August 2012Tales from Outside the Classroom: August 2012

Interactive Vocabulary

I asked another friend to share some great ideas with you.  Please welcome Jana from Thinking out Loud.  I love to hear ideas about vocabulary.  I think it's my weakest area.  She has some great tips to share!

Hello, fans of Tales From Outside the Classroom!  My name is Jana from Thinking Out Loud and I love being here today.  I hope everyone has a had a fabulous start to the school year.  For those of you who haven't started school yet:  Make sure to read blogs :) and spend copious amounts of time with your family.

This year my school district is focusing on teaching vocabulary in a more explicit fashion.  We combined Marzano's vocabulary strategy with Harvey and Goudvis's inferring word meanings strategy (from Strategies That Work) to create "Interactive Vocabulary."

Interactive Vocabulary

1.  Choose the Words -  Teachers choose appropriate vocabulary words. The goal of this step is for teachers to choose 3 words per week that are the most important to understanding the concepts being taught. They are “umbrella” words that other vocabulary would fall under during the unit of study.  Part of this step also includes creating a pre-assessment (that will also be used as a post-assessment) using the chosen words.

Here is the one I created for my first two science units in 3rd grade science.  Click HERE or on the picture to get your own copy.

2.  Introduce the Words - Teachers introduce the words to the students without directly telling them the definition of the words.  Teachers will give students clues about
the words using images and objects associated with the word.  Then have students infer the meaning of the word and write a description of the word in the vocabulary section of their notebooks.  Remember that this description is just a starting place for their understanding of the word which will be built upon in the during the sequence of instruction that follows.

3.  Infer the Meaning using Text Context - Teachers read aloud a passage that has
the vocabulary words in context.
This can be from a novel, textbook, article, etc.  As a class, construct the following chart:


Then have students add to their description of the words that they started in the previous step.

4.  Great a Visual with Examples and Non-examples - Teachers model creating a graphic representation of one of the words using a think aloud to describe why that
graphic was chosen. Teachers then model the thinking behind choosing an example and non-example for the word.

5.  Interacting with the Words - After the students have been taught the
vocabulary using steps 2-4, they will interact with the words in a variety of
ways throughout the rest of year through movement activities, related words/associations, compare and contrast, classifying, and graphic organizers.

What does this look like in action?  Check out my blog next week for updates.  I start teaching using this strategy on Tuesday, September 4, 2012.  I will post my lesson plans and examples of student work.

To begin using this strategy in your classroom, download this quick reference sheet of the strategy by clicking HERE or on the picture below.

Thank you for having me today!  I had a great time.  Leave a comment and let me know how you teach vocabulary.


Back to school hit me like a ton of bricks this year!  I can't even begin to describe how tired and drained I've been over the last few weeks!  Not to mention, changes in my job, a jewelry party at my house, and a few other personal hiccups thrown in, and I left my blog hanging for a while!  But, I have some goodies for you for waiting patiently for me to come back!  I also have some info on some awesome pens!  I'll warn you now that this is a long post, but keep going!

I've been in a writing kick lately.  I think part of it is because I did a 6+1 traits of writing training a while back for the new teachers in my building.  As part of my training, I planned a personal narrative unit that combines introducing the 6+1 traits with the writing process.  I've been thinking about creating a couple units to sell.  I've noticed that I think that's where many people get stuck in writing; how everything fits together.  What do you think?  Is this something you would purchase?  Would you be interested in it?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Speaking of writing, I'm so excited that Shoplet asked me to review some great office supplies for them!  They sent me a variety of pens, pencils, and highlighters from Zebra in this cute carrying case.

The first one I tried out is the Z-Mulsion EX ballpoint pen.  I LOVED it!  It was light and when I wrote and the pen glided across the page.  I also really like that the pen is clickable instead of capped- I always lose my caps!

Another one I tried out is the M-301 Mechanical pencil.  I didn't love this one, but I figured out it's simply because of the feel of the pencil itself.  There were a couple pens in the same style, and it's just too skinny and slippery for me.  When I wrote, it wrote just fine.  However, I just couldn't get used to the feel of it.  Because I had a couple extra to try out, I realized that I love Zebra, just not this particular style.

