Adventures in Literacy Land: guest blogging

Showing posts with label guest blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guest blogging. Show all posts

Adding Student Choice with Guest Blogger Lauralee

Welcome to Lauralee from Language Arts Classroom, who is joining us today to tell us all about student choice when reading. Read more to find out how to add student choice when teaching literature.

I’m a reader, a lover of almost all books. Even books that I don’t love, I can normally appreciate a portion of. When I began teaching, I wanted my passion and excitement to flow to my students. And, the novice teacher that I was, I figured it would simply because of my excitement.   Of course, that didn’t happen. Some students were game, but others were clearly bored. Others didn’t read, no matter what I did. I struggled to reach all students - and I wanted literature to influence my students the way it did me.   Eventually, I found tricks that worked, lessons that reached more students. What I’ve realized is that these ‘tricks’ all revolve around giving students choice. By providing choice in literature lessons, I am reaching more students, my initial goal.   Plus, choice provides students freedom, and they are not in competition with other students. Don’t be afraid to implement student choice! To start, provide choice in small areas and move on when comfortable.   Here are quick ways to implement student choice in literature lesson plans today.   Novels   I’ve never had the freedom to choose novels with students (a YAL reading class would be a dream!), but choices with novels still exist. With older students, ask them what works best.

  • Students can choose what review and discussion activities they like after certain sections. Present different options and students can choose their favorites. For instance, with partners students can have discussion starter prompts. Group work allows for larger analysis. Individual work can also allow choice - which graphic organizer, which writing topic?
  • Students can choose the culminating activity at the end - presentation, paper, or artwork. I’ve had some students choose a test simply because they are good test takers.
  • Are students struggling? Ask what will help them. For difficult novels, they may want guided notes.
  Short Stories/ Nonfiction   Allow students to choose stories or nonfiction pieces with structure. Explain the theme of your unit and be honest about your resources. I’ve even told students what we need to cover - literary devices, analysis processes - and that is how I developed the list of choices.   Choices:
  • Students can choose what to read. Give students a list of short stories with a short summary of each. They can vote on the short stories or nonfiction pieces that interest them as a class. For instance, I teach a spooky unit during October and typically cover Poe. I want to cover Poe. Students need to read at least one Poe, but other suspenseful stories full of conflict are out there. I allow student input for which Poe story, and then they choose others. Sometimes, they want to read multiple Poe stories!
  • My students love choosing which nonfiction piece to choose. Since most of the choices are on the Internet, I give them web addresses and ask them to choose. Then I provide a list of questions (since I have already read all potential articles).
  Vocabulary   Giving students choice in what vocabulary they study has been the easiest implementation of choice in my experience.   Choices:
  • Students can choose what words to study. This can be as simple as their choosing a certain number of words. You can also provide students with a form.
  • Students can decide how to study the words: writing a story? sentences? stand-up comedy routine?
  • Students can choose how to analyze the language. What parts of speech are the words? Can they use the verbs as participles?
  With older students, using choice improved my classroom management as well as. Students engaged in the literature because they chose their method of studying. This makes sense; appreciating literature is a personal experience.   Providing choice for students may seem like extra teacher-work. I’ve found the opposite: students see success. I’m able to meet IEP goals without obviousness. Students experience failure, and as a class we make decisions together, and feel the repercussions of them - together.   When I think back to my simplistic approaches to teaching literature, I shudder. Choice has improved my teaching and brought the joy of literature to my students - my ultimate goal.

Lauralee from

Language Arts Classroom

Getting Started with Leveled Literacy Intervention

Hello all! This is Colleen from Literacy Loving Gals. I would like to share with you a little peek into Fountas' and Pinnell's Blue Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) Kit, since I use it most often to support my struggling RtI students compared to the other colored kits.

If you are not familiar with the LLI kits, they are ideal resources to support below grade-level students who are struggling in reading and writing. The kits are used in a small group setting with 3 to 4 students, depending on the grade-level of the students. RtI students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade (Orange, Green & Blue Kits) require groups of 3 students for fidelity of the program, while the 4th grade and 5th grade levels (Red & Gold Kits) allow for 4 students per group.

