Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fascinating Blog and Hilarious Science Videos!

I got nominated for a "Fascination Award." What a nice honor! You can click here to vote for me...I was nominated for my post about my Sensory Details and Bacon lesson!

accelerated degrees

And in other news, the Science STAAR test is coming up! Here's a secret, I LOVE my job, but I REALLLLLY miss teaching science!! So, I've been sneaking in some science lately to help my team get ready for the test coming up this week! We've done several non-fiction reading activities with science books.

But, what the kids and I love most of all is sneaking in some Mr. Parr science songs from Youtube! They are perfect to throw in here and there for a little song break! If you haven't checked these out, you must!! Each video is a pop song with the lyrics changed to be about science topics. The vocabulary and depth of the concepts are definitely grade 5 and up! Here are some of my classes favorites:

There are so many more, so I hope you check them out! Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hailstones and Halibut Bones: Adventures in Color

Here is a book that I've come to love. It is new to me, but it was published in the 60s, so many of you have probably seen it. Okay, on first looks, I definitely judged this book by it's cover. I thought it looked a wee bit hokey. I was totally wrong! This is a very neat poetry book. Each poem is based on a particular color and lists words, nouns feelings and associations that go with that color, all done with beautiful poetry. My kids enjoyed this book very much and loved guessing what color we would do next. I would HIGHLY recommend it for poetry grades 3-6!

The new state assessment in Texas (STAAR) now has poetry listed as an objective that could be tested. So here is a long list of concepts we worked on/activities you could do with this amazing book!

- Predicting: Each poem lists many things that are a color. So, for example, to hook them into the lesson, you could share with them the color of the poem before you read and have them predict what words or items of that color would show up in the poem and see who gets the most correct.

-Imagery! The "What is Red?" poem has some great images!

-Internal Rhyme--"What is Grey?" poem contains internal rhyme! (This is eligible to be tested as well.)

-Figurative Language runs throughout.

-Sensory Details and onomatopoeia examples come up frequently.

-"Sketching through the text" as they visualize the poem could be used with any color.

- After you have read some of the poems, you could have them write their own poem with a color you haven't read about!

These are just a few ideas you could incorporate into a poetry unit using this book! I hope you enjoy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

"What Makes my Heart Happy"

Sweet Kim at Finding Joy in 6th left me a comment this week, that inspired me to write! (Thanks, Kim!) She noticed I hadn't written in a while and said she hoped I was doing what makes my heart happy. And, my friends, I have!

So I thought I would do a little update on my life and classroom with iPhone Pics!

Since I last posted, Valentine's Day has come and gone! A sweet little darling in my class gave me this ring. "It's real," I was told... :) It is "real"ly something, alright! Sweet that he noticed my affinity for large rings! My kids make my heart happy.

And, since nothin' says "I love you" like basketball, my Valentine's Day weekend included a Mavericks game. Basketball + Time with the Husband makes my heart VERY happy.

So, one of my post-grad school goals was to workout more. I really have no excuse not to anymore. I'm working on it! :) At the end of February, my husband and I ran the Cowtown 10k...Here we are, post race...

These last few weeks, I've been able to spend a great deal of time with family and friends! Spring break included a trip to visit family and a trip to the lake house! Bliss and happy hearts!

But the large majority of the time has been spent here...

If you teach 5th grade in Texas, you know that tomorrow begins our STAAR testing! I have been working like crazy to plan the best possible teaching and center activities that review all our concepts with minimal "practice passages" (although we've done a good chunk of those, too!) I have been so focused on my instruction, and I've literally memorized the 4th and 5th grade TEKS. I've worked to do a great deal of instruction in small groups. I have LOVED doing literacy rotations and reading novels and poetry with my kids! I hope to post more on these things very soon! I love teaching in small groups, that makes my teacher's heart VERY happy! :)

And each week, I've made a bit of time to sit in my mother-in-laws massage chair with a pile of magazines.

Since testing season is coming up for many of us, I thought I'd attach this video. I showed it to my kids today to pump them up before the test! It is a great scene from Facing the Giants, and my kids loved it! Hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Teach Sensory Details with Bacon!

One of the fifth grade TEKS (standards) in Texas is for students to identify how an author uses "sensory details"...It will most likely show up on our STAAR test. I LOVE this skill, because it is the perfect opportunity for our students to read like writers and write like readers, you know? They really have to think like an author! I have enjoyed working with them to locate ways the author uses sensory details in literature.

Anyhoo, we discussed how sensory details help us imagine how something would look, taste, smell etc. We used a sensory details graphic organizer to create a page in our reading notebooks. (wish I'd snapped a pic) This was all good, but I wanted to give the kids a super sensory *experience* that we could write about. I thought about many foods, and I decided that the experience of cooking and eating bacon is pretty darn appealing to all five senses!!

