Posts made in July, 2013

Visualizing Vocabulary

Posted by on Jul 8, 2013 in vocabulary, vocabulary development | 2 comments

Visualizing Vocabulary

You may be interested in this linky for ELA task cards.

Robert Marzano, a guru of vocabulary instruction, tells us that the bright kids need about 4 exposures to a word to own it, average students need about 14, and our struggling students need at least 40. How can we expose our students to words this often? There are so many words and there is never enough time.


Of all of the many ways to expose students to a word, one of the most effective is a visual. Students need to make a visual connection between the word and its meaning. We need to help students have  a visual picture to go with the word.


Very often teachers have kids draw pictures to represent words. However, children with a minimal understanding of a term will have difficulty creating a visual representation for themselves with any depth of meaning. At the very least, students should be shown a visual of a new concept before being asked to draw their own.

A better approach is to have kids find photos or illustrations to represent the words. For example, if the word is “rural,” students have to find a photo that represents “rural.” If it’s “custom,” they find a photograph, possibly from a magazine, that represents “custom.” Elementary teachers could possibly find photos ahead of time and then have them available to the students. Teachers may want students to look through magazines and newspapers on their own.

To take the idea of using visuals a step further, you might have kids look for two photos – one that represents the word and one that represents the opposite of the word.If the word is “rural,” have students find a picture to represent “rural,” Then they find a picture that shows the opposite meaning. In this case, the student has to determine that the opposite of “rural” is “urban” and then find a photo that represents “urban”. This really deepens meaning and understanding because students have to know what the word means and what it looks like in a photo, but they also have to have an understanding of its opposite. This is a harder, higher level thinking and increases their exposure and understanding.

This is the perfect time to weave in technology standards. After teaching students how to access the clip art, they could look for graphics that represent each of their vocabulary words. This is a whole lot less messy than cutting photos and less time consuming than drawing pictures.


Many Marzano forms with places for the word, an understanding rating, definition, related terms, and drawings are found on the internet and designed by schools. I have created this “My New Word” template to be used in a similar fashion with words student choose to keep in a My New Words binder.

My New Word

My New Word


I have many vocabulary products available on TpT. Each word that I present is defined, used in a sentence, and illustrated. For some of the words I provide synonyms, for others, I provide multiple meanings. Here is an example and a link to my vocabulary products. You would be most welcome to try using this format with vocabulary in your classroom.

Vocabulary presentation idea

Helping our students own their new vocabulary is an important part of teaching. I hope my ideas have in someway helped you.




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A Person Who…

Posted by on Jul 7, 2013 in conversation as learning tool, example non-example, Freebies | 4 comments

A Person Who…
Blogging is best learned by blogging…and by reading other bloggers.
                                                                                           – George Siemen
And so a person who blogs is a blogger, although they might have been a bloggor, a bloggist, a bloggant, a bloggart or even a bloggarian. And who is the bloggee? The person writing or the person reading? Who decides with brand new words? How do they grow and become recognized so quickly?
While working on a product on suffixes, I started noticing all of the suffixes that mean a”a person who”. I had never thought about servant having a suffix and meaning “a person who serves”. Yet here comes to mind immigrant, inhabitant, celebrant, participant, already to taunt me for not seeing them before.
Do I think learning all of these word endings would be beneficial to my little people (third graders)? Yes, I do. If by learning, I mean being exposed to, playing with, talking about. No, I don’t. If by learning I mean drilling and testing.
How about an example/non-example lesson. Have a list of maybe 20 words with suffixes. Be sure about half of them have suffixes that mean “a person who” (teacher, walker, artist, scientist,  inventor, translator, librarian, vegetarian, contestant, defendant…). Start making two lists, students pay attention to the words to determine why they are examples or non-examples.
A “find an ending” matching game could be fun and would involve movement and discussion in the classroom. Half the students would have a card with a root word and the other half have a suffix meaning “a person who”. They link up with a partner when their two word parts create a “person” noun. They could then share the word and how they knew it was a good word with the class.


Suffix Chart
This chart is be a part of my Suffix Scavenger Hunt. Click on the poster for a link.
Don’t forget it is Fabulous Flash Freebie Sunday! They will be announced on my Facebook page.  I have also added a Freebies for Fans button on my Facebook page and have added a free gift for my followers.
Flash Freebie Sundays
I think I want to be a bloggart. It seems like I could be a blogger with a bit of a braggart inside. Anyone else?
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Expanding Bundles

Posted by on Jul 2, 2013 in comprehension, Uncategorized | 1 comment

A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.

