Sunday, July 5, 2015

Word Nerds Book Study: Intro and Chapter 1

Hi friends! I am so excited for today's post. Heather from The Elementary Journey and I are teaming up for a mini book study on Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary. I always try and read a few professional development books over the summer, and so far I haven't made it pass Word Nerds. There are SO many great ideas in this one that I really wanted to take my time and soak up all of the info it has to offer. 


As I was reading, I really thought about how I have been teaching vocabulary in my classroom and I realized something: I really wasn't teaching vocabulary like I should be.
Isn't that pen adorable?! It comes with two others that are even cuter! You can grab them here

When I read this part in the introduction, I thought "exactly!" I hate to admit it, but that's what I had been doing. I gave my kids the vocabulary words, we would have an activity to practice them, and then we would test Friday. And guess what, after Friday's test, we never talked about 90% of those words. Sure, I left them posted in the room after the test, but we never actually used them in context or practiced them. Did my kids retain those words? Nope.

I blamed this failure on time. There simply isn't enough time to spend on vocabulary and effectively teach it. Or that's what I thought until I read this book. I was wrong. You can (and should!) spend a good amount of time increasing your students' vocabulary! I was so focused on getting everything in by Friday in time to test on it, that I was missing the point of the content. I found myself teaching the best when I slowed down and provided students with enough time to practice with content. 

 The book follows two teachers- Leslie H. Montgomery and Margot Holmes Smith, a 3rd and 5th grade teacher. It shows ways the two teachers teach and practice effective vocabulary strategies in their classrooms.  The one thing I wish the book had done differently is put the Vocabulary Cycle Plan (found in Ch. 8, p. 124-125) in the beginning of the book. I found myself thinking a lot throughout the book "Okay, that's a great idea, but when am I going to fit that in?? There isn't time to fit in that much vocabulary instruction!" They include both a 5 day Vocabulary Cycle Plan and a 10 day Vocabulary Cycle Plan and after thinking and planning, I've found that a 10 day cycle will work better for me. At first I was worried that my kids wouldn't be exposed to enough words if I did 10 days (2 weeks) at a time, but when you read the book, you realize that while there are only 5 or 6 vocabulary words at a time in the cycle, you are also learning and practicing synonyms and antonyms for each word. I sometimes need to see the end result or what something will look like on a bigger scale before I work or understand the smaller parts, so having that in mind at the beginning of the book would have prevented me from wondering what the plan would actually look like on a day to day (or week to week) basis in my classroom. 

Chapter One is titled What's the Big Deal About Vocabulary Instruction?
This sentence from chapter 1 really stuck out to me. WE are responsible for exposing kids to new words in order to provide them with a chance at a bright future. This is important, people! 

Chapter 1 also discusses the level of words. My wonderful instruction coach first taught me about this, so I was glad to see it mentioned in this book. Levels of words was created by Isabel Beck, Margaret McKeown, and Kinda Kucan in a book called Bringing Words to Life. 

Another huge moment that stuck with me from chapter 1 was this sentence:
I think I've always known this, but still. Knowing and taking action are two different things and I blamed time again. Sure, I did a few activities like Quick Draws and Vocabulary Review, but I wasn't providing daily practice in order for kids to retain new words. 

So what was the big point I took away from the Introduction and Chapter 1 of Word Nerds? 
We need to provide students with engaging, hands on activities in order for them to learn and retain new words. And we need to make time for this. It's that important! :)

Are you reading Word Nerds? Or have you already read this amazing book? We would love for you to share your thoughts with us as we post ours! Comment below and tell us what you are thinking about providing vocabulary practice and effective instruction in your classroom! 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July, friends! I'll be back tomorrow with my thoughts on Chapter 1 of Word Nerds. If you haven't read this book, I highly suggest you invest in it now! It's completely changed the way I think of teaching vocabulary! #love :) 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Classroom Decorating: Day 2

Day 2 of classroom decorating is in the books and my classroom officially looks like a tornado came through. I was so confident that this was going to be the easiest decorating this summer after day one because I had forgotten about all the junk that had to be unpacked from the built in table. This is what it looked like at the end of day 1:
Look at how bare the floor looked! Silly me didn't realize what it would look like when all that stuff came down!

It looks like this! Getting everything down took forever! I didn't realize how much I had stuffed up there. And all by myself! Getting it down wasn't near as easy as putting it up there! 
Exhibit A: my favorite lamp bit the dust :(
RIP pretty pink lamp :(

On a more positive note, I placed my bookshelves. I really think I need black book shelves, don't y'all?? 

Above the bookshelves will be my evidence board. You can see last year's here and grab a free copy of the evidence term posters here. :) The VIP Area is moving, so the door will need to be recovered as well. I'm planning on creating my Word Nerd vocabulary board on that blank space between the window and the corner. I'll be posting more about Word Nerds soon! 