It was perfect, because you can use onomatopoeias to describe the cooking sound. Then, of course the smell...After that I made them write about the appearance and texture. Finally, we ate it!

**Here is my tip..I brought in a few slices of raw bacon to cook so they could hear the sizzling sound. For the rest, I brought pre-cooked "Microwave Ready" bacon. I just set it in the skillet for about 1 minute and it was hot and ready. It was very easy, and the kids have done well at remembering what sensory details are ever since!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


If you are in a grade-level that has state assessments, I'm sure you have your own set of strategies for test taking. In the past, we have taken the TAKS test, but this year we are switching to a new test called STAAR. I have been studying up like crazy on the test and our new set of state standards (TEKS) so that my kids will be prepared for everything. In light of the new test, I decided that it was time for some type of new test-taking strategy. We've used acronyms like FISH and NURSE in the past for reading, but I wanted something fresh.

I teach to the, not like tons of test prep passages, just a few. I DO teach the standards that will be on our test, but I try to teach the standards with good literature. SO, I wanted our new test taking strategies to include elements that apply to good reading in general. I use CAFE reading strategies and lots of Tanny McGregor lessons, so I wanted our test taking strategies to reflect all of that.

I saw an idea on Pinterest for a test taking strategy poster that was in the shape of a video-game controller. Unfortunately, I never pinned it, and now I can't find it. But whoever had this idea first, THANK YOU!

So, some teachers and myself decided how we wanted our game-controller to look, so all our tested grades can use it. One of our fabulous Title I teachers helped us put it on an actual controller. We decided to create an acronym with the word GAMER to fit the whole video game controller thing. The kids love it! It sits on their desk and they "press" the buttons as we talk about some of these strategies in our work. The kids have definitely enjoyed this. We printed this and cut it in half for the students.

(This starts out small, but if you clip it will enlarge!)
Controller Desktop

Monday, February 6, 2012

February Currently

I'm linking up with Farley's "Currently." Click to play along!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What's New in Room 410

So, overall, I have really enjoyed my time in 5th grade. Over Christmas I spent some time re-thinking what I am doing in my class. I realized that what I missed most about teaching a younger grade is doing the Daily 5 for real. I LOVE reading with small groups of kids at the little reading table. It's my favorite.

I couldn't figure out how to make Daily 5 really really work with my 5th graders because my room is too small for all those bodies. We are all on top of each other, so moving all around to go to our activities and meet back on the rug was impossible. I think the problem was the part where you meet back up between rotations. So for the first semester, we did a Daily Reading workshop time, but never did the different rotations.

Well, now I've gone way back to the basics. No new ideas here. I'm basically doing centers 3 days a week. The centers include time with me and Read to Self everyday. Word work on the Smartboard, writing, STAAR practice, and read to someone get mixed in. I write the kids group names on the green card and I have a student rotate them after each round. I feel like I am finally getting some of the elements of Daily 5 back in my class, even though I can't do it by the book. It is nothing new, it's extremely simple, but it works! What REALLY works is getting to read with all my kids in a small group. It is the most valuable instruction time I have!

Also, like many of you, we are gearing up for STAAR! Trying to cover our last few TEKS. I have so enjoyed trying to apply some of these newly tested TEKS into our reading. Here is a couple we've been working on...

I know words like conflict, resolution, resolve, etc are really simple, but if you teach ELLs, they need to hear those words quite a bit so they understand them on the test. Some of mine had never hear these words. We've been using our sticky notes to write conflicts and resolutions we see in our own reading...This ties really well to summary. It's like the ole B.M.E., because a good summary is going to cover the conflict and resolution in a story.

And foreshadowing...I don't think I learned what that meant until like 8th grade, but my kids are doing well with it! We watched some movie clips with foreshadowing first, and then applied it to reading. We are reading "Sign of the Beaver" which has SO much foreshadowing. I snapped a pic when we first started this foreshadowing chart. Oh, and I sing "dun dun dun" ominously pretty much every time we discuss foreshadowing...

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Rules of the Game:
1. Post the rules.
2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself in your blog post.
3. Answer the questions that the tagger has set for you in their post; then create 12 new questions for the people that you tag.
4. Tag 12 people and link them in your post.
5. Let them know that you've tagged them.

Wowza...this may be my longest post ever! Okay! I was tagged by Katie and Sarah, so here is my little taggy post!

