The Power of Vocabulary~Back to School Revue

Today's Back to School Revue is all about increasing student success with vocabulary instruction.Vocabulary is such an integral part of student success. It impacts comprehension, expression, and most certainly test taking success! Vocabulary instruction is even more vital for English Language Learners or students from lower income homes. Research shows that there is a dramatic disparity between lower & higher SES students when it comes to vocabulary.

"Consider the following results from some seminal studies in the field:
  • First-grade children from higher SES groups know about twice as many words as lower SES children (Graves, Brunetti, & Slater, 1982; Graves & Slater, 1987).
  • High school seniors near the top of their class know about four times as many words as their lower-performing classmates (Smith, 1941).
  • High performing third graders had vocabularies about equal to the lowest-performing twelfth graders (Smith, 1941).
The end result is that enriched environments promote vocabulary development. Good readers read more, which in turn helps them become even better readers with even larger vocabularies. Poor readers read less, which contributes to their becoming poorer readers with more limited vocabularies. In effect, “the rich readers get richer and the poor readers get poorer.”" (O'Hara & Pritchard, 2009).

And what's even more scary? Many scholars believe that, once established, differences in vocabulary knowledge are difficult to eliminate and as a result continue to manifest themselves as students move through school (Coyne, Simmons, & Kame’enui, 2004; Hart & Risley, 1995).

Yikes! Take a deep breath!

This year, I am going to focus even more so on vocabulary instruction. I use a couple different strategies in my classroom: for those Tier 3 words, I really like F is For First Grade's Teaching Vocabulary with Picture Books-A Year's Worth of Lessons.

I like that it uses picture books that we all already use for read alouds. It pulls those Tier 3 words right from those books. I also pull in some Marzano....we post the words & play games with them weekly.

Speaking of of the hallmarks of vocabulary instruction is using graphic organizers. Marzano recommends vocab organizers include:
  • the word
  • student-generated definition
  • visual representation 
  • synonym, antonym, or non-example of the word.
You'll find this kind of organizer in my Vocabulary Strategy Pack. I also pulled out specific strategies kiddos can use to help the figure out an unfamiliar word. Help kiddos learn to use:
  • Picture clues
  • Prior knowledge
  • Context clues
  • Word parts
  • If all else fails...the dictionary!
So these take care of Tier 3 words and general academic vocabulary words......but what about those oh-so-important TEST PREP VOCABULARY?! I was SO excited to find this pack: Adventure's in Room 129's Vocabulary Voyage. This is also a full-year set up....94 test prep words, in addition to the vocab stuff (my technical term! haha!), each word has a sample test question that uses that word.

This activity is designed to introduce 5 words a week and then reintroduce those same 5 words the next week. The first week, the students learn how to read the words and define them. The next week the students go over those same words but practice answering standardized test questions that have those words in them!

And the best part? It's practically all set up for you!
Just print, laminate, make the copies, & you're ready to go! 

These vocab packs are powerful ways to boost not just your kiddos vocabulary....but their comprehension, expression, and their success in testing situations!

Back to School Revue--Caring Classrooms

This week will be a revue of all things Back to School! I'll sharing a variety of things that help teachers all through the year.
Today, I'm sharing information about Caring Classrooms & DonorsChoose.

If you've never heard of Donors Choose, it's an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers can submit a project, people from all over the country can donate to your project, & when it funds, the folks at DonorsChoose send it on your way to you. I've had several projects funded: a pack of about $150 worth of Literacy Games, two projects of books for Guided Reading (a couple hundred $ each), a set of three digital cameras, & my fabulous easel.

Right now, I have a project for a Kindle Fire.....which we'll use for workstations.You can click the pic above to head to my DC project page. While you're there, if you are so inclined to make a donation....if you use the code INSPIRE (through then end of Sunday, August 18th), your donation will be doubled! ANY amount will be appreciated!! No kidding! Even a dollar (which turns into $2 with the code) will help!

Psst! Here's a little known tidbit about DonorsChoose...
Did you know if you sign up to donate monthly with a automatic fund transfer with a credit card or debit card, you will get a $50 gift card sign up bonus? And you can choose to donate as little as $10 per month!
  • They charge your credit card/pull from your debit card on the 17th of each month.
  • You get to choose the project to which you want your donation to go
  • You can cancel at any time
That's right...after your first donation amount is pulled on the 17th of the month after you signed up, you will get a $50 gift card code to use on any project you'd like (your own?).

 Have you ever done a DonorsChoose project? Then you'll want to hear about this:

The fabulous Laura Candler has started a wonderful community group called Caring Classrooms. This is a group of teachers who support each other's projects with small donations. In just one week,  the teachers who are part of Caring Classrooms have funded 16 projects and have raised almost $3000! Stop over at Corkboard Connections to read more about Caring Classrooms and find out how to become a member of this worthwhile group! And become a member of the Caring Classrooms Facebook page to get updates and information!

Top 5 Countdown! SALE!

I know we're all in crunch mode getting ready for the school year to start (or lesson planning for those first few weeks for those who are already back!). To help everyone out, I've put my Top 5 wishlisted items on sale 20% off. Just click the pic below to head to my store...

