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




Sunday, October 20, 2013

Five For Friday- October 18

It's the end of another week, which means I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday!


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



5.  Shoe Greeting


Every morning, we do a Morning Meeting, following the Responsive Classroom model.  For the first time this year, we did the "shoe greeting".  Every student puts a shoe in the middle of the circle.  One student starts by choosing a shoe, and finding its owner.  When they find the owner, they both stand up and greet one another by shaking hands and saying, "Good morning, _________."  Then the owner of the shoe grabs another shoe from the middle and greets someone else.  This continues until everyone has been greeted.

It tends to take longer than most greetings, but the kids loved it!  There were many giggles while they found the owners of the stinky shoes.  :)

4.  A Special Visitor

Wednesday and Thursday were parent/teacher conference days.  During conferences, we had the Scholastic Book Fair going on in the Library.  To promote the Book Fair, a special visitor came to our classroom to say Hello!

It's Clifford, the Big Red Dog!


3.  New Title I Teacher

I am so excited that we now have a full-time Title I teacher at our school!  Ms. Mai, from Diary of a Grumpy Teacher, has joined the team at our school, and we are so excited to have her!  :)


4.  Education Minnesota Conference

Every fall in Minnesota, students around the state get a four-day weekend for something that we call "MEA Break".  Teachers have the opportunity to attend the Education Minnesota Conference, however, many use the time off for a mini-vacation.

One of my teaching partners and I decided to attend the Education Minnesota Conference this year.  It was at the River Center in St. Paul, and there were exhibitors and workshops we could attend.



We even ran into Goldy the Gopher!

The Science Museum of Minnesota had a booth at the conference, and they gave us free admission to the new Maya exhibit, only valid that day.  Since the Science Museum is right across the street from the conference, we decided to take a quick visit before returning to school for an evening of parent/teacher conferences. 



5.  Friends and Fun

It was an incredibly long week, but I mustered up some energy on Friday night to host some good friends for a Fondue Party.  YUM!


Until next time,
-Miss Woodward


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Love my job? Yes, yes I do!

We have moved on from World Geography to bigger and better things... SCIENCE!  Now, I am not usually too fond of teaching social studies OR science, but I have to say... this year I LOVE it!  I think it has something to do with teaching the Core Knowledge curriculum, rather than teaching straight to the standards.  Read about my new-found love with Core Knowledge in this post.  What I love about Core Knowledge is that we get to teach super-fun topics (like our latest- Classifying Animals), but our state standards are still embedded within the topics.

I had this "AH-HA!" moment today.  Kids keep coming up to me lately saying, "Miss Woodward, look!  I found the word equator in my book!"  Or, "Miss Woodward, I'm reading the Komodo Dragon book.  Yep, it's a reptile, so it must be cold-blooded."

OR.... this little guy, who chose to spend his free time making a venn diagram, instead of drawing flowers and zombies like the rest of his classmates.


Yep, that's a venn diagram comparing warm-blooded animals and cold-blooded animals.  ((Aside from the fact that octopus and fish are not reptiles, can we just take a moment to acknowledge that he did this totally on his own, without guidance from me?  Pretty neat, if you ask me.))

And then it hit me- How COOL is it that these kids are so interested in science and social studies?  How COOL is it that my ELLs are using content- specific vocabulary in their everyday language?  How COOL is it that they spend their few free minutes drawing venn diagrams?  How COOL is it that they read the animal books I brought and are able to tell me if the animal is warm- or cold- blooded, and a vertebrate or invertebrate?

I must be doing something right.  These kids are on their way to becoming lifelong learners.  They are making connections.  They are letting the knowledge stick in their brain.

And I LOVE it!


What moments have you had that totally reinforce why you became a teacher?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday Made-It - Word Work Organization

Today I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for another edition of Monday Made-It!


I have been away from my blog for a few weeks.... I apologize to all those who follow!  I have been very busy, and very exhausted!  I actually went home early one day last week.  I was just not feeling well and ended up sleeping all day and night.  I think my body was worn out!