LLI is scientifically-based and designed to prevent literacy difficulties. The program (along with teacher guidance, of course) provides students opportunities to extend comprehension through discussions and writing, to learn and apply phonics and word solving skills, to increase vocabulary and processing strategies, as well as improve fluency and phrasing through rereading. Since the groupings are so intimate in size, I'm easily able to model appropriate reading behaviors, in addition to prompt for and reinforce effective reading strategies. Fidelity of the program definitely correlates to student success. I have seen much growth in my students' reading abilities, since I began using LLI in the early Fall.

The majority of the students I service are in grades 2nd and 3rd, which is why I use the Blue Kit most often. It encompasses guided reading Levels C through N. There are 120 lessons. Each lesson has 4 colored copies to use while in group and 6 black and white copies of each book for students to take home for additional reading practice. Canvas bags are available to keep the Take-Home books in good condition. In addition, a Prompting Guide and the resource book When Readers Struggle: Teaching That Works are accessible in this kit.
The Prompting Guide supplies a variety of prompts for each targeted reading behavior. A few prompting categories and examples are below.
  • Early Reading Behaviors "Say it slowly and move your finger under the word.", "Show me____ (a high frequency word) on this page.", "Point to each word as you read."
  • Using Information "Can the picture help you think about this part of the story?", "You said____. Does that sound right?", "Are you thinking about what will happen next?"
  • Solving Words "Get your mouth ready for the first sound.", "Cover the last part of the word.", "Look at the middle of the word.", "Do you know a word that starts with those letters?"
  • Monitoring and Correcting "Why did you stop?", "Does the word you said look like the word on the page?", "It has to makes sense and go with the letters.", "Where is the tricky part?"
  • General Problem-Solving "That won't help you.  This will help you .", "Try that again.", "Try it another way.", "Think about what you know." "What can you do?"
  • Maintaining Fluency "Listen to me read.  Can you read it like that?", "Make a full stop at the period.", "Make your voice go up when you see a question mark.", "Take a short pause when you see a comma (or dash)."
The lessons are 30 minutes in length (45 minutes in length for the Red & Gold Kits). There is a nice variety of fiction and nonfiction texts for the students to read. For each set of 10 lessons, there are 5 instructional texts and 5 independent texts. The routine for the lessons alternate depending on the lesson number. Odd-numbered lessons consist of Rereading Books (5 mins), Phonics/Word Work (5 mins), introduction of New Book at the instructional level (15 mins) and additional Letter/Word Work (5 mins), if time permits. Even-numbered lessons consist of Rereading Books and Assessment of the instructional text (5 mins), Phonics/Word Work (5 mins), Writing About Reading (15 mins) and introduction of New Book at the independent level (5 mins).

Rereading Books and Assessment:

At the start of each group, students are required to reread the new instructional-level book and independent-level books from the previous lesson or lessons. During this time, you *listen in* while the students softly read, which allows you to support them with any needed prompting. This is when the prompting guide becomes very handy. Keep in mind, there is absolutely NO "Round Robin" reading, as was common before research confirmed it as a very unproductive use of time. Not all of the students in the small group need the same prompting, so students taking turns to read aloud while peers wait for a turn is an ineffective strategy.

Moving on...Face it, most struggling readers are unmotivated to read, which is why they're struggling in the first place. It's such a viscous cycle. Don't you agree? Well, for those slightly unmotivated students, sometimes a little *magical touch* is needed to spark interest. I have trinkets available for my students to use when reading, including whisper phones, "eye-lighters", sock puppets, hand pointers, magnifying glasses and holiday-themed knickknacks. In addition, I supply fix-up strategy book marks as a visual support for students.


In regards to the Assessment portion of the lesson, only one or two students' reading is coded using running records on a particular day, so students being assessed must rotate throughout the week. I take running records weekly for each of my students because they are well below grade level. I then alter my teaching and prompting based on the students' running record miscues. The instructional-level text from the previous day's lesson is used. Fountas and Pinnell have a (paid-subscription) Literacy Online Resources site containing all of the lessons' materials, including running record forms for each instructional-level text. I pull up the running record form for the lesson being assessed and code the students' reading behaviors on notebook paper using the Coding and Scoring form below. Cute binders from Target keep my running records organized. In order to help save beautiful trees, I do not print the copies of the running record forms.