12 Things

1. My husband is a CPA, but he is currently pursuing his MBA at Texas Christian University! I am so proud of all his hard work.
2. I love to watch basketball!
3. I am 4'11" and my husband is 6'6"...really interesting engagement photo shoot.
4. Last year I met Ina Garten at a book signing. I was completely starstruck.
5. I love Home Alone. "Buzz your girlfriend, woof."
6. One of my best friends has been my best friend since we were seven years old. We calculated that we have probably eaten at Taco Bueno almost 200 times together in our life. Sad, but true. We have many options in the DFW area, but even two weeks ago, where did we go? Taco Bueno.
7. Want to get really random? I have a strange interest in books, movies or TV shows about organized crime, cartel, the mafia, etc.
8. When I was a little girl, I would often wake up in the night, and I would drag my little brother out of his bed. With a flashlight under the covers, I would make him practice reading from an old basal. He claims that I made him hate reading. I think I was born to be a reading teacher.
9. I don't wake up in the night anymore. I fall asleep instantly and always sleep at least 7-8 hours with no wake ups
10. I love Ralph Lauren sheets, especially when cold and crisp...
11. My husband has greatly expanded my movie watching: Last year we saw 9 out of 10 Best Picture nominees.
12. I hate replacing toilet paper on the toilet paper holder. I hate how you have to pop that little spring thing out. I don't know why, I just do.

Katie's Questions

1. What is the most rewarding part of being a teacher? When students show kindness and empathy in their actions towards one another. Warms my heart. And, of course seeing their reading improvements!
2. What is your go to school lunch? Grapes, blueberries, and cucumbers make the cut almost everyday.. Lots of leftovers: chicken and black beans, soup or pasta. and chobani yogurt.
3. If you could teach any grade, what would you choose and why? Oh dear. I will get back to you when I've completed a whole year in 5th.
4. Are you a morning or night showered? Both, depends on when I work out. Don't like going to bed if I feel dirty.
5. When did you know you were going to be a teacher? Probably age 4.
6. What is your biggest life accomplishment? Anytime my parents have been proud of me, getting Mason Orr to marry me, and teaching kids to read.
7. If you were not a teacher, what would you be? I would love to work at a Children's hospital, maybe occupational therapy?
8. Where is your favorite place to shop at? Target, Dillards, Nordstrom, Loft, Lilly, J Crew, Hobby Lobby. Oh wait, the question didn't say "places" oops! :)
9. What teaching blog do you stalk the most? Tara at 4th Grade Frolics
10. What is your favorite technology that you have in your classroom? My Smartboard!
11. Who has influenced you the most as an educator? I had some AMAZING college professors who inspired me so much. Undergrad and grad. But, in the last few years I would have to say it is the reading specialist on my campus. She puts so much thought and intention into everything she does. She is brilliant and she is a master at explaining EVERYTHING. I love her intention, and I try to do the same.
12. What is your favorite subject or class to teach? Reading. I also loved teaching science in 2nd grade!

Sara's Questions

1. Where do you like to shop? everywhere
2. What's your favorite color? Pink, Blue and white.
3. What is a job you think is neat, but would never do? surgeon! Fascinating.
4. Do you like to travel? YES!!!
5. What's your favorite place you've ever been to? I love London, I think it is spectacular. And I think Paris and Disneyworld are both magical.
6. What do you take/eat for lunch at school? check!
7. Do you have any pets? Two sweet dogs! A lab and an Australian shepherd mix.
8. What is your favorite day of the week? Why? Sunday: church, relaxation and usually some family or friend time.
9. What is your favorite season? Anything but winter.
10. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas and Easter.
11. Beach or snow? BEACH. I hate cold weather.
12. What's your favorite number? 7

My questions:

1. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
2. If you had to live in a city besides your own, what would your top choices be?
3. Do you follow any sports teams?
4. What is one lesson/topic that you get REALLY excited about teaching?
5. If you had to go back and get another degree, what would you pursue?
6. What is your favorite dessert, or two?
7. If you could re-do any year in your life, which one would you choose and why?
8. What do you like on your hamburger?
9. What is your favorite type of marker or pen?
10. What is your favorite recipe?
11. Do you have a song that makes you cry? What is it?
12. If you had to go on a reality show what show would you want to be a part of?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Mini-Sabbatical and a Great Sweater!

Weirdest blog title ever, right?

So lately, I have been on a not-so-intentional blog sabbatical! I am seriously blog-stalker du jour, but until today, I don't think I've even read a blog in almost 2 weeks! What is with me?!

I think I figured it out. Up until now, I have been in grad school every semester I have been teaching. Most nights, I had school work to do, therefore school was always on my mind. Every single night I "brought school home with me." Letmetellya, I am feeling free lately!!! I love teaching and only teaching!!! I've been staying at school a bit later, BUT, when I leave, school stays at school.

