Saturday, January 18, 2014

Inspired with Writer's Workshop!

Happy Friday Saturday!  I hope your week ended well!  (I tried to write this post yesterday, but fell asleep on the couch while watching a movie with my dad.  Oops!)  Since it is the end of the quarter, students didn't have school yesterday.  Teachers had professional development in the morning, and time to work on grading in the afternoon.

For professional development, we had a group from the University of Minnesota Writing Project come in to teach us about Writer's Workshop and how to implement it in our classroom.  I found it super helpful!  I feel like teaching writing is not one of my strong suits, so I was feverishly taking notes!

After an introductory activity where we learned about the philosophy of writing from the National Council of Teachers of English, we broke into two groups: K-4th, and 5th-8th.  The teacher that presented for us went through the writing process what what to expect in each stage of writing.

For Writer's Workshop, teachers typically follow a basic framework:

1) Mini-lesson (5-10 minutes)
Teachers teach: procedures and organization, strategies and processes, and craft and technique

2) Independent Writing/ Conferencing with Students (30-45 minutes)
Students: write, write, write! Build stamina, and are at different stages in writing
Teachers: 2-4 minute conferences, points out strengths and weaknesses (and uses the information during sharing, small groups, and mini-lessons)

3) Closing/ Sharing (5-10 minutes)
Students and Teachers: modeling student examples, improve speaking skills, and address successes/misconceptions
(can be in the form of an author's chair, partner share, whole group, or individual reflection)

**Right now, I include some "Work on Writing"/ free write time with my Daily 5.  However, it is not as structured as Writer's Workshop, and I don't typically follow the writing process.  The writing process is where I am struggling as a teacher.

Here are some points about the Writing Process that stuck with me:

* Use graphic organizers
* 3rd-5th grade can use lists
*Illustrations! (Yes, even for the older grades!  Think: sketches on the side of notebooks)

* Encourage students to NOT erase
* Ask: "Do you have all the information/ details you want?"
* Ask: "How can you make this writing even better?"
* To add a sentence or information, try using a small strip of paper with the new sentence on it, and glue it on the edge of the paper as a flap.
** Give the students the control!  They won't revise everything, maybe just a few parts, and that's OK!

*Use checklists and rubrics
* It is NOT your job to edit your students' papers (although it's tempting… don't!)
*For punctuation and mechanics, use mentor texts and read a lot!
*Teach through the writer's lens, not the reader's lens.  (Think: Instead of saying, "Where do you want the reader to stop?" say, "Where do you want your thought to end?"
*Treat your students like a WRITER!

* Be explicit, name a strength, and explain why it is important (Say, "I love the way you said Walgreens, instead of saying you went to the store, because it really tells the reader exactly where you were."
* If you can, have the student say the skill back to you.  (Say, "What are you going to work on now?")
* Focus on the WRITING (Not, "I see you used a capital letter.")

One AWESOME resource that was shared with us was Mrs. Meacham's Writer's Workshop.  It has great mini-lessons, and tons of printable resources for the writing process, writing traits, writing genres, and printable paper.  Seriously, go check it out!

Here are some of the other resources that were suggested at the workshop:

- Crafting Writers K-6 by Elizabeth Hale

- Writing Workshop the Essential Guide by Ralph Fletcher
(This one was suggested as a good starting point, if you're new to Writer's Workshop.  I will be ordering this one soon!)

- Units of Study for Primary Writing by Lucy Calkins
(Coming from a school without a writing curriculum, I may be suggesting this one to administration!)

When we discussed mentor texts, I instantly thought of this post and Jivey's Mentor Sentences.

Because my students are struggling so much with writing and getting their ideas down on paper, I am going to start with giving them time to free-write, and going through the writing process with those pieces, rather than focusing on specific pieces like narratives or letters.  

I am SO inspired to start a more structured Writer's Workshop on Tuesday!  Wahoo!

How do you tackle your writing time?  What is your favorite part about teaching writing?

Until next time,
- Miss Woodward

Thursday, January 16, 2014

SEA LIFE Field Trip!

Today the 3rd graders took a field trip to SEA LIFE at the Mall of America!  Sea Life features over 10,000 creatures, and a 300 foot long tunnel aquarium.

