Tag Archive | vocabulary

Rolling Into Literacy Skills


I LOVE to play board games at home, but I also enjoying using them in my classroom. In addition to encouraging cooperation, turn taking and a variety of other social skills, I find I can often use the games to work on math and literacy skills. So, every Friday, I am going to post a Friday Game Night post, giving tips on how to use a particular board game in your classroom. Here’s this week’s Friday Game Night Tip:

Dice – Part 2 (Literacy)

After two weeks of looking at playing cards, I decided to try one more cheap “board game” – dice! Just like cards, dice can be used in so many ways to increase both math and literacy. Here are some ideas on how to use dice with math. Check back next week for some literacy ideas.

For all of these ideas, you can use regular six sided die, or specialized die with more or less sides. Specialized die make it much easier when working with bigger numbers and older students.

1.) Roll a Word – Get students thinking by rolling up a word. Decide on a characteristic of a word (number of letters, number of consonants, number of vowels, number of syllables). Have students each roll a die and than share on a word that fits into the characteristics. ie. If you roll a six during the number of consonant round. you must come up with a word that has six consonants in it. This is great for building critical thinking and sharing vocabulary.

2.) Number Stories – Have students roll 3 or 4 dice and use them within their writing. For example, if they roll a 4, a 2 and a 1 – they must use those numbers in their writing. An example might be a story about 2 girls with 4 shoes and 1 pet.

3.) How Many Facts? – Do you want students to come up with a list of facts about a specific topic or category? Ask your students to roll a die (or two), and give them a topic or question. Then students will use the number on the die to know how many facts to give. ie. Ask students “What is the name of some animals that live in the rainforest?” Each student rolls a die to determine how many animals they have to come up with – rolling a six means coming up with six rainforest

4.) How Many Repetitions? – Get students to practice writing their spelling words with dice. For each spelling word – students will roll a die (or two). The number they roll will tell them how many times they must copy their spelling word. ie. If you roll a 4 for the word said – you will write: said, said, said, said

I hope some of these suggestions will help you use dice to teach math in a new and interesting way. Click HERE for more suggestions on how to use board games in the classroom.

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Use Playing Cards in Writing??


I LOVE to play board games at home, but I also enjoying using them in my classroom. In addition to encouraging cooperation, turn taking and a variety of other social skills, I find I can often use the games to work on math and literacy skills. So, every Friday, I am going to post a Friday Game Night post, giving tips on how to use a particular board game in your classroom. Here’s this week’s Friday Game Night Tip:

Playing Cards – Part 2 (Literacy)

For weeks now, we’ve been looking at board games, but this week, were looking at one of the simplest – and cheapest type of games – playing cards! My grandmother was a product of the depression and all she had growing up was a deck of cards. She taught me every card game out there (Here’s a link with rules for lots of games). These games themselves can be great for teaching strategy and critical thinking, but there are so many other ways to use playing cards in the classroom. Last week, we looked at using playing cards in your math lessons.  Here are some ways to use playing cards in your literacy lessons.

1. Code Word Spelling – For this activity, you will only need half of a cardmatcodefreebiedeck of cards.  Split the cards into a red pile and a black pile and then you can 2 students or two groups of students can share one deck of cards.  If students need to use the same letter more than once, they may need two “half” decks of cards.  Have students use the code sheet to spell their spelling and/or vocabulary words with their half of a deck of cards.  Grab the code word sheet for FREE from Google Docs.

2. Code Word Creation – For this activity, you will only need half of a deck of cards. Split the cards into a red pile and a black pile and then you can 2 students or two groups of students can share one deck of cards.  If playingcardmatmakingwordsstudents need to use the same letter more than once, they may need two “half” decks of cards.  Students will make words of different lengths.  Have students start by trying to make 3 letter words, then 4 letter words, then 5 letter words.  Students can also race to see who can make the most words – using the code with the cards they have.  Grab the code word sheet and mats for FREE from Google Docs.

