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Sunday, May 24, 2015

CCSS Critical Vocabulary--How do you teach it to K-1?

Teaching the CCSS critical vocabulary to K-1 students has been on my mind lately, as seen in my previous post here. I'm aware that the upper elementary teachers are hoping and praying that we K-1 teachers are introducing the 20+ highly rigorous vocabulary words throughout our school year. Raise your hand if you made that goal this year [hand is raised]. Raise your hand if you want a better handle on how to do it for next year [hands waving emphatically in the air]. Well, maybe I'm not that overly excited about it but I know that it is something I need to buckle down it git-r-dun!

First off, I've started printing anchor charts for this next school year. There are some teachers out there who have made some products for the purpose of teaching the critical vocabulary, but I couldn't quite find what I was looking for in my own, I made them. I wanted to use all of the words designated for K-1 in one well-known story. I chose "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". This story is a well-loved story in primary grades and easy for ELL students to learn. Now until Memorial Day 2015, they are available in my TPT store for a discount.

I'll be posting more throughout the summer on this topic. Ahh, summer, why are you 6 days away from me?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bullet Journal Lesson Plans

I've come to the conclusion that all the lesson plan templates I've created are all missing something. All teachers know they have activities, worksheets, meetings, special speakers, assemblies that need to fit somewhere in their lesson plans every week and yet these items feel more scattered than organized, like this:

 I always feel the need to highlight...everything. Worse even is to use up all the color ink to highlight everything in various colors to make them stand out. Are they really easier to see? Not really.

Now, my lesson plans look like this!

 Aaahhhhh! Why didn't I think of this before?

What is bullet journaling? It is a way to plan with bullets, sort of like a checklist, but more. Now this new way of lesson planning is not true bullet journaling, but I've taken the list part and incorporated it into my daily lesson planning. My schedule is now at the bottom and my most important things to do in that day are at the top. If for some reason I don't complete something on the list, I can look back across past days of the week to see what I still need to do. Nothing is lost in the jumble of the schedule found at the bottom of the page. My whole team has decided to use this way to lesson plan and we feel so much more streamlined in our planning! It is truly freeing! And just think, next year's planning should be easier when we refer back to these same checklists.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

WBT and Critical Vocabulary

First off, Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) is the work of Chris Biffle and, in essence, is a teaching method that lends itself heavily to engaging students while learning.
“Here is the First Great Law of Whole Brain Teaching: The longer we talk, the more students we lose.”
Biffle, Chris (2013-05-13). Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids (and the rest of your class, too!) (p. 6). Whole Brain Teaching, LLC. Kindle Edition. 

WBT utilizes gestures and short stints of teaching along with having students reteach each other--all within just a few minutes a session! For more information and free awesome videos and eBooks, go to 

 Secondly, critical vocabulary is the phrase now used to identify a list of words that may be found in achievement testing and CCSS. So, in essence, if you teach you need to be using these words often in your classroom (Sprenger, 2013):

Kindergarten: compare/contrast, describe, distinguish, identify, retell
1st: demonstrate, determine, draw, explain, locate, suggest, support

Add to this list the following words: classify/categorize, explicitly, recognize, recount

So, how do we make these words meaningful and useable to first graders?

WBT Power Pix is one place to start but I've yet to find the majority of these words to teach with gestures. Click on the power pix below to go to the downloadable file. These power pix are close to the end of each file.

This one is from Whole Brain Teaching in the Ladybug Club. Click the pix below to find a link.

Off to a good start, but if the other power pix cannot be found they will need to be made. Let me know if you have located any for the remaining critical vocabulary for kindergarten and first grade.

Source:  Sprenger, M. (2013). Teaching the critical vocabulary of the common core 55 words that make or break student understanding. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD.