fun.  Here are some of my ideas for Halloween this year!

I just LOVE these little bag pumpkins from This Old Art Room.  Kristin made these with her kindergarten students, but I want to try them with my 3rd graders!

  • EEK!  Spiders!
I found this cool book on Reading A-Z.  It's a Level M, which is a 2nd grade level according to their system.  Remember, I teach 3rd grade, but actually, this book will be too hard for the majority of my students.  Most of my students are at a 1st grade or early 2nd grade level.  But, I know my kids will be really into it.  So... I will fight through the gross pictures and we will read it together.  And hopefully, learn something new about our friendly arachnids!

  • Halloween Treat
Seriously, Pinterest is just loaded with ideas for cute little treats for Halloween!   I'm looking for something simple to make and share with my students.  Last year, I did little treat bags of popcorn, M&M's, and candy corn.  They loved it!  I think this year, I will do something similar.  It was easy to pull together and share.

  • Should I play dress-up?
Since we are allowed to wear costumes this year, I should really dress up.  I have cat ears and a tail, so I could wear all black and be a cat.  I also have a witch hat.  The 3rd grade team (four of us), had talked about doing a group thing, but we couldn't decide on what to do.

In the past, I've been...

 A Lumberjack

 A Cat (with Mrs. Elbert, a Ladybug!)

So, serious question-  Do you have any simple (and cheap) ideas of what I could be for Halloween?  Let me know in the comments below!

  • Scary Stories...........
Last week, 3rd grade started a project that the kids are just begging to work on all. the. time.  Each 3rd grade class is working with their teacher to write a scary story.  We talked about figurative language (and made a bubble map of how "scary" sounds, looks, feels, smells, and tastes).  Then we voted on a character and setting and started writing!  I occasionally give them ideas, but usually we just listen to everyone's ideas and then choose which one we like best.  Sometimes we are able to combine ideas, too.  Seriously, some of the stuff they have come up with is creepy.

But here's the best part:  This coming week, we are making an audio recording of our scary stories, complete with sound effects by the students and an app on Ms. Meredith's iPad.  On Halloween, we will listen to each class' story and be scared together.  The kids are pumped!

What kinds of activities will you do for Halloween this year?  I would love to hear about it!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Five for Friday!

I am beginning to realize that Fridays are the only times I post.  :(  I am sorry for neglecting my blog!  Linking up again with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the weekly Five for Friday Linky.  Here's how my week went!

1.  New bookshelf!  

The Title I room was getting rid of some tiered bookshelves, and I offered to take one off of their hands.  I am so excited!  It will showcase books that relate to our science or social studies topic, as well as class-made books and other specialty books.  Yay!

2.  Lice....

Head lice seems to be a major problem at our school.  Five third graders went home with it on Thursday.  Two of those students were mine.  Then again on Friday, four more students in other grades went home with it.  The poor nurse was checking so many classes on Friday, that she didn't eat lunch until 2:30.  The tough part about the families at my school is that they think that all they need to do is treat the scalp.  They need to understand that they need to treat the scalp AND other materials in the home, like pillows, blankets, clothing, and stuffed animals as well.

3.  And then there were 17.

This year, my class started out at 21 students.  Two of those students never showed up to school, and were dropped from my list.  A few weeks ago, a girl moved.  This week, I was notified that another student moved unexpectedly.  In case you lost count, that brought my class size down to 17.  SEVENTEEN!  I begged for smaller class sizes (last year I had 28!), and here I got it.  Now it's my time to prove to administration that, for our school of ELL's, smaller class sizes is going to be the key to seeing the growth they want.  I'm up for the challenge.  Bring it on!

4.  Ordering Numbers

We started a new data cycle, which brought new skills in math and reading.  In math, we have been working on comparing and ordering numbers.  I gave each student a card with a number on it, and they had to arrange themselves in order.  It was a really quick and easy activity to pull together, and it was so funny to hear the dialogue between them.  "No!  You go over there!"  And they would drag each other around to where their number belongs.  

5.  Monster Dash Half Marathon

I have two older brothers.  One has run several marathons, and the other has been training for his first half-marathon.  Today, they ran the Monster Dash half-marathon in St. Paul.  We caught up with Dean at mile 8, and then met both of them at the finish line.  It was so fun to see the funny costumes that the runners were wearing!  I heard that there were 17,000 runners for the event today!

Me, Dean, niece Marianne, Clark, Dad, niece Ramona, and sister-in-law Elise.

Dean (left) and Clark (right).  Dean ran his first half-marathon today.

Congratulations, Dean and Clark!

How was your week?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward


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