Archive | August 2012

First Week Musings

What a week. I met 18 new third graders and a new student teacher. We are busy learning the new vocabulary of third grade. The first new word was “agenda.” The students are learning to follow/know where we are going with our lessons. Another new word was “bioglyph.” We created a fun one to show our life in a drawing. Another new word is “focus.” I am putting up a focus wall for the first time. I think it will be worthwhile. I’ve already seen the kids glance at it to help themselves stay on track.

Tomorrow we will make “hypotheses” in a really cool science experiment. Through “trial and error” the teams will try to suspend a helium balloon at desk level. They will be given a cup and several small items to use to hold it down.

I have explained the meanings of many Latin/Greek roots already this year. We’ve talked about “manuscript” literally meaning handwriting. We’ve talked about “biography” meaning life writing and “biologist” meaning a person who studies life.

We learned that a “pictograph” is a more grown-up word for a picture graph and that third graders are certainly old enough to know the real words.

I enjoy giving my students opportunities to stretch their vocabulary!

Word of the Day

Set 2 # 10

Find more at my TpT store.

Have a great weekend!



Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is an important informal gauge of how well your students are understanding a concept. They can certainly be used before, during, and after instruction. These assessments will help you determine what you need to reteach and which students need further instruction.

One simple method is to have a card where students can update you on how they are doing. It can simply show green for good to go or red for stuck or stopped.

A method I use is “4 Corners.” I have signs in the corners of my room. 1 indicates no understanding of the word, 2 means you have heard it and read it, but aren’t very sure about it, 3 means you are making some connections, you have a general idea of the word, and 4 means you know the word and you can tell the class what it means. I have students rate new vocabulary to determine which words need further development. It is a quick chance to be up and moving. I use it again after instruction to have students show the growth they feel in the development of their new vocabulary.

Here are some cards you could use for this method:

Formative numbers

I colored these numbers from red (stopped) to green (ready to go).

Check out this great formative assessment by 3rdGrThoughts. I love how the words novice, apprentice, practitioner, and expert are presented. Students can develop new vocabulary at the same time as they rate their understanding.

Word of the Day card:

Set 2 # 9

You can find more at my TpT store.

Say a prayer for my student teacher. She received word today of cervical cancer. Thanks.


Student Teachers

What a true blessing!

A very successful first day and the promise of help for the successful beginning of a fabulous year, my 35th as a teacher and my 30th in third grade.

Too tired (exhausted, weary, worn-out, spent, sleepy, pooped, done in) to work on vocabulary development, so I’ll leave you with the Word of the Day.

Is a House a Home?

A fun activity for building vocabulary uses the connotations that words bring. Students can have a discussion about which word for small seems the “smallest.” This is a great discussion that lets children sense the variation found in the meanings of synonyms.

small, tiny, little, miniature, petite, scant, wee, undersized, microscopic

The kids could make a continuum of smallness and develop some new vocabulary at the same time.

Conversely, they could try big words!

big, large, enormous, gigantic, huge, immense, great, mammoth, giant

Another idea is to create an imaginary line in the room. Students can stand on a spot on the line that shows how “good/bad” a word is.

For example, with one wall being “full” and the other wall being “empty,” where would you stand for “hungry,” “starving,” “famished,” “ravenous,” “hungry as a wolf?”

Or, put these “house” words in the order of how nice they would be to live in: “home,” “house,” “dwelling,” “hut,” “cabin,” “resort,” “cottage,” “mansion,” “castle,” “lodge,” “bungalow.”

And, put these words in order according to how “mad” they sound: “angry,” “furious,” “irate,” “cross,” “huffy,” “annoyed,” “raving,” “burned up.”

Put these words in order according to how “happy” they are: “happy,” “joyous,” “delighted,” “jolly,” “glad,” “pleased,” “overjoyed,” “radiant,” “cheery,” “good-humored.”

There are many more word connotations that are easily accessible with a thesaurus to help kids in grades 2–6 develop deeper understanding of word meanings. This activity has the additional benefit of helping kids choose words in writing more thoughtfully.


Word of the Day Set 2 # 6

Set 2 # 6

Find more Vocabulary Development Word of the Day cards at my TpT store.


“We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union..”

The word “preamble” means, literally, to walk before. Our preamble walks before the Constitution, listing our reasons and justifications for the document. If the vocabulary were simpler, it would be an easy document for children to comprehend.

One strategy for vocabulary development is to pay attention to these Latin roots, and Greek roots, too. If students learn that “scope” means see or watch, then the meanings of the words “telescope” and “microscope” open up. Especially if we add the knowledge that “tele-” means far. With a telescope we can see or watch from far away. And, “television” also means see far. “-ology” means the study of, so “biology” means the study of life and “geology” means the study of the earth. Do I think intermediate students are old enough to study this? Not as a memorization activity, just as a curiosity. Give them some information, then reinforce it when another example comes around.

Word of the Day Set 2 # 5

Kids need many opportunities to grow their vocabulary. Help them in every way you can!


Sweet Treat Notes

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” —Charles Schultz

Today I am reviewing an amazing product by Jaime L. It is called 32 Treat Tags, Bag Toppers, and More. It has a fantastic assortment of tags for all kinds of fun treats! She includes suggested uses for most of the products. My co-teachers were drooling when I showed them the reindeer noses, turkey toes, owls, and gators. I am using the “lucky” charm tag on Monday when my students arrive! There seems to be an unending supply of fun ideas. The kids will love it, volunteers will love it, your friends will love it. It is a great resource. YOU will love it! Buy it on TpT.

It is worth the price (really it is worth much more!).


Word of the Day Card

One of my favorite cards!

Set 2 # 4

See you tomorrow.