Monday, September 30, 2013

Lists, Lists, Lists...

Thanks to my dad, I was raised as a list-maker.  I make lists for everything!

As a teacher, my list is never-ending.  (Does anyone else feel that way?!)  Lately, I feel as though before I can cross one thing off my list, I am adding three more things.

Usually my lists are scribbled down on the closest sheet of paper.  I'd like to try and find something to keep me a little more organized.

  How do you manage your to-do lists?  I'd love to get some new ideas!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Student Vocabulary Books

Because my whole class is ELL students, it is incredibly important to expose them to vocabulary from all different domains.  Ms. Meredith, our ELL teacher, went to an ELL conference last year and informed us that ELLs should be learning 400 new words every year.  400!

We needed a way for students to record all of the content-specific and interesting words that they learn throughout the year.  Ms. Meredith was so WONDERFUL to create these vocabulary books for each student in 3rd grade!

Inside are three sets of colored pages.  The gold pages are for Social Studies words, the blue are for Science words, and the white pages are for Reading words.

Each page has room for two words.  For each word, students write a definition and sentence, draw a picture and write synonyms.  They also circle their understanding of the word on a scale of 1 to 4.

1- I have never heard the word.
2- I have heard the word, but don't know what it means.
3- I know what the word means, but don't know how to use it in a sentence.
4- I know what the word means, and I can use it in a sentence.  I can teach this word to somebody else.

Ms. Meredith comes in to our class every day for an hour during our literacy block.  But on Mondays, she comes and teaches new vocabulary for the week.  On those days, we do not do the Daily 5.  

To introduce the words, she uses a power point presentation with the word and picture.  They practice saying the word multiple times, and then she works with the students to come up with a definition and sentence that they will understand and remember.

Once we add the words to our vocabulary book, I use Ms. Meredith's power point to print out the word and picture to use on my word walls.  Occasionally, we will play a vocabulary game to review the words we learned thus far.

My goal this year is to try and get my students to regularly use these words, and retain their vocabulary knowledge.

What kind of vocabulary instruction do you do in your classroom?  I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Friday, September 27, 2013

Five For Friday!

I can't believe it's Friday already!  I look forward to Fridays, just so I can update you by linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

This week, I had a lot of exciting things going on, so I am going to switch it up a little bit by doing my Five for Friday in a "Top 5" style.

Here we go... my Top 5 for the week!

5. NWEA Testing
Each fall and spring, our students take the NWEA test in Reading and Math.  Our school's authorizer wants to see 125% growth from the fall test to the spring test.  I  have lots of feelings about standardized testing (as I'm sure many of you do, too), so I won't get into that in this post.  But, for two days, my classroom was transformed into a mobile computer lab "perfect" for testing.  Poor kiddos.

4. Fall Weather
Fall in Minnesota can go two ways:  We can either have an extended summer with relatively hot weather through September/ October, or we can fast forward to winter by way of a giant snowstorm, completely missing the comfortable fall weather.
This year, early September was miserably HOT, but now it has cooled down into the perfect fall weather.  The mornings and evenings are cool, and the daytime is warm and sunny.  After testing yesterday, I took my students outside for a little extra recess.  The weather has been beautiful, and I'm loving it!

3. Buddy Reading- Coaching
This week during Buddy Reading, we discussed "Coaching" our buddy if they get to a word they do not know.

When a buddy gets to a word they do not know, students need to do three things:
- Silently count to three in their head.
- Ask their buddy, "Do you need time, or help?"
- If their buddy says "time", they just have to wait.  If they say "help", they need to help their buddy chose a strategy that will help them figure the word out.

We talked about how coaching is not TELLING your buddy the word.  It is HELPING them decode it.  We also talked about how if our buddy says "time", we wait, but it would be a good idea to think of a strategy, in case our buddy changes their mind and does want help.

It was SO fun to watch!  Success!

These buddies hard at work Coaching.  Highlight of the week (#3.5), it was picture day, and the girl on the right INSISTED she wear that hot pink headband with the lovely fake hair... At least she smiled big for her picture!

2. LOVING My Team
Yep... I said it.  I love my team!  Last night, we went out for dinner and had a great time chatting (and NOT about school, are you as surprised as I am?!).

Me, Ms. Eichhorn, and Ms. Tarah-  3rd Grade ROCKS!  :)

1. Mr. Wolf's Birthday!
Today is Mr. Wolf's birthday!  We are going out to dinner tonight to celebrate.  Love this guy!  :)

What did you do in your classroom this week?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tried it Tuesday- Choosing Buddies for Reading

Hello everyone!  Today I am linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried it Tuesday!