– Tecumseh

Recently I noticed a new type of product being offered on TpT. The seller, Primary Techie, calls it an expanding bundle. She starts selling the bundle before all of the items are posted. The price of the bundle  increases as more items are added. The sooner you purchase, the lower your price. You can get all the new items by uploading the new file. You need to follow the seller, because when a new component is added as a separate product you will get an email. Then you will know to check the bundle for additional items.

She says she learned about expanding bundles from another seller on TpT. I have searched but haven’t found any others. Perhaps they call them something different. Let me know if you know of or discover some. I would love to follow them.

Here’s a link to Primary Techie’s bundles;

I love her work and unique teaching ideas, especially the WTC (Watch, Think, Color) products.

Expanding Bundles

I have created an expanding bundle for this year’s Bluebonnet Book Award Nominees. In Texas the librarians choose 20 books for grades 3 – 6 to enjoy. If the students read at least 5 of the books by the voting date, usually in late January, they get to vote for the winner. Even if you aren’t from Texas, you may be interested in these reading comprehension quizzes. The books are all current trade books that many teachers have or will have in their classrooms.

Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Laugh with the Moon by Shana Burg

Coral Reefs by Jason Chin

Freaky Fast Frankie Joe by Lutricia Clifton

Barnum’s Bones by Tracey Fern

10 Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want to Survive the School Bus by John Grandits

Tua and the Elephant by R.P. Harris

Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman

Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi

Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan

Whatever After: Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski

Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The Humming Room by Ellen Potter

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

Jangles: A BIG Fish Story by David Shannon

Walls Within Walls by Maureen Sherry

Balloons Over Broadway: the True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Paradeby Melissa Sweet

Bake Sale by Sara Varon

Bluebonnet Books Expanding Bundle



This convenient product will help you  ensure that students are reading and comprehending the new Bluebonnet books for this year. The bundle is a simple solution to running a powerful  Bluebonnet program this year.

This product currently contains 5 of the 20  reading comprehension quizzes that I will be posting for the Texas Bluebonnet Award nominees for the 2013 – 2014 school year. I am selling the individual quizzes for $1.00 each. The bundle currently costs $4.50. If you buy it now you will have eventually (before summer is over is my plan)  all 20 titles!

A really compelling reason to buy now is that as I finish reading each book and creating its quiz, I will add  it to this bundle and raise the price. The price of the bundle will increase as more books are added. The sooner you purchase, the lower your price. You will get all the new books by uploading the new file. Be sure to follow me on TpT so that you get each new product notice and will know when the new books are available!

You will be purchasing this bundle at a significant savings over the listed individual titles. But even better, you will be able to get all of the additional titles at NO ADDITIONAL cost!

Each title includes:

A book summary so that you can be familiar with the texts of all of the books.

16 – 20 Question Reading Comprehension Quiz with questions covering characters, setting, problem, plot, genre, text features, and theme.

A time-saving answer key is provided allowing you to check for student comprehension without reading the entire set of 20 books.

Well, what do you think of expanding bundles? I am trying to decide if this work work for more of my products.



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How to Play Reverse Bingo

Posted by on Jul 1, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments




How to play reverse bingo

I don’t know if anybody has played reverse bingo before, but I do know that it was an original brainstorm for me. I wanted the students to be more fully engaged in the game, than in a regular bingo game. A regular game is too passive. Students are only practicing the few items called before the game ends. With reverse bingo the students practice all of the facts (skills) before the game begins.

Each student needs a set of answers. In my sets there are always 2 left over cards. This keeps the kids from just putting the one that’s left done with no thinking involved. Students could do this step as part of a center or group time activity. Those who finish and have it ready will be able to play Reverse Bingo at game time. This gives them an incentive to get the work done on time.

To play the teacher (or caller) chooses an answer card and calls the number. The students remove that number from their cards. At times there are 2 of the same number (18, 24, 36 in this game) and the students can apply some strategic thinking in removing only one of them. At times they may not have the number so none are removed.

When the card is removed, students say the whole number sentence aloud reading from their fact below the card and adding the answer. Their shoulder partner or team must agree on each students number sentence or the (ladybug) card is put back. When a student has five empty spaces in a row, then a (reverse) bingo is called.

In my math sets and in my homophone set, I made the first 4 cards in the set easier. The math sets have many patterns that can help the student. The homophone set has the two homophones together. (I allow students to switch if they discover they had an error, but not uncover the one that was the error.) Having this extra support allows for differentiation.

There are 25 different cards in each set. The student answer cards print two to a page, plus there is a set of cards for the caller. Each product comes with a complete set  in color and a complete set in black and white.

The multiplication sets are available as a bundle in either color or black and white. The bundle includes all 4 multiplication games and is 25% cheaper than the games separately.

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