Vocabulary Units Going Strong!!!

So we did a big training and staff push for vocabulary this year. As a campus we have been working on incorporating vocabulary for a few years but nothing has been very solid or formal.

This summer when I went to LETRS training I had a super brainstorm on how to “formalize” vocabulary instruction in my classroom. (See that post here…)¬†And when I made the first unit to go with the first story in our basal my team was so excited by the end of the week about how much vocabulary learning happened! So here I am making my 3rd unit for next week and I realized I really needed to update all my followers on how it was going and what the week looked like.

So by the end of the week the pocket chart looks like this…

Look at it all filled up and happy! Now after week one my kiddos pointed out that the sentence cards (see them at the bottom) were too tiny and they wished they were larger. Something I promptly changed for week 2.

Starting on Monday/Tuesday I introduce the vocabulary using the big color coded cards. This is very much an “I do” situation because I don’t want any misconceptions. I discuss, I give examples, the kids repeat after me, we do some silly movement or sound to remember the word better.

Then on Tuesday/Wednesday we break the words into syllables using the syllable cards. And a teammate taught me the COOLEST trick where you put your hand under your jaw and then say the word and the number of times your jaw drops down is the number of syllables…I’ll wait while you try it…SEE!!! ISNT IT SUPER COOL!!! I had my kids all doing it and they were amazed. But the real moment was when one kid looked at the syllable cards and said, “Hey! Those are the chunks!” Hallelujah! They got it! Or at least that one kid did!

By Wednesday we are connecting the definitions to the words and syllables.

And finally by Thursday we are using the pictures and example sentences to make further sense of the words.

Last week I started having them record the vocabulary in their journals. One day I had them just write the six words, leaving some space between each. Then a few days later I asked them to add one thing to each word. Some students added syllables, some drew pictures, some wanted to copy the definition. I didn’t specify what they had to do because I was a little curious as to what they would choose. Especially because I prefaced the activity with “choose something to add to each word that helps you remember the word”. I think I will continue to let them choose because it worked and they were all engaged. In the next few weeks though I would like to build up to adding two things to each word.

All week long I saw children using the pocket chart during the reading station, which was nice. And I even remembered to get out the Ask cards and carry them with me when we were in the hallways to surprise children with vocabulary questions (for a small reward of course!).

So there are now three vocabulary units and I will really try to make one for EVERY Treasures unit!!! You can download a preview file or the whole thing from my TpT store!

OH! And the super most fun for me about making the unit is drawing the clipart! I feel like all those art classes I took in college are finally coming in handy!


Vocabulary Center!!!

So after my LETRS training the other day I blogged about new Vocabulary Centers that I was working on. Now that I have them done and tested them on my daughter who is entering 2nd grade this fall I feel like they are awesome and I can share some pics!

Maddie had a great time organizing the pieces into their places and she even figured out the color coding made all of it work together. It was nice to see her use the syllable pieces to break apart “carefully” and read it, then discover that the whole word card was readable.

I have it posted in my TPT store ready for the 2nd week of school!

Here are some pics of the other parts. Not all the cards are laminated and cut though because after I warmed up the laminator I realized I only had 5 more sheets! GASP! I guess a trip to Target is in my purview for the afternoon! How will I ever avoid the school supplies?! It is definitely becoming more difficult!

Argh! Only two more weeks!!!

Also working on this en Espanol¬†but it is quite difficult, seeing as how I speak very little Spanish! Why is it that French was so much more enticing? Oh yeah and Japanese…. Hmmm….Why do I live in Texas again?

Ja mata!


LETRS Training!!!

So I spent the last four days sitting in a high school chemistry room attending LETRS training, which is the new “latest greatest” that our district is requiring us to take. LETRS stands for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling. Now that’s a mouthful, and a earful too if you have to sit through the four days of training.

The worst best part is that I only took the Foundations course and there are 12…yes, TWELVE…more modules!

So I sat and participated while we were instructed about the different phonemes, and graphemes, and morphemes, and brain studies, and all that until my head was hurting. I thought it was from all the “new” learning but then we found out that they were varnishing the floors in the building. Never mind all our important learning.

Of course, if you have been teaching elementary reading for as long as I have and you don’t know these things already…well, I want to know what school you teach at so I don’t accidentally send my kids there.

Anyhoo, I always try to find the silver lining so instead of being grumpy I brought my laptop and reviewed my language arts lessons that I already finished for weeks 1-4. Actually, I found some places where I could be more clear with my planning so the other 2nd grade teachers could do what I’m doing. (We do common planning and all that so I only plan for Language Arts and then share my plans.)

So for shared reading where I usually just put some little blurb about vocabulary…

…but then I was questioning whether my new teachers knew the strategies to teach this vocab?

What if they didn’t? What are they doing? Hmmm.

That got me thinking. There were a lot of great ideas in the LETRS training that I could implement in our regular routine. So I put together a trial of vocabulary stuff. We are lucky that our basal comes with some vocabulary cards that have the definition, an example and a discussion question on the back. But these really aren’t as useful as I wanted.

I usually make separate sentence strips for matching and the such but I haven’t ever included those in my plans. I thought it was just what I did and other people had their own way.

UPDATE: Pics for this unit found here!

I used the first story in our basal “David’s New Friends”, for those of you using Texas Treasures from MacMillian McGraw-Hill, and I set up a four activity set vocabulary instruction. I went with the LETRS format and did sets for Syllables, Definition, Discussion, and Examples. I also just wrote out the vocabulary words on cards.

Syllables has each word broken into syllables on cards for matching and blending.

Definitions has each word defined for matching.

Ask has smaller cards with discussion questions for oral language and word meaning.

Example is my favorite because it has picture cards with sentences but the sentence is made to be cut apart to work on word order (syntax).

You can find it in my TPT store here!

Sooooo NOW I have what my principal would call “transparent learning opportunities” for all the students in 2nd grade because blah, blah, we all have the same stuff, etc.

Great. Only 30+ more basal texts to go! Plus now I want to do this set up to cover the *ahem* Five Essential Components of Literacy Instruction.

You can look now. I stopped being all teacher-y.

I have a fairly decent phonics set-up, except it is mostly spelling based and student activities, not really instruction based. And Fluency is good. But I could really use a good way to translate what I am doing for reading comprehension into a “printable” format. Also I struggle with phoneme awareness in 2nd grade. I think I will work on some interesting things using phoneme-grapheme mapping.

I don’t know. See this is why I hate going to these things! Then my brain goes all teacher mode and I end up creating a ton of stuff and then my house gets messy.

Don’t ask how I just got from CPE to my poor housekeeping skills. Just don’t. Because I’m not sure.

There goes my afternoon! I’m off to tackle Reading Comprehension!