Tag Archive: vocabulary


Nerf Sight Words

IMG_3082I’ve been trying to get a little more creative in ways I can get students applying sight words they need to know along with movement and fun.  I saw on a teacher webpage advertisement the idea to use Nerf to sling darts at sight words.  This has been a HUGE hit.  The kids have been begging to play.  I call out a sight word they are still a little shaky on and they have to use the laser pointer to aim at the sight word and then try and get it.  Only a few darts have bounced off and hit Ms. Acuff! 🙂

2nd Grade: Into The Sea

IMG_9557My 2nd graders have been working on Into the Sea–a book about Emma L. Hickerson by Stephanie Herbek.  I chose this book 1. because it’s a fabulous book, and 2. these students were working on an ocean book in their small group within the classroom and I always love opportunities when I can connect with what they are doing in the classroom.  Students have been working on text features and note taking (using a T chart) within the classroom.

IMG_9558We started out by locating text features within the book and also using the book they had been using in the classroom as well.  We used their book from the classroom as somewhat of a “mentor text” as Linda Dorn’s new thinking in Guided Reading Plus is to add a “Preparing for the Phases” portion where you really build background knowledge the first portion to help the students become more successful in the reading of their new book.

I had the kids write down important vocabulary words that would help them in their reading and writing based off of a vocabulary graphic organizer I created myself using the one from Linda Dorn and then one I received from a colleague of mine.  If you would like a copy of what I used please let me know–I’d be happy to share that with you.

IMG_9560Students then read through Into the Sea with a partner and then were asked to create a T chart with their partner locating the equipment Emma needed for her job and the use for each piece of equipment.  Students were to sticky note the pages each time they found a piece of equipment for easy reference.

We started out as a group listing pieces of equipment and the use Emma had for each and then students broke up into partners to continue finding equipment.  We came back as a large group and shared all of the pieces of equipment and uses.  I started to write all of them on the board as they shared so if they didn’t have the same things other students had they would have a complete list.  They did such a good job of finding things that I ran out of room on my white board.  I was proud with how thorough they were with their findings.

IMG_9559The 2nd graders did a really great job of working collaboratively with each other and taking notes.  You can see in the photo to the left and then at the very top how students took notes on the table whiteboards as they read for quick reference in their book and then put their notes from their white board into the chart in their writing journals.

We’ve really been working on finding the important parts of the information we are given and summing up things in a more efficient and effective way.

IMG_8551When I was at the UNI Jacobsen Center for Comprehensive Literacy Reading Conference, Linda Dorn and Carla Soffos stressed the importance of building vocabulary with our students instead of making comments about how difficult books can be for our students who have no background knowledge on a topic.  She make it clear that it is our job to build the bridge to these new vocabulary words and be the scaffold for our students.

And while using vocabulary words wasn’t new to me, the thought of being more explicit was somewhat new to me.  I have been picking relevant vocabulary words from 2nd and 3rd grade’s non-fiction books and printing off pictures to go with them.  (There is a post below where you can see 2nd grade and the process they went through to label their pictures)

This has been a VERY good thing in my classroom.  Students are much more successful when it comes to the 1st read and then when I listen to them again the 2nd time for a running record.  Students are also more successful when it comes to writing as they have important words already hanging up that they can reference.  It’s a nice reminder of important parts of the book and it also gives them the word to aid in spelling.  Students are more eager and willing to write when they’ve been set up for success.

After we are finished with the book, the vocabulary words go under the white board where they remain as our word wall words.  Students can reference these at any time during the writing process while making connections, having an unstructured writing session while I conference with other students, or if they come across the same or similar word in a new book.  I’ve been so happy with how many times students have reference the words since we’ve been using them.

Once we have finished then students are able to take home the extra pictures.  It was fun hearing at conferences how students were talking about the pictures and vocabulary words with their parents.  What a great way to make a connection from my classroom to their homeroom classrooms to their home.  I even had one student who had taped his picture to his desk.  His classroom teacher said it wasn’t a distraction, but he was very proud of the work he’s been doing so wanted it displayed.  Yay!

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IMG_8345One of the things I took away from the JCCL Reading Conference earlier this week was how we need to be better about building background knowledge and vocabulary with my kiddos.  It’s not that I don’t do vocabulary things with my IMG_8346students, but they weren’t remembering the words we went over when it came time to read them.  We’d build them with magnetic letters and we’d locate the words in the book, but then there would be several students who still didn’t know the word.  Linda Dorn showed a picture of how she gave her kids sticky notes to label the different seasons.  I was anxious to try this myself when I got back to school.

Yesterday, I introduced the book All About Sharks and hung up different pictures of sharks.  I went over the important vocabulary words with the kids and then gave them each 2 post-it notes to put in the appropriate places on the shark picture.  The 2nd graders were super excited about this part (picture at top.)  I was planning on leaving the labels where they were and then having the kids double check for accuracy after reading, but they were all correct. (Photo to the right)  And I was really excited when it came time for the kids to independently read the book because they were accurately reading all of the vocabulary words we had gone over.  In fact, I saw some of the kids look up at the board to cross-check information and then go back to reading.  It was a wonderful use of using your strategies and using your resources.

IMG_8349Today we reviewed the vocabulary words and I had the students make their own shark fact booklets.  They had to have 5 shark facts they learned from yesterday’s reading.   The students got right to work and it was incredible because there was very little asking of help from them.  They were using the board as their “word wall” and IMG_8348writing sentences with the important vocabulary words we went over the previous day.

I got to go around and conference with each student on the sentences they wanted to write.  Some of the students I had to go back and help them with writing complete sentences instead of just writing down a vocabulary word.  I was really impressed because out of the corner of my eye I saw one of my students re-reading for accuracy and then changing part of the sentence to make sense.

When I see the kiddos again on Monday we’ll be able to finish the books and fix some of the spelling errors on the papers and also to make sure our sentences make sense.  IMG_8347I’m really excited with how the vocabulary labeling seemed to really help with the reading.  I’ll be interested to see how this works with other books that we read.