The Sunday Scoop - January 25, 2015

Well, well, well! It's time for another weekly link-up with The Teaching Trio for the Sunday Scoop! I am actually writing my blog post as I sit in the middle of LaGuardia Airport in NYC, getting ready to head home after an amazing weekend filled with laughs, my favorite Broadway show, Cabaret, with Alan Cumming and Emma Stone, who were both AMAZING, and of course, some yummy NYC food, namely pizza. It was great to be "home" (though I am originally an upstate New Yorker) and see a bit of snow, feel that New York cold on my face, and get swept up in the hustle and bustle of the city for a few days. I met up with my one of my oldest and dearest friends, who I have not seen in 8 years. You know you have a wonderful friendship when you just pick up right where you left off. We had such a fabulous time, that it's going to take a bit to adjust back to work this upcoming week. Plus, I'm NYC exhausted! I'm sure I'll be snoozing on the plane in just a few!  Here's some pics from our weekend:

From the Cabaret at Studio 54. I still can't believe that I not only got to be on the inside of Studio 54, but actually sat right up front (our seats were at the bottom right of those stairs in the picture). At one point, Alan Cumming was standing right next to me! If you don't already know, I am a bit obsessed with musicals, so this was really the perfect day for me. Emma Stone played the most amazing Sally Bowles. I was brought to tears by this show! Just AMAZING!

We stayed right in Times Square and did lots of walking around. So much to see, this trip was really just an exploration. Now I have about 500 other things I'd like to go back and do! Oh, and that pizza! I'm a NY girl who loves NY pizza so while I could've been out at the five star restaurants, all I really wanted was some pizza! 

I could go on and on, but let's get on to The Sunday Scoop, shall we? After you read what I am up to, I hope that you'll head over and find out what other teacher bloggers are up to this week!

Here's the scoop:

Three things I have to do:
1) Fly back to VA and leave this wonderful city behind…for now! I'm boarding in less than a half hour and I'm truly lucky to have a direct flight!
2) Eat a normal meal. Who eats well on vacation? Not this girl? But I've ate so poorly that I am craving healthy food. Time to get back to business! 
3) My grades are all in, I just need to finish up my comments and then I am good to go! 

Two things I hope to do:
1) A girl's weekend takes a lot out of you! Plus, staying in the middle of Times Square is a blast, until you want to sleep. Sirens and horns blowing = Rachel missing some serious shut-eye!
2) I've got a suitcase full of dirty laundry, so I "hope" to get to that, mostly because I hate dirty laundry just sitting around for no reason. 

One thing I am happy to do:
I MISS my hubby and fur babies like crazy! I can't wait to snuggle them when I get home! 

Here's hoping that this is just the beginning of my 2015 travels! Happy Sunday! 



The Story Behind the Logo

I've been eyeing Jenny's linky for a bit and with the three-day weekend I finally have a bit of time to get some blog posts done so I'm excited to be linking up with Art with Jenny K. for her What's the Story Behind the Logo linky.

There's really a few parts to this story, so I'm going to break it down to the name first, then talk about the actual logo.

I've always loved sharing my ideas and resources so when my friend Alison from Teaching Maths with Meaning shared her blog with me, I was inspired to start one as well. Of course, I knew NOTHING about blogging, so I'm lucky that she was willing to answer the many questions that I sent her via email! When I set my blog up, I wanted a catchy name that wasn't too cheesy or gimmicky so I spent weeks just trying to think of something that I felt represented me. I think I reached the point where I was really over thinking it. I had a bit of "blog name block" and was thinking, "Oh no! If I can't come up with a good name, how am I going to come up with good blog posts?" That little thought set off a spark. You see, the year prior to that, I had a student who would always say, "Mrs. O knows" whenever I asked a question. For example, if I said, "Who knows what president wrote the Emancipation Proclamation?" that student would say, "Mrs. O knows!" I would always respond to that student with, "Mrs. O knows because of her oh no's!" In my classroom, I encourage students to feel comfortable making mistakes. I tell them daily that we are human, we make mistakes, and we can only grow from them. I also highlight my own daily mistakes to show them that it is quite alright to not be perfect, as long as we learn and grow with each "oh no".

And so, Mrs. O "Knows" was born. I was a tad worried that people might find this title to be arrogant, so I hoped (and still hope) that the quotation marks might help others to understand that my name has a double meaning. It's not just about what I "know", it's about the moments when things didn't go as planned ("oh no"), and what I learned from those moments. Since I'm human, I figure that I will make a lifetime of mistakes, all of which will help me to grow in this journey of life!

So that's the name part of my logo, and the more interesting and entertaining part of the story. As for the picture that you see, it's quite new. I went to a VA teacher blogger meet up last summer and met TONS of wonderful women. As I was speaking with Nikki from Teaching in Progress and Melissa from Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late, I realized that they both had really cute blogs and when I left that day, I came home and ordered a blog makeover immediately the moment I walked in the door. I wanted something that was inviting and that truly reflected me. When I found the clip art image at Lovelytocu, I knew it was perfect because it was girly, with a bright and pretty dress (I am a dress-a-holic, with over 50 dresses hanging in my closet and a terrible addiction to ModCloth) and she was pointing in the exact way that I point when I say, "I know!" to my students (I'm a bit of a hand talker). Though my logo looks much younger than me, I believe she reflects the energy and happiness that I always have when I'm teaching. As for the rest of my logo, I have Megan from A Bird in Hand Designs to thank, because she made my favorite colors, name, and clip art choice come to life. I couldn't be happier with the results!

I hope that you enjoyed reading the story behind the logo. It was fun to tell you all about how Mrs. O "Knows" came to be!

Have a lovely week!



Free Your Time With Fifth Grade Freebies Blog Hop

Well, many of you have made it through your first week back after the winter break! How did you do? Welcome to the weekend! If you're feeling like me, you are ready to kick your feet up and RELAX for a couple of days! 

This past summer, I had the pleasure of joining a wonderful group of teacher-authors at Fifth Grade Freebies collaborative blog. Fifth Grade Freebies was created because there are lots of wonderful resources out there for primary teachers to use in the classroom, but the intermediate grades weren't as well represented. Our collaborators share great ideas and small resources of their own creation that can be BIG timesavers in your fifth grade classroom! In the past few months, we've had a blog makeover, added a Fifth Grade Freebies Facebook page, and even created a Fifth Grade Freebies Pinterest Board. We thought we'd celebrate how far we've come and let you get to know our collaborators with a little freebie blog hop! You can get to know each of our contributors, grab some awesome fifth grade resources, and best of all, you can hop over to Fifth Grade Freebies and enter to win one of three $25 TpT gift certificates!

So, if this is your first time here, here's a bit about me:

I've been teaching 5th grade since 2008 so it seems it is where I shall stay! I love fifth grade because the students are independent and really starting to develop their own personalities and realize their potential. I love seeing how much they grow in just the ten months that they are with me.

One part of teaching that I really love is poetry. I love to embrace poetry throughout the year. Here's just a few different ways that I use poems in the class:

  • Review before quizzes or tests
  • Early finisher work - Students can create poems related to the content that they've been learning in the subject that we're focused on. 
  • Cursive practice
  • Grammar practice
  • Writing practice
  • Reading practice
  • Motivators/Attention Grabbers when we are starting a new topic
Truly, this list could go on and on. I love to use poetry WHENEVER possible. Poetry month is my favorite, but I'd hate for that to be the first time that my students get to experiment with poetry writing. As fifth grade teachers, we have a lot of opportunities to talk about sensory details. They relate to reading, descriptive writing, and even science when we're talking observations. Sensory poems can be a great way of thinking about sensory details. The topic of your sensory poem is the top and bottom line, with five lines in between, one focused on each sense. Today, I'm sharing a freebie that's just recently been revised, my Seasonal Sensory Poem. This resource is focused on using your five senses to describe a specific season and it includes an example and stationery for each season, which means that the current winter season would be a great time to use it! You could use it as a warm up for descriptive writing, take students outside and have them write about observations during science, and or have students write them and then swap them. After they read, they could draw a picture to show the visualizations that they had when reading. Really, these are just a few ideas and the possibilities are certainly endless!

This resource is a part of my Poetry Writing Pack: Defining and Writing Poetry, which includes 8 different type of poetry.

Next up on this amazing blog hop is the amazing Teaching to Inspire With Jennifer Findley. Click on her button below to grab the next fifth grade freebie!

Enjoy our blog hop and don't forget to head over to Fifth Grade Freebies to enter our giveaway! 

Fifth Grade Freebies

Have a lovely weekend!



Read Around the Clock Café: A 50's Style Book Tasting

Do you have an annual reading night at your school? Reading night is one of my favorite after school occasions during the school year. At my school, which is a 3-5 school, each grade level holds different activities. Since there's between 6-7 teachers for each grade, we usually pair up for our activity. We hold three 20-minute sessions so that families can attend all three activities.

Last year, my partners and I had a fantastic book tasting! It was a tremendous success so we kind of approached this year with an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality! However, as we were planning our reading night, we also decided to participate in the Socktober drive from Kid President, and we decided to make our reading night the culminating activity for our final night of the drive. I brought up the idea of a sock hop, and from there we decided that the day of our reading night would be a 50's Day theme. We had a sock hop for the last 30 minutes of the school day. I wasn't sure how students were going to do with a 50's Day, but they definitely did not disappoint! Leather jackets and slicked back hair for the boys, poodle skirts for the girls, I felt like I had just walked on the set of Grease! Their outfits were adorable!

We decided that we needed to tweak our reading cafe a bit because we wanted to keep with the whole 50's theme for reading night. I found some wonderful 50's clip art and then my creating began. I tweaked a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and then I added a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and I finally I came up with a 50's themed book tasting that was a great success!

The first thing that I created was a book preview for students to work on in the classroom. This would become one of our displays for book night.

Student book previews were displayed with the book that they chose so that families could preview the books as they came in to the classroom. 

Our students were already dressed up from our 50's day, and so they kept those outfits on for the evening. We had 6 students in total, 4 of them were "chefs" in charge of a table of tasting, each one with a different genre, and 2 of which were our hosts, greeting families at the door as they entered the room. I prepared a script for each of them that they were able to practice for a couple of weeks before our big night.

We turned the classroom into our reading café. I threw on a little 50's music,  spread black and gingham tablecloths (Dollar Store) over the 4 different "tables" and a placed a student chef at each one of the tables, ready to greet their visitors and share a selection from the genre that they were representing. Our poetry table was definitely the most popular, and our entire evening was another tasting success, with families engaged in listening to our chefs, then exploring the table to preview other books from that genre, and even making a wish list of books that they would like to read based on what they heard or saw at the tasting. We also included a list of recommendations based on a popular book at each table. The best part was that all of the books on the list and table were from our school library so our students could truly check them out the very next day! I'm confident that many of them did just that!

If you're interested in grabbing these resources, click on the picture below to see my 50's Themed Book Tasting & Book Preview Displays resource.


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