Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spread the Sunshine!

These sweet bloggers...

Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher

Gave me this sweet award...

And now, I'd like to pass it on. Here is how to play along...

One. Thank the person who gave you this award and write a post about it.
Two. Answer the following questions below.
Three. Pass the award along to some fabulous bloggers and let them know about it.

The questions are...

What is your favorite color? Pink and Blue!
What is your favorite animal? I'm a total dog lover. Like, big time.
What is your favorite number? 1
What is your favorite drink? Any type of delicious punch, you know, the good stuff they serve at wedding and baby showers! Preferably of the fruity ginger ale variation! :)
Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter? Twitter, but love blogs the most.
What is your passion? FAMILY, and of course teaching!
Do you prefer getting or giving presents? Giving
What is your favorite day? Sunday

I am passing this award on to some of my favorite teaching blogs.

A Teaching Life: Her writing inspires me to become a better writer!

Life is Better Messy Anyway: She cracks me up, and she is an awesome, creative teacher!

A Time to Share and Create: She is wonderful, and full of wonderful ideas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Little Christmas Convincing!

I love being able to teach with Christmas themed materials! Have I said this before? I looked through our curriculum guide and the TEKS (Texas Standards) and picked out a few subjects the would integrate well with Christmas. I love doing this because I feel like the kids remember it better when it comes time to reteach or review.

So, today we began our first project! I wanted to begin teaching persuasion. We talked about persuasion in advertising and the tactics used.

Persuasion Chart

Then we watched Christmas commercials on this You Tube video and discussed the vocabulary on our chart. ("appeal to audience" is a hard concept, so I had to go over that a bit!)

Then, after our discussion. We moved into a writing activity. We talked about all the things we would need to do to try to persuade Santa Clause to bring us a particular gift. It was perfect for discussing ways to "appeal to your audience"...The kids were naturally great at coming up with ways to appeal to Santa by connecting what they already know about him! --Infering and Connecting! Love.

(PS-I think my Santa looks more frightened that jolly :))

Both anchor charts together...

We discussed beginning the letter by introducing ourselves, etc. By then, we had plenty of ideas to begin writing our letters! We finished our rough drafts, and tomorrow we will publish them and mount them on little decorated stockings. I am so ready to get some Christmas Kid Art up in my room!

Monday, November 28, 2011

December Books!

Learning with Mrs. Parker is having a link party for favorite December books! Definitely want to play along with this one...I have too many to name, but these are my top choices.

I've posted before about how Tome DePaola's Legend of the Bluebonnet and Legend of the Indian Paintbrush are two of my ultimate favorite books to teach with during the fall! So, I love using this book to review back to the themes of those books...

Of course, we love Miss Nancy!

And you just HAVE to read this every year!

I LOVE the illustrations in this book! So sweet and cheerful!

Happy Almost December!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Quick Catch Up!

The holidays have arrived!! I just wanted to catch up on a couple classroom happenings before the holiday blogging fun begins!

Is You Tube blocked in your district? I'm so thankful that we are not blocked from it, because it has some awesome little treasures! One little treasure is THIS VIDEO that uses pop music to teach similes and metaphors. A teacher named Mrs. Prego created this for her English class, and shared it with the world on You Tube! Mrs. Prego, whoever you are, THANK YOU!! We made T-charts and labeled the sides "simile" and "metaphor"..The video takes particular lyrics of songs and puts them on screen for kids to read, along with. She also includes the title and artist. I had my kids determine whether each lyric was a simile or metaphor and then write the lyric on their T-chart. They were SO engaged!!

After I played it one of my students blurted out "MRS. ORR, IS 'HIGHWAY TO HELL' A METAPHOR?!" Haha!

Needless to say, we have been finding all kinds of similes and metaphors in our music ever since! :)

We did this as a review of parts of speech...Easy but a great review!

I LOVE holidays, because you can take practically anything, even material that is dry, and if you make it festive then the kids are suddenly interested in the activity! Just looked at parts of speech that would describe our Thanksgiving Day with our family!

And, can I just say how grateful I am to be at a school where we can celebrate and discuss holidays!?! SO excited about the Christmas season!

Monday, November 21, 2011


What the Teacher Wants is having a linky party!!!

The linky party is for everyone to link up what we are thankful for! What a wonderful idea. Here are a few of the things I am thankful for...

What are you thankful for in your classroom?

**Cliche to say, but I am thankful for my KIDS! I had so many apprehensions about working with fifth graders, but these kids make everything worth it. I love it.

What person are you most thankful for?

My amazingly kind, Godly and supportive husband.

And our amazing families... We are so blessed.

What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?

Oh dear!

Philosophy Pure Grace Products!

Ray Lamontagne, but his music not his face :) Love listening to him!

My Atlanta Ladies

What are you most thankful for?

So thankful for having a life full of people to love, but most importantly, I am thankful for the love of Jesus. I am also so thankful for the Bible which inspires me to be a better teacher. I will leave you with a verse I'm thankful for because it has inspired me lately...

