Posts made in August, 2014

Folders for Make Up Work

Posted by on Aug 31, 2014 in Uncategorized | 9 comments

I am busy today creating folders for when my students are absent. I was pushed to do this because I had students absent in both of my classes on Friday. Since I never had 2 classes to keep track of before, I had not thought of a plan for this. My plan is to use the  2 pocket folders that are so cheap this time of year, but I don’t have any at home right now, so I have used file folders. File folders could work, but with younger children I think the pockets would be better. I don’t know if  I will be able to laminate a pocket folder. Can anyone let me know if that is possible?

Make Up Work 002

A problem I have often had is that third graders don’t really feel like they need to do the missing work. So I made a chart letting them know which day the work will all need to be done. In my district if a child misses one day they are given one day to make it up. I look at it this way. If Susie is absent on Monday, that means she returns on Tuesday and I give her the work. In order to have a whole day to get it done, I don’t ask for it to be returned until Thursday. Thus a Tuesday absence will require work returned on Friday. I expect both Wednesday and Thursday absences to have work completed by Monday. Friday work is due by Wednesday. Would you add anything to this chart?

Make Up Work 003

I made a page that reflects all of the activities that may be missed in my classroom on a given day. I have also made others with more generic lists. What would you like to see on a list?

Make Up Work 004

I like the looks of my folders. I am anxious to try one out on a pocket folder. Would you like to use something like this? You can get it for free this weekend by leaving me any advice or suggestions here on my blog! Remember to include your email address!


Read More

Introducing Tuesday’s Vocabulary Tips

Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in vocabulary, vocabulary development, vocabulary tips | 0 comments

Read, read, read. Read good books. You will strengthen your understanding of story. Your vocabulary will be the richer for it.

~ Carmen Agra Deedy


When we are learning, it is so important to gain the vocabulary of the subject. Children need to be exposed to the new vocabulary in a much deeper way than the presentation of the word and its definition. In fact, if given just the word and the definition, no real learning can happen. Without forming connections to the new vocabulary, without making it a new and enchanting idea that captivates the students’ minds, the new words just remain words.

There are many ways to help students discover new words. The most effective is probably having the child in a situation where they discover a NEED for the words. Going back to infancy when their vocabulary was growing rapidly, a need for language is a powerful learning tool. Think of second language learners. Their language grows much more quickly when there is a need for it. Project based learning is a current strategy in education which can provide students with a need for new language. I plan to explore this in the future!

Every Tuesday, I am planning to explore ways and provide tips to improve vocabulary instruction and learning.

I am beginning this week with the Frayer Model. The Frayer Model is a graphic organizer having four squares with a circle in the middle for the new word. This strategy should not be used as an introduction to new words! It could be used whole class after an introductory lesson as a formative assessment of the students’ understandings. It could also be used as a review strategy to help students organize their thinking to prepare for a test. A page could be kept in an interactive notebook to add new understandings and thoughts to throughout instruction.



The organizer above is the original version of the Model. There are many variations available. The purpose of this instructional strategyis to promote critical thinking and help students identify and understand unfamiliar vocabulary. It can be used with the entire class, small groups, or for individual work. The Frayer Model draws on a student’s prior knowledge to build connections among new concepts and creates a visual reference by which students learn to compare attributes and examples. Here is an example of a model that could be used with primary stdents.

Slide1Frayer Model Primary

Have a great day!




Read More

Selling Spelling: Dance Your Spelling Words

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

There’s more to learning to spell than passing a spelling test. There are lots of ways to get students to go from guessing to knowing what to write down on a test, and applying that spelling when writing sentences and paragraphs. I want to explore many of those strategies here each Friday.

Selling Spelling


Dance Your Spelling Words

Dance Your Spelling Words Freebie!


Involve the whole child in spelling practice! Students spell out their spelling words while stepping on each letter. Be sure the letters are secure to the floor. I think I will duct tape them to the floor and then duct tape around and between the letters. I will place them in a lower traffic area of our classroom.


