July 31, 2015

Five for Friday!

Today is the last day before August..... which is absolutely crazy. This summer is flying by! 

I received some unexpected assignments for my summer grad class. Needless to say, the busiest time of the year is going to be a whole lot busier this year. I have to create a professional development plan for teachers at my school and possibly district to use. AAAHHH 

This is my life- every day

I have also been kicking it into high gear and getting things ready for the classroom. I am incorporating some new pieces into my already bright and colorful room thanks to the GORGEOUS watercolor flamingo collection from Schoolgirl Style. I {LOVE} flamingos and can't wait to see how this all turns out. 

I have also started reading Wonder. This is going to be our first read aloud/novel study. So far I'm loving this book and think it has some great lessons to teach my students. I have also been creating data notebooks which I will post about when they are finished :) I'm super excited for how they are coming along. 

And.... you can't forget it is summer. We took a break the other day to take the boys to the dog park and out for ice cream. They loved it. 

Yesterday, the hubby and I drove to Siesta Key to spend a day on the beach. It was beyond beautiful there. I can't wait to go back!!!! 

Lastly, just because I didn't show it off sooner.... y'all know how obsessed I am with my fur babies. My mom was shopping the other day and stumbled upon this shirt and just knew I had to have it. So she bought it for me and mailed it down. I {LOVE} IT! Apparently so does Quinn. 

Link up HERE and share all about your week! Are you getting ready to go back soon? 

July 28, 2015

Word Nerds Book Study Part 5 & A Giveaway

Chapter 5- Active Vocabulary Practice 

Are y'all ready for my thoughts on Chapter 5 of Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary. Make sure you stop by Leslie Ann's Life in Fifth Grade to see her thoughts.

Remember the last post when I said that Chapter 4 is where it really gets going.... I wasn't joking. Chapter 5 is even more jam packed with awesome ideas to inspire even the most reluctant teacher to create word nerds in their classroom. These are things you can do as a whole class to "jazz up" the dreaded vocabulary instruction. Here are a couple of my favorite activities/ideas from this chapter. 

Student Vocabulary Charades 
Students work together in small groups to plan and act out the definition of a term. The students are up and moving, and the whole class is engaged and discussing vocabulary.... Does it get any better than this?!

Chain Link
Students create a human concept map to show how the words are connected. Each student has a word (the book uses lanyards- see Leslie's post for some great ones on Amazon) and they volunteer to connect their word to another students. This happens until the whole class is connected in one long chain. The book recommends holding off on this activity until towards the end of the study or cycle, so that students are more familiar with the terms and their meanings. Again the students are up and moving, and the whole class is engaged and discussing vocabulary.... Does it get any better than this?!

Word Colors 
The student reads a word and thinks about it's meaning. They then decide on a color they feel represents the word and color the word card. Students are using higher order thinking, and being very creative. An example from the book.... "I think black for swift because I think of a Ninja." 

The photo above came from 4th Grade Frolics post all about Word Nerds! Go check it out, she has great ideas and images too! 

As you may have already noticed, I'm missing a few entries. Well, life always seems to throw curve balls your way... even when you are not expecting them. I have been EXTREMELY busy working on an unexpected and huge masters project. Trying to juggle that with school quickly approaching and I have been overwhelmed. However, Leslie and I told you we would be having a giveaway..... so enter the giveaway below and stay tuned for my make up entries on Chapters 6, 7, & 8 :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

July 17, 2015

Word Nerds Book Study Part 4

Chapter 4- Squeezing the Juicy Words- Adding Synonyms and Antonyms 

Here are my thoughts on Chapter 4 of Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary. Make sure you stop by Leslie Ann's Life in Fifth Grade to see her thoughts.

As much I love Word Nerds, Chapter 4 is where the fun really gets going! In the first couple chapters it talks about choosing words for each vocabulary cycle. They recommend choosing 6-10 vocabulary words because in this chapter they share the importance of teaching students synonyms and antonyms to help them understand and really grasp a word's meaning. If you teach 1-2 synonyms and antonyms for each word, your students are going to be studying 18-30 words each week! Phew! Let's talk about some awesome conversations we can have with our students and how much growth they expand their vocabulary like that! 

One of the steps in the plan that Word Nerds shared is having students use tools such as dictionaries, thesauruses, and technology to investigate words on their own to find antonyms and synonyms. The class then comes together and shares what they found, choosing only the best to put on an anchor chart. This may push some teachers out of their comfort zone a little bit, but DO NOT complete the chart for them. The learning experience is diminished if the synonyms and antonyms are assigned to them instead of them having word conversations to determine them on their own or with peers. 

I also create a quick printable freebie vocabulary journal. I am planning on printing these double sided and binding them together for my students, or I might just get lazy and print them single sided and have them glue them into their notebooks for a few weeks until they get used to how they look and then they can create them on their own. Click HERE for your copy! 