Phonics/Word Work:

During this portion of the lesson, students are explicitly and systematically instructed on how language works. The LLI kits provide an Alphabet and Consonant Cluster Linking Chart, poems, letter & word games, and lists of suggested words that can be documented on anchor charts with students. Magnetic letters with cookie trays, beads with pipe cleaners, letter stamps with ink pads, flyswatters and paint strips of various colors are also available in my room to assist in our work work activities. In addition, I often use iPad Apps to boost interest in recording the words being taught. Some easy-to-use Apps include Screen Chomp, ABC Magnetic Letters, Doodle Buddy and ShowMe. However, on occasion the students participate in QR Code activities focused on the phonics skill being practiced. In that case, they use the SCAN App. :)

New Book:

When introducing the new instructional-level book, students are provided the gist of the story. They are also given the opportunity to *walk~through* the text with guidance looking for tricky words, new vocabulary, language structures and important text features when necessary. Previewing the text should only take about 3 or 4 minutes. It's very similar to the routines of Jan Richardson's guided reading routines. As mentioned in the Rereading Books section, teachers use the prompting guide while *listening in* on the students during this portion of the lesson, too. (Remember, NO "Round Robin" reading!) Once the students have been given time to read the book in its entirety, a group discussion takes place referring the students back into the text to support their answers to questions asked.


LLI involves students extending their understanding of texts through writing in 3 forms: Interactive, Dictated and Independent. They record their writing in My Writing Book. The writing books are available in yellow, purple and red. There is no particular reason for the colors for the exception of allowing for some student choice. Giving *choice* to students is always a good thing! On a side note, in the Red and Gold kits dedicated to the upper grades, the writing books are different and provide a word study portion.

Interactive Writing:

During interactive writing, students compose a text with the teacher. I ask students to write words or parts of words on the board as I offer guidance and support. The students LOVE participating in interactive writing!

Dictated Writing:

My little ones often have trouble with dictated writing because they miss some of the spoken words in their writing. I generally use some sort of manipulative such as beads, holiday-themed erasers, buttons, etc. to support students in counting the number of spoken words needed in the dictated sentences. It supports 1:1 correspondence of spoken and written words. We count out the manipulative together as I dictate the sentence. The students must then make sure to have as many words in their sentence as beads/erasers/buttons in front of them. For instance, a student writing the sentence "The boy walked to the park with his friend." would need 9 counters in front of him or her.

Independent Writing:

Independent writing may take several different forms depending on the students' needs. Students may write lists, labels for pictures, sentences, paragraphs, etc. On days the students are required to write independently, I often supply them with graphic organizers or response activities to guide them in responding to their texts. Those organizers or responses are then placed into their writing books. The writing books become a keep-sake for them and a place to document their growth throughout the year. If you're interested in fiction and nonfiction guided writing ideas for Levels A-I and J+, click the poster below. :)

Well, there you have it...a little peek into the F&P Leveled Literacy Intervention Blue Kit. Do you use the LLI kits with your students? I'd love to hear your story, if you do! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

P.S. Thank you to the following graphic artists for the backgrounds, clip art and fonts! :)

Welcome again to guest blogger Colleen from Literacy Loving Gals!  She has been her before, and we are excited to have her join us again for this guest post!


Working Walls with Guest Blogger Pixie Anne

Welcome to another guest blogger ~ Pixie Anne with some ideas to help you with 


I'm Pixie Anne from Growing Little Learners and I am delighted to be blogging here at the amazing Adventures in Literacy Land today to share how we use a Working Wall in Literacy in my classroom.


Working Walls are such a great way to have an up to date, relevant, child led display that supports learning in the classroom and helps the children to see the bigger picture and learning journey they are on! 

An added bonus is that they are so easy to throw together throughout the week as you are doing the work in class anyway - no extra cutting and laminating at home, no hunting for the perfect image or trying to be super creative with ideas! I love mine! 

So today I've decided to share how my most recent one came together and there's a freebie for you at the end so keep on reading... 

The Working Wall always starts with an example of what we are aiming for by the end of the week (What A Good One Looks Like).

We began our week of instruction writing (inspired by George's Marvelous Medicine) by Gathering Content. We investigated bossy verbs and adverbs by playing some simple games (Simon Says and Adverb Charades) and then looked at a whole bunch of different instruction texts to hunt for examples of each to add to the working wall.

To understand and explore the features of the genre and create a Success Checklist I brought in lots of recipe books from home. They were out on tables with post it notes when the children arrived in the morning and I challenged them to work in pairs to find and label some of the features they could see. 