Students just tap each letter with their toe.

Students must use the correct foot (the one shown on the card) for each letter.

Students do an extra hop or other movement between letters.


Place the letter cards on the floor in random order.

These cards are available as a special freebie. They are also a part of a larger product. The larger product includes the footprint cards in colors. It also include handprint cards (in color and b/w) that can be placed on a desk, table, wall, bulletin board, whiteboard, or even the floor. In addition to that are piano keyboards and individual hand cards which could be used whole class.

Spelling dance

Individual keyboards could be kept in students’ folders for individual or whole class use.



The individual handprint sheet would be great to send home to practice spelling words. It could be a more active choice on a spelling homework choice board.



My first Selling Spelling Tip boils down to let them get up and move to spell their words! Do you have any fun ways to do this?


Read More

Scrabble Adds a Selfie

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in vocabulary, word study | 0 comments

“[Calvin and Hobbes are playing Scrabble.]
Calvin: Ha! I’ve got a great word and it’s on a “Double word score” box!
Hobbes: “ZQFMGB” isn’t a word! It doesn’t even have a vowel!
Calvin: It is so a word! It’s a worm found in New Guinea! Everyone knows that!
Hobbes: I’m looking it up.
Calvin: You do, and I’ll look up that 12-letter word you played with all the Xs and Js!
Hobbes: What’s your score for ZQFMGB?
Calvin: 957.”
― Bill Watterson, Scientific Progress Goes Boink

Scrabble added 5,000 new words to its official dictionary. My mom and two of my sisters are big Scrabble freaks, well, especially the sisters. They play online. They talk words and scores. They have all of the two letter words memorized. I do not play Scrabble to their level. I was surprised to learn that “za” is a word. It is just a shortened form of pizza. They use “xi” and “qat”. I need to know what my words mean. Also given the large hours they practice between our opportunities to play together, I am usually at a disadvantage. However, a win is really sweet!

The new words showcase how languages are living and growing entities. Words go out of usage (but I’m sure they stay in the Scrabble dictionary), new words come in. The word “selfie” is a great example. Although it is a very young words it is already being used by people of all ages. My 90 year old mother spoke of not taking a selfie after falling on her face a couple of weeks ago. My 8 month old great-nephew recognizes the word “selfie” and gets ready to pose. Some other new words include

BEATBOX, BROMANCE, CHILLAX, DA, FRENEMY, GI, HASHTAG, JOYPAD, MIXTAPE, MOJITO, PO, SUDOKU, TE,  TEXTER, VODCAST, and VLOG. I was clueless about the word “joypad”. I looked it up and was glad to have my inferences validated!

I think Scrabble can be a great game for both spelling and vocabulary practice. Third grade is a good age to get started, but children need to have guidance and support in the beginning. It needs to be a positive experience when they start playing. Of course, everyone can’t win, but everyone can find words.

Spelling Worksheet Scrabble


This spelling practice worksheet has a Scrabble-like activity, that can be kind of fun! You can find it here.

It’ll be interesting to hear what my sisters think of the new words. I know they will be excited to have more 2 letter words. I wonder how many of us are planning to buy my mom a new Scrabble Dictionary for Christmas!


Read More

Interactive Spelling

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I have worked all summer on spelling units for my third grade classroom.  I wrote a post about my plan back in June I am anxious to begin using my units when school starts in three weeks.

Interactive Spelling 007

My goal was to make spelling a mostly independent (or at least not teacher dependent) activity. This picture shows activities for the students on Day 1 of a unit. (The unit pictured is on the spellings of /er/.)  On Mondays, words can be introduced for the word wall with the Word Wall cards or flashcards, students will work to determine what spelling pattern is used in all of the cards. This could be done large group or students could work on it small group or in reading groups. I plan to do this whole group, so that all the students have a good introduction to the new skill.  The cards come in color and illustrated or black and white with no illustration.