3. Luck of the Draw Story Guidelines – For this activity, you will only need the number cards – remove face cards (K, Q, J) from the deck ofplayingcardmatstoriesfreebie cards and set to the side – the Ace remains and counts as 1.  Students will “draw” cards to put on one of the story maps.  These story maps will give students guidelines on what needs to be in their story (ie. 5 sentences, 1 character, 2 settings and 1 surprise).  Students will then take what the cards have determined and write a story using that criteria.  Grab 2 different story guideline mats for FREE from Google Docs.

4. Silly Number Stories – For this activity, you will only need the number cards – remove face cards (K, Q, J) from the deck of cards and set to the side – the Ace remains and counts as 1. Students will “draw” cards playingcardmatsillystoriesfreebieto put on one of the story maps. These story maps will give students guidelines on what needs to be in their story – rather than dictating length and elements, these story maps will dictate silly things they must work into their story – leading to creativity and critical thinking (ie. 5 cats, 1 grizzly bear, 2 unicorns and 1 bowl of soup). Students will then take what the cards have determined and write a story using that criteria. Grab 4 different story guideline mats for FREE from Google Docs.

I hope some of these suggestions will help you use playing cards to teach math in a new and interesting way. Click HERE for more suggestions on how to use board games in the classroom.

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Where is Your Knee?


My class consists of 19 students, of which only 1 speaks English only in his household, and even he began his life in a bilingual environment. The other 18 speak at least one, if not two other languages in their homes. Most of my students speak Arabic, but many also speak French. I have 3 who speak French and not Arabic, 1 who speaks Spanish, and 1 who speaks a Philippine dialect. All of my students speak SOME English, but to varying degrees. My job is to teach them English, while also teaching them everything we normally teach in school (reading, writing, math, science, social studies etc.) Fortunately, I am certified to teach ESL and have some experience with English Language Learners. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. So, from now on, I will now be doing a Teaching Tip Tuesday geared especially towards teaching English Language Learners. Here’s this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:

ELL Teaching Tip #19: Appreciate each child’s differences

As teachers, we know that all children are different, but often we forget how much these differences affect what children learn.  These differences can especially affect what words our English Language Learners learn.  Students will learn and remember the English words that they need or the words that mean something to them the most quickly.  Words that don’t have any meaning to them will slip through their memory and never really settle into their long term memory, or at least take longer to settle there.  image

This is the reason that the girls in my class know words like dress, skirt, makeup and tiara and the boys don’t.  It’s also the reason that the boys know the words ninja, soldier and magic trick that the girls often don’t.  In imageaddition, my student often know words that help them out at school, where they use English, but not words that would help them out at home, where they don’t.  So, it’s not unusual for my students to know words like connection, punctuation mark, and cylinder, but don’t know words like knee, spoon and shovel.

Help your students increase their vocabulary by using those preferences and background knowledge.  Here are some ways to do that:

– Activate prior knowledge on EVERY lesson.  Giving kids some context to connect their new learning to will help them remember the words and concepts you are teaching.

– Scout out those “home” words that can be taught and reinforced through reading and every day activities.  Play games that include body part and object names – like Simon Says.

  – Find out what your students are interested in and find books with good vocabulary on those subjects.  Use these books for read alouds and guided reading, as students will be more likely to remember the vocabulary that is connected with topics that they are interested in. 

 

Do you enjoy the weekly TESOL Teaching Tips? Do you want to know Heidigraymore about teaching English Language Learners? I will be speaking on this topic at the Everything’s Intermediate Expo, and I’d love to have you “join” us. It is a virtual expo, which will help us connect no matter where we are! Click HERE for ticket information.

 

Find more TESOL Teaching Tips here, and come back every Tuesday for a new tip!

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Word Play With Jenga


I LOVE to play board games at home, but I also enjoying using them in my classroom. In addition to encouraging cooperation, turn taking and a variety of other social skills, I find I can often use the games to work on math and literacy skills. So, every Friday, I am going to post a Friday Game Night post, giving tips on how to use a particular board game in your classroom. Here’s this week’s Friday Game Night Tip:

Jenga – Part 2 (Literacy) I know, I know, Jenga is a block game, how are you going to teach writing with it? Well, last week I gave you some tips for how to teach math with Jenga, now I have some ways, and all you need is Jenga and a little masking tape (the thin tape works best).