We had a class discussion about the features they spotted and I jotted them down on strips of paper to refer to in the next activity. I gave out copies of recipes for them to annotate with the features. This was a perfect chance for me to gather a bit of reading evidence too - understanding the features of a non fiction text!

The wall so far...

Next came the Planning. We had a lot of fun coming up with disgusting ingredients together in some shared writing (my poor Learning Support Assistant was looking a bit green by the end of the session!),

This girl had lots of good ideas!

We also planned ideas for the method using time connectives and all the bossy verbs and adverbs we had previously generated.

 Here's how the wall was looking at this point. I desperately need a bigger wall but have no space in my classroom so I have to squash it all in as best I can!

Then comes the Drafting! We recapped what we had learned so far (using the wall!), I modeled my own recipe and then asked them to work on their own. 

My support group still really struggled to set the instructions out correctly even with a writing frame and had the method written in the 'you will need' section but the content and what they were trying to write was good!  Here is one from one of my stronger writers and this was added to the wall as a best example.

We ran out of time and I couldn't squeeze on the Editing and Improving heading. We will bring to a published form for a class recipe book next week but for now the working wall is complete and shows the learning journey we went on when writing our instruction texts!

I really do love these displays and strongly feel they support the learning in the classroom. 

I feel a little embarrassed by the tatty headings I have on the board, so I have created some new ones to use which I want to share with you! Click here or on the picture below to grab your freebie! There are different choices of headings depending on how you phrase things in your classroom.

I hope you've found some inspiration or ideas here that you can use! I'd love to hear how you use working walls in your classroom or any tips you have on how I can improve mine so please leave a comment or contact me over on my blog (Growing Little Learners)!

Thanks again to Adventures in Literacy Land for having me join you for today - it's been great!

Take Care


Phonological Awareness with Tara from Looney's Literacy

We are pleased to have another guest blogger with us today!  Tara from Looney's Literacy Blog is here to help us all with some phonological awareness activities!

Hello, Adventures in Literacy Land friends! My name is Tara Looney from Looney's Literacy Blog and I'm pleased to be a guest blogger here where I can meet new literacy lovin' bloggy buddies!
I'm here today to share a little bit about phonological awareness and the part it plays in literacy learning. Since the National Reading Panel's research on the six basic components of literacy learning and my own personal experience with my child with developmental delays in speech and language and  proprioceptive sensory disorder, I've made it my mission to discover the literacy learning process and share it with others so that we can reach as many kiddos as possible. 

By the time our kiddos reach us in Kindergarten, especially if they've not had pre-school, it is important to teach explicit phonological skills to those who seem to have not mastered them yet. 
Phonological skills are closely related to  language and listening skills (All strong indicators of future literacy learning success).  A quick check at the beginning of the year is simple  and  can be done  within any normal "getting accustomed to school" routines. 

As an intervention teacher, I spend the first 2-3 weeks observing whole group instruction and independent activities. I try to keep record of observations that raise the red flag of possible learning difficulties. Language, listening and phonological awareness are  among the top five "literacy look fors" at the beginning of the year.

What Do We Look For When Checking for Phonological Awareness?

I like to look at phonological awareness as an umbrella. The solid upper portion containing the "developmental" foundation for listening and language. Research states that rhyming awareness occurs around 3-4 yrs of age  and syllable awareness around 5-6 years. One of the first things I focus on is language and listening, which is going to tie into phonological awareness. Kids come to us at the age of five at varying levels of literacy learning. Listening to them them talk is a strong indicator of where to begin their literacy learning with you.

Easy Checklist:

1. Do they speak in complete sentences?
3. Do they hear rhymes?  Teacher says,"Do cat and sat rhyme?"
4. Can they produce rhymes? Teacher says, "Tell me a word that rhymes with car."
5. Can they hear syllables? (In words with 1-4 syllables - 1 syllable words are sometimes the hardest because they want to break the word into phonemes)

How do we address phonological awareness with the whole class and students who still need practice?

Addressing phonological awareness activities with the whole class can be done by choosing books that have a rhyming pattern for class read alouds, including rhyming activities to work on independently during word work time, and discussing how many parts are in a word during shared writing time. This can and should happen throughout all content subjects. For kiddos who need additional, more explicit teaching I extend their learning opportunities into small group time. As an intervention teacher, I've created some extension activities that are based off of classroom read alouds. Just recently, one of our Kindergarten classroom was studying Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse when they were learning about the letter P. So I took that story and created a fun syllable activity to go with it.
Click image to see my post on "Literacy Look Fors" 
It's kind of hard to see but when you close the flaps it makes Lily's purple plastic purse.

