conversation as learning tool

Rock On!

Posted by on Oct 25, 2012 in conversation as learning tool, Uncategorized, vocabulary, vocabulary development | 1 comment

Vocabulary development can depend on many things, repetition, connections, visuals, conversation, and, of course, interest. Children, no matter their age, deserve the real words to describe what they are desiring to learn about. All of my vocabulary cards are written with this idea in mind.

Yesterday I posted the igneous rock. I love to talk with my students about the Latin root of igneous igne meaning fire.  They usually have heard of ignite and ignition. Some of the other words are ones I never knew until I was ready to learn them with my kids!

igneous (adjective)

1. Of fire, fiery; typical of fire; relating to or characteristic of fire. 2. In geology, formed by solidification from a molten or partially molten state (used of rocks or relating to rocks so formed): “Granite and basalt are igneous rocks.” 3. Relating to a rock that was formed by solidification from molten or partly molten material; one of the three principal classification of rocks along with metamorphic and sedimentary: “Such materials are a result of, or are produced by, the action of great heat.”
ignescent (adjective)
A reference to something that produces sparks of fire or that which can emit sparks or burst into flame: “He was using ignescent flint to cause sparks.”
ignible (adjective)
Something which is able to cause sparks or fire: “Since he had ignible trash, it was easy to burn all of it in the fire place.”
ignic (adjective)
Of or pertaining to fire: “The ignic heat from the fireplace helped to keep them warm during the winter.”
ignicolist (s), ignicolists (pl) (noun forms)
A fire-worshipper or fire-worshippers: “There were ignicolists who were known to worship fire as a form of a god.”

That which can be burned or set on fire.
1. To cause to burn. 2. To set fire to. 3. To subject to great heat, especially to make luminous by heat. 4. To arouse or kindle the passions of ; excite.
1. One who ignites. 2. A device to set fire to an explosive or combustible.
1. An electrical system, usually operated by a magneto or battery, that provides the spark to ignite the fuel mixture in an internal-combustion engine. 2. The point at which a substance begins a process of combustion, or the means by which this process begins.Ignitionoccurs when the heat produced by a reaction becomes sufficient to sustain a chemical reaction.Today’s word is metamorphic rock. It’s name comes from Greek roots. Metamorphic comes from the Greek words meta and morph. Meta means change and morph means form. So we get metamorphic meaning to change form. That is just so cool to kids, like a transformer or a shape-shifter!

Remember if you’d like more on rocks you can find my Rocks and Mineral unit and my Rock Cycle unit at my TPT store. (The Rock Cycle unit is contained in the Rocks and Mineral unit.) $5.00 $3.50

See you on tomorrow to share sedimentary!


Read More

I Am Her Vocabulary Devotee!

Posted by on Oct 14, 2012 in conversation as learning tool, vocabulary, vocabulary development | 1 comment

The best word-learning classrooms are filled with an intentional
focus on vocabulary where students notice words and consider strategies for becoming word savvy.   – Linda Hoyt

This list is from Spotlight on Comprehension: Building a Literacy of Thoughtfulness by Linda Hoyt, Chapter 18 “Building a Robust Vocabulary”.

This is a list of ways to intentionally build word awareness as an important stepping stone to facilatating vocabulary development and retention.

1. Ensure that students spend a lot of time reading from a wide range of texts with well-crafted language.

2. Read to learners from richly written fiction and nonfiction sources, discussing interesting words.

3. Create a word-rich environment, celebrate words on the walls of your classroom.

4. Use a rich vocabulary when conversing with learners.

5. Study the concepts that underlie words.

6. Identify relationships between words.

7. Connect new words to words already known.

8. Help students develop strategies for independent word learning.

9. Model good word learning behaviors and your own curiosity about words.

10. Invite students to be word detectives, collecting interesting words and words that are important.

11. Save words in a notebook.

12. Give students opportunities to use words in meaningful ways.

13. Engage with fewer words; don’t try to cover so many that learning is superficial.

14. Link visualizations to word meanings.

15. Provide opportunities to make inferences about word meanings.

16. Have fun with language!

I am including two worksheets I have created to go with Linda’s amazing vocabulary/comprehension building ideas.

KID Vocabulary

The First activity KID Vocabulary is for students to choose key words from a concept that is introduced. They choose the important information to remember, then draw an illustration to help build their understanding.

The second activity requires students to summarize a lesson in two words. Students need to reflect on the two words that will provide them with the most meaning for what they learned. Students are also asked to write or talk about why they chose those 2 words. They could talk about other words they considered and why they rejected them. They can help a partner evaluate the 2 words they chose. This is an excellent activity for using conversation as a learning tool.


Please check out my Vocabulary Development  Strategies Book at TPT!

Vocabulary Development Strategies

Vocabulary Development Strategies Contents


Read More

Saturday Extra: Freebie Edition

Posted by on Oct 6, 2012 in conversation as learning tool, Uncategorized, vocabulary development, word of the day | 2 comments

Expecting something for nothing is the most popular form of  hope. Arnold  H. Glasow

I want to invite all of my readers to find all of my freebies on TpT. I have talked about several of them on this blog, but many others are available.

This product creates a 3 and 1/2 chart that shows the levels of Bloom’s questions. I have one in my room. I move the hot air balloon at times to talk about why some questions are better questions than others. Great student discussion requires higher thinking!

I also have a product for “Diving Deeper with Bloom”. It has the same format, except that a cute scuba diver goes deeper into thinking about ideas. This product costs $1.00.

Our school uses The Comprehension Toolkit to help build comprehension skills and to  provide the students with tools for understanding what they are reading. The third – fifth grade set of the Toolkit has 6 books. I have created posters to go along with each book. Since I only synthesized the authors ideas, and didn’t really add any of my own, all of these materials are free. There are 30 posters in all.

Another freebie, that you have already seen, are my patriotic bookmarks. This set includes bookmarks for the Pledge of Allegience, the Star-Spangled Banner, the Preamble, and the Declaration of Independence.

Here is a weather related freebie. This is great for adding a writing component to your unit on weather.

My List, Label, Group graphic organizer can be used with any concept. It is a great extension to the “K” part of a KWL. Great for using conversation as a learning tool to build vocabulary.

If you have visited my blog before you have seen many of my word of the day cards. This freebie is a package of some of the most popular ones I have posted. Many packages of word of the day cards and other vocabulary cards are available at my store.

My favorite freebie of all time is my context clues lesson, Diamonds or Coals. I recently added to this freebie to make it even better.

Finally, my newest freebie is for Halloween. It has two compound word activities.

I hope this is helpful and that you were able to easily download any or all of the activities that would be of interest to you. I think next Saturday I will scour my blog for all of the freebies I have only posted here for another roundup!

See you Monday with the Word of the Day!

Read More

Election vocabulary

Posted by on Oct 4, 2012 in conversation as learning tool, vocabulary, vocabulary development, word of the day | 2 comments

“In all debates, let truth be thy aim, not victory, or an unjust interest.”
―    William Penn

As we are gearing up for elections, I thought I would give you at look at part of my election unit. It is for sale on TPT and TN for $5.00.

One way to build vocabulary is through conversation. Have students complete a KWL chart to kick off your lessons, then have them talk as partners, teams, or whole group about each section.

Another activity that could be used as a formative assessment after some vocabulary has been presented would be a tree map. You would want students to use the new vocabulary and to be able to add ideas to the right sections. Again conversation will help students retain what they are learning.

After vocabulary is introduced and practiced, it is always fun to play games to reinforce and review. I have several games and a gameboard in this unit. Here is a fun Vocabualry Spinner to help build vocabulary understanding.

I am excited to begin using my election vocabulary unit in my classroom in the next couple weeks. What activities do you have planned for elections?


Autumn word of the day


Read More

Into October

Posted by on Oct 3, 2012 in conversation as learning tool, vocabulary, vocabulary development | 0 comments

“October’s poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter.” –   Nova Bair

School gets into a routine by October. Students know expectations and settle into real learning time. Now is a time to bring in some real vocabulary lessons. Never be afraid to use the real term with children. I still rankle about the made up “long neck” dinosaurs that were a popular movie series when my kids were young. Children don’t need to be talked down to. They need to be invited into the real words with real conversation. My children don’t “plus” numbers, they do addition. They don’t “take away”, they subtract. Children need the real terms to become part of their vocabulary. If they are to be successful in school and beyond, we cannot limit their language.

As a very personal aside – I limit my language. I have never used nor plan to use 4-letter words in the hearing of children (or adults). I don’t think there is any real place for this language and wish that babies, who aren’t exposed to all the academic language they need, weren’t instead exposed to verbal garbage. (Yes, I am a fuddy- duddy, and proud to be one.)


More words available at my TPT store:

Thanks for listening!


Read More

Failing at Vocabulary

Posted by on Oct 1, 2012 in conversation as learning tool, Uncategorized, vocabulary, vocabulary development | 0 comments

“Stay” is a charming word in a friend’s vocabulary.
Louisa May Alcott

Who Are We Failing?

According to Hart and Risley (1995), 3 years old who come from low income households are already 600 words behind 3 year olds from other families.  The average 3 year old knows 900 – 1,000 words, so this deficit is huge! By second grade, the difference has increased to about 4,000 words.   Students, and especially struggling readers, generally begin to lose interest in reading by 4th grade (Applegate & Applegate 2010).  This shows that we must increase vocabulary instruction at the primary level in order to increase at-risk students’ motivations to read.

Vocabulary instruction cannot only include teaching words.  There must be instructional time showing students how to use context clues, letter sounds, related words, and outside resources in order to determine what a word means in its specific context.

“If our goal is to help students improve understanding … then words need to be pulled apart, put together, defined informally, practiced in writing, and played with regularly …” (Kelley 2010).

I especially like the “played with regularly” part. Children must also be given the chance to talk and the structure to make their words meaningful. Sentence starters are a great resource for successful conversation on a topic.

A significant amount of time must be spent on learning and using words in different ways and with varying shades of meaning for a student to truly understand a word and begin to use it correctly.  Vocabulary instruction time needs to happen not only during language arts periods. It is essential to the content areas as well.

I have added to my popular “Diamonds or Coal: A Context Clues Lesson”. It now includes a teaching resource and practice page for “Finding Restatements and Definitions” in sentences and a “Toolbox for Compare and Contrast Words”.

This lesson is free at my teacherspayteachers store:

Here’s a sample of its newest pages.

Word of the Day cards can present a chance for meaningful converstaion. Here’s another autumn word for you.


I just learned that baby teeth and antlers are also called deciduous! It is never to late to learn more about words. What will you learn today?


Read More