For each of these variations on Jenga, put a small piece of masking tape on each Jenga block. On each piece of masking tape, write vocabulary word or sight word.

1. Read the Sight Words – Play Jenga using standard play rules, except if a student can read the word on the block, they do not put it back in the pile.  If they can read their word, they get to keep it in a pile in front of them.  When the tower falls, or you run out of blocks, the person with the most blocks in front of them wins.  For older students with vocabulary words instead of sight words, they can give a definition for the word instead of reading it.

2. Line them Up Play Jenga using standard play rules, except do not have students return their blocks to the top. Instead, have each student keep the blocks they take in a pile in front of them.   When the tower falls, or when each student has 7 blocks in front of them, stop and have the students put their words in alphabetical order.  The first one to get their words in alphabetical order wins.

3. Make the Longest Sentence – Play Jenga using standard play rules, 100_6826except do not have students return their blocks to the top. Instead, have each student keep the blocks they take in a pile in front of them. When the tower falls, or when each student has 7 blocks in front of them, stop and have the students use their words to make a sentence.  The student who can use the most words to make a sentence that makes sense wins.

4. – Sorting by Parts of SpeechPlay Jenga using standard play rules, except do not have students return their blocks to the top. Instead, have each student keep the blocks they take in a pile in front of them. When the tower falls, or when each student has 7 blocks in front of them, stop and have the students and sort their words by part of speech (noun, verb, adjective).  The student who can sort their words first wins.  Note some words can fall into more than one part of speech.  For those words, allow students to justify where they have chosen to place that word.

I hope some of these suggestions will allow you to use Jenga in a new, interesting way in your classrooms. Do you want other game suggestions for your classroom? Here are some suggestions for Yahtzee, Chutes and Ladders and Battleship. Keep playing games and watch your kids learn!

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Literacy Practice with Scrabble


I LOVE to play board games at home, but I also enjoying using them in my classroom. In addition to encouraging cooperation, turn taking and a variety of other social skills, I find I can often use the games to work on math and literacy skills. So, every Friday, I am going to post a Friday Game Night post, giving tips on how to use a particular board game in your classroom. Here’s this week’s Friday Game Night Tip:

Scrabble – Part 1 (Math)

Scrabble is one of my favorite games for literacy skills!  I even use Scrabble for math – here are some tips on how I do that.

 

1. Standard Play – Playing scrabble with just standard rules works on lots of word making skills.  Teach students standard play with the strategy of using those double word scores and making a word plural by adding and s to get more points, and you’ll see their interest in spelling peaked.

2. Longest Word Contest – Rather than limiting students to 7 scrabble tiles, split the bag between your small group (think 20 tiles per child) and challenge them to make the longest word possible.  This would be a great time to review compound words, prefixes and suffixes which can make shorter words into longer words!

3. Describing Words – Show students a picture, or give them the name of an item and challenge them to come up with an adjective that describes it – using only the words in their scrabble tray.  Once everyone is finished, let them “justify” their answers (think apples to apples style).  You’ll get adjectives and persuasive in all while the kids think you’re playing a game!

4. Topic Word – Have a new science or social studies topic and want to activate background knowledge?  Give students 10 scrabble tiles and ask them to make a word that tells something about the topic.  For example, if your topic is plants, maybe they will come up with roots, or leaves, very similar to a word cloud.

I hope some of these suggestions will allow you to use Scrabble in a new, interesting way in your classrooms. Do you want other game suggestions for your classroom? Here are some suggestions for Yahtzee, Chutes and Ladders and Battleship. Keep playing games and watch your kids learn!

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Read the Word Wall Center


How do you use your Word Wall?  One of my students’ favorite things to do is to read our word wall.  Our word wall is HUGE –  200 sight wordreadtherooms and about 150 word family words, plus shape words, color words, number words and the kids’ names, so we’re talking about close to 500 words.  My kids are challenging each other right now to see who 100_6170can read more of it.  (Mainly because I’m offering a lollipop to any student who can read the whole thing at the end of the year.)  When we started reading the word wall, I used this sheet to help them record a few of the words that they could read.  At the end of centers, I choose one or two students (always randomly) to read their sheet to me.  It’s a great way to monitor a Read the Room type of center!  I uploaded the sheet into Google Docs, so feel free to grab a copy for FREE.