"My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For GOD IS GREATER than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves." - I John 3:18-20 (The Message)

Happy Thanksgiving Blog Friends!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Visualize and Connect with Cynthia Rylant

Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorite children's authors. Her literature is so rich!
Let's Go Home walks you through each of the rooms of the house. She beautifully describes the features of each room in a house, starting with the porch, continuing into the living room, etc. The descriptions are precious and they really will make you feel sentimental about your own home.

SO, there are three ways I have used this book:

1.Visualize...You can have the kids divide a piece of paper into sections. As you read about each room, have students draw or write about what they are visualizing as they listen to the descriptions. I don't show them the pictures. I love to ask them questions about what they are seeing, such as "What color is the couch you are seeing?" or "Does the living room you are seeing have a fireplace?" They may not even be aware of how they are picturing things until but you draw attention to what they are picturing in their mind. The kids loved this.

2.Connect...After I have done visualizing, then I like to use it for connecting. Students can easily make connections to the text because they all have a home. Students can discuss what the story reminds them of in their lives. The pictures are super detailed and lend themselves to discussion. Even my most beginning English Language Learners can use these pictures to point to objects that they know. Just makes for great conversation!

3.Writing Ideas...Going right along with connecting, you can have students connect to the text by thinking about memories they have of each room in their house and writing them down. Seriously, the pictures in this book get your mind going, it made me come up with several memories about my home that I could write.

**I have done these lessons with 2nd graders and with 5th graders and both enjoyed it very much! You could probably even do it with K-1 and just discuss the pictures and have them describe their own homes.

***I can't read this book without thinking of my parent's home. So, I gave it to my mom last year for Christmas to thank her for the nurturing home she has always provided for our family. The book even has a page about a home at Christmas. Love it!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Movie in Your Mind: Visualization Activities

I know I know I know, I have probably posted about this book 4 times, but seriously, SO GOOD. Every lesson in here is so valuable, and I'm working through all of them...

So, in this book she discusses the importance of teaching kids about visualization. I feel like many of my kids struggle to form good mental pictures as they read which hinders their comprehension. It is great to discuss this and make them aware of their own mental pictures. I took several ideas from her book and made them my own.

One idea I love is having students write or draw their mental images as they hear various pieces of music. I used music from The Nutcracker, The Jurassic Park theme, and a few other pieces that had different tones. I LOVED hearing what kids were picturing when they heard the music. I think it is so cool to make them aware of what they are seeing in their mind.

Then, we used this book to help us continue our practice...

This book is perfect for visualization because it is hilarious, the chapters are short, and the descriptions of the students and teachers definitely paint a good picture in your head!

Here is what a few of my kids drew to represent their thoughts! Fun!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Reflection Art

Oh blog friends, life has been CRAZY! I have neglected this little blog due to me putting together my Master's Portfolio/Presentation. I am almost finished, and will present in three weeks. I have so have many posts to catch up on! We have been doing many fun things lately; similes and metaphors, visualizing lessons, history, etc. But for today, I will show you a little art lesson that my kids did recently. I thought it was neat, because it really made them think outside the box as they put together a design. My E.A. taught this lesson, so I'm not sure where exactly it came from, but here is how we did it!

First, fold a piece of paper in half and write your name on the fold. It works best if your name is in cursive. It also works best to use a pastel or go over it multiple times to help with the next step...

Fold the paper in half and rub on it, so that the crayon/pastel transfers to the other side, making the reflection! Then, you can go over it to make it bold.

Then, encourage the kids to create a design, creature, monster with their name reflection. If you want the lesson to really really focus on reflection you could have them incorporate that into their coloring. Or, you could simply let them have at it. However, we tried really hard to have them color it reflectively. Super cute!

I thought they turned out super cute!!

I think they all look like cute little monsters!

Happy Friday!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Anchors Away

I'm linking up with Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes Reading/Language Arts anchor chart link party. Here are a few that I have posted before and some new ones!

Read to Self anchor chart...kinda a reading and management anchor chart...

I know I have posted on this before, but seriously y'all, Tanny McGregor's book is amazing!! No matter what elementary grade you are in, it has the most amazing lessons on how to teach skills such as questioning, inferring, determining importance, metacognition, etc etc etc. Like, run, don't walk and buy this book. She includes pictures of anchor charts to go with the lessons, so the next few pictures shows my anchor charts inspired from her book:

Comprehension Connections


Connecting to Text

Thinking Stems for Inferring...(Her inferring lessons are some of my absolute favorites!)

We worked on "Determining Importance" from Comprehension Connections as well!

Then we applied our "determining importance" skills to portions of non-fiction text that went with our social studies unit, events leading up to the Revolutionary War..

This one is not from Comprehension Connections, just one I made to help us as we discuss author's point of view. I typed the words before we put it together because it is just SO much writing. This can be a tough concept so having the chart up reminds me to talk about it through most of our stories.

We are still adding to this anchor chart as we learn more about figurative language...

(Not really an anchor chart, but here is where we have been collecting examples of figurative language from our own reading.)

Nothing fancy here, but my kids and I are remembering to discuss so many concepts thanks to these little charts! Thanks to Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes for the great linky party idea!