Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vocabulary Matters: Part 4: When to Teach Targeted Words

Last week was a critical week "How to Teach the Targeted Vocabulary Words" with step by step instructions- so if you missed it you can read it and download the files by clicking here

This week is about When to Teach the Targeted Vocabulary in Grades K-6:
                                                        click on image to download
K-2 teachers do Read Alouds as part of their daily routine. Did you ever think about targeting specific words when doing Read Alouds? I hadn't thought about it either until I saw Anita Archer demonstrate it during a workshop and I had one of those AHA moments. 

Here is a wonderful demonstration of Anita Archer doing a Kindergarten Read Aloud and introducing the Specific Tier 2 Vocabulary words for instruction. Just click on the image above to see the whole video-Vocabulary Instruction Kindergarten. What did you think? Hopefully it will give you some ideas when doing your next read aloud. (Don't forget to check the Dale-Chall list to see if they are Tier 2 words)

You can find other great documents from her by clicking HERE 

Wondering about how many words to target for explicit instruction? Here is a great chart to help you from my Vocabulary Handbook. I found this so helpful when teaching content text material. It is better to teach 8-10 words where students will be exposed many times and in different contexts to help them truly understand them than to try to teach too many and they may only understand a few. I know that it's not always easy to narrow the number of words but with practice it will get easier and easier.
                                          click on image to download
I hope this was helpful and you will use some of the strategies I have shared today and during the first 3 parts. If you missed any of the previous parts you can  read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Hope to see you next week!!
Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Groundhog Day: Free Resources and Activities

For those of you who are having severe winter weather this year, I'm sure you are hoping that on February 2nd Puxsutawney Phil does not see his shadow and spring will soon be here. I remember growing up in New York, I always hoped that it would be a cloudy day in Gobbler's Knob, Pennsylvania. Do you believe in this tradition? Did you know that there are other groundhogs around the country that predict if spring will be here soon? Well, I've put together a list of some fun Shared Reading Books, Free Website Resources with fun crafts, printables, and information and of course a few free activities from me to help you celebrate the holiday with your students.
One of my favorite books to read is Gregory's Shadow.  It's a cute story about Shy Gregory and his friend, his shadow getting separated just before Groundhog Day. If you click on the picture below you will find several books at apples4theTeacher. You can also find the top 10 list of the best Groundhog Day books for kids by clicking HERE
If you are looking for lots of information about Groundhog Day, Photos and Fun Facts, just click on the picture below.
There are some fun free crafts, crossword puzzles, word searches, and poetry at DLTK-Kids which you can check out by clicking on the picture below.
You may also want to check out my Groovy Groundhog Unit for Grades 1-2 . It's not only about Groundhog Day but students will learn all about Groundhogs through Reading and Writing activities and make their own Animal Report about a Woodland Animal. If you download the Preview you will get the following Free Reading Text and Groundhog Adjective Web and see all the materials included in this unit.
Just click on the picture to download your freebie.
In case that's not enough I have one more fun freebie for you which you can download by clicking on the picture below.
Hope you find some fun resources to use in your classroom. Whatever Phil predicts we know that spring will eventually get here. Stay safe and warm!.
Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

Freebie Fridays

What is your favorite Groundhog Day book to read to your students?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Vocabulary Matters: Part 3: Introducing the Targeted Words

Last week I talked about Selecting the vocabulary words to explicitly teach-those Tier 2 Words.  Sometimes it is very difficult to decide if a word is a Tier 1 or Tier 2 word in the primary grades. There is a list of 3,000 words called the Dale-Chall list to identify "well known" words or Tier 1 Words by the average first or second grader. You can download it by clicking Here. If you are wondering whether a word is a Tier 2 Word, check it with the Dale-Chall list. If you find the word on the list than it is a Tier 1 word and should not be targeted for Explicit Instruction. However, if you are teaching Kindergarten, students with limited understanding of rich and robust words, or ESL students you may need to focus on several of those words. 

I want to focus today on Developing Word Meaning Through

  • Student Friendly Explanations
  • Teacher-Created Contexts
  • Active Engagement With Words
Using your text is a great way to introduce targeted words. After introducing each word you want students to:
  • repeat the word after you
  • give them a student-friendly explanation of the word
  • actively engage students in the word through:
           a. questions
           b. making choices
           c. finishing the idea- sentence starters
           d. choose an example and non- example of the word
  • repeat the word again

Here (above) is an example of how I introduced the word "bulge" to my students. You can download  this document by clicking on either picture above. (d. is an example of "Finish the idea")

I found with my struggling readers and ESL students that making vocabulary word cards was helpful for them to have more in-depth word knowledge. Here are 2 examples below which are also included in the document with instructions.

Hopefully they will begin to see, hear, and use these words not just during reading time but beyond the classroom as well.

I hope you found some useful information and something new to try when teaching vocabulary.
If you missed the Introduction you can click HERE or Part 2, you can click HERE. You can follow my blog or by e-mail so you won't miss Part 4 next week. I will begin posting Vocabulary Matter on Thursdays starting January 31st. 