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Scrabble Math


LOVE to play board games at home, but I also enjoying using them in my classroom. In addition to encouraging cooperation, turn taking and a variety of other social skills, I find I can often use the games to work on math and literacy skills. So, every Friday, I am going to post a Friday Game Night post, giving tips on how to use a particular board game in your classroom. Here’s this week’s Friday Game Night Tip:

Scrabble – Part 1 (Math)

Scrabble is one of my favorite games for literacy skills, but have you ever used it for math?  Next week, we’ll talk about all the fun literacy topics to be covered with Scrabble, but this week, let’s think outside the box and talk about how to use Scrabble to teach and review math skills!

 

1. Add up the Vocabulary Word – This activity could actually cover spelling or vocabulary words AND math (got to love when cross curricular connections make themselves for you!)  You will need to make cards ahead of time with your vocabulary words on them.  Have each student pull a card from the stack, and then find the letter tiles that match the letters in the word.  Then, each student should write down the numbers on each Scrabble tile and add them up.  This is a great reinforcement for addition facts, and also works well for adding in a column, or finding groupings (ie. 3 + 1 + 2 + 4 is easier to add when you make 2 groups of five (3 + 2) (2+4) ) 

 

2. Word Family Comparing Numbers – Which word earns more points in Scrabble: bat or rat?  Give students the tiles for 2 words of the same length, allow them to add up the score and compare the number.  Which word is worth more?  This is a great way to talk about strategy as well, which is just another form of problem solving!

 

3.  Probability – Are you teaching probability?  Use Scrabble letters to figure out the probability of drawing a S tile or drawing a Q tile.  For example: of 100 scrabble tiles, there is usually only 1 Q tile in the bag, so you have a 1 in 100 chance of drawing a Q from the bag.

 

4.  Longest Word – Increase those critical thinking skills by having students come up with the longest word they can, but add an extra challenge and say they can only have 10 points (or 15 points – depending on your class).  Look for those creative answers to start coming!

 

I hope some of these suggestions will allow you to use Scrabble in a new, interesting way in your classrooms.  Do you want other game suggestions for your classroom?  Here are some suggestions for Yahtzee, Chutes and Ladders and Battleship.  Keep playing games and watch your kids learn!

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Reading Between the Lines in Another Language


My class consists of 19 students, of which only 1 speaks English only in his household, and even he began his life in a bilingual environment. The other 18 speak at least one, if not two other languages in their homes. Most of my students speak Arabic, but many also speak French. I have 3 who speak French and not Arabic, 1 who speaks Spanish, and 1 who speaks a Philippine dialect. All of my students speak SOME English, but to varying degrees. My job is to teach them English, while also teaching them everything we normally teach in school (reading, writing, math, science, social studies etc.) Fortunately, I am certified to teach ESL and have some experience with English Language Learners. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. So, from now on, I will now be doing a Teaching Tip Tuesday geared especially towards teaching English Language Learners. Here’s this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:

 

ELL Teaching Tip #11: Inferring is Different For English Language Learners

 

Making inferences can be one of the hardest parts of literacy for English speaking students because it requires students to think the same way as the person who is speaking.  Now, take students who often are of a different culture, giving them different background knowledge (see Tip #10 on How Culture Affects English Language Learning) and who don’t have the same understanding of words, and inferring is now 3 times as hard!!

 

Here’s a simple example:  If the text says “She grabbed her umbrella and her bag before she headed for the door.”  We expect students to understand that it’s probably raining outside.  However, for my students, in an area where rain is rare, it could be just as likely that she’s headed for the beach to sit under a parasol, which is where you will ALWAYS find umbrellas!  Remember that this carries over to pictures too!  My students recently saw a picture of carrot sticks (something you’ll never find in Morocco) and told me they were French Fries.  They also don’t have public libraries here, so whenever we see the picture of the library in the “What’s in your Neighborhood?” books, they tell me it’s a bookstore.