I began to unpack supplies for the small group area and realized I need to go through some things and throw away junk/donate! I found a nurse's slip from two years ago!!! I'm determined to be more organized this year. Once I decided this, things went a little slower and I accumulated more trash bags. I'm making progress, even if you can't yet see it :)




I've had several people ask when I go back because I'm already working in the classroom. We got out in mid May and go back early/mid August. This is actually the latest I've wait to get back in my classroom since they were waxing the floors. One of my favorite parts of my job is working on decorating my classroom, so I'm always anxious to get started :)
Are you able to work in your classroom during the summer? Let me know in the comments below! :)

Be sure and check out my coffee table mini makeover over on my Life+Style blog Southern Belle Inspired :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Classroom Decorating Day 1

Happy Tuesday, y'all! I went back to my classroom for the first time yesterday and worked a little bit. I didn't get a lot accomplished. I placed most of the furniture, but that was pretty much it. I'm getting rid of my teacher desk and another big table this year in an attempt to declutter! Anyways, here are the pics. I know it isn't much to look at, but it's fun to see the progress! Gotta start somewhere, right? 

Here's the view when I walked in. Those desks weigh a ton! It took forever just to get them all down and placed.

It's so easy to find decor for my black and white theme! These two rugs are from Wal Mart and TJ Maxx. This will be the reading area. 

I'm thinking 4 groups of 6 desks...I'm liking the way it looks, but I may change to 6 groups of 4 if there's enough room. See all that stuff stacked on the table??? That's tomorrows project!

Future small group area. Fun fact: I've never used a kidney shaped table, y'all! 

Future VIP Area. Don't know what this is? Read all about it here!



This blue table needs to find a new home. Mission Declutter has officially begun!

The teacher desk will also leave the room. I usually sit at my small group table anyways and I'm trying to make more room for the kids to read and work around the room instead of sitting in their desks all class period. 

Hopefully boards will start going up later this week and I can share some "cute" pics with y'all! :) :)

Be sure and check out my June Favs over on my Life+Style blog Southern Belle Inspired

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Life Lately

Hi peeps! Isn't summer wonderful! I thought I would stop by and share a few summer happenings with y'all. Normally, I'd already be back in my classroom, working away on a new design, but I just can't bring myself to! Plus, the floors are still being waxed, so technically I couldn't go back if I wanted to. I'm using that as my excuse! For now, I'm perfectly okay with staying home and enjoying life. Here's a little bit of what I've been up to.

In an attempt to not totally abandon all things school and teacher related I ordered these new PD reads. I'm already LOVING Word Nerds! What are your favorite professional development books? Comment below and let me know! I'm always on the lookout.


In addition to PD book, I'm also getting caught up on all the reading that I don't get to do during the school year.  Follow me on Good Reads!


I finally worked on the first TpT product in two months! You can check it out here :)


I also purchased this binding machine and I cannot get over how easy it is to use! I'll be sharing about this product soon! :)


I've gotten lazy on my skin care routine and in an effort to get better, I've decided to start posting more product reviews on my Life+Style blog Southern Belle Inspired. Check out all the products I used up last month and see which ones I loved and hated!

I also went on a little beauty run in Ulta and got these goodies!

And binge watching The Office on Netflix while waiting for the new season of Orange is the New Black! Anyone else love these two totally different shows?? 





That's my life lately! :)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Classroom Redesign with Creative Teaching Press

Hi friends! I know a lot of y'all are still in school, but my first official day of summer 2015 was this past Friday and here it is, the first week of summer and I'm already thinking about my classroom decor for next year! I've never really had a classroom theme. I've just always done bright colors, and while I still love having pretty, bright colors in my classroom, I've decided it's time for a change! This next year, I'm going to incorporate a lot of Black and White into my classroom and move away from my signature brights. This past year, I've started loving how black bulletin board paper looks and I think having a entire Black and White theme classroom will be a welcome change. So when I determined that this is the direction I wanted to go in for my 2015 classroom, I immediately headed to Creative Teaching Press to browse their fabulous selection of classroom decor. 

I LOVE their BW collection! From the borders to the letters, everything is perfection! While I love to make a lot of my own pieces, I always start out with the basics (like borders and accent pieces) and add in my own personal touches.

Be sure to click on each image to check it out further! :)

I'm loving these borders:








These nameplates will go perfectly with the BW theme. 



Okay, I know this next item isn't technically a decor piece, but how cute is this pen?? It's always good to match your classroom when you grade papers, right? ;)


I was tickled pink (or tickled black and white!) when I discovered these notecards. I always send a notecard to my kids over the summer and I love that the cards will give them a preview of our classroom. 


There are several different letter styles to choose from in the BW collection, but my favorites are the Dot to Dot styles, upper and lower case. 

I've just highlighted my favorites from the collection, but be sure to check out the entire BW collection for even more fabulousness! 

I'm also excited to pair some of the decor pieces from CTP's Painted Palette Collection like these months of the year:

And these pennants:

And these chart cards:

You can check out the entire Painted Palette Collection and discover your favorites!

I've shown you my plans for my classroom design, but be sure to check out Lindsey's plans too over at Miss Johnston's Journey! Hint: it involves the adorable Painted Palette! 

Now for the FUN part! In honor of Creative Teaching Press's 50th Anniversary, you can win a $50 gift card to spend on their fabulous site! It's the perfect time to stock up on new decor for the upcoming school year! Enter below to win! Giveaway will run thru Sunday, June 7th at 8pm EST. 
In order to enter this giveaway, you must do the following:

Good Luck!!
                                                              a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer Reads

Hi friends! I promise I'll be back with the weekly book recommendations series in a little bit, but for now, I'm diving into summer beach reads. I just finished Luckiest Girl Alive and I'm reviewing it over on my Life + Style blog Southern Belle Inspired. Come read my thoughts on it and then go grab your copy. Seriously...sooooo good!