Shoplet is having a great giveaway where you can possibly win your own Zebra Pen and/or a gift card!  Click here to head over there to enter!

In my last post I shared some cute back to school stationery.  In the meantime, I had started working on a couple different journals.

The What If Journal is 35 different pages of "What if..." writing prompts.  I like giving students prompts because I think it builds their creative thinking before they do state mandated prompts.  I especially like "what if" prompts because it encourages students to think outside the box.  You can get the journal from my TpT store by clicking on the pictures above.  It's only $2!

I also created a My Wishes Journal.  This one also includes 35 pages of writing prompts.  It is available for $2 from my TpT store. To get your free copy, click one of the images to come over to my Facebook page and then click on the Fan Only Freebies tab for the download link.

 I also created and uploaded a yearlong journal resource!  My Journal Prompts & Papers unit includes 30 prompts for every school month: August through June.  I know 30 is way more than you would need, but I know that students have various experiences and I thought it would be better to give you options.  With over 300 prompts, you are sure to find plenty that meet your students' needs!
I also included 35 different writing stationery pages that could be used on their own or as pages in a journal.  I like the thought of choosing the pages that they like the best and then compiling and binding them later.  I've included some basic ones and also many that fit different holidays and themes.  Here are a couple:

You can purchase the whole thing from my TpT store for only $3!  Just click on any of the pictures.

I also put all of that together along with some other writing pieces I had to give you a year-long set for writing.  I'm going to use this for my Work on Writing time during Daily 5.
Once I started creating the writing pages, I was having a lot of fun and decided to create a bunch.  I really liked some of the fall items I had just purchased so I decided to stick with a fall theme.  There are 20 free pages in the set!  Just click on the image below to download them for yourself!
I'm linking them up for a great fall linky.  Click the button to check out the other posts!

Wow!  That was an incredibly long post but I had a lot to make up for!  Remember to let me know what you think about my ideas for some writing units!

Back to School Blog Hunt

Welcome!  I'm so excited to be participating in the Back to School Blog Hunt!  I've been back to work since August 1st.  The teachers in my building have been back full time all week this week for professional development.  Kids start tomorrow!

I'm a big fan of doing writing activities at the beginning of the year.  First, I think it's the easiest way to get a quick gauge of your students.  You can see their spelling abilities, which often translate to reading abilities in the primary grades.  You can see their handwriting.  You can identify those "I did it in 30 seconds and I'm DONE!" students.  Plus, they're usually something you explain in a few minutes, the kids begin working, and you don't have to give a lot of direct instruction.

I put together a writing stationary set.  There are 7 different versions with different prompts.  You can let students choose their own, or you can pick a few and do them across a few days.  

You can click on any of the pictures above to download the stationary from Google Docs for free.

I also like when students start something at the beginning of the year and finish it on the end.  It gives the students a chance to see how much they've grown.  It also is something great you can send home to parents. I created a Year Book to do just that!
 (This is a sample cover.  Students create their own using their own writing and pictures.)

On the first day of school, students draw a self portrait and write their name.
 They also complete a short survey answering a few questions about themselves and what they like and aspire to be.
Throughout the year students create additional self-portraits.  There are pages for each month, or you could do it just a few times throughout the year.  There is also a survey for the last day of school.

At the end of the year, have students design their cover, then laminate it, bind the book, and send it home!  You can click on any of the pictures above to go on over to my TpT store to download the file for free!

I hope I've given you a few resources you'll think about using to start off your year!  If you're new to the blog hop, click the links below to check out the posts you've missed.  If you're finding this post a bit after the fact, make sure you go and check out all the great freebies and ideas!

Word Walls

I loved Mary's ideas for using licorice to make learning more engaging- perfect for those kinesthetic learners!  I'm crazy excited to have the phenomenal Miss Kindergarten as a guest today.  Hadar is one of the first bloggers I found, and I'm so glad that I've gotten to know her over the last few months!  I know you'll love what she's sharing with you today!

