LiteracyScience in the City: Literacy
Showing posts with label Literacy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Literacy. Show all posts

Jan 6, 2014

How to Clarify Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration: A Free Foldable

Teaching Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration

Here is freebie for you.  I don't know if anyone else is enjoying a snow day, but I'm using it to get a few things done (one is getting this photosynthesis and cellular respiration resource polished up and posted).  

A free resource

Here is a FREE FOLDABLE that compares cellular respiration and photosynthesis.  Students so often get confused, but it really can help to clear up misconceptions when they see the two processes next to each other, and compare them. This foldable has students break down both processes into categories such as where they happen, what are the products, what are the reactants, and more.  

It really helps students to visualize, and to see how the two processes fit together. 
This freebie gives you the basic directions to make the foldable.
Comparing Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration Foldable 
If you are looking for a more polished version, that includes a printable template and more complete directions that is available here
Photosynthesis and Respiration Foldable - Two Versions

For more information on how I use foldables, and why they are a great strategy for your students, you may want to check out this link on reasons to use foldables with your students.

If you have never used foldables, this article is a good explanation of why they can be really beneficial.

Other Photosynthesis and Respiration Resources

If you are teaching photosynthesis and respiration, they can be confusing for students.  It often helps to sort the terms and components into categories: photosynthesis, respiration, or both.  I have my students do this digital version, and they really get into it!  Students can move the words and sort them into the correct category.

An example of a digital resource to help students understand photosynthesis and cellular respiration

Depending upon the class, sometimes we do it together on the board, or in a 1:1 setting they can do it on their device. It can also be a great station as part of a review activity.

These topics can be confusing, but even some of my struggling students were able to learn them successfully when the processes were broken down, compared, and they were allowed to practice with them.  How else do you help your students understand photosynthesis and cellular respiration?

Nov 27, 2013

The Wonderful Power of Videos in the Classroom

I don't know if your students are anything like mine, but if they are, there are days that getting them focused and paying attention is a losing battle. Even if they are quiet, gettting them focused and attentive is a different story!

Here's a strange thing that some of us in my department have been noticing lately. Students pay attention to a video clip much better than they pay attention to me. I have used this in a few different ways:

-- using video clips such as this that I have found online, and then creating a guided note sheet, questions, or an assignment to go with it. Here is one example of a great instructional video. are a lot, usually about 5-10 minutes long that can replace notes, introduce a topic, or reinforce notes.  It's similar to the idea of the flipped classroom, in a way, except I'm doing it in class in this case, student can watch together in the board, or in their own on device,depending on the time you want to spend, and the structure of your class/access to technology.  Kids say to me things like "remember on Friday in the video when that man was talking and he said...."  

-- I have also created or found some even shorter video clips and photos to give lab instructions, and to show a model of something. It's big, easy for everyone to see, and they can rewind if needed. For example, I made a video of making the onion cell slide. Not great, but it was my first one. Easily filmed with a cellphone, tablet, webcam. For some reason, they seem to remember. 

Do your kids respond differently to a video?  How do you use technology innovatively in the classroom?  

Jul 14, 2013

Get This Free Middle School Vocabulary Menu Download

Classroom freebies
I wanted to share with you my vocabulary menu homework that I use.  I give this often for weekly homework.  Students choose 1 or 2 of the methods to review the week's vocabulary terms.  They like the choice, and are able to choose the methods that work best for them. 

Jul 5, 2013

TESOL Class Week 1

I am starting a new adventure this week.  I have a high population of ELL students at my school (about 30%).  I happened to mention to someone at my church that I love working with them. They are often the high point of my day. She quickly said that a local university was just starting a grant funded program for current teachers, especially urban teachers to add TESOL certification. She suggested that I apply. I did. To make a long story short, I started my first class yesterday.

I will take one class a semester, observation next summer, and student teach (and complete the program) the following summer. 

My first class is Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism.  It is a very intense 5 week class. It
meets twice a week for 3 hours and 20 minutes. 

So far, in the first week, we are learning about our own language backgrounds and those of our classmates, some of the terms in the field of second language acquisition, and some of the cultural and environmental factors that go into learning a second language. 