Here is what I've been working on the last few weeks!

One of my partners has been making awesome word work activities using our Social Studies vocabulary and spelling words.  The kids love word work!


Since we have been learning about Geography, one activity is to match each continent's name to its picture.  Then students have to label the continents on a laminated map using a dry-erase marker.


Another activity is to match vocabulary words with their picture.  Students say to themselves the definition and example of the word, and use the word in a sentence.


They love this one!  Using a dry erase marker and laminated cards, they have to write the vocabulary or spelling word that matches the picture on the card, or fills in the sentence correctly.


This is Ms. Meredith's vocabulary match game.  It uses the words she teaches during our weekly vocabulary lesson.  They have to match the vocabulary word, definition, picture, and sentence to make a match.

We do a few other word work activities as well, I just don't have pictures of them.  :)

For ALL of these activities, students are encouraged to use their vocabulary books.


ANYWAY...... All of these activities are stored in little baggies.  All of those baggies were in a big tub.  You can imagine how hard it was for anyone to find what they were looking for.  Hence my need for some organization... and my Monday Made-It!


I made envelopes to store each activity.  For each activity, I have four envelopes (sets).  I think altogether, I made about 25 envelopes.

I had quite the mess on my desk while I was doing this project!

Each envelope has the name of the activity, materials list, and directions (with pictures).  I created these to meet the needs of my class and word work activities, so I won't be posting this on TpT (sorry, friends!)  I wanted the kids to be able to grab an envelope and know exactly what they were grabbing and how to do the activity.  I have many struggling readers, so I created pictures for the directions, so they were easier to follow.

The envelope also has a sticker dot in the corner to tell whether the activity is low, medium, or high level.  After gluing directions and a dot on the envelopes, it was time to laminate each one.  


I kid you not, after all of my envelopes were laminated, the laminating must have stretched about 20 feet long!


Then it was time to slice open each envelope using a craft knife.  Super easy!

Now, all you veteran teachers have probably already figured out the trick of laminating envelopes, but I am now in love and want to store everything in laminated envelopes!

I still keep my word work in the same plastic bin, but now the envelopes are organized, and the kids know exactly what materials they need and how to do the activity.

The whole project was quite time-consuming, but totally worth it!


What activities do you do for word work?  How do you keep them organized?  I would love to hear about it!


Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tried it Tuesday- Me Moves!

Today I am linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried it Tuesday (Wednesday)!


When I was student teaching, my cooperating teacher used Me Moves with her class.  She used it after recess as a way to calm their little bodies and get their brains ready for more learning.  I loved it so much, I used it with my class last year, and felt that it was really successful.

Me Moves was created by a parent of an Autistic child, as a way to calm and focus the brain.  It combines simple, repetitive movement with calming music.  Students simply follow the movement patterns on the screen.  Although Me Moves is often used with Special Education students, it can be used with classes of any size and ability levels.

Here's my Tried it Tuesday:  I tried Me Moves for the first time with my class this year.


To introduce it, we talked about how we might use Me Moves to calm our bodies.  We might do it every day.  We might do it after Morning Meeting, or we might do it after recess.  Then, I projected it onto the screen, and I had them all watch a segment first.  After we watched, we talked about choosing a successful spot (just like for Daily 5).  I allow them to sit or stand, but they need to be an arm's span away from the next person.

Then we tried it!  They were a little bit giggly at first.  When that happened, I paused the video and we discussed again why we use Me Moves, before starting the sequence again.

Here is a video of my kiddos trying Me Moves.

video

The Me Moves package comes with three things:

-- A DVD (The part I use the most.)

-- a CD of the Me Moves music (I use this during quiet working time.)

-- Textured movement cards (I don't usually use these, but I might try putting them in my Take a Break area.  Students can trace the texture with their fingers as a way to calm down before returning to the group... What do you think of that?)

I really think my students this year can benefit from using Me Moves!

Me Moves ---  Tried it, LOVE it!


What did you try this week?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

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