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

What is something you may try in your vocabulary instruction that I wrote about today?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Animals in Winter: Great Books, Free Resources and Activities

Please click HERE to see a new revised post of Animals in Winter

It finally feels like winter in Tallahassee today with cold winds from the north blowing and temperatures dropping. What a great time to teach students about what animals do in winter. I've put together some great resources to check out.

There are some wonderful books for read alouds. This one is my favorite. If you click on the picture you will find 12 Great books to read to your students.
Looking for some lesson plans? Look no further that Scholastic for the Pre-K-2 grades or Exploring Nature for intermediate grades. 

I love writing my own Read Aloud and Guided Reading Books for students and just finished my new Unit: Animals in Winter for K-1
I'm sure your students will love the Shared Reading Book and Mini Book 
If you click on the picture below you can download the Preview file which has 2 free writing activities for K and 1st.
Just for my wonderful followers and viewers an extra freebie: Animals in Winter Word Wall and Picture/Word Cards- just click on the picture below to download your free copy.

Freebie Fridays

Hope your found some great resources and enjoy the freebies.
Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vocabulary Matters: Strategies that Work Part 2: Specific Word Instruction- Selecting What Words to Teach

Last week I gave you an overview of Vocabulary Matters: Strategies That Word and I had some great feedback. In case you missed it you can click HERE to catch up or review.  Today I want to talk about the most critical part of Vocabulary Instruction: Selecting the Words to Teach. Whether you directly introduce words through Read-Alouds or through reading texts read independently you need to know what words you need to target.
According to reading researchers including Isabel Beck and the National Reading Panel 2000:
Specific vocabulary instruction should:

  • focus on words that are contextualized in literature, important to know and useful in many situations.
  • provide "rich," in-depth knowledge of word meanings- not just repeating the definitions.
  • provide clear, accessible explanations and examples of the meaning of the word in various contexts.
  • provide opportunities for students to discuss, analyse, use, and compare these words in these contexts.
  • provide multiple exposures to the words in more than one context.
  • actively engage students in deep processing by getting them to use new words in new contexts and to create associations among words.
That's a lot to think about but before we do those things we need to know how to select these specific words. It would be nice if there was a list we could pull out but it doesn't exist. Isabel Beck  and her colleagues have developed the three- tier system (Margarita Calderon has developed one for ELLs) which is what I want to focus on today. To download your copy of the Guidelines just click on the picture below. I have copied it from the Vocabulary Handbook that I referred to last week and is from Isabel Beck.
So let's do a little exercise: Look at the picture below: Look at the explanation of the 3 tiers. If you click on it you can download your copy.
What words did you think were Tier I?  I think they are the easiest to find: see, take, train and play.
What words did you think were Tier II? If you selected astronomy, archipelago, and molecule you are correct. They are content specific words.

The rest are your Tier II words- the ones that students are unlikely to know (depending on grade
level) they can be explained in everyday language, they are generally useful, they can be encountered across a wide variety of domains and their meaning will probably be necessary to comprehend a text. 

So in a nutshell: For your average Second grade Student:(Based on Biemiller and Slonin,2001)

You can download a copy of  all of Vocabulary Matters Part 2 by clicking HERE 

I hope you will follow my blog or follow by e-mail if you find Vocabulary Matters: Strategies that Work
helpful for you. Next week I will continue with more of Selecting Words to Teach as there is still a lot to cover. Hope you will leave comments letting me know if this is useful for you .

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

How was today's post helpful for you?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter: Great Free Resources, Activities and Craft Ideas

Click HERE to view
I wish here in northern Florida we had a much longer winter and for some reason this winter seems more like spring. So I found some wonderful resources for you to check out where you can find activities and crafts for you to do with your kids over the next few months. At Kaboose you will find lots of Snowman and Winter crafts like this Snowy Handprint Craft. Just click on the picture below to find lots more.
Why not check out Busy Bee Kids Crafts  by clicking on the image below. Here you will find free craft ideas, free printables, mazes, word searches and memory games.
How about making a cute Winter Crown? There are so many wonderful ideas at DLTK. I loved this crown and can't wait to make it with my grand kids. For directions click on the picture below.
In case you missed my free Making Winter Sentences with Sentence Frames click on the picture below to download your free copy.
If you missed some of my Snow Poetry post with a freebie just click HERE and a Free Winter Writing Journal Activity just click HERE . Hope you find some great ideas!
Don't forget to check out more great Winter Resources by clicking on the picture below.

What is your favorite winter craft to make with your students?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Martin Luther King: Free Writing Activities for Grades 1-6

Please click HERE to read this post

I got such wonderful feedback from my Writing Sentences about Winter with Sentence Frames that I have a few free one to add to all of your Martin Luther King Day activities. They are part of my new Martin Luther King Literacy Center packet for Grades 1-2 which you check out by clicking on the picture below.
You can download your free writing activity by clicking on the image at the top of the post.
How about discussing some of Martin Luther King's Quotes with your students and talk about what they mean. This is a great activity for those of you who teach the intermediate grades. Here's another great idea. See if your students can TWEET a Martin Luther King Quote. If you click on the image below you can download this activity to use in your classroom.
Just a reminder that I started a Free Mini Course called "Vocabulary Matters: Strategies that Work" I have had some wonderful feedback so don't forget to check it out.

