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Slice of Life 2021 Day 28: A Saturday Well Spent


Slice of Life 2021 Day 27: Off you go (almost!)

Dear 5th Graders, 

Congratulations to the class of 2021! I am incredibly proud of each and every one of you. This was my first year at Mason-Rice, and what a year it was! The resilience and optimism that you demonstrated every day as we learned in Google Classroom, on Zoom, six-feet-apart, and with masks, continues to inspire me. Throughout all of the challenges and changes, we became a true classroom community. I know that you will always look out for one another, and remember the team of 5W,  in all the adventures that lie ahead.

I know that you have the skills and knowledge ready to take on life outside of Mason-Rice. As we learned in math, remember that there are often multiple ways to approach a problem. Choose what works best for you! With our Boxes and Bullets writing plans, I hope that you remember that with a solid foundation, you are set up for success. In our Resilience and Survival Unit, we had multiple discussions where we analyzed characters who “lifted others up” in times of particular challenge. In all that you do, I hope that you always strive to be like one of these characters. 

As I look around the room, I smile as I look at your perspective comic strips, flash drafts, and book group books that reflect your effective effort, love of learning, and individual talent. Remember that what you put into something, is what you will get in return. Above all else, remember to always cherish what makes you, YOU. Thank you for sharing a piece of yourself with us this school year. I wish you all the best in middle school and beyond. I hope that you come back to visit often!

Off you go, 5W! Amazing things are ahead of you and I will always be cheering you on. 

With Love, 

Ms. Woodruff

Slice of Life 2021 Day 25: Choosing To Think Like That

“Are you a teacher?,” the officer said as he shined his flashlight on my car that had been torn apart.

“Yes, my kids are probably wondering where I am right now,” I replied. 

“We’ll get you on your way soon, m’am.”

This morning, I walked into the parking garage to see all of my car doors wide open, glove compartment opened and rummaged through, three pairs of sunglasses missing. I felt scared, violated, and frustrated. Had I not locked the car? But, it’s supposed to automatically lock after 16 seconds? How did they get through the multiple doors to access the garage? What time will I be able to get to school?

Throughout all the damage and wonderings, my lesson plans and curriculum books remained untouched on the backseat. 

Thankfully, things proceeded quickly with filing the police report and I was on my way to school. I am very grateful to have a team that was willing to step in to support this morning and an extremely understanding principal. 

“Are you okay?,” my principal asked as I entered school. 

“Yes. All things can be replaced. And, good thing it’s not a sunny day!,” I told him. Although I miss them already and will have to replace them eventually, I wouldn’t be needing any sunglasses on this rainy Thursday. I also explained how my school stuff remained untouched. Surprisingly, they didn’t want to look into multiplying fractions, categorize the types of nonfiction texts, or attempt to strengthen their thesis statements for their literary essay drafts.

“Well, hey. Seems like they value education,” J remarked. 

“I’ll choose to think that’s exactly it, too,” I responded on my way to use all that remained untouched.


Slice of Life 2021 Day 24: Planning

Planning for My 5th Grade Yearbook Letter

We always tell our students to plan before they write in a system that works for them. As a fifth grade teacher, I have the honor of writing a letter to the 5th Grade Class of 2021. Wanting to make sure I capture their resilience, optimism, and flexibility  from this past year, I think I’m also going to need to plan before I write. Here are some topics and themes I’m hoping to cover. 

  • Resilience 
    • Multiple Pivots 
    • Love of 5W and learning 
  • Not always one right way to do things 
    • Multiple math strategies 
    • Poetry Choices
  • Having a structure/plan for support
    • Boxes & Bullets
    • Statement, Evidence, Explanation 
  • Using Your Voice and Listening to Others
    • Sharing the Air 
    • Building off Of Others
    • Lifting Others Up 
    • Showing your engagement in other ways 
  • Favorite Memories
    • Mealworms
    • Jerry Craft Author Visit 
    • Balloons

Slice of Life 2021 Day 23: An Unexpected Surprise at the …

“A gift for you has shipped!,” read the subject of the email I opened this morning. 