Since I introduced Buddy Reading, Ms. Meredith and I have been choosing buddies for the students.  We decided to do it that way so we are setting them up for success with Buddy Reading.  Well, yesterday, we decided to let them try choosing their own.  However, it did require some set-up.

First, we talked about how disruptive it would be if we all got up at once and said, "I NEED A BUDDY!"  So we talked about a more calm way to signal that we needed a buddy.  As if it were rehearsed, one little guy said, "Well, we could raise our hands to signal..."  I said, "YES!  That's a great idea!"  So I wrote it on our chart.

How to Choose a Buddy
- Raise your hand to signal that you need a buddy

Then, I showed them how to make eye contact with someone in the circle.  They can only choose a buddy that they made eye contact with.  I added that to our chart.

How to Choose a Buddy
-Raise your hand to signal that you need a buddy
-Make eye contact
-Move across the circle and ask, "Do you want to be my buddy?"

We decided that we always answer, "Yes!", unless you already have a buddy.  Then you say, "No, thank you.  I already have a buddy."

It was also important for them to understand that their buddy might not always be their closest friend.  On our chart, we decided that a buddy should be someone we can be successful readers with.

So, after we discussed and modeled, we tried it!  

1) We signaled that we needed a buddy.
2) We made eye contact with someone and asked, "Will you be my buddy?"
3) We chose a way we would buddy read (Read 2 books, Check for Understanding, or I read, You read).
4) We chose a successful, comfortable spot.
5) We started right away, and read the whole time.

They actually did pretty well for choosing their buddy for the first time!  We Buddy Read for about five  minutes, and then I brought them back to check-in.  I asked them:

-Who felt like they chose a successful buddy?
-Who felt like they couldn't read successfully with their buddy, and are going to try a new buddy this time?
-Did someone choose a successful spot?  Where was it?
-Did someone choose a spot where they were not successful?  Where can you try next time?

We practiced three times, each time choosing a new partner.  

Choosing a buddy- Tried it... Success!

What did you try this week?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Daily 5 Anchor Charts

I have been using the Daily 5 this year, and so far I am loving it!  My students are loving it, too!  Some of them have even told me that they actually like reading!  :)

If you are unfamiliar with the Daily 5, it is a system that helps manage your literacy block.  Students spend the first month building habits for working independently on reading and writing.  That way, when you are conferencing with students and working with small groups, the other students know exactly what is expected of them, and they can work independently without interrupting your group time.

Setting up the Daily 5 takes about a month.  We are about halfway through the setup, and have introduced Read to Self, Work on Writing, and Buddy Reading (Read to Someone).  We still need to introduce Word Work and Listen to Reading.

As we introduce each new component of the Daily 5, we make a chart as a class, to help us remember behaviors for each component.  The charts tell what the students' job is to do, and what my job as a teacher is to do.

Here are some of my anchor charts.  If you have any questions about them, please ask!  This is my first year doing Daily 5, but I can share my experiences and how I've made it work for my group of kids!

Here are the behavior expectations for Read to Self.  We discuss these expectations before we practice, and also afterwards, to see if we met the expectations or if we can try harder next time.

We also talked about ways we can read a book.  We can read the pictures, read the words, or retell the story using the words and pictures.

I really want my kids to focus on choosing "Good Fit Books" this year.  For example, last week in the library, one of my students insisted on checking out Twilight, because she had seen the movie.  I understand the connection, but that is definitely not a good fit book for a 3rd grader.  To choose a "Good Fit Book", we use "I Pick"

I- I choose a book
P- Purpose (Why do I want to read it?)
I- Interest (Does it interest me?)
C- Comprehend (Do I understand what I read?)
K- Know (I know most of the words.)

These are some of the strategy cards the kids can refer to while they read.  At the beginning of the year, I used a read-aloud to model each strategy.  After practicing Read to Self, I check in with students to see if anyone used a strategy while they read.

After we had a good start with Read to Self, we started Work on Writing.  I gave each student a notebook, and during Work on Writing, their job is to write about whatever they want.  We brainstormed a list of topics, and I sent them on their way.  Now, each day when we check-in, I give them the option of continuing what they started yesterday, or starting something new.