 

Multiple meaning words, homophones and idioms also make it difficult for English Language Learners to make inferences.  (A lesson or project on each of these is very beneficial for English Language Learners.  See last Monday’s post on the homophone books I making with some of my students.) Another simple example: If the text says “The mother asked her son to draw a bath.”  We expect students to know that he will be going into the bathtub to turn on the water.  However, English Language Learners might just as well expect him to get a piece of paper and start drawing a picture.  Amelia Bedelia books are a great way to talk about these types of things with your students, but be prepared to explain every page!

 

 

So, how do we help our English Language Learners make inferences? 

  1.  Never assume they know what a word means – direct instruct as much vocabulary as possible!

2.  Work on multiple meaning words, homophones and idioms in the same way you work on vocabulary.

3.  Know and understand your student’s background knowledge as much as possible, it’s a major contributor to how they think.

Check out Tips 1 – 10 here

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Homophone Books


In addition to my regular classes, I also have the opportunity to teach additional tutoring classes to some older students (2 fourth graders, 1 sixth grader, 1 seventh grader and 1 eight grader) who are in need of support in English.  Like most of the students at my school, these students are English Language Learners, but these particular students have slightly less experience with English than the others. 

My group of students is great, although a little talkative, but they definitely knows what they want to work on.  They don’t’ want to do grammar, they don’t want to do workbook exercises.  They want to know “all the different ways to say something”, which is a good ELL skill, because it’s all that vocabulary and intricacies that come with knowing a language. 

So, my extra group of students are making vocabulary books (plain, simple paper folded, and stapled together and markers were mine only needed supplies).  The first books we made were on homophones, now we have moved on to multiple meaning words, and next we’re going to make idiom books.  The homophone books turned out so great, that I just had to share!  When they finish their other books, I’ll post pictures of them as well.

 

Homophone Books
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  rakishop

10 Tips for Teachers with ELL Students


For the last 10 weeks, I have been bringing you TESOL Teaching Tip Tuesdays.  Here are the first 10 tips to help you with your English Language Learners.  Which has been the most helpful to you?  Leave me a comment to let me know!

 

Teaching Tip #1 – Use Graphics –Pictures are the life blood of an ELL teacher’s curriculum, especially with lower level English students!

 

Teaching Tip #2 – Talk SlowlyKnowing the correct rate of speed to use with imageEnglish Language Learners can increase their comprehension exponentially!

 

Teaching Tip #3 – Let Them Talk – In order to learn a language, you have to practice speaking it – don’t forget that your English Language Learners are learning English and need to speak English – a lot!

Teaching Tip #4 – Correct, but Don’t Overcorrect – Help your students with those common mistakes, but know when is the right time to correct those mistakes.

 

Teaching Tip #5 – Direct Instruct VocabularyNever assume your students know what that word means – direct instruct all of your vocabulary!

 

Teaching Tip #6 – Repeat, repeat, repeatOver and over and over again – repetition is the key to building comprehension in English Language Learners.

 

Teaching Tip #7 – Teach Listening Skills – English Language Learners have to be taught timageo “listen” to English.

 

Teaching Tip #8 – Know Your Students’ Literacy LevelKnowing what your kids speak, read and write at home can help you know what and how you need to teach them.

 

 

Teaching Tip #9 – Know a Few Words of the Home Language – I know how imageto say “sit down” in 5 languages – I promise you it’s important!

 

Teaching Tip #10 – Understand How Culture Affects Language – So much of how we communicate is culturally based – do you know how your students’ culture affects their language?

 

My class consists of 19 students, of which only 1 speaks English only in his household, and even he began his life in a bilingual environment. The other 18 speak at least one, if not two other languages in their homes. Most of my students speak Arabic, but many also speak French. I have 3 who speak French and not Arabic, 1 who speaks Spanish, and 1 who speaks a Philippine dialect. All of my students speak SOME English, but to varying degrees. My job is to teach them English, while also teaching them everything we normally teach in school (reading, writing, math, science, social studies etc.) Fortunately, I am certified to teach ESL and have some experience with English Language Learners. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. So, each week I will share with you a Teaching Tip geared especially towards teaching English Language Learners. Come back next week for Tip #11.

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