Friday, June 27, 2014

Five for Friday - Summer is HERE!!!


It's Friday of my first full week of summer, and I'm living it up! My parents are in town visiting, so I'll keep it pretty short. And warning before you begin reading: I'm not mentioning ANYTHING school-related!

Tuesday was our 8th anniversary, and we had free babysitting since my parents are here. We took advantage of it and enjoyed a very nice dinner at Julep's. So yummy!!

The next day, we went to Maymont to see the animals. It was a lot of walking, but it was worth it. The coolest part was getting to see the bear. He actually sat down and enjoyed an apple right in front of us. Yeah, that's a real picture my dad managed to capture!

Keagan had a blast, and I think he's LOVING having his grandparents here to enjoy!

Days have been hot, but the evenings are perfect for eating outside! We've been enjoying lots of food on the grill.

Yesterday was the perfect day for the beach, so we made the trip down to Sandbridge. It was our first beach trip this summer, so it took a little while for Keagan to remember he liked it. After about an hour, you couldn't pull him away from the water. I literally dragged him kicking and screaming back to the chairs for him to eat some lunch. We were out for at least 4 hours. Unfortunately we all left with a little bit of sunburn even though we reapplied sunscreen. Luckily his is pretty light, but he's not a fan of being rubbed down with Aloe. He'll just have to get used to it!

I can't wait to make even more memories this summer and am so glad it's finally here!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bringing Words to Life: Choosing Words to Teach

Welcome to week 2 of my ten week book study on Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction. If you missed last week's post, you may want to check it out here because I will be referring to some of what we discussed as we move on.

Chapter 2 is titled Choosing Words to Teach, and so far to me (I haven't quite finished the book) it's the most important chapter. It is SO hard to select words, and I know I'm guilty of just going with whatever someone else recommends. But we need to be very cognizant of what our students need in terms of vocabulary, and we need to learn to TRUST OUR OWN JUDGEMENT! I know from reading so many of your posts that we are a group a fantastic teachers, so I know we can do this with just a little bit of guidance.

If you remember from last week, we want to focus in on Tier 2 words because those are the words that will help students cross over from since conversational language to academic, literate vocabulary. This is essential for students to experience academic success!!

I'm all about keeping things as short and simple as possible, so I'm going to give you the 3 pieces of criteria you need for choosing words.

  1. Choose words that appear frequently across multiple contexts.
  2. Students need to be able to understand the concept of the word and explain it in their own terms.
  3. Words should offer instructional potential for exploring further definitions and contexts.

***One Thing to Consider***

I know some of you may be a little concerned about how to teach content-specific vocabulary that is important in math, science, and social studies. The book suggests that you consider whether it is the actual word that is important for students to understand or if it is mainly the concept. If at all possible, think ahead for those vocabulary words and try to integrate them into instructional activities over a longer period of time. For example, if you are discussing monsoons in social studies and one vocabulary word is sodden, have students explain how sodden could describe the effects of a monsoon. It will take a lot more creativity, but students need to be engaged in activities that help them understand the concepts rather than simply a definition for these words.

There is so much more in this chapter, but these hit on the most important parts, and I hope they will help you with selecting more appropriate words for vocabulary instruction. I know I can't wait to start trying this with my own kids in the fall!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bringing Words to Life: Rationale for Robust Vocabulary Instruction

Whew! School is FINALLY out for the summer! Today was our teacher workday, and I was able to get a few things accomplished before our Retirement Luncheon (we have them every year now and probably will for about 5 more years at least). I can't wait to join the hubs and my little guy for some rest and relaxation!

Before I get started on week one of my book study, I wanted to share the winners for my Pin It to Win It contest last Friday. I randomly chose the numbers 2, 11, and 18. You should have emails from me, so be sure to check your boxes. And for those of you who didn't win, I've posted 4 more products in the past few days, so there will be other chances to win. I'm thinking maybe one contest each week? Just give me a little while to enjoy my summer first!

Fact and Opinion: Kim (Kim's Reading Resources)
Cause and Effect: Cherie
Main Idea: Suzy Q

Alright, now it's time for some book studying! I'm so excited to finally share this with you, and I really hope you can get a lot of great ideas about vocabulary instruction from these posts. Please share your ideas and comments with me. I love to hear from you!