Here are my Top 5 Wishlisted Items....
20% off until August 14th!

If you are a TpT seller, I'd love for you to join in too! Feel free to grab the button and link up! And grab the inlinkz code at the bottom to add the linky to your blog!

get the InLinkz code


Teacher Smart Back to School Guide

So excited to tell you about this awesome eMagazine....
Teacher Smart Back to School Guide
Pin this image for later!
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to join forces with 30+ amazing bloggers to bring you this terrific guide of teacher must-haves. Just click to read it & discover what you must have this year!

Objectives & a FrEeBiE!

I have been deep into classroom set up for the last week or so. With good reason-- today is my first day back with kiddos! 

Like many teachers, we need to post learning goals and objectives in our classroom. Last year, I ran across this picture on Pinterest. I'd love to be able to tell you whose wall this is...but the pin only leads to a link to a blog or web page. If this is yours, or you know whose it is, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due! 
I love the look of this! I love that you can write your objectives with dry erase marker & change them out each week. Just place some paper in a dollar store frame, add a magnet....and you're good to go!

In my classroom, however, I was worried about the weight of the frame and glass, and that kiddos might knock one of the wall. Broken glass in the classroom? Ain't nobody got time for that! So here's what I came up with...

 LoVe it! And the best part? All I did was create a digital frame and subject header, picked out some scrapbook paper I liked, sized it to 8.5" x 11", and ran it through the printer! Laminate, and you can write on it with your dry erase marker! Easy peasy!

And the even better part? You can grab the file to create your own! You'll find each subject page in both portrait and landscape....that way you can decide how you want the layout of your wall. Just click the pic above to download from my dropbox!

If you'd like to see more of my classroom-- and lots of others! Come check out A Class*y Cruise...Around the Classroom!

Make sure you stop by tonight for Schoolapalooza for some exclusive freebies!

Tour My Classroom!

Whew! This week has been a veritable whirlwind! Went camping Monday through Wednesday with the family, teacher work day & Meet the Teacher Night Thursday, spent Friday polishing things up.....and my kiddos come in on Monday!! So-- my classroom is kid-ready! Whew!

I'm linking up with A Class*y Collaboration's A Class*y Cruise Linky, and I'd like to take you on a little tour of my classroom....

So here we go!
Here's the view as you come in the door. I SWEAR my room is not this big! But I sure do wish it was as big as the camera makes it look!

New this year--- my teamie and I opened up a section of the wall between our rooms. We are teaching 1, 2, 3 Multi-age.  Think 54 kids....2 teachers. There will be lots of movement between the two spaces, and we'll be working together every day, too! Can't wait to share more about this adventure this year! can see the section over there on the right. We anchored it with filing cabinets on both sides, and a small bookshelf in front of it. Over on the right side of the opening, we put bookshelves back to back in each of our rooms. I love what we did with those plastic tubs that are stacked on top of the bookshelves! They really look so great....and all we did was line them with scrapbook paper that coordinated with our color scheme. LoVe them!

We are using the wall that's anchoring that section to post common info.  We have birthdays for all 54 of our kiddos (a freebie from That's So Second Grade)....Our PBIS rules *Be Safe *Be Responsible *Be Respectful, and our objectives board (you can grab Stephany Dillon's freebie HERE). Our schedule will also be here....but we'll have to wait until we hear about the intervention schedule, etc. 

Moving is my small group meeting area. The kiddos book baskets are on the right. Behind my macaroni table (yes--- that's what we call it!), materials and manipulatives for reading are on the right, and the math materials are on the right. Easy and accessible for kiddos to get whenever they need!
My new number posters! These are on the cabinets over the coatrack. There's also a tiny shelf between the coatrack and the cabinets. You can see my new book tubs (love the color!) here. I keep common and often used supplies here....wipes, extra glue sticks, pencils, hand sanitizer, etc. The number posters are available in my store...just click the pic to head over there!

Our Writing Center! The space above will be filled with posters and anchor charts...but we'll add these as we go.

Here's our Math Calendar Wall this year. You can check it out HERE.

And our classroom library! I wish the bookshelves were wood grain...they're a remnant of my turquoise and black theme. Oh, well....I'll replace them with wood grain as they need to be. I'm loving the look of those painted bulletin boards, too! This year, I put my alphabet line, which is part of Phonics Dance, down low so that it's more accessible for kiddos.

AND-- the piece de resistance.....
I got rid of my teacher desk!! That's right...this isn't a desk. It's my flat file.....which used to take up so much space in my room. I never could find a place to put it with which I was happy. Yet, I couldn't get rid of it, because it is packed FULL of stuff I gotta have! So--- got rid of my desk....moved that flat file over to house the stuff that needed a home (namely that big ole laptop docking station that I have to have!).  I'm telling you...just losing that teacher desk makes such a huge difference in how big the room feels!

Here's another view... you can definitely tell that it's my flat file and not a desk here.

NOW-- let's see YOUR classroom! 
Link up over at A Class*y Collaboration...