To help record their learning from our trip, I created a scavenger hunt and recording sheet that is perfect for ANY aquarium trip.  Click the image to get it for FREE!

Check out what we did on our trip!

At Sea Life, we entered through the Mall of America, and
took the escalators down into an underwater world.  :)

We got to touch some sea anemones, pencil urchins, horseshoe crabs, and sea stars.

We also learned all about ocean habitats.

Then we got to explore the aquarium.  My favorite part was the tunnel aquariums, where the fish swim right over your head!

We had such a great time at Sea Life!

What field trips has your class gone on this year?  My team and I are trying to decide where we want to go next.  :)

Until next time,
- Miss Woodward 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mathematical Monday- Mobiles

Happy Monday, everyone!

I'm linking up with I {heart} Recess for Mathematical Monday!  Today I wanted to share with you a project that a 4th grade teacher at my school did with her kiddos.

The concept?  Fractions, fraction models, decimals, and word representations.

The delivery?  A mobile to show equivalent fractions and decimals.

Here are the supplies you'll need:

-- Printed fractions, decimals, picture representations, and words for each fraction (she used 1, 3/4, 1/2, 2/4, 1/4, and 0).  She printed them on different colored card stock- so kids could tell the difference between each type of card.

-- Sticks (she collected them from her backyard)- Each student needs 1 stick (clothes hangers or wooden dowels would work well, too).

-- 5 pieces of yarn (each about 18 inches long)

-- scissors and glue

Here's how they did it:

1) Students first laid out their four strings and began sorting their decimal and fraction cards.  At the top of the string was the fraction, then the picture representation, then the words, and finally the decimal towards the bottom of the string.

Each string should have a fraction, decimal, words, and picture representation that are equivalent.  The strings should also be in order from smallest to largest (not mixed up).

2)  Once they had their cards where they needed to be, they began to glue the cards to the string.  They glued a fraction or decimal card on the front and back of the string, for stability and easier viewing.

3) Tie the strings on to the sticks.  For display, you might want to tie one more string to each side of the stick for hanging.

I like that students did not have to spend any time writing or creating the cards for the mobiles.  Their main focus was to identify equivalent fractions and decimals and assemble the mobile.

While the 4th graders used fractions and decimals as the focus of their mobiles, mobiles can be modified for oodles of content areas!

equivalent fractions and fraction models
alphabetizing words
food chains in different ecosystems (each string has a different ecosystem)
musical instrument families
vocabulary words and definitions
ordering objects of different sizes
retelling stories
sorting colors (each string has objects of the same color)

Have you ever made mobiles in your classroom?  How do you think you can apply the idea to your grade level or content area?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Five for Friday- January 3

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for another Five for Friday!

5.  Not over yet….
Thanks to Minnesota being ridiculously cold tomorrow and Monday (not even kidding… it's forecasted to be -30!), all schools in Minnesota have been cancelled.  Which means I have two glorious days left of winter break!  And I'm soaking up every last minute of it!

4.  …. But I did go to school.
Ms. Eichhorn and I went in to school this week to get some lesson planning done.  We even got the copy room unlocked so we were able to make copies.  I got SO MUCH done, and it felt SO GOOD!  I planned our unit for the Human Body, and I can't wait to share my ideas with you!

So many copies…...

3. New Year's Eve
I went over to a friend (and coworker)'s house for New Year's Eve.  I printed off some photo booth props from this site and brought them over (FYI- I printed "Set #2" from the site).  They were so fun!

Me and Mrs. Boos

Me and Mr. Wolf

Me and Mrs. Boos

2.  Awww…..
My dad got a new hunting dog earlier this week.  Meet Trapper, an 8 1/2 week old British Lab.  What a cutie-patootie!  Now my parents have 3 furry friends in their house.  :)

1.  Minnesota Wild
For Christmas, I gave Mr. Wolf tickets to see the Minnesota Wild hockey team in St. Paul.  It was so fun!  And they broke a six game losing streak!

Mr. Wolf and I-- Go Wild!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Friday, January 3, 2014

Flash Freebie!

Teachers in Minnesota are rejoicing today!  Governor Dayton announced that all schools in Minnesota will be closed on Monday due to extremely cold temperatures.

Yep, you read that right…. wind chill of -50!

We were supposed to go back to school on Monday, but, okay…. I'll take another day of Winter Break.  