I was struck by the following:
- I am out of practice reading dense journal articles and writing reflections
- technology has changed since I was in school (blackboard, not printing articles but reading and highlighting them on the iPad) 

In terms of content, the common thread this week was the varied factors that play into people learning and using multiple languages. In many cases these made sense, in a common sense way, but were laid out in much more detail. For example, people are successful at learning languages because of factors in their environment, such as their intrinsic motivation and analysis/attention to detail, the level and types of language that they are exposed to, the interactions that they have with other speakers, the amount of language that they are producing, and the amount and type of explicit and implicit correction that happen as they are learning the language.

The other readings discussed social factors that play into language learning and language use, such as gender, social power structures and expectations, etc. By putting these together, it becomes clear that each individual student, and each cultural group, may have different abilities and affinities for learning a language, and different cultural backgrounds that play into their motivation to learn a language, even when placed in the same setting. 

As I read this, I thought of a few connections to my students. First of all, I think that code switching (or switching between languages, and dialects, based on situation)  happens often, even with our native English speakers. For many African American students, the language that they speak at home, with parents, and with friends, is very different than the academic language that we ask of them in the classroom. I have been part of situations where I hear native English speakers speaking in one way to peers or parents before class, and very quickly changing their "code" for class. Additionally, this is also true of many of the parents of students. Those that cannot switch codes to a more appropriate code for school and business places often find themselves at a disadvantage, or not to be taken as seriously. They do not represent themselves the way that they want. On the other hand, people can be accused to "acting white." Teachers also practice code switching when developing a "teacher voice." Finally, I think electronics have led to a new type of code switching between texting and other written communication. I am curious if these fall under the same umbrella.

As I read, I was also struck (again) by how multilingual most other countries and cultures are compared to the U.S. most of the dilemmas being discussed are foreign to us, where so many people only speak one language. I found some of the article on code switching, particularly the discussion of studies of type a of code switching confusing.

The most interesting reading was about these people who marry people of different tribes who speak different languages.  The children learn to speak the mother's language first, but are corrected and re-directed to speak the father's language.  The official language is the father's language, and it is shameful to speak the mother's language.  However, most people speak several languages.  The language they use depends upon the circumstances.  There are some great pictures of these people on this blog

May 27, 2013

Learning About Teaching With Case Studies

This is a short post to share a resource with you. If you aren't familiar with the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science you should check it out.

 This is primarily a high school and college resource, although it could perhaps be modified to lower age levels. When I taught AP Environmental Science, I used these case studies quite a bit.

I have had mixed results with middle school doing anything similar.  They need a lot of modification.  However, as I transition back to high school, I plan to try to use these more.  I think the roll-out of Common Core, and increased non-fiction reading is a perfect place and reason to use case studies.  It forces students to read and comprehend non-fiction, and could be a great jumping off point to build in more current events and news articles from around the world (which is one of my goals for next year).

There are a couple of cases designed for middle school, others for general/information education, and the cases are searchable in many ways.

Each year they have a fall conference to learn about teaching with case studies.  I have wanted to attend, but never have.  This year, there is a special piece of that conference for high school teachers, and a scholarship for high school teachers.

Wish me luck, and definitely check out the website for your own classroom use, or just for ideas.

A modification of a case, along with the supporting lesson plan materials that I created when I was student teaching are still posted here

I used this case as a jumping off point for sock mitosis (picture is students doing the same activity, but not my students, from

I have used this lesson since then with high school kids (good results) and middle school kids (pretty good results)...they didn't get all about mitosis, but they definitely got the larger picture and remember, still, that errors during the egg formation can cause Down's Syndrome.  Guess they learned something!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Apr 29, 2013

Nervous and Endocrine System Graphic Organizer Freebie for You

Nervous and Endocrine Systems Organizer

I, personally, hate for students to read and answer questions because frequently they do not do a good job of pulling out the information and making it their own.  I prefer to use graphic organizers to help them organize their own information, and to help them pull out their information, rather than only quoting.

For human body systems, I created this organizer to pull together nervous and endocrine systems (body control systems).

It is a freebie on TpT.  Click here or on the picture to check it out!  If you like it, please leave feedback.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Apr 7, 2013

Free For You: Fun Science Poster or Facebook Project Guidelines

Are you looking for a project that your students can do that is cross-disciplinary? Maybe a way to get them reading and writing and using science that is different than state tests, or after state tests?

Here is a project that I used last year, along with some great photos of student work. The English teacher and I did this as a joint project later in the year. We let the kids choose a biography book of a scientist or a book about an animal and create a Facebook page for that scientist or animal. You could also just have them research the scientist or animal. I also had one person comment that they did this project after going on an aquarium field trip. The kids researched one of the animals they saw on the field trip and created the Facebook page.