*Disclaimer: Remember not to stay on any one literacy component for too long, you can always "spiral," or loop skills back into learning as needed.*

I want to again, thank all you friends over at Adventures in Literacy Land for your generosity by allowing me to share some of my knowledge.  If you would like to hear more from me click on my blog button at the top and you'll be directed to my blog. 


Vibrant Vocabulary--Royal Ways to Help Your Students Become Word Nerds

A big warm welcome to Jennifer from Stories and Songs in Second who is guest blogging today with some fun ways to help your students with:
Hear Ye!  Hear Ye!
Calling all teachers from far and wide, to and fro, hither and yon!
Are you tired of  using the same old worksheets and four-corner graphic organizers to teach your students word meaning?  Are you looking for ways to transform your daily vocabulary lessons into one of the most engaging, productive, and interactive parts of your instructional day?
Then kindly join me for today's royal edition of Adventures in Literacy Land, and listen well, my friends!  It is I, Jennifer from Stories and Songs in Second, here to share some royal and 
"oh so fancy" ideas gleaned from a resource that has rejuvenated my own instructional practice!
Know that I was absolutely thrilled when my request to guest blog here was accepted, and thank Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars profusely for guiding me through the process!  I just celebrated my one-year "blogiversary" in mid-November, and am both grateful for and humbled by the kindness and generosity this community has shown me.  Their friendship and inspiration have made me a better educator and a better person.
It is with great honor and respect now that I invite you to step inside the castle 
with me now to enjoy.....
Reading, spelling, writing, and vocabulary work were always my favorite subjects in elementary and high school.  The rhythm, rhyme, figurative language, descriptive phrases, and the ability to paint pictures with words always fascinated and enchanted me.  My nose was often in a book, or my pen was always being put to paper--writing in my journal, drafting a short story, or composing a poem.  My love of all things literacy-related continues today in my classroom, and I am always looking for new methods, strategies, activities, or techniques to capture the attention and interest of my young students.