Slide7 Slide8


Then the students will receive a sheet with the new spelling list. They are to copy the list twice, then cut it apart. One list goes into their Interactive Spelling (or Word Study) Notebook. The other list with, which includes the typed list, goes home. Parents will be able to see the original list in case of any student errors!

Students also will receive a Study Pocket and a set of mini-flashcards, study cards. These cards also have the illustrations of the words for the week. Students who finish making their lists, cutting out and assembling the pocket, and cutting out the flashcards can meet with a partner to begin practicing their words. (Study pockets and min-flashcards are currently being added to all of the sets. If you already bought a set without them, you can always download them again.

Having these Study Pockets flashcards meets the Common Core standard

Consult reference materials, including beginning dictionaries, as needed to check and correct spellings. This standard is also addresses in my review package with my “Help Wanted” on-going activity.

Interactive Spelling 011
Interactive Spelling 013

Day 2, usually Tuesdays, has an independent Word Sort. Students cut out the Word Sort organizer and the small word/picture cards, then sort them by whatever skill is being practiced. Along with the small picture/word cards, students receive a set of additional words that contain the practiced skills (you can almost see this underneath the colored pencil box). Students who finish the sort can write additional words (and illustrate them) using the studies skills. They first words on each list are the “Apply” words that students will be expected to be able to spell on Fridays.

Interactive Spelling 016

Students can add the “My Word Collection” flapbook to their interactive notebook on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. The purpose of this flapbook is for students to find and add words that follow the rule throughout the week (and beyond).

On Day 3 the students will use their word list in writing. This activity meets the Common Core Standard

Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word families, position-based spellings, syllable patterns, ending rules, meaningful word parts) in writing words.

The writing involves either finding rhyming words (with attention to possible changes in spelling) or writing a creative story using a prompt. Prompts are currently being added to all of the  units. If you have bought a unit without a story prompt, you will be able to download it again once I have updated it.  The rhyming activity creates a flapbook to be added to the interactive notebook.



Day 4 is all about the scavenger hunt. Students find the words for missing sentences posted around the room. They write down the number of the the card and the correct spelling of the word for each sentence. A gameboard is also available for Day 4. Students who finish the scavenger hunt could meet to practice spelling the words aloud while playing the game. Alternately, the gameboard could be a brief part of the reading small group lesson on Thursday.  This is where I am thinking I will use them. These scavenger hunt cards and the gameboard are also included in black and white versions.


A worksheet of these same sentneces is available in each unit for those who would rather not use the scavenger hunt cards.

Friday’s assessment is also accomplished as a scavenger hunt. The picture cards with no words are placed throughout the room for students to find and write the correct words. There are 4 additional cards of words that should have been seen throughout the week, but were not specifically studied. A sheet for the test is available. An additional sheet is available if you’d rather give a more traditional test.


In addition to all the materials listed there are several homework sheets available in each unit. One sheet is created specifically for the unit using the words within the unit. This sheet also has a Boggle board for students to find many words, not just those studied, that contain the targeted skill. I feel this sheet meets another Common Core standard

Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word families, position-based spellings, syllable patterns, ending rules, meaningful word parts) in writing words. The other sheets have students practicing alphabetical order, sorting words, having choice options, etc. I will not use all of the worksheets each week.

I am really excited about these units and can’t wait to begin using them this year. I will begin with the Short Vowel Bundle, which is 3 units long. I will then use the Long Vowel Bundle which is 6 units long. At that point I plan to stop and do a review unit with differentiated lists based on student needs. Then I have a Consonant Bundle (just realized that this bundle is missing 2 of its units – you should buy it quickly then download it in a few days, when I’ve had a chance to update it!!) and am very close to putting all of the varient vowel units into a Varient Vowel Bundle. I currently have 18 units plus the review unit. I have plans for at least 12 more units, including plurals, doubling consonants, changing y to i, homophones, and compound words to name a few.

I have enjoyed sharing my Speliing Units plan with you! Thank you for reading about them. If you have any suggestions or questions, please let me know!


Read More