I have been doing more cooking, reading and exercising. But, I have to admit that I've been spending a good bit of time with The Bachelor, my Atlanta Ladies, The Kardashians, and the Dallas Mavericks :) OH, and my sweet husband. More time for him, too!

But, I'm ready to blog again! I cannot wait to read all of your blogs, and get some new inspiration!

So, for now, here is all I have to offer...I have a new favorite sweater (Christmas gift cards woo hoo!) It is much cuter in person than in the picture. I realllllly love how light it is! It is so light and comfortable. I do not like bulky sweaters, esp in the mild Texas temperatures. It is wonderful, and the horiziontal strips are shockingly flattering. Thank you Lilly Pulitzer, I love it!

Talk to you later, friends!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Day in My Shoes

I'm linking up with Katie Klohn's "A Day in My Shoes"..So here it is...

6:00ish- Wake up, snuggle with my dogs for just a minute...Get ready, make breakfast and lunch and pack them both up.

7:00-I get to school around 7:00 AM. I almost always make oatmeal or smoothies and eat them at my desk at school. I check emails and listen to Ray LaMontange while eating. It is weird, but its just my little ritual...

7:45- Without fail, everyday, some of my students manage to sneak down to my room. We have little talks, and most days I don't mind. The fact that they are happy to be there is a positive in my day.

8:00- The kids come in, announcements, lunch count, pledges, etc. My homeroom packs up and switches to their Math/Science class.

8:15- My other class comes in, I teach a mini lesson or introduce our literacy rotations (My little take on the Daily 5...w such a big class, we can't do the whole go out and then come back to the rug, so we just rotate.)

8:35- Literacy Rotations...My kids rotate through stations that vary from day to day. They have "read to self" and guided reading group everyday. The other two rotations vary between grammar, word work, writing, etc. So, in the morning I meet with all 4 groups.

10:15-The kids go to specials. Lately I have had a meeting or parent conference almost everyday. My school loves us some data meetings, professional learnings, team collaborations etc. There is always something!

11:15- Meet kids in the hall and take them through the lunch line.

11:25- All 5th graders through the line, so then we get to eat. I'm not sure if this makes my school weird, but almost every single teacher, aide, etc eats in the lounge together every single day. I've been at schools where people don't do this, but seriously I LOVE IT. The best laughs of my day come from here!!!

11:55- Pick up students, teach my non-homeroom kids again. This time a history lesson. Or sometimes my lessons are reading and history and they just all run together! :)

12:30-Switch classes, take my homeroom for a restroom break.

12:45-Teach Mini-lesson and begin literacy rotations.

2:25- Begin History Lesson Round 2!

3:00-Catch up on unfinished work, Announcements, pack up, sign "Communication logs" (discipline plan.)

3:10- RECESS!!!

3:25- Dismissal

After dismissal, I spend a bit of time procrastinating by talking to anyone and everyone! But then, I go work for an hour or so!

5:00- Leave school...sometimes I go to the twice a week on a good week...sometimes I go home and jog in my neighborhood.

6:00- I cook dinner while sweet husband unloads the dishwasher or folds laundry in the same room with me. We talk lots, and it is my favorite part of the day. It's the little things. We eat together and then sometimes watch a show together....

7:00- I used to have to go and spend time working on grad school, but since I've finished that I just go off in my cave to watch horrible things on TV, like every BRAVO show and Teen Mom and Revenge. But I read, too, promise.

***Now here's what a day in my shoes is like many many days...My husband's family lives nearby, I have tons of family nearby, and I can convince my mom to come from out of town almost every week or two. (Cough, mom, it's been almost two weeks, cough :)) So, about once a week there is a family event, dinner, visiting my grandmother, me and mom getting pedicures, or something like that going on. We are sort of familyholics, and I like it.

9:00ish--more time with the husband, clean up, snuggle with my puppies. Lights out at 10!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

It's too Late, King George!

This video has been the best discovery of the week! A friend in my district shared this with me, so I used it to review with my kids. Its a bit goofy, but the lyrics really have a good bit of history built in! And oh the kids loved it! Between my two classes I have watched this no less than 12 times this week. Even if you don't teach history, I'm sure you will find it entertaining!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Getting back into school has kept me from blogging much lately, but I'm jumping back in to join Farley's "Currently."

I love reading all of your posts, especially your OLWs...I have chosen a OLW in the past, but this year has been very difficult for me.

I have spent the last two years being EXTREMELY focused on school, grad school, data, research, assessments, etc. It has been very consuming. Is it bad that my first thought for OLW was "lighten up"? My master's is finished, I'm in my groove at school and I feel like it is time for me to slow down and just ENJOY it all! So far, I have enjoyed being back at school very much, and I hope all of you are off to a great start in this new year!