Monday, March 31, 2014

Words, Words and More Words

As a teacher I am constantly looking for new ways I can help my students reach their full potential. Well with our state testing right around the corner, I've been searching for some innovative review strategies that will actually help my students rather than turn them into mindless drones as I ask them to fill in just one more bubble. (Can't you just hear the groans?) So where do I go? Pinterest of course! I found a fantastic idea to review or even introduce some vocabulary that they will need for the upcoming test and their future reading career- it's an interactive vocabulary review board.

This is the picture I used for inspiration from We've Got a Diem to Carpe:

Then I got to work making my own. I decided to make the words and definitions magnetic so they are moveable which allows me to do a lot of different activities with the board. I used my leftover whiteboard space right next to my pro board so that my little ones can reach. The first step was to make a list of words I want them to know backwards and forwards. I did this based on what we've covered this year and also using some sample test questions. Then I printed them out, mounted them on colorful card stock and laminated them so I can use them for years to come. I typed up the definitions using the same language I used to teach them and mounted those on black paper. I will tell you that I was so tempted to use more colored card stock but I refrained in order to avoid color overload. Then I stuck on the magnets and arranged them on my board. I will tell you it took me a little bit of time to make them but totally worth it.

Ta da!!!

(It's not a great picture- sorry! The words are big enough for the kids to see I promise!)

I love it and am so excited to begin using it! How I am I going to do that? We'll I'm glad you asked! Every morning as part of my students morning work they will have a definition on their desk that they will have to put under the correct word or vice versa. I will move the pieces around periodically to keep them on their toes and be sure they learn the words and not a pattern on the board. I'm also planning to do some partner and group activities with the words. I will pass out words and definitions and students will have to find their partner- once they find their partners they can put up their match. And we can also have some friendly table competitions where each group gets a handful of words/definitions and has to match them all up. The first table finished wins! I hope that these activities will keep my students from being stopped in their tracks by a scary word on their test while also encouraging them to use the skills and strategies that we are talking about in their reading.

I started using it today with giving students a quick run down of all of the words and then having each of them match a definition to the correct word. They LOVED it! I had no idea that vocabulary could be so entertaining for them but they really enjoyed it. So I will definitely be keeping this up and maybe starting one even earlier on next year.

So fellow teachers what do you think? If you have any other creative test prep strategies I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ready, Set, Go!

I've been contemplating starting a blog for a while now and I finally decided to just jump in and go. It is no secret that I love to talk and anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a lot to say! I also come from a blogging family with a mom and big sister who have blogged for quite a while. I used to feel like it wasn't for me and think well what would I even write about?

Then I became a grown up with a big girl apartment and a big girl job teaching the third grade. Well let me just tell you that being a first year teacher has given me plenty of things to blog about. My life has been filled with new experiences, fun ideas, questions to ask and lessons learned that I can't wait to share with you. And what goes good with stories and sharing? Cupcakes of course! Or any other yummy snack you can think of. I love to cook and bake and have a ton of fun and delicious recipes to share with you. I'm excited to document this time of my life and am so happy you're along for the ride!