Does this statistic frighten anyone else? How in the world are we supposed to bridge that gap? We have students coming into our classroom with all different backgrounds, yet we are supposed to grow them all academically one year. Seem like a daunting task? IT IS!
What do you do to help close this gap? Of course we all read aloud to our students, but what else can we do?
Vocabulary is the key! The more words we know, the better we understand the world around us.
I was fortunate enough to stumble across a really cool program called Big Word Club last fall. I immediately signed up because I am always on the hunt for new and better ways to teach my firsties.
What is Big Word Club? I’m so glad you asked! Big Word Club (now being referenced in this post as BWC) is an awesome online explicit vocabulary instruction. The program is divided into different grade level bands, so it meets the needs of your students! Each week there is a new digital book that is read aloud, a song to go with the book, and dance along version of the song. There are daily videos that explicitly teach a vocabulary word that is found in the weekly book.
The books cover some really cool topics! Our favorite books were any that dealt with dinosaurs, the rain forest, and the Galapagos Islands! I loved how we could experience different places just sitting on our classroom rug. Our conversations that sprung from these videos were much more rich than our normal talks. Seriously – having my students using the word symbiotic correctly blew my mind!
One of the reasons I love this program is because it helps not only our vocabulary grow, but also our schema. I would have NEVER thought about teaching my students about the Galapagos Islands, but we certainly did have fun looking up more information and imaging a field trip there!
Another reason my firsties and I love BWC is the fact that it is multimodal – you listen, see the video with context, see how it is spelled, dance along, and discuss it as a class. You reach all kids by hitting all of these areas. I may or may not have dance along sometimes.
It is very easy to use, too! I would pull up the website on my interactive board while my students were doing student-led calendar time. I had the link bookmarked in my browser, so I could easily click on the link and find the week and day we were ready for. We would watch the day’s videos and then take turns going around the room using our new word.
This past spring we went through BWC’s content one week at a time, starting at week one, then moving to week two, etc. Now that I know the different themes, I may go “out of order” and do some weeks when they better line up with my curriculum. Either way works, I just think I can extend the learning a little better if I do it this way. Do you already do a rainforest or dinosaur unit? These videos will fit right along with your current content!
Have you used Big Word Club? Comment below - I want to hear about your experience with it!
Has anyone else gotten caught up in all of the WONDERFUL Target Dollar Spot finds lately? Oh my word. SO many good finds!
I, too, have fallen victim of a good Dollar Spot haul. Or two. Or three. Here’s a pic of ONE of my trips. It’s a disease, y’all.
There have been so many good finds, but one of my favorites is this awesome little puzzle set! I love how simple it is, yet has some good educational purposes! First off, I love a good puzzle and so do my students! I pull out puzzles especially at the beginning of the year during centers and then throughout the year during indoor recess. I love how puzzles help with fine motor skills, spatial skills, problem solving, hand eye coordination, self esteem, and so many other important skills! Above all – they are just plain fun!
This particular puzzle set has four two-sided discs that pull apart into five pieces, thus creating eight different puzzles to match. While students can match the puzzles with the background color, they can also look at the words/pictures and find the rhyming words.
I’ve been in schools before that don’t want just play time during centers (which is a whole other blog post coming your way). Administration wants proof of learning, aka documentation. One way to go about this is to have the students take a picture with an iPod of their work. I have a few donated iPods in my classroom, but we use them at another center, so this doesn’t work for me. I sometimes have my students use the manipulatives in the centers and then record their findings on a sheet to turn into a center basket. I don’t grade center work, but I do look through it and see if there are any areas I need to go back and address. I always pull out their writing and make comments or have them read their work to me before sending them home.
For this fun puzzle, I decided to whip up a little recording sheet. Once the students match all the puzzle pieces, they will choose four puzzles to record on the sheet. Nothing too fancy, nothing too hard. Just practicing writing the rhymes and handwriting.
Click this link to grab your freebie to use with your target dollar puzzles, too!
Do you use puzzles in your classroom? How do you use them?
Do you struggle with finding activities for centers? I know I sometimes do.
I recently discovered my students’ love for a pocket chart. I was blessed my first year teaching from several of my mom’s coworkers who were retiring and gave me some of their awesome stuff. Among these goodies were some pocket charts. I didn’t really know what to do with them for a while, to be honest. I used it for several display things, but certainly not as an interactive center. A few months ago I started letting my students put numbers in order in the chart, like a 120 chart, and they loved it. I got a rhyming word work center pack of different pictures/words and figured I might as well give the old pocket chart a go – and boy did it go!
A few weeks ago I our spelling pattern for the week was extra tricky! We worked with words containing “er, ir, and ur.” Yikes! I decided that we would need extra practice outside of our normal spelling center, so I whipped up a new word work center to sort the words. Once the students sorted the words, they were to write them in the corresponding category (the spelling pattern).
I simply printed the first page on colored paper, laminated, and cut. Super simple. To save on paper, I printed page two as two to a page, but I also could have just print it as a whole page.
I am including this center as a freebie to you, just for stopping by! Thank you so much for being a part of this little blog and supporting me!
Enjoy this FREE download for your word work center! Just click on the picture above to access it! What other spelling patterns would you like to see?