Facebook Scientist or Animal ProjectFacebook Scientist or Animal ProjectFacebook Scientist or Animal Project

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Freebie Fridays

Apr 5, 2013

How Can I Engage and Differentiate with Online Videos?

Here is a teaching strategy that you may already be using, but if not, I highly suggest it.  Use online teaching videos (not brainpop or something as catchy, but simple content-based videos) in class as a means to differentiate.  A great site for Earth Science is  (see videos below) Or you could try Khan Academy, or many others.   
  • Find the video(s) you want to use the teach the content you are trying to teach
  • Make a guided note sheet (similar to what you would put in a powerpoint or what you want kids to take notes on
  • Include some higher level thinking questions as they go through.
  • Then make an application section, or some other activity using the information they they just watched.
My kids used the netbooks, put on headphones, and were totally engaged.  They could stop and re-start the video as many times as they wanted, ask questions where they were specifically stuck, and gauge their understanding better. I had kids comment that they really liked that they could go at their own pace.

Depending upon how you want to run the lesson, you could make the application task homework if they don't finish, make different levels of application questions etc.  People will finish at vastly different times, but hopefully they all finish and grasp the main points of the content.  That's why we are here, right?! 

Have you ever used a similar strategy in your classroom?  If so, how did you do it?  I also found this to work well for review when the topic was familiar, but some needed instruction again and some just needed reinforcement.

Mar 31, 2013

Wow! A Great Literacy Freebie For You

Happy Easter!

If you aren't already a member of, or receive the weekly newsletter, you may want to.  They send out a weekly newsletter (you do not have to be a seller) which gives 10 free downloads of various topics and grade levels each week, some featured products, and some discussion of what is upcoming.  Did you know April is Poetry Month?  There are suggestions from  other teachers of how they are using this in their classroom.  Its a great way to liven up your classroom routine, and stay creative in your teaching.

I am writing about the newsletter because I was lucky enough to have one of my products be one of the featured free downloads this week (see picture below).  Strangely enough, it is the product I just wrote about in my last blog post! (I swear I didn't know it was going to be featured).

Photo: Here it is!!
I love this for the feedback as well.  Here are a few of the wonderful bits of feedback I've gotten today!

"Excellent way for Reading teachers and other core subject teachers to collaborate."

"I like this! It's great for common core and higher-level academic reading."

"Great to use with my ELLs? Thank you."

"This is user friendly for high school students and a great tool to share with pre-service teachers to include literacy in their content area."


"This is a great reading activity....As an ELA teacher it's great to see science teachers promote reading skills. We're your newest followers!" 

Here is a link to this week's newsletter.

I actually first got involved in TpT through looking for a free product, and then signing up for the weekly newsletter with the free downloads. There are some great products coming right to your inbox every week, and some inspiration and ideas from a creative and passionate group of teachers.

Here is a link to sign up for the newsletter (all the way at the bottom look for this)

Mar 29, 2013

Are You Struggling with How Common Core Affects Science?

I was asked what effect common core has on science education.  I have been looking, and found very confusing and mixed information.

Some sources only want to discuss the Next Generation Science Standards, or other moves towards National Science Standards.

Some articles and references seem very anxious and concerned about common core changes.  Other seems to advocate that the changes are minor for science.  Here's my take.

Most references that I found reference the appendix of the ELA standards, which is for informational text, science, social studies, etc.   That's where I first turned too.  There are many references in there about reading and writing informational text, procedures, drawing conclusions, supporting with evidence, etc.  In my mind, these are all things that we do in science already.  The common core puts more emphasis on them, and ties them more thoroughly with other subjects and with specific language objectives.  They are skills that scientists (and science students and teachers) are hopefully already doing.

However, one area that I think we struggle as science teachers and don't reach our full common core potential is in reading strategies.  (CCCS on reading informational text (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI). We expect kids to be able to read, or we find alternative ways around it, such as notes, hands-on, demos, videos.  We do need to teach reading strategies, even though we are not reading teachers.

This is something that I work on a lot in my classroom because the district I work in historically has students with very low reading levels.  Along with this, I have always taught courses ending in a state exam, where the reading level is at or slightly above grade level.  This is not a good combination.  Reading level is the biggest predictor of how they do on the exam.  (a topic for another day).