Chapter 1 is all about why we need to have robust vocabulary instruction. Let's start by defining the word "robust". I typed it into Google and was given this definition:

  1. strong and healthy; vigorous.
    "the Caplans are a robust, healthy lot"
    • (of an object) sturdy in construction.
      "a robust metal cabinet"
    • (of a process, system, organization, etc.) able to withstand or overcome adverse conditions.
      "California's robust property market"

If students have a robust vocabulary, they have ownership over the words learned and are able to use them in multiple contexts (or manipulate words to mean slightly different things when necessary). With this foundation, students will be more capable of having stronger reading comprehension.

The problem is that there is a gap in vocabulary knowledge for children of different socioeconomic groups. That gap begins at age 3 and just expands as they get older unless something is done to take care of it. Therefore, strong vocabulary instruction needs to begin AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE!! The faster we can start filling in the gaps, the better off these students will be.

So how do we fix this problem?

First, word knowledge does not just come from "wide reading", especially in the lower grades and with students who already struggle as readers. Early learners still have not mastered the strategies to be able to make meaning from an unfamiliar word. Instead, most vocabulary instruction should take place orally. Teachers need to be actively involved in the students' vocabulary development. We will go more in depth with ideas in later weeks, but for now it will stay at that.

One of the most interesting ideas I learned from this chapter was choosing appropriate words using the Three-Tiers Framework.

This graphic from Learning Unlimited, LLC explains the tiers very simply. Students will be able to pick up words in Tier 1 with minimal to no instruction (maybe showing a picture to introduce an animal they aren't familiar with). Tier 3 words, on the other hand, are words that are rarely used in real life or are limited to very specific fields (filibuster, epidermis, etc) that would only be necessary for specific instruction. Interestingly enough, the book groups many content-specific words from science and social studies, unless they have multiple meanings or can be applied across a wider range of texts.

Tier 2 words are where vocabulary instruction should be focused. These words are not used as commonly in conversation, meaning that students will most likely not learn the words on their own. Some examples of these words include circumstances, precede, and accomplice. Once we eliminate Tier 3 words and focus almost solely on Tier 2, we're really looking at about 7,000 word families total for students to learn by 9th grade (or 700 words per school year). The authors recommend shooting for about 400 words per year, although there isn't a perfect answer.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? Please don't be! Chapter 2 is all about how to choose the words for your vocabulary instruction. Be sure to come back and tell me what you think!

Friday, June 13, 2014

BIRTHDAY Five for Friday with a Pin It to Win It

Wow, it's been a full week since I posted (actually just 6 days since I was late last time). Sorry. Just remember that unlike most of you, I'M still in school. Until Wednesday. Grrr. I was pretty annoyed when our local radio station played School's Out for Summer for EVERY OTHER SCHOOL SYSTEM in the area this morning. Thanks for rubbing it in. I hate you.

Anyway, I've stayed busy and actually had a pretty fun week, so we'll just get started!


I forgot to mention yesterday that I was a guest blogger over at Reading Toward the Stars while Andrea is on vacation. I was able to share for her Book Talk Thursday! So honored. If you haven't checked out this weekly feature Andrea does, do so. I've learned of quite a few great books from it!

Tuesday and Wednesday were Field Day for our school (We have one for K-2 and another for 3-5, and I help with both since I'm part of the Resource team now). It was HOT, but I had some good helpers both days and ended up having fun. Although I did end up forgetting to put sunscreen on one arm Wednesday and have a wonderful v-shaped burn on my right shoulder. Lovely.

When I haven't been busy with Field Day, I've been working on some TPT products. I am slowly updating them and adding answer keys to all of my literacy packs. Camping and Summer are done! But I also put up three new packs on TPT that each include 12 centers to last all year! I'm doing a pin it to win it and will choose a winner for EACH set! Just click on the images to repin each pack. Then leave a comment below with the link. Please do a separate comment for each pack if you're trying for more than one. I'll choose a winner after midnight on Sunday!

This pack includes 12 themed centers for practicing Fact and Opinion all through the year! Each station comes with a set of cards and a graphic organizer to show work. Answer keys are provided for you!

This pack includes 12 themed centers for practicing Cause and Effect all through the year! Each station comes with two sets of cards (cause and effect) and a graphic organizer to show work. Answer keys are provided for you!

This pack includes 12 themed centers for practicing Main Idea all through the year! Each station comes with two sets of cards (main idea and support details) and a graphic organizer to show work. Answer keys are provided for you!

In personal life news, my little nephew graced us with his presence last night! He was born at 7 lbs, 7 oz, and we got to be some of the first to see him! Keagan still hasn't decided what he thinks of having a new little baby in town. He was very good at the hospital, though! Kindles help, especially when the waiting room is too full.