Hope you enjoy the freebies and find something useful for your students.
Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

What activities are you doing to honor Martin Luther King?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Vocabulary Matters: Strategies That Work! Part 1-Introduction

When I first started blogging I wrote a post about the importance of explicit vocabulary instruction. At the time I had very few followers and viewers so I thought it was a topic worth revisiting in hopes of reaching more teachers. Having worked in a Title I school for many years as an ESL Resource teacher I did a lot of research into vocabulary development. One of the best research studies came from Hart and Risley, 1995. "Children come to school with meaningful differences in vocabulary knowledge. According to their research what matters is a student's relative economic advantage. Children living in poverty hear one-third the number of words per minute than those of the working class. Not only was there a difference in numbers of words but also in quality. Students living in poverty aren't exposed to rich, robust words and by the time they enter school the vocabulary knowledge gap is even wider." Explicit Vocabulary Instruction is necessary to help bridge that gap for these students . "Vocabulary occupies an important position both in learning to read and in comprehending text: readers cannot understand text without knowing what most of the words mean (National Reading Panel 2000)." It goes on to say that to develop vocabulary students should be explicitly taught both specific words and word-learning strategies. Such instruction often doesn't begin with a definition  for giving a definition usually means that the student already knows what the word means. What rich and robust vocabulary instruction does is to go beyond knowing the definition of a word but to actively engage students in using and thinking  about word meanings and to create and make connections among words. For those who struggle to read or come to school deficient in rich and robust vocabulary acquisitions needs to be accelerated if there is any hope of these learners catching up with their peers.

What is vocabulary?  
  • It is the knowledge of words and their meanings.
Vocabulary instruction involves much more than looking the words up in the dictionary and using the words in a sentence. 

Four components of  an Effective Vocabulary Program 
  1. Extensive independent reading to help expand world knowledge
  2. Specific word instruction to help improve understanding of texts containing those words
  3. Instruction in independent word-learning strategies
  4. Word-consciousness and word-play activities to motivate and enrich learning
Today I would like to introduce Components 2-4 and what I will be writing about in my upcoming posts called "Vocabulary Matters: Strategies that Work" 

I will be referring to a book entitled  "Vocabulary Handbook" written by Linda Diamond and Linda Gutlohn.  I was very fortunate to have taken several workshops from Linda Diamond and it truly changed the way I approached teaching vocabulary. I hope you will take this journey with me and find some great ideas and strategies to try with your students. Today is an introduction to what I will sharing with you in the coming weeks.  I hope to give you research-based knowledge, practical applications and sample activities to improve vocabulary instruction. It will include:
Word learning Strategies

  • Dictionary use
  • Morphemic analysis- figuring out a word's meaning by analyzing it's meaningful parts: morphemes (root words, prefixes, suffixes)
  • Contextual analysis- figuring out the meaning of an unknown word by looking closely at the text surrounding the word.
Along with word learning strategies there will be information to help:
  • Cultivate word consciousness- getting our students to become aware of and interested in words.
  • Give students multiple exposures to words in multiple contexts
  • Restructure strategies- making sure that students fully understand the instructional task.
  • Foster incidental vocabulary learning- through engagement in rich oral language experiences, listening to books during read alouds and reading widely on their own.

You can download a copy of Part I by clicking on the image at the top of the post. I hope you will let me know if this is helpful for you.

I've added lots of new Pinterest Boards for you to follow. You can access them by clicking HERE
You will find Grade level boards from Preschool through 5th grade, Seasonal Boards and many more.
Here's my most popular one.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

How much time do you spend each day on vocabulary instruction?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Martin Luther King: Books, Free Resources and Activity

Please click HERE to read this post

Martin Luther King was a great leader of the Civil Rights Movement in America. On the 3rd Monday in January we celebrate his birthday and honor his life and work for peace, justice and equality. Below are some great resources for celebrating Martin Luther King Day.
 If you are looking for the best books for Read Alouds for Grades 1-4  just click on the picture above for 10 wonderful books to share with your students.
At Kids' Turn Central you will find many great websites with information and activities to help celebrate MLK Day. Just click on the picture above. You will find free ideas for crafts and free activities as well.
You can find Free Lesson Plans, a Play, Games and more by clicking on the picture above.

I would also like to share a free activity from my Martin Luther King Unit that I just uploaded. I also wrote a Shared Reading Book and Guided Reading books about the life and work of Martin Luther King in my unit. One of the activities from my packet is a Compare and Contrast Venn Diagram and Writing Activity. Students will compare and contrast their childhood to Martin Luther King's childhood.
   Then they will use their Venn Diagram to help them write a paragraph.

Just click on the image below to download the Preview File and get your free activity and also see all the other materials in the unit.

Hope you found some great free resources to use with your students. Don't forget to visit Show and Tell Tuesday over at Sunny Days in Second to see all the other great blog posts about MLK. Just click on the picture below.
Freebie Fridays

For those of you headed back to your classrooms tomorrow after Christmas Break, have a great new year with your students!
Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

What activities do you do in your classroom for Martin Luther King Day?