Anyway, one strategy I use for reading out of a textbook is this freebie available at my store.  It is really a scaffold to teach a good strategy for reading a textbook.  It includes what to do before reading the chapter (previewing), what to do during (vocabulary, looking at text features, recording new information and connecting it to what is already known) and after (questions you still have and reflection on what you learned).

It is in a format that kids can readily fill in and understand.  This has been very popular with our ELL and SPED teachers and students, and used for students in grades 7-10 with very good results.

If you use it, let me know what you think in the comments.  If you have suggestions or other strategies you use, let me know that too!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Mar 15, 2013

Quizlet Makes it Really Easy to Study

This week I'm going to feature a tech tool that I have used successfully in many different ways. Are you familiar with quizlet? It's at

You can use quizlet for vocabulary, formulas, or really anything that you need to match things up and memorize. (Some examples would be states and capitals, foreign language terms, even chemical formulas).

On the website, kids can flip through the terms and definitions like flashcards, play two different games, or different modes to learn the terms, including one where the computer reads the definitions and they type in the words (great for ELLs).

If you have ipads or ipods in your classroom, there is an app as well. This year, however, I do not have much technology time available. That's ok! I'm still using quizlet.

Once I enter in the terms and definitions, I can print out various things -- a glossary, flashcards, word and definition cards that can be matched, or quizzes in a couple different formats.

I try to focus more on concepts, but the bottom line is, if kids don't understand the vocabulary and language then they can't be successful.

More ideas of how I used vocabulary in creative ways are available in my TpT product located here.

Mar 12, 2013

5 Simple Steps to Alleviate Student Stress and Increase Confidence

Hmmmmm. We are now approaching state testing time. It's not here yet, but its coming. That leads me to several thoughts. I'm not going to get into the politics of testing....I think we all know where we stand on that and are sick of discussing it. I'm going to focus, instead, on how to prepare kids, and how much of our preparation is not about content.

Kids get stressed about so many aspects of testing. It is so important to take away their anxiety! For this reason, it's important to practice and coach them, make them familiar with all aspects of it. These include things you may not think of. Here are some ideas:

- room arrangement. If you will be moving furniture, or seats, do it at least a week ahead of time so that's not scary.
- what will the test look like? If possible, make your unit tests and tickets out out of past state tests. Not from a test bank, but actually from the test. This way they look the same.
- what will the format of the answer sheet be. Make sure they are familiar with this and how to fill it out well ahead of time.
- let them use class time to study, with structure. For example, I took 15 minutes of class this week to have them get into partners and quiz each other in vocabulary words. They could either read the definition and have their partner guess the word, or give clues and guess the word. They got really into it, and started competing and cheering each other on! A the end we talked about ways they could study vocabulary at home. Many realized they could do this with other family members, or even on the bus.

So simple, but they need to be explicitly taught these skills and made to feel comfortable and confident.

Feb 23, 2013

How to Help a Struggling Writer Want to Write

My son is in first grade.  I want him to work on his writing, which he hates.  He hates both the mechanics of writing (putting pencil to paper), spelling, etc.  We went to a local museum and he saw an ad for a kids writing contest, grades K-3.  He decided he was going to enter, and win.  Kind of a funny choice for someone who hates writing, but he was set on it.  He came home to start, and very very quickly got frustrated when he made mistakes, had to erase, the paper got messy, etc.

I had a small brainstorm.  Maybe he could type it on the computer, edit his mistakes, and not get so frustrated.  It would also take away the whole problem of writing (ok, so he doesn't get practice on that, but at least he's practicing spelling and making sentences).

I started him on googledocs.  I chose that because it automatically saves, saves edits (so things can be undone) and can be accessed from any computer.

He loves it!  After a few days, however, he realized that he had an email account associated with his google docs account.  Uh oh.  Ok, so gmail does not have parental controls, I've looked.  I've monitored closely.  He has been emailing me, my husband, my parents, his other grandparents.  He can't wait to check his email and write back.  He has used google docs to share the story with them, and keep adding to it. that authentic practice?!!  How to make middle school level as authentic as that?  It seems to me, that for reading and writing are easier to find authentic practice.  Now I need to think about how to do that in my class.

And....has anyone ever used google docs, or a better kid-friendly website or application for kids?

Feb 18, 2013

This is What Happens When You Focus on Tier 2 Vocabulary

I posted earlier about my action research on Tier 2 vocabulary words for bellwork.  Some of my results are in, and I wanted to share....