Stop back by tomorrow for thoughts on Chapter 5!!!! 

July 11, 2015

Word Nerds Book Study Part 2 & 3

Word Nerds Chapter 2: Classrooms That Foster Word Confidence & Chapter 3 Making Introductions

First off, I should apologize for the late post. As you may have noticed from my last entry... it's been a rough few days. However, I can happily say I have snapped out of my summer guilt. I have made a nice little schedule to ensure that I am relaxing and working an appropriate amount. Also, I bought a new car which makes me a pretty happy gal! 
So to jump in, here are my thoughts on Chapter 2 & 3 of Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary. Make sure you stop by Leslie Ann's Life in Fifth Grade to see her thoughts. 

Creating a Classroom Environment That Supports Vocabulary Development & Preparing Students for Vocabulary Success 

Set Up the Room: An important part of creating word nerds is creating an environment that aides, inspires, and reinforces students' learning. Classrooms that promote vocabulary development should have anchor charts and word walls, dictionaries, thesaurus, and computers to assist students in working with words, notebooks or graphic organizers, and a library full of trade books, content area literacy, and small group guided readers/leveled texts. It should also if possible, be a flexible space that allows students the ability to work around the room, in tables or on the floor; independently, with partners, or small groups. 

This is where I'd love to show you all how I am doing this in my classroom, but given the current summer situation, my new room is empty. It is full of possibility so if you can imagine for a moment....this is what I have planned. 

I have LOADS of leveled texts. Both content area based and literature focused. I also have a few resources including dictionaries, thesauruses, and classroom computers and iPads. 

This adorable little nook is going to be the classroom meeting area where we will do our word introductions and whole group vocabulary work...more about that later and in future posts.

Word Choice
In Chapter 1, how to choose the right words for your students was briefly discussed. This conversation is continued in Chapter 2. I have already started selecting words for Quarter 1 instruction. The book recommends using commercial literacy programs such as Journeys or Reading Street, if you have them, along with content area words for instruction. I have pulled my districts pacing guides for reading, math, science, and social studies. Along with these documents, I am analyzing the resources I plan on using during the first quarter to start my vocabulary planner. The planner is a teacher friendly tool used to help layout vocabulary instruction information such as a kid-friendly definition, lists of synonyms and antonyms, and where the word is located in the text. 

Vocabulary planning should include an understanding what content area terms your students should know.

Build a Routine
Establishing a routine helps build student's comfort and a sense of the community. "When we say 'routine', we want to make it clear that we are not advocating boring, mind-numbing instructional activities in the classroom" (pg. 19). As teachers, we all know how important it is to establish routines and procedures at the beginning of the school year, and continue to practice and praise them after. This is no exception. There are routines and procedures for teaching students to be word nerds, which vary slightly depending on if you teach primary or intermediate. Taking the time in the beginning to establish the procedures and routines of how students will work with words will be best for everyone in the long run. 

Here are the 5 basic steps of the Vocabulary Cycle routine 
1. Introduce the Words
2. Add Synonyms & Antonyms
3. Practice Using the Words (whole & small group instruction)
4. Celebrate Vocabulary Learning (whole group)
5. Assess Learning 

In this post (Chapter 3) we're going to focus on step 1- introducing the terms

Primary Grades....
1. Word Prediction: After hearing, saying, and determining the syllables in a term, students make predictions or guesses about the meaning of the word. They also use the word structure to analyze and determine information about the word. Parts such as affixes, root words, or endings such as -ly, can help the students gain more information about the word, it's meaning, and how it should be used. I like that the teachers don't critique or correct at this time. They simply acknowledge, probe further, or move on. This gives the students the freedom to build off of each other, and continue to work towards determining the terms meaning, building skills needed while reading independently. 

2. Trying Out the Words:  During this time teachers use Cloze activities to introduce students to the 6-10 words of the cycle. This was one of the first AHA moments of this book. I can't believe I had never heard of this before, but immediately knew that this is a genius way to introduce my students to new words. 

Fourth Grade Frolics has a great post about creating word nerds. This is part of step one, word prediction/sentence prediction. 

3. Vocabulary Journals: The last part of introducing words includes having the students begin their vocabulary journal. Both teachers use an adapted version of the Frayer model graphic organizer. Which requires the students on day one to write down the term, the definition, a symbolic representation of some sort, and use the word in a sentence. 

This is an example of an adapted Frayer graphic organizer. I will be using one just like this next year for my 3rd graders vocabulary journal. 
Make sure you stop by again on the 14th for my thoughts on Chapter 4.