In addition to sharing favorite read alouds from my beloved collection of picture books, I also like to incorporate music into much of my teaching and am not one to sit down at my desk too often.  I am known to dance, chant, move, and groove as needed to keep my class focused and engaged.  I also have a cupboard full of creative props, puppets, and costumes that I bring out and use as needed. In order to do justice to the content of this post and make this thematic study of BIG words and their IMPORTANT MEANINGS come alive for my second graders, I had to dig deep into my royal treasure box!  
A regal tiara, silver scepter, movie star sunglasses, megaphone, microphone, and cheerleader pom-poms are just a few of the royal tools and tricks of the trade I rounded up!  Alas though, I did not come up with velvet cape or a horse-drawn carriage.....or a dashing prince.  But I digress.....
What follows now is a pictorial description of how the planning for and the actual teaching of  vocabulary lessons in the Royal Kingdom of Room #2 this year has unfolded....
This book and the simple, effective, and easy-to-implement ideas inside of it has been a "game-changer" for me.   After two years of rotating between the same Daily 5 Working with Words activities in Kindergarten and first grade, my second graders were in desperate need of something different this fall.  When I stumbled upon Word Nerds by Brenda J. Overturf, Leslie H. Montgomery, and Margot Holmes Smith at my local bookstore, I was at first taken in by the happy, gesturing children on the front cover.  The second thing that intrigued me was the rhymed title, and the fact that it described me.  I am a WORD NERD through and through!  I LOVE VOCABULARY! Whenever one of my students uses a huge "ten dollar word," either in conversation or in their writing, I "kiss their brain."  I am also forever spouting a list of alternatives for words we encounter in our daily reading.  Needless to say, I scooped it up off the shelf, bought it, and sat down to read it right when I got home.  
One hundred and forty-seven pages later, I might have even kissed the cover, and then cried a little bit.  I was hooked.  I had found my kindred spirits.  The three teacher-authors, who work at a school with a low socioeconomic population and a high percentage of at-risk children just like I mine, had found a way to reach and teach them the magic and power found in words.They had found a way to foster confidence in children who didn't have any.  They still used the tried-and-true methods of close readings and four-corner graphic organizers, but they also introduced an activity called Crystal Ball Words where students look deeply into the prefix, suffix, and root of a word to predict its meaning. They use "themed cycles" of words, instead of lists generated by a basal series, that are based on either a non-fiction text they are reading for a subject area like Science or Social Studies, or a picture book they are studying for Language Arts.
Synonym and antonym charts for each of the words listed in the "themed cycle" are created by the students, written on index cards and put in plastic lanyards.  A weekly "Block Party" is  held, where the teacher calls out the vocabulary word and the child wearing that word on his lanyard needs to invite the children wearing his or her related synonyms or antonyms to the party. Test reviews are called celebrations, and often take the form of a game show like Jeopardy, Deal or No Deal, with students writing the questions and each vocabulary word for the teacher to ask. Sometimes students write a song about their word and sing it American Idol style into a microphone. Sometimes students do the limbo while answering vocabulary questions and then enjoy Hawaiian Punch at a class Luau Party afterwards.  Often times, students will act out their words in a Charades-style game. While these activities are just a few of the ideas shared in this resource, Chapter 5 is entitled "Active Vocabulary Practice and is full of innovative, creative, and kinesthetic ways to help children develop the "velcro" they need to understand words and get their meaning to "stick to their brain."  
Word Nerds also includes a wealth of different formative and summative assessment ideas, planning charts, rubrics, and trade books that can be easily adapted and used in the elementary classroom. Working smarter not harder is something I have learned slowly over my 23-year-career, and I appreciate being able to just pull what I need from the appendix and adapt it as needed.  As I started to map out my own implementation plan, I decided to use Fancy Nancy picture, easy reader, and chapter books as my mentor texts because of their rich, royal, and "tres tres chic" supply of synonyms and antonyms.  I also appreciate the glossary that is included at the back of each story!  They make it easy to create both word and definition cards to use as a before-reading reference in my pocket chart, or to use as a matching review game at a literacy station.
Despite her love for all things pink, feathery, sequined, and "girly," the boys in my group adore Fancy Nancy's  humor, frequent clumsiness, and her long, arduous laments about how the rest of her family is just so "plain" instead of "extraordinary."  My entire group also loves the Razzle Dazzle candies I pass out before we meet the new words in every story!  I use them to remind my students how the language we use to express ourselves when we speak, read, and write should be just like the sweet treats in their mouths--fizzy, juicy, flavorful, fabulous, and fun!

I also developed this List of Top Ten Royal Vocabulary Rules based on important precepts outlined in Word Nerds to launch or introduce my unit.    Please humor my use of alliteration.  It just spills out of me, and I cannot help myself.  I also decided to emphasize how exploring new words and understanding their meaning is just like unwrapping a present by packaging the words from our first story, Fancy Nancy Sees Stars, as well as the Royal Vocabulary Rules in gift bags.  This task of removing the tissue paper and ribbon to "dig deep" inside the bag to  unearth the word cards really helped my group grasp how there are often lots of layers or multiple meanings to words that have to be discovered or unearthed!

Each morning,  my class gathers in our group time area to review these 10 V's OF VOCABULARY and go over directions for their partner or small group work choices.  I keep these definition cards on 
a large ring near our "Thinking Chart," and call student volunteers to come up and read them to their peers.  After each rule is read, the entire group shouts out, "Let's make our words fancy!  Just like Nancy!"

Once we've gone through our rule review and warm-up, student pairs or cooperative groups break off to enjoy a variety of practice activities that are easy for me to prep, and designed to expand and extend their knowledge of the words we are studying.  I use little gift bags tied with tags to designate the work areas around our classroom, designate royal helpers to distribute the materials needed for each one from my supply shelves (clipboards, highlighters, Crayola markers, finger trackers, Post-It notes, fun Flair pens, sentence strips, chart paper),  assign children to their Word Nerd Work Stations for the day, and then sit back on my royal throne to eat bon bons! I don't actually eat bon bons or sit on a throne during this time, but I do maintain a "I am just going to walk around our royal kingdom in my tiara and watch, listen, wave royally, help if needed, and shower children with praise and compliments" demeanor!