Hi everyone! I'm Hadar from Miss Kindergarten and I'm excited to be guest blogging for Tessa today! Tessa is such an amazing blogger and friend! She is so inspirational, so I feel extra special being here today! Today I'm going to share with you about an integral part of any primary aged classroom and how I use word walls in my class.

Word Walls

Make them large and an important part of your classroom! Your students will not only learn the importance of words and how they play a role in our everyday lives, but they can also use word walls as a reference in writing, reading and more!

Here are some tips on how to create word walls in your classroom!

Incorporate pictures and letters into your word walls:

Add your students names and pictures onto your word walls.

Words to know by heart:

Set up word walls for different grade levels. Each grade level has their own color:

Display a board of sight words:

The wonderful Debbie Clement has a whole blog post dedicated to different word walls she's see. To see even more word walls click {here}

Important things to remember:

1. Start your word wall by adding the students' names in your class.
Have your students help you decide where their name belongs. It is a
great way to teach letter to sound correspondence and helps your
students feel like they are a part of the class.

2. Always teach a word before adding it to the word wall.  In
order for the word wall to benefit your students, they need to know
what words are on the wall. If your theme for the week is color words,
add the words as you teach each color. 

3. Practice reading words from the wall.
I love using songs in the classroom, so I came up with some songs to
practice reading words from our word wall. I use these songs when we
have a few minutes left at the end of the day, or during a transition
into a new lesson.

You can get a copy of my word wall songs by clicking on the picture below:
I hope this was helpful!


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Edible Learning

As you can tell, my blog has been a little abandoned this summer, and it's only gotten worse the last few weeks.  I went back to work two weeks ago and have been doing professional development with my staff, and I've been crazy busy with outside commitments.  I didn't want to keep my blog empty, so I asked a few bloggy friends to share a few ideas with you over the next few weeks.  I'll still be popping in to share some things with you, but I think you'll love the people I have lined up!  First up, is the wonderful Mary from Sharing Kindergarten.  Please welcome her and show her some love!

Hi all!
I am off to a FUN start on my school year and I am so excited to share some ideas and pictures of edible learning in my classroom. One of my favorite ways to make learning stick is my using food.
Somehow, food makes a lesson memorable... and fun... and yummy!!!

class usually starts off with the letter Ll the first week of school,
so I LOVE to use licorice to learn. But... I kinda got carried away
getting ready for my school year.

Here is my first food idea...

I made this activity called A Tisket A Tasket!

Grab it here on TN or here on TpT
Using the ten frame apple mats and  Twizzlers Bites licorice as my "apples."

Since some students are ready to create numbers, I made one blank set.

But since some students are not ready to create numbers, I made a ten frame set with markers in them to model.

can use these for about a million different things! Counters, math manipulatives, dry erase markers, calendar activities, or to display
them on the wall. I will use them for food!

I also use these ten frames at my calendar EVERYDAY to talk about number
sense. We connect the top row of the ten frames with one of our hands
and the bottom ten frame to the other. Together... they make ten. To
make six, you need one whole row, one hand, and another on the next row)
one finger on the other hand.

Next, I am using Pull and Peal licorice to create shapes, letters and numbers.This is slightly messy and so much fun!

 I love to talk with my kids about counting how many sides each shape has. We have to break out piece of licorice into that many pieces in order to create that shape. We also have to make that many points. The thought process is awesome.

After we create, we eat the shapes and we draw them using our pencils... again, thinking about how we created the shape with the licorice.

But... We also create words... like our sight word of the week...

This is not in any pack, but something I created for my class.
We also create letters using these mats, but I have since added the sun in the sky as well.

These letter and number mats are in this pack...

Grab it here on TN or here on TpT

 Gran this freebie shape sheet to create your own shapes in your classroom!

Head to my blog to grab this freebie sheet here!
I am going to be using ten frames a lot this year with the Common Core rolling out.

How about you?

  Mary Amoson, Sharing Kindergarten