July 9, 2015

A Bad Case of Summer Guilt

Okay fellow teachers, time for some serious honesty. I am a day behind on my Word Nerds book study post. I am sick, 100% out of commission. I have a horrible case of the summer guilt, a terrible funk that creeps up every summer, at least once and typically lasts a few days. 
Symptoms: lack of motivation, disgust of self and everything one does, yoga pants or sweats, Netflix marathon, poor disposition or mood, no desire of normally enjoying people or things 

Have you had a case of this too? I have had it before, but I swear this is as bad as it's ever been friends and I am not sure what to do. My to-do list keeps getting longer and longer and no matter how bad I might want to fight it, that clock and calendar keep on ticking and before I know it August 17th will be here. A part of me wants to sit like a bump on a log, feeling lazy, and doing nothing. Another part of me knows there is 8,000 plus things that I should be doing each day. 

Just out of curiosity, am I alone out here? Does anyone else have a bad case of summer guilt? A desire to relax and do nothing that lasts way too long? Horrible guilt and depression that comes from knowing everything you should be doing? Or are you one who works all summer and doesn't even take a day to relax? 

I must tell ya... I'm actually feeling the opposite of human! 

July 5, 2015

Word Nerds Book Study: Part 1

I'm beyond excited to be linking up with Life in Fifth Grade today to share all about a great professional resource----Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary.


My first year of teaching, I was at a school who expected teachers to follow the basal reader script with fidelity, and every teacher must be teaching the same way. I remember absolutely dreading Mondays, vocabulary day. It was BEYOND dreadful, and the students agreed. Read the vocabulary passage, write down each word, give definition, use in a sentence, complete a worksheet, test on Friday.

This fantastic book follows Margot Holmes Smith and Leslie H. Montgomery's journey to make vocabulary instruction an engaging and key piece in the literacy classroom. They have a vocabulary cycle, or plan for instruction, and routines and activities in place to make sure they meet those goals.... more about that later! The first chapter is all about the why and how. So why is vocabulary instruction so important? And how do teachers get started?

Studies show there is a strong correlation between a student's knowledge of vocabulary and their reading comprehension. Which of course makes total sense! If the students understand what the words they are reading mean, overall they will have a better understanding of what they are reading as a whole. If the words are unfamiliar, little comprehension is possible. 

The Common Core State Standards place more of an emphasis on vocabulary instruction than before. "From Kindergarten (RL.K.4) Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text" to grade five (RI.5.4) Determine the meaning of general academic and domain specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade five topic or subject area" (pg. 10). There are also additional standards in the Language and Writing strands. 

Chapter 1 also talks about the RIGHT way to teach vocabulary. Which is obviously not the way I was doing it! Word Nerds authors use two main research based guides to help create their vocabulary cycles. 

The first comes from Robert Marzano (2009), and includes a six step plan. 
1. Teacher provides definition or example
2. Students restate in their own words
3. Construct a symbolic representation of the word 
4. Engage in activities 
5. Collaborative work and discussions
6. Games that allow students to better understand the vocabulary 

The second comes from Michael Graves (2006) 
1. Provide students with a variety of meaningful and deep vocabulary experiences
2. Teach individual words
3. Provide word learning strategies and instruction
4. Promote an understanding of words

I'll leave you with my favorite quote from this section. "All my life I've looked at words as though seeing them for the first time."- Ernest Hemingway.


Are you reading Word Nerds? Or have you already read this amazing book? We would love for you to share your thoughts with us as we post ours! Comment below and tell us what you are thinking about providing vocabulary practice and effective instruction in your classroom! And remember to check back in a few days as we talk about chapter 2! 

7/5- Intro and Ch. 1
7/8- Ch 2
7/11- Ch 3
7/14- Ch 4
7/17- Ch 5
7/20- Ch 6
7/23- Ch 7
7/26- Ch 8
7/27- Recap & Giveaway

July 3, 2015

Five for Friday 7.3.15

I can't even believe the date I just wrote... July 3rd! Where is summer going and why is it going so fast? Linking up with Doodle Bugs for another....

I guess I should start with the official news that this girl is going to a new school and new grade next year! I will be teaching 3rd grade at a school about 15 minutes from my house and couldn't be more excited! I have a feeling it's going to be a great year! 

I have already started prepping things for next year. I have tons of bright colored stuff in the classroom already, so when I saw School Girl Style's new Flamingo Watercolor Collection I knew I HAD to have it!!!! While out wandering a few days ago, I stumbled upon a few cheap finds to help make sure the classroom really looks great next year! Thank you Target Dollar Spot

We all know that just because a classroom is cute and organized doesn't mean the year will go smoothly, though it sure does help right?! So I have also been plugging away on some personal pd reading. Some of these gems are re-reads and some are brand new. BTW I LOVE Word Nerds. If you have not yet read it, add it to your cart immediately. I will be doing an entry on it as soon as I finish the last chapter later this week. 

I can't forget it is summer and time to relax. I have been working and playing pool side and trying not to die from the extreme Florida heat. 

And of course spending lots of time with my favorite boys!!!!

What are you up to lately? Link up and share your Five for Friday