I conducted a "pre-quiz" on a set of 5 words, worked with the words for 5 class days and then a "post-quiz" on the same five words.  It was matching words and definitions.  Don't forget....the post-quiz was the day before February break!  The 7A, 7B, 8A, and 8B  designations indicate the groups.  7A and B are 7th grade, 8A and B are 8th grade.  8A and 7B both have significant ELL students.  7B also has some IEP students.

Not bad...I was actually hoping for even a little better, but some of the words were similar, and they got confused.

The words were: property, component, factor, consecutive, and formation.

I also conducted a survey where I asked them if they were aware of the focus on vocabulary in bellwork, if it was helping them in science, in other classes, not helping them at all, etc. I also asked them what methods worked best for them.

Interesting results!

Feb 13, 2013

8 Important Reasons to Use Foldables With Your Students

Why do foldables work?

My high school students sometimes used foldables, and they seemed somewhat helpful, but for some reason when I got to middle school foldables were great!  Give the kids a chart or some other kind of graphic organizer and they are bored and don't seem to get as much out of it.  Give them a foldable and  they like it.  I wanted to find out why.

I like foldables because....

- They are a little bit kinesthetic.
- They get to be more creative
- They are creating a study tool
- They get to create something that they are proud of at the end.
- They seem to do better at pulling out information, not just copying from the text.
- They really help students organize information.
- Kids like to look back to them to study! They seem to remember where to find their information and find it more meaningful than other notes.

I also wanted to find some other information about foldables and why they work.  I found a lot of opinions, but not a lot of really backed up data.  However, here are some great resources that I found: (discussion of using foldables) (great information on foldables and the common core) (great examples of middle school math and science foldables):
And of course, the creator of foldables  with lots of examples

Here are my products that are in my TpT store that are foldables.  All have been used in my classroom.  These include:
 - circulatory system, excretory and digestive system, heat transfer, sexual and asexual reproduction, plant and animal cells, and more will be coming.  (Can you tell we've been doing human body??!)

If there is a particular topic you want to see, let me know!

Feb 11, 2013

5 Steps to Change Testing And Get Amazing Results

How do we making testing (even unit tests) a growth and learning experience, instead of just an exercise that frustrates kids and takes up time? Here is one thing that I do. I saw it from my amazing mentor when I was student teaching, and have since modified it for my own use, but I think you will be amazed at the results.  Here is what I do.  I don't do it too early in the year, as kids have to learn procedures and expectations/testing behavior, etc.  I also don't do it all the time.
  • On the day of a chapter test or unit test, treat it just like a regular test.  Make them put everything away and work quietly on their own to take the test. 
  • After some time (anywhere from 10-15 minutes, or as the first 1-2 people finish). Usually I like to shoot for when most kids are maybe 2/3 of the way through.
  • Have them work with a partner (either they pick or I pick - depends on the class). 
  • They need to go through their test, with a partner, and agree on their answers.  No copying.  As you walk around they must be discussing their answers if they have different answers, and why they think that's the best answer.  
  • Sometimes I leave it at that.  Sometimes I have a group where I really give them a new answer sheet, and that's what they turn in. 
Why do I do it?  Because as you walk around, you will hear kids having those valuable conversations that don't happen as well under other conditions. They take it very seriously because its for a test grade, and they listen to each other.  You hear kids saying "But it says NOT"  "what does this word mean?  Oh...."  "remember when we did this in class...."  "I think its this because I remember"  

Also, its cuts down the number of kids who just randomly guess, quickly pick answers, or leave blanks down almost to zero.  Maybe you don't have those kids.  I always have.  They get an extra scaffold as they really work through the test questions, and they look closely at the language and choices in a way they don't usually. It also gives them a lot more confidence to work with a partner.  

Try it. If you do, please let me know how it goes :) 

Jan 20, 2013

Homework: A Controversial Topic That Will Make You Think

As we approach the second semester (midterms are this week, then we start the second half of the year).....I am rethinking my approach to homework.  I teach 7th and 8th grade in an urban district, at a very low performing school.

Every summer I re-think my approach, I have done real research, and keep coming back to the same conclusion.  This may be the year that I change it.  And not only change it, but change it mid-year.

Please add in the comments what type of homework you assign, how you grade it, or any other thoughts you have on homework.  I would love to hear your feedback!