Now on to their favorite (and the most challenging to build stamina for)- Buddy Reading!
For Buddy Reading, students have to sit EEKK (Elbow to Elbow, Knee to Knee).  There are three ways to Buddy Read:

Read 2 Different Books
Check for Understanding
I Read, You Read

(I can go into more detail with these in a later post.  I introduced each one individually, and gave the students a day to practice each one.  On the fourth day, I gave them a choice of which way they'd like to read with their buddy.  It didn't go so well... so we started from the beginning and practiced each one individually before I let them try choosing again.)

My front whiteboard is where I keep all of my anchor charts.  Once we start using Daily 5 independently, I will move these charts to free up my whiteboard space.  But for now, this is like Daily 5 Headquarters.

I am hoping to put together a "Daily 5 Starter Kit" to help teachers who are new to the Daily 5 get started with all of the setup.  Would anyone else find that helpful?  If you have any questions about my anchor charts, please let me know!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Saturday, September 21, 2013

We Love Our Teeth!

I am SO excited to share with you something that happened in school this week!  I could have put it in my most recent Five for Friday, but I felt it deserved its own post.

Do you remember when we got that large donation of school supplies from Delta Dental?  And they gave us lots of toothbrushes and toothpaste too?  Well, instead of just giving the kids the toothbrushes and toothpaste, I felt like they needed more guidance and instruction.  

My life-long friend Eva is a Dental Hygiene student at the University of Minnesota.  I asked her and some dental friends to come and teach our kids about taking care of their teeth.  It was AWESOME!

First, we watched a short video about our teeth and cavities.  It was very kid-friendly.  Check it out and see if you can use it in your class!

Then they played a game of "good foods" and "bad foods" for our teeth.  So fun!  The funniest part was when they asked about broccoli.  ALL of the kids put a thumbs down, like it is bad for our teeth.  I had to clarify... "No, 3rd graders, not if you LIKE broccoli, they're asking if broccoli is good for our teeth!"  Then we saw thumbs up.  Haha

We talked about the best way to brush our teeth.  And then....

....They took our kids into the bathroom and showed them how to properly brush their teeth!  They gave each student a tablet to chew that dyes plaque pink so students could see how we can't usually see plaque and where exactly they need to brush.

Check out those pearly whites!

While the kids were waiting to go brush their teeth, I read them a story.

You Think It's Easy Being the Tooth Fairy? by Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt

After reading the story and reviewing ways to care for our teeth, we did some writing.

This will be in my TpT store soon!

As always, I love seeing what kids come up with.

"It is important to take care of my teeth because if you clean your teeth your teeth will be white."

"It is important to take care of my teeth because if we don't brush our teeth it will be yellow and it will have cavity."

This little guy drew a picture of himself brushing his teeth.  He said, "Miss Woodward, that little green stuff on my brush is mint."  Gotta love the attention to detail!

It was such a wonderful experience having the U of M dental hygiene students here to teach us about our teeth!  I really think the kids learned a lot!  And they are super excited that they have their own toothbrush to keep!  

Does your school do any type of hygiene programs for kids?  I'd love to hear about them!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Friday, September 20, 2013

It's Friday!

It's Friday once again!  (Can you believe it??  This week went by so fast!)  Because it's Friday, that means I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

Here's what happened in Miss Woodward's Class this week:

1.  Word Walls

Typically, I use content-specific word walls.  I have one for math, social studies and science.  But what about those words we use every day that don't really fit into a subject area?  Like sight words?  Well, I decided to dedicate some of my precious bulletin board space to an "Everyday Words" wall.

I created the title to match my teal, black, and white stars theme.  I made the word wall letters myself, and I will be posting those to TpT soon!  Yes, I am missing something... the words!  Those will go up early next week, and we will continue to add to the board as we need to.

2.  Good Friends

Last night, I met with two of my good friends (Hey, Ms. Boos and Mrs. Elbert!) to catch up and have a few laughs.  We got frozen yogurt and it was so nice to connect with them before Ms. Boos gets married next week!   :)

3.  Exhaustion...

This is the first week where I have felt super tired and in need of a weekend to recharge.  I have had something planned after school every day this week, so I haven't really had a night to relax.  I am SO looking forward to this weekend!

4.  Take a Break

In regards to my post a few days ago about Take a Break and how it didn't get used the first day:  It has been used quite a bit this week.  Read about my Take a Break area here.