Each station has lists of our current vocabulary words and definitions that I've copied and laminated, as well as all of the supplies the students will need to be successful Word Nerds.  A short description of each one follows.  Please note that it took a LOT of whole-group modeling and practice for each of these activities before my crew was able to work independently during a 20-30 minute time frame.  My students take their three-ring binder that is pre-loaded with Handwriting Without Tears paper to their daily station, and then use it as a lap desk if they choose to sit on the floor and work.

Worn Out Words--Students generate alternatives for words that are overused in their writing and use chart paper or dry erase boards to generate lists of new ones.  For example, a pair of my students came up with this short list of words to use in place of "big"--huge, mammoth, gigantic. 

Fancy Schmancy Words--Students choose books of interest to them, either non-fiction or fiction, from our classroom library, and use finger flashlights to scan the pages to find interesting or new words inside of them!  They then write their favorite words on Post-Its and add them to our Wall of Words to share with the entire class later.  Dictionaries are also available at this station for students to look up word meanings.

Snazzy Jazzy Synonyms--Students wear star-shaped sunglasses and use bright flourescent-color
sentence strips to write synonyms for our featured words of the week.

Awesome Antonyms--Students sit across from each other knee-to-knee, and gently toss a small Koosh ball or bean bag back-and-forth while calling out an antonym for each word of the week.  For example, the first child says "Alfresco means outside."   The second child then responds "The antonym for alfresco is inside!"

Picture Perfect Words--Students choose a word or two from our list to illustrate for our
Art Gallery of Great Words display!  This then serves as a reference place for the whole class to have a visual clue for each word.  I usually cut white construction paper in half for this station, and the students use their own art supply boxes.  You could also have your students work collaborative to create a colorful Picture Perfect mural on large chart paper!

Picture Perfect Words--Students choose a word or two from our list to illustrate for our
Art Gallery of Great Words display!  This then serves as a reference place for the whole class to have a visual clue for each word.  I usually cut white construction paper in half for this station, and the students use their own art supply boxes.  You could also have your students work collaboratively to create a colorful Picture Perfect mural on large chart paper!  Imagine the possibilities, and encourage them to use the brightest crayons in their boxes!

Lights! Camera! Action! Words--Students act out, sing, chant, rap, cheer, or dance to their words.
They can clap, tap, or snap the syllables as they say each word out loud.  They can make up a jingle to help them remember the word meanings  like "I am a constellation!  I am a shiny sky sensation!"
They can play a game of Charades, where they act out each word for their partner or group to guess and state the meaning.  Because this particular set of activities can get L-O-U-D, I recommend that you play it as a whole group in order to maintain decorum and avoid chaos in your royal kingdom!

Razzle Dazzle Related Words--Students work together to brainstorm a list of other words that relate to the topic or theme of the word study.
Wonder Words--Students "read the room" with a partner--book titles, anchor charts, our Word Wall, labels, etc.-- and write down four favorite words.  They then either "turn and talk" to their neighbor about their words, and state the reason they like each one.  After that, they must "show what they know" by writing "superhero sentences" for each word.

What are "superhero sentences" you ask?  Why, they are sentences that are NOT full of  plain, unassuming, everyday, run-of-the-mill newspaper reporter Clark Kent words!  They are sentences full of vivid, visual, voracious, vast, very fun, vocal, vibrant, vivacious, and effervescent can-leap-tall-buildings-in-a-single-bound Superman words!  They are sentences that include great detail and infused with figurative language that leaps off of the page and literally sparkles!  They are sentences that are full of....

If you'd like to take your students for a magical ride in my royal vocabulary carriage, I will have this FREE starter kit uploaded to my store very soon! It will include the word power cards, anchor charts, and posters described in this post.

or on the picture below to grab your copy!

In closing, I'd like to share one more piece of information that is connected to my personal vs. professional life.  It served as the thematic inspiration for this post, and is "tres tres" good news that I just simply must share!  Thank you in advance for indulging me!

Beginning in late January 2015, my daughter will be performing 
onstage at the 
Emerald City Theater in ......

Know that I cannot wait to applaud her performance as she helps bring skits, songs, and dances about one of my favorite books characters to life!  It honestly makes my teacher and Drama Mama heart swell with pride!  
As I have always told her, I will remind you of the same advice now.  Reach for the stars.  Do what is best for yourself and your students.  Trust your instincts.  Teach them creatively.  Feed their imagination.  Celebrate their shining moments, and .....