It’s not my birthday or any real reason to celebrate but this week has been a tough one and I knew immediately who was on the gifting end of this unexpected surprise. 

“I LOVE the joggers. That was so sweet of you,” I texted Jackson while pouring vanilla almond milk into my iced coffee this morning. 

I thought about them the entire ride to work. I love comfy casual and this was a pair I had been eyeing for a while. I thought about planning a pajama day for the class, just so I could sport this new set. I also thought about the guy behind the gesture and smiled even harder. 

As I was waiting for my computer to connect to the wifi as soon as I arrived at work, I scrolled through my phone again and found myself rereading this email. 

My eyes averted to the address. “Oh noooo,” I thought to myself. He was off by ten digits. 

Without wanting to ruin his kind gesture, I immediately searched for the Customer Service number. No luck. I found out they send their orders right to the shipment center so there’s nothing they can do. Grrrrr. 

I googled the address that he mistakenly entered. It was a lash extension/facial place – okay I could stop in there and ask them if they could let me know when a package arrives for me. 

Wait, 395 or 385? Oh no. It was a dentist office. I’ve been meaning to find a dentist in the area for quite some time now. 

“If you are calling to schedule an appointment, press 1. If you are calling to speak to the dentist, press 2. If you are calling with COVID related questions, press 3. For insurance and billing, press 4. All other calls, press 5.”

Five was the only option here.  

“Family Dental, how can I help you today?”

“HI, I’m sure you have never received a request like this but my boyfriend ordered a gift for me but mistakenly put in your address instead of mine. I’m a few apartments down the street. Is there anyway you could let me know when it arrives?,” I asked while crossing my fingers. 

“Of course. What a nice boyfriend. I needed call like that. What’s your phone number?”

I gave her my phone number, thanked her big time, and — “Wait. I’m also new to the area and looking for a new dentist.” Our conversation naturally continued. 

With a bit of kindness and luck, I scored a new jogger set and a new dentist.  

I think my outfit for my dentist appointment is already secured.

Slice of Life 2021 Day 21: How-To, Venmo Edition

One of my favorite forms of writing to enjoy with students is how-to tutorials. I love the humor that students incorporate into sharing step by step instruction with others and the freedom in composition. I also love starting how-to writing off by having students instruct me on how to make a peanut butter and jelly – an activity that requires lots of wipes on hand and is credited to Melanie Meehan!

This weekend, I found myself teaching my Dad how- to Venmo. 

  1. “Okay, go to the App Store and search for Venmo.”
  2. “You don’t know your Apple ID? Dad, we go through this a lot! You need to know it. Did you write it down somewhere?”
  3. “Mom probably did.”
  4. “Okay,  once you have that you can download the App.”
  5. Venmo is downloading. 
  6. Downloaded!
  7. “Okay, no you need to set up your profile. Answer the questions it asks you.”
  8. [Dad inputs personal information.]
  9. “Okay, now we need to set it up with your Bank Account or Debit Card. It’s pretty secure, don’t worry.” 
  10. [Dad links bank account.]
  11. “Okay, do you see the blue button that says pay or request?”
  12. “Yep.”
  13. “Okay, click that and then type in her Venmo name.”
  14. “Got her.  Well, I think that’s her.”
  15. “Yeah, that looks right. (We’ll get to scanning their code at a later session). Okay, now type in the amount by clicking on the $ sign.”
  16. “And, now you can let her know what it’s for by typing there.”
  17. “Ohh, Dad. Most people just do like a word or two for what it’s for. And she already will know that it’s coming from you so no need to make it sound like an email.”
  18. “Interesting. So I shouldn’t make it personal?”
  19. “I guess a little. Most people choose like an emoji or something. They even created special ones for frequently used transactions – like for Chipotle and Uber.” 
  20. “Oh, you must use those all the time Allie.”
  21. “Yeah. 😎 Oh, and Dad make sure you hit pay, not request.”
  22. “Got it.”
  23. “YOU did it!! Do you feel like a Venmo pro now?”
  24. “Mhmmm.”