5.  Special Visitor

Today, we had a special visitor.  My brother came in to visit my class!  He has never been to my school before, so it was SO fun to show him around and introduce him to my kids.  I think he enjoyed it!  The kids LOVED him.  Before he left, I said, "Do you have any more questions for him?" and one girl raised her hand and said, "Can we give him a hug?" He said okay so I let each of them give him a hug or fist-bump.  He was laughing at some of the hugs and how shy the kids were.  :)  

I would love to hear about your week!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tried it Tuesday- Dry-Erase Crayons and Take a Break!

Hello everyone!  Today I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for their Linky, "Tried it Tuesday"!

Today, I tried two things-  My new dry-erase crayons (read about those here), and a new "Take a Break" area.

1.  The other day, I picked up these dry-erase crayons at Target.  They were on clearance, so I decided to try them out!

The pack came with eight crayons, a built-in sharpener in the box, and a cloth for erasing.

I used them to write my morning message today.  It was super different than using dry-erase markers, but not bad.  It just takes some getting used to.

The kids could still read it just fine, and they thought it was sooooo cool that I used crayons on the whiteboard!

So.... Dry-Erase Crayons: Tried them, Liked them!

2.  I tried implementing a Take a Break spot today.  If you haven't heard of Take a Break, it is a positive way for students to calm down before returning to the group.  It is part of the Responsive Classroom style of teaching.  Yes, I probably should have done this from the beginning of the year, but I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted it to look like.  I have seen many classrooms use Take a Break as just a chair for students to calm down, and I have seen classrooms where students have to record what they did to need to Take a Break.

Here is my Take a Break area in the back of the room.  I used an extra desk and chair.  I hung up a Take a Break sign, and ways students can Take a Break.  I also set up some pencils, and a little stack of recording sheets.

When I ask them to Take a Break (for any type of inappropriate behavior), they simply go to the area, choose a way they want to take a break (count to ten, take deep breaths, etc.).

Here is the recording sheet that students need to fill out before returning to the group.  It says, "What happened?", "What can you do differently next time?", and "Are you ready to return to the group? (calm, focused, quiet voice, listening ears, ready to learn)".

This Take a Break Kit will be available in my TpT store soon!!

So.... TRIED Take a Break, but (luckily) nobody had to use it today!  I will let you know how it goes once somebody has to visit the area.

What did you try today?  How did it go?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Sunday, September 15, 2013

If You Take A Mouse to School....

As part of back to school week, I read my students If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff.  They loved seeing all of the mischief the mouse got into at school.

After we read, we did a little bit of writing.  I love having a fun writing prompt for them after a story, just to see the funny things they say.

This will be in my TpT store soon!

Take a peek at how my students answered this question!

"If I took a mouse to school, I would play with him and make him do my homework and help me do all of it if I am tired or sometimes lazy."

"If I took a mouse to school, I would let him do my homework because I am to lazey (lazy) to do my homework.  I'm to lazey (lazy) to do my homework because Ms. Woodward give me to much homework."

"If I took a mouse to school, I would I make him to do my staf (stuff) so I can go play when he don (done) I will give him a chees (cheese) so he don't need to eat and I will make him a house so he can slep (sleep)."

"If I took a mouse to school, I would race with my house at ress (recess) my mouse said to me if who win the race then they will have a big chees (cheese) and play easter egg at a park."

Told ya.... some of them can be very creative writers.  :)

What would you do if you took a mouse to school?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Beginning World Geography

We started our World Geography unit this week, and my kids are loving it so far!

We started by reading the story "This is the Way We Go to School".  It was a great introduction to the unit and how kids around the world get to school differently.  As an introduction activity, I had them do a little bit of writing.

This writing sheet, along with a few other Geography activities will be in my TpT store soon, I promise!

Some of my kids' writing was so cute!

"I wish I could get to school by helicopter, like the kids from Russia, because I can see the school from the sky and see cars and houses and stars."

"I wish I could get to school by helicopter, like the kids from Russia, because its more easy than bus or van and cars."

"I wish I could get to school by ski, like the kids from Norway, because I like to go fast and it is fun to go fast like when we jump and go side by side."

"I wish I could get to school by a motorbike, like the kids from China, because I like to ride a bike and I like bike I like bike because it is fast."

I also gave my students some time to just explore some maps and globes at their tables.  They loved trying to find North America, Minnesota, and Thailand and Laos.  Many of my students' families are from Thailand or Laos, and some of my students were even born there.

I'll update you as the unit goes on!  I'll also update you once I get the Geography activities into my TpT store, too!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward


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