Sunday, August 23, 2015

5 ways to enhance your academic vocabulary instruction

Are you overwhelmed by teaching students to master academic vocabulary? I've narrowed down the thousands of strategies and methods to my favorite five and I'm going to share them with you over the next few weeks!

Today I'm starting with the most important method - students need to SEE the words they are learning.

When introducing a new vocabulary word like 'articulate, or dividend, or expository,' it's extremely helpful for students to SEE what this word looks like so they can make a visual connection in their brain.  Here's how I help my students SEE new academic vocabulary words.

*  If it's a verb, students need to SEE it in action - if the word is 'articulate' I model for my students how to 'articulate' my thinking, I show them on the board by writing out a clearly articulated answer to a story problem or on an anchor chart.  Then I have students practice 'articulating' their thoughts to a partner.

* Students love to SEE each other doing silly things so I have student volunteers ACT OUT 'articulating' the answer to a problem.  Play vocabulary charades!

* If it's a noun or other part of speech - I DRAW lots of pictures of what the term looks like or does. I will also have the students draw their own representations and share them.

* If the word is 'dividend or expository, I will show what the word is by writing out a division problem and circling the 'dividend' so the students can SEE it. I draw lots of arrows pointing to the dividend to help them remember.  If the word is something I can display, like real 'expository' texts from my classroom library, I will pass them around for students to SEE and touch.

* Most importantly, I keep all of these visual representations available for students to SEE for a LONG time.  Students need MULTIPLE exposures to a new vocabulary word before they reach mastery.  

* I keep my visual representations posted all year long on our classroom word walls.  Every time we learn a new word I take out the word wall card, show it off, pass it around, discuss it, have students use it to make their own flash card, and then I make a BIG DEAL out of adding it to our word wall.  I also point it out on the word wall EVERY TIME we use, discuss, or see that word happening in the classroom!  Here's a few shots of word walls I've had over the past few years. Click on the photo if you're interested in viewing the word wall set on TPT.

After I've introduced new words to my students and given them lots of visual representations, I move on to the next method which is WRITE about the words.

Stay tuned for how we WRITE about new academic vocabulary words in our classroom.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Back to School "In a Flash" Decor and More

I'm back for week 3 of our "Back to School in a Flash" blog series.  This week's theme is "Decor and More."  I hope you'll link up with us and show off pictures of your classroom decor.  Since I can't get into my classroom yet this year, I'm showing off some of my favorites from last year.   Here we go!

This is a close up of our vocabulary bulletin board.  You know how much I love animal print and academic vocabulary - this board is so me!  I post academic vocabulary in Math and ELA for students to reference all year long.  These boards become our living text books!

Our classroom library is seriously my favorite place in the classroom.  I've loved libraries my entire life and I spend days getting ours ready for the new year.  I love to organize books in bins by author, series, topics, etc.  Kids grab a basket and take it back to their desks to browse - so much more convenient and user friendly than staring at spines without any organization!  You can see I've also tied in the animal print with my book bin lables and the black, white and lime green accents too!

This is one of our front bulletin boards and has two important purposes - I use large popsicle sticks with student names to showcase who gets to Read Around the Room each day and who takes cares of Classroom Jobs each week.  Fifth graders love fair and randomly drawing popsicle sticks is about as fair as you can get.  Both of these sets are FREE in my store if you're interested.

Anyone else a Donalyn Miller fanatic like me?  She is so inspiring and truly believes in teaching students to LOVE reading.  One way I share the joy of reading is by constantly talking about the books I'm reading during our daily status of the class time. My students and I encourage each other to try and read 40 books throughout the school year, as part of the 40 book challenge.  As I finish each book, I print out the book cover and tape it to my 40 book challenge door.  I love talking about the books with other student readers as they pass by in the hallway.  And it's so fun to watch the display grow.  You can get a FREE 40 book challenge sign from my store if you'd like to take the challenge too!

Lastly, these pencil cans!!!  Can you actually believe that I made them??  All you crafty people can stop laughing now, I'm really proud of these cans.  This is a big deal to me.  I am SO NOT CRAFTY.  But I made these in a very short amount of time - thanks to some Campbells Soup cans, black spray paint, ribbons, hot glue and my supply labels.  They are still going strong too!!

Check out all of my other friends' "Decor and More" posts in the link up below.  And link up too if you have time.  I want to see your favorite classroom pictures!!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back to School "In a Flash" Curriculum Must Haves

I can't believe that August is here!  July was a good month to me and my family and we were not ready for it to end.  But we are excited for the back to school season.  Back to school time is seriously my favorite time of the year (well, maybe second behind Christmas).  I love new beginnings (and new presents ha ha)!

So, in the spirit of new beginnings and a new month, I'm linking up with "Back to School in a Flash" hosted by my friends Layla from Fancy Free in 4th and Courtney from Ramona Recommends.

For week 2 of the link up we are sharing "Curriculum Must Haves!"  I hope you'll link up with us!

My first "Curriculum Must Have" is a product that I use every. single. day!!!!!   I seriously couldn't teach math without these simple, quick, common core aligned math exit slips.  I constantly formatively assess my students so I can meet with those who need extra help and move on with those who do not.  If I didn't do exit slips, I'm not sure how I'd know what to teach the next day.  Exit slips guide EVERYTHING in my classroom!!!


My next "Curriculum Must Have" is from my AMAZING blogging buddy Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6.  Honestly, if you teach writing and you are not doing a Paragraph of the Week type of daily warm-up you need to!  Now!  This simple, routined, repetition really strengthened my writers' basic paragraphing skills.  And we all know how important the basics are, yet we never have time to teach them.  This 5-10 minute daily routine will change your life!

Lastly, I'm going to share a "Curriculum Must Have" with you that I don't own, yet!!!  But it's stocked in my cart for the Teachers Pay Teachers Love Back to School sale that starts tomorrow!!!
I. Can't. Wait!

I L.O.V.E. teaching grammar, but struggle with finding the time and great resources.  I already own Erin's (from I'm Lovin' Lit)  Grammar Interactive Notebook for grammar, I think this Practice & Assess Grammar set will be the perfect companion to really enforce my students' grammar skills.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you found some useful "Curriculum Must Haves."  Check out some of my other blogging friend's faves in the link up below!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Favorite Fifth Grade Read Aloud Texts

Fifth grade teacher friends,  are you looking for the best 5th grade read aloud books?

If you're like me you probably enjoy switching up your read alouds once in awhile and trying something new.  But finding that something new can be a lot of work. When I'm looking for my next read aloud I ask my coworkers for ideas, scour my favorite celebriteacher blogs, stalk the Nerdy Book Club blog, and take recommendations from my fellow literacy fanatics on Instagram.  All of these steps take time and I'm spending this time over and over again throughout the year. Why is finding the perfect read aloud always so hard?

Cue lightbulb -

and then it hit me.........

I realized that instead of repeating this process continuously, I needed to put all of these AMAZING recommendations into a list that I could refer to whenever needed.  AND even better, that I could share with all my fifth grade teacher friends like you!!!

So, here it is friends!!  The BEST fifth grade read alouds - chosen by those who know best.  You!!!


All of these recommendations were gathered through your responses on my Wild About Fifth Grade and our Fifth Grade Freebies facebook pages.  I threw in some of my own personal favorites as well.

To make your life even easier, because who has time to search for things?!?, here are links to the read alouds mentioned in the FREEBIE if you're interested.

Historical Fiction:


Realistic Fiction: 


Fantasy/Science Fiction:


Happy back to school season!!!

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