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Vocabulary Walls

Learning new vocabulary

One of the skills my building needed to strengthen according to test scores was vocabulary.  To be specific, vocabulary and synonyms to go with the vocabulary.  One way that I am addressing that weakness is with my vocabulary wall.  For each book, we pull a word or two for our vocabulary to learn.  Then as a visual reminder, I place those vocabulary word cards on a copy of the book cover.  This is an easy way to help students remember what the word means by remembering how it was used in the story or text.  I require that they be able to read the word and be able to tell me a synonym that goes with the word.  When we have a couple of seconds, we can easily go over the wall, reading the words and naming the synonyms.  I am finding that it is helping the students remember vocabulary better this year.

learning new vocabulary and synonynms

In addition to the vocabulary wall, we also fill out a vocabulary sheet so we can dive in a little deeper with the word.    We discuss the definition and what the kids come up with becomes our definition.  I don't want them memorizing a bunch of words that really don't have any meaning to them so the language needs to be from them.  I also like to have different versions  of their answers and let the students write what fits them best.  

learning new vocabulary and synonyms

We were discussing loitering with The Three Little Pigs folktale unit.  The students discussions on loitering were funny!  We finally came around to when the author uses loitering, he is trying to convey to us that the character is probably up to no good!

learning new vocabulary

Of course the discussion on scrumptious got us all hungry for lunch!

learning new vocabulary

We keep our vocabulary sheets in our Interactive Reader's Notebook.  This is the vocabulary section of it.  We have several versions of vocabulary work in the notebook to choose from when using it.

Using interactive reader's notebooks in class

The notebook has been a really great tool this year.  Helps keep everything organized in one place and an easy way of seeing the progression of skills by the students.

How are you working on vocabulary this year?  


Focus Wall Organization

How to Organize Your Focus Wall

Yay!  It is Bright Ideas time again!  I hope you join me and my friends for some great ideas for your classroom.  

Anytime I use anything in my classroom, I need it to be easy to use and for it to be organized.  If it is not easy and organized, I just won't do it.  We do not have time for anything that isn't smooth and easy to use.  Now that we are well into our year, I don't spend a lot of time at the focus wall.  We just quickly go over the pieces.

How to Organize Your Focus Wall

For my different reading groups, I use different colored Post It notes to make it easier for the students to keep track of which labels are theirs.  

How to Organize Your Focus Wall

Keep your Post It notes in a caddie right by your Focus Wall.  I also recycle the labels.  I stick them to the wipe off board so they can be reused again instead of taking time to rewrite them.  By having examples of themes on the board, it helps give students some ideas to choose from too.

How to Organize Your Focus Wall

I also keep my comprehension posters right there at the focus wall to make it easy, peasy to switch out.

How to Organize Your Focus Wall

The posters fit well right into one of these crates that I keep in front of the board.  

Bright Ideas

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For more bright ideas from a variety of other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thank you for visiting! 




Folktales: Mittens & Pigs

reading plans and resources for the week

Reading plans for the week are for my reading small groups instead of my RTI groups this week.  We have not started our next cycle of RTI yet.  Our RTI all day committee meeting is this Friday.  We will meet with each teacher to discuss the students that were in RTI.  We look at graphs, whether progress was made or not and how much  and new scores on the DRA assessments.  We look at the whole picture then take a vote to make decisions regarding what each student should do next.

reading plans and resources for the week

This week we are going to be starting folktales with my first and second graders.  Yay!  Love folktale units!  For second grade we will be working on The Three Little Pigs and my compare and contrast unit.  Click here or on the plans above to download the plans with the links to the resources.

Folktale Unit and activities


folktale activities

I like to teach about weak and strong characters and how characters sometimes go through changes in a story.  This character changes sheet goes with the book The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig.  If you have not read that book, you need to.  Kids love the play on the characters!  You can read more about this unit by clicking here.

cvc blending word work

My first graders are still working on cvc words and will be doing this activity this week with these oversized cubes.  

blending cubes

I ordered these cubes over Christmas break and got busy creating some activities to go with them.  One of them is the cvc work the first grade will be working on for Monday.




Each one of the activities in the video are separate activities, but they are bundled together too for convenience.  Click here to see the bundle.  You can click each individual activity from here too.  


Be sure to link up your plans with Deedee!


Running Records

Running Records Toolbox app

We've had our Christmas break and now it's time to be getting things ready to go back to school.  Not sure how my break went so fast!  It was a wonderful time to recharge and be ready to get back and dive into what we need to learn.

I do a lot (I have anywhere between 40-50 students at any given time) of running records with my kids.  Anything that can make doing them easier is a blessing!  Usually I am gathering up my sheets, timer, accuracy table, and calculator.  A lot of this is included in this running records app which will make things more streamlined and easy.

Running Records Toolbox app

I really like that the stopwatch is included right in the app.  Also that I can pause it without clearing the clock.  

Running Records Toolbox app

The graphics are really cute!  Here I can just enter the numbers for accuracy, error rate, and self corrections.

Running Records Toolbox app

The app calculates all three for you!  So easy!

Running Records Toolbox app

One neat thing that is included in this app that isn't in some apps is the symbols cheat sheet.  I know a lot of teachers when they are new to giving running records like having a cheat sheet to help guide them to the marks they should use.

Running Records Toolbox app

An accuracy table is also included to remind you about the percents.  This will help you decide where your student is at and what level of book you should choose next.

I am excited about this cute app and what all it can do.  It is called Running Records Toolbox and is only 99 cents.  What are you using when you do running records?  


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