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?