There is a picture of me with the baby, but Steven took it on his phone and tried to text it. Of course, it hasn't come through yet. So you'll just have to see my handsome hubby with the baby instead. He's already trying to corrupt his nephew!

And not only is today Friday the 13th and a full moon, it's also my 30th birthday! I'm actually kind of excited about it. Thirty, flirty, and thriving, right? Anyway, I found a few good laughs to end on in honor of my birthday.

Happy Friday, and don't forget to play in my Pin it to Win it game before midnight on Sunday!!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Five for Friday

It's Friday (well, it was when I started this post), and I only have one more of those to survive before summer!! I don't know if I'll have five things, and I certainly don't have 5 pictures, but we'll try to do this anyway.

Not only is the education in testing grades stopped by testing, those who are too young or NOT testing are limited by lack of access to computers, noise level expectations, etc.  AND support personnel are all pulled to help with testing.....sheesh.
Found this on Pinterest and HAD to share! No source found, though.

First, and most importantly, testing is FINALLY over!!! We've been at it for four weeks, and I'm so excited that I could literally jump up and down!

During my testing time (and FREQUENT reading), I decided to start a book study on my blog once summer actually begins here. It will start up June 18 and run every Wednesday for 10 weeks. Be sure to follow me to learn more about "Robust Vocabulary Instruction" from an amazing book!

Since we finished testing on Thursday, I began helping with running records yesterday. This is a much less frustrating form of testing, and I've been pleased with how much progress some of my students have made. Others...not so much. We have some work to do.

I had to restart my #3weeksnocheats challenge, but I have successfully made it through the first week and a half. I'm actually not craving sweets OR coke as much! I think it helps that I didn't completely cut sweets and have them kind of scheduled in there. Last night was Menchie's with the family, and next weekend is my birthday weekend. I will try to keep the sweets under control though.

Photo: My sweetheart!

My sweet little boy is melting my heart! Recently he's started giving compliments along with all the sweet kisses and everything else. When I walked into his room Tuesday morning, he said, "I like your dress, mommy!" Even cuter coming from a 2 year old's mouth. I love that boy!

Wow, that was actually five things. Enjoy your weekend. And for those of you still in school, we're ALMOST there!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Currently June

I knew it was June, but I guess I really didn't because here I am on the 4th finally getting around to posting my currently. I blame testing...but we'll jump right on in to it!

Listening: We're finally in the single digits for our countdown to summer, which means that specials are coming to a close. My neighbor (K-2 Title I) just stopped pulling kids this week. Did I mention she could have a baby any day now? Yeah. Her doctor finally gave her a date when she needed to stop working, so she's busy with paperwork before going out on maternity leave this Friday. I'm going to be lonely next week because she and our music teacher were two that I hung out with the most this time last year, but Denielle is already out with her new little boy! Darn those babies getting in the way.

Loving: After almost 4 weeks of testing, I can finally say that I'm DONE!! Now that may end up being a lie because I could get pulled tomorrow for makeup tests. Still, it's awesome to know that they are over. If I had confetti, I would throw it. But then it may not get vacuumed up for a while...

Thinking: We have a lot of ground to make up in reading, especially with the increased rigor on our state assessments. I'm going to have more than a full load of kids next year (mostly in one grade), so I am already thinking about ways to make it work. I want to put some interactive notebooks together to really focus on their comprehension. Do you use interactive notebooks for reading?

Wanting: I've been back at the gym for about 1 1/2 months now, but I can't go regularly enough to see the results that some people are posting on Instagram. I know that it will be easier once summer comes, but it's hard not to compare. I need to suck it up and just push harder. Those people have worked their tails off to see the results they're getting. Me? Maybe not so much yet.

Needing: See "wanting"

Summer Bucket List: I really don't have any big plans for the summer. I grabbed the June schedule for my gym and have started planning what classes I can join (Pump 3 days a week!) once school ends on June 18. My sister-in-law is expecting a little boy who will probably be here by the end of next week, so I plan on spending some time cuddling with that little cutie along with my own who just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter every day! And finally, I'm actually thinking of starting a book study on my blog for this book. Have you read it? It's SO good!

If you want to join in my study with me, I plan on starting it sometime the week of June 16. I'd love to have you join in and give your feedback!

One quick side note before I go: Jess from I {Heart} Recess is celebrating 1,000 followers with some awesome giveaways (and I'm part of one!), so be sure to head on over for that!

Nine more days...I can make it, right?