How long do you think until he calls me again asking for help? Brad and I lovingly place our bets. 😆

Slice of Life 2021 Day 19: A String of Memories

“HI Auntie! I just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you, especially today. I also wanted to share that I brought all of the pearls that Uncle M gave me throughout the years and am having them made into a necklace. I am still so touched that he thought of me for each birthday and special occasion!,” I texted my aunt yesterday on the anniversary of my Uncle’s passing. 

I have fifteen pearls from my Uncle M. With each pearl, memories will surely come flashing back. 

“Ohhh sweet, Allie. Thank you. Today is always a hard day and this made my day. Thank you for sharing. 💜,” she replied. 

I can already think of a few. I remember when all my cousins and I ordered strawberry milk on the way to a ski trip. Uncle M decided that this was just what he wanted, too. When we arrived in Vermont, he still had his strawberry milk mustache. I remember thinking this was so funny, an adult with a milk mustache. We thought that this was just so funny that none of us wanted to tell him it was there. “Come on, you guys!!!,” we heard as he finally got a chance to look at himself in the mirror. 

“Remember his strawberry milk mustache in VT?!,” I replied. 

“Omg yes, he always enjoyed eating whatever you kids ate!,” she remarked. 

Another memory that stands out is when Uncle M volunteered to take all of us cousins to walk to the island at low tide. It wasn’t that far and it was completely visible from the shore. However, you needed to wait until low tide or it would have made for too long of a swim. Cousin K screamed and claimed she got bit by a crab. From that moment on, all of us clung onto Uncle M. All eight of us found space to hold onto whether it was around his legs, arm, stomach, or neck. As it wasn’t that far from shore, my parents and Aunt were watching the entire spectacle unfold. The smiles and laughs they were sharing could be seen from where we are. When we finally made it back to the beach, I remember us all unloading from Uncle M and looking up at him. Even though I am sure he was completely exhausted and uncomfortable from carrying us, he had the biggest smile on his face. “Thanks for the help guys,” he jokingly remarked to my parents and Aunt as they continued to erupt in laughter. 

“I bet his arms are still sore from when he had to carry us back from the island at Water’s Edge,” I typed back as a smile grew on my face. 

“I think about it all the time! To this day, I still don’t think a crab ever came near K 😆,” she noted in her response. 

I am so grateful for all of the memories I was able to share with Uncle M. Above all, I am grateful to remember the way his ever-present smile consumed his face and the way his infectious laugh erupted with a room in synchronous laughter. I am anxiously awaiting to see how the necklace turns out and what other memories will come flooding back. With the pearls spaced out, each one will hold a space for a memory with countless memories in-between. 

Slice of Life 2021 Day 18: Checking In

 “Will we have snack all together?” 

“Where will eat lunch?”

“There will still be recess, right?”

“We all get to be together all day?!”

“No more Zoom?!”

“So, remote days won’t be a thing anymore?!”

“Oh man, I’m going to be tired.”

“Will there be homework?”

“My parents want me to come to school double-masked, now.”

“Will we still have desks?”

“What about Book Groups?”

“How long is it going to take for all of us to wash our hands?”

“Do we still get to keep our Chromebooks?”

“Will we still have Google Classroom?”

“Our line is going to be realllly long with all of us an arm’s length away.”

“I’m going to miss my Cohort. We felt like a close group.”

“Does this mean we can have 5th Grade Graduation?!”

These are just some of the questions and statements that have been swirling around our classroom lately. We are going back full-time in-person in a few weeks. Some students have been very vocal about their thoughts, questions, worries, and excitement. There are other students who I can’t quite get a read on how they’re feeling about everything. 

Like all responsive instruction, we use what we know about our students and data to inform. I need to get a sense of where all my students are. I’m in the process of creating a Google Form for them to fill out to help me. Afterwards,  I’ll think about whole class lessons they’ll all benefit from, small groups, and conferring work to make this as smooth a transition as possible. In some ways, it feels like starting over. In some ways, it feels like what we’ve always done to give our students what they need.