In honor of the extremely cold Minnesota weather, I'm offering a FLASH FREEBIE in my TpT store!  Polygon Bang! is a great game for Math Centers to help your kiddos practice polygons and polygon characteristics.  The product includes two games to practice polygons.

Click the image to snag up the freebie!  But be quick- it will only be FREE for 24 hours!  It will go on sale tomorrow night at 10:00 pm.  All I ask is that you give me some feedback on TpT!

Happy downloading (and Pinning!)

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Love my Followers!

I am so very thankful for all of my followers.  I also love hearing about things my followers have tried in their classroom that they heard about from Miss Woodward's Class.

My cousin Sonja follows my blog and works at a school in Massachusetts.  For the holiday season, she dug into some old posts for ideas.  Remember these dry erase crayons I tried?  And these clipboards I made for my teacher friends?  She decided to make each coworker a clipboard and attach some dry-erase crayons.  I love how they turned out!

The clipboards

The final product!  Sonja has some lucky coworkers!  :)

Clipboards, dry-erase crayons, and a sweet treat!

Thanks for sharing your success, Sonja!

What have you tried from this little blog?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

December Happenings

December was a fun month for Miss Woodward's Class.  We had a lot of fun doing winter-themed projects.  Here's the run-down of our busy month!

1.  Polygon Snowflakes

The kids traced and cut out polygons to create beautiful winter snowflakes.  On the back of their snowflake, they wrote about which polygons they chose and the properties of each polygon.  Remember these green polygon foldables?  They were a great resource when it came to writing about the snowflakes.

2.  Holidays Around the World

Each student made a passport in preparation for their travels around the world.  The week before Winter Break, the students traveled to a new country every day.  The country in my classroom was China, and we learned about Chinese New Year.  We made lucky dragon puppets.  :)

We even had a special visitor one day!  My good friend from high school, Tracie, came to visit and help out with making dragons.

The students also traveled to India with Ms. Meredith.  There, they learned about Diwali and made beautiful Rangoli designs with glitter.

In Ms. Tarah's class, they traveled to Israel to learn about Hanukkah.  They made dreidels and learned how to play the game!

In Ms. Eichhorn's class, students traveled to Sweden to learn about St. Lucia.  While there, they made ornaments for their trees.

The teachers taught the same lesson four days in a row.  The students traveled in groups and went to one country every day for the week.  After the lesson and craft, we wrote facts we learned in their passports, and we stamped their passports so they could exit the country and return to the United States.  It was such fun!

3.  Gifts!

Also in December, I wrapped 19 blankets for my students for Christmas.  I got them on Black Friday for $1.50 each.  Many of my students share beds with multiple siblings or sleep on the floor.  :(  It's heartbreaking, so I try to give them something that is useful and that is their own.  

4.  Feeling Crafty

I found my crafty side again and made some cards for coworkers.

I also made some treats!

5.  Wacky Wrapping

One of my students gave me a gift wrapped in this paper.  I'm just trying to picture all the presents under her tree at home in Justin Bieber paper. (ha!)

6.  Watercolor Resist Paintings

We did some watercolor resist painting, too!  It's so easy!  Draw your design in white crayon on paper, then use watercolors to paint over it.  The watercolor paint will not work over the crayon, displaying your pretty design!

A finished watercolor resist.

7.  Cookie Monsters...

… That's what you get when you give 19 third graders a tub of frosting and sprinkles.  Ms. Teresa made a few appearances in Miss Woodward's Class last year, but had only been in once this year!  So she decided to bring in some sugar cookies and all the decorations to let the kids create some edible "masterpieces".  I have never seen so much frosting and sugar piled up on a single cookie...

After decorating, some of the kiddos taught her how to play dreidel!  In Ms. Tarah's class, they used candy, but with Ms. Teresa, they used colored pencils.    

8.  A Happy Holiday

I had a nice and restful Christmas.  The Woodward's celebrated the weekend before Christmas, and I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Mr. Wolf's family.

Top: brother Clark, brother Dean, boyfriend Kendall, Dad
Bottom: sister-in-law Elise, nieces Ramona and Marianne, me, Teresa
Mr. Wolf and I on Christmas Eve

Overall, it was a productive month!  But I sure am glad to have another week before heading back to school.  How was your December?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward


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