I generally assign homework that students should be able to do independently, to reinforce the topics we are learning in class.  I often assign work from the textbook (read 2-5 pages, and answer a couple of open-ended questions, or interpret a diagram or 2, or do the reinforcement work that comes with the textbook).  I also often assign vocabulary practice (draw pictures, use in sentences, etc).  I am very lenient on accepting it late.

Our district mandates that homework counts no more than 10% of the overall grade.  I have always made the argument to kids that "that's a whole letter grade."  That will bring you from an F to passing, or you can't get an A without doing homework.

I still feel that way, and I think that kids need to practice outside of class in order to raise their overall skills, and to "catch up" to other schools.  If we have such low scores now, how are we going to catch up by doing less.

Here is the catch.....

  • Only a small amount of kids (maybe 25% if I'm lucky) do any substantial amount of homework, the majority don't do any
  • We are under a huge amount of pressure right now to raise scores and to put in 110% (or more)---we are having 2 grade level meetings, an RTI meeting, a co-teaching SPED meeting, a subject meeting, a committee meeting, and sometimes multiple parent conferences during a week.  This leaves next to no planning time that is actually free.
  • We are also being requested asked to turn in formal lesson plans, and to help provide tutoring during lunch to raise achievement.
  • I am exhausted and very stressed...something needs to change!  
I am considering not assigning homework anymore, but doing more of the 'homework' in class.  I would make a shorter lesson, start homework in class, and those that don't finish would have it as homework to finish at home?  

Or making a standard homework assignment every week that is due - perhaps Wed to Wed? 

I would love to hear any of your suggestions.  I have this week of midterm exams to figure out my strategy.  

However, I am starting to think that even for all the reasons that I believe in homework, its not a good use of my time to come up with homework (even though I don't spend a lot of time on homework), and to correct and grade it, etc, if kids aren't doing it.  Maybe time and energy is better spent somewhere else, and maybe if its not working, then I need to revamp how I'm thinking about it.

How do you structure homework?  What types do you give?  How often?  What feedback do you have?  

Dec 6, 2012

Wondering About Common Core? Better Targeted Resources You Want

As a science teacher, how does the Common Core shift effect us?  What can we do to teach to the common core?  And what do we already do?

I think we already do a lot that aligns with common core.  Some of that is a topic for another post....

One way that we can easily integrate more common core standards is through the use of scientific news articles.

Science news articles can be used in class or as homework to extend a topic, or as a hook to introduce a topic. They are also great for common core skills when reading non-fiction text like summarizing, inferring vocabulary, finding details and main ideas.

Some great sources are below.  Feel free to add additional resources in the comments.  I'd love to hear what you are using in your classrooms.


Nov 29, 2012

Behind the Scenes: The Truth About Exit Tickets and Vocabulary

I Made a Simple Change to my Classroom Warm Ups and saw Surprising Results! 

I have always done bellwork, or a "Do Now" when kids come into class.  I have always made those either an open ended question to what we are doing now, or a review question or test question from what we did yesterday.  This year I am changing it around, and I have to say I am very happy with the results.  I wrote more about my bellwork routines here

Students can't test well when they can't understand the questions

I have a lot of kids whose reading scores are very low this year (average reading level about 4th grade, give or take, in 7th and 8th), and a lot of SPED and ELL kids.   This is discussed further in this post

Description and results when warm up/exit tickets were used to teach tier vocabulary

What I did to focus on vocabulary

I decided to focus bellwork on those "tier 2" vocabulary words. You know, the ones that are not content specific, but kids don't know....words like

essential, abundant, similar, variation....

Each day I put up a word and either use it in a sentence, or put pictures with it, and then have the kids do two things: 
 - infer the meaning of the word
 - use it in a sentence of their own.

Some examples are in in these inferring vocabulary resources

Test Prep Tier 2 Vocabulary Cards Growing Bundle

At the end of the week bellwork is a matching quiz on those words.  I am so happy to report that the end of the week quizzes have been great.  I'm hearing things like "I know these!  These are the words we've been doing" 

To make sure we are quizzing/reviewing content, I'm doing a ticket out at the end of each class.    It really allows them to settle down and process, puts a good closure to the class, and I can catch misconceptions before they go.  They are in the habit now of handing me their ticket out on the way out.  

I have also worked with them on vocabulary using the strategies discussed here but I have found a focus during warm ups to be one of the most effective strategies. 

I have seen a dramatic improvement in their confidence levels, their comprehension, and their overall test scores. 

Description and results when warm up/exit tickets were used to teach tier vocabulary

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