A Deeper Look into Word of the Day

I am loving how much everyone is interested in the Word of the Day process I use. My kids love it too! I have received some e-mails asking to see how I actually incorporate these into my daily activities. I truly would love to show you!

Now, keep in mind, I teach 5th grade, so I will begin with how I use it in my classroom. But...from there I will show you examples I created for each grade level. 

We do Word of the Day EVERY DAY! lol. Kids cannot get enough exposure to vocabulary in my *humble* opinion. (Check out my blog post of "What's in a Word?" to hear more about this!)

The students have a vocabulary journal that they use each day. We do not only do Word of the Day in this journal but also analogies, prefixes and suffixes, etc. But...each day they have a Word of the Day to glue in their journals. 


I have these set out every morning for the students to grab one. My 5th graders are responsible for getting this done as their morning work (or since we are departmentalized...just as soon as they come in!) Above is an example of one of MINE. I do these with the students as we go over them and fill in some of the information they share with me. I do not do the illustration each day for time purposes, but I allow the students to come up to the ELMO and show off their illustrations. I love seeing their drawings! :)


As you may notice, the students will need a dictionary for much of this, I allow the students to share dictionaries because we do not have enough to go around. Even though they are sharing dictionaries, they are not working together. I want this to be an individual learning situation (in my classroom.) You do whatever you need to do!

I also make sure the students use every blank page in their journal (like the backs of pages.) SAVE THE TREES! lol. 


My journal is nice and neat but the kid's journals start looking pretty worn...that is OKAY! We want them using these! My students love to refer back to these words often!

Okay Side Note: Let's chat about analogies. Raise your hand if you have a hard time teaching them!!! ME!

I found the most awesome anchor chart on Pinterest! I recreated it for my classroom.


This anchor chart has saved the lives of me and my children. Exaggeration? Sure. But really...it is so helpful. Now, why am I talking about analogies? They are on the 5th grade Word of the Day form...so if you teach 5th grade, you may want to create this too!

Now, moving on. I (like I said) teach 5th, but have taught 3rd for 7 years and I know how important vocabulary is for 3rd graders as well. And 4th...and...well everyone! :) Below are some samples for my 2nd-4th grades of Word of the Day. Each grade level is scaffolded for the appropriate level of learning for that age of child. Take a look at each of them to see the differences.

2nd Grade:

3rd Grade: 

4th Grade: 

**There is also a blank template provided in each grade level so you can add your own words if needed!**

I hope this helps you see how I implement this program in my classroom! My students really do love it and I KNOW it works. Total (by the end of the year) we will have learned  over 140 terms! Talk about expanding our vocabulary! :) Hope this helps! Happy Teaching!


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Help! I'm Sick! Now What?

Being sick...as a teacher...is the worst! Talk about jumping through hoops! I cannot count how many times I have been sick...and come to work anyway just because it is easier to show up than to prepare for a sub! Anyone been there? I am sure you have been!  Well, I decided to be proactive over the summer and prepare a little better for the "unexpected!" And boy am I ever glad. I had a baby at the end of last year and she has been sick a lot this year...nothing terrible but ear infections galore! These Emergency Sub Plans have come in very handy!

Now, I am truly not trying to shamelessly plug one of my own products. I have had multiple requests on how I use these and set up for a sub. So...here I am to tell you! Well, really show you! I started at the beginning of the year printing off the whole packet of Emergency Sub Plans. It seems like a lot but it includes 10 full days of LITERACY Sub Plans. Now, if you teach math...I'm so sorry, these are only for literacy! These plans are meant for the departmentalized teacher...BUT if you teach all subjects, you can use these and just fill in the rest of your day with math items. Up to you!

Moving on...how do I use these plans?

Well...after I print them off, I take the lesson plan (it is generic so you do not have to keep replacing it each time) I did this because if you are out two days in a row, you do not want that dreaded drive up to the school to change out the lesson plan. This plan works each day your sub is there, the material is just different! I glue the lesson plan on the front of a file folder, it is always on top this way and everything can be in a nice neat package!

Inside the folder, I have the activities (with copies run) binder clipped together so the sub has everything he or she needs!


You can do just a few days at first if you want, or go ahead and do all 10 days. I just do 2 at a time, then replace them with 2 more days if I miss a day of work. 

I keep them in a SUB WORK drawer in my room. My team always knows it is there and organized. Easy to pull out in a bind. I also keep a class roster, attendance, lock down procedures, etc. in the folder but obviously, I can't show those on here! :) Here is where I store these though!



Now, here is what my plans include and how I use them!

First, each day includes a morning work assignment! Subs need a second to gather themselves when they walk in the door. The morning work gives the sub an activity to pass out as soon as they arrive so they can prepare for the rest of the day while the students are working on Morning Work. 


Mostly for 4th and 5th grades these will be a review...and for 3rd grade the items might be new but they can still complete the activity. Again, it is for the sub to have a moment to gather their thoughts. The morning work is not meant to challenge the students, the next few activities will do that! :)

Next the students have a Reading Passage to complete. I have both Fiction and Non-Fiction in mine, so whatever you choose is fine! I have a Fiction and a Non-Fiction run off. One for Day 1 and one for Day 2. Each passage has comprehension questions and critical thinking questions to go with it! It also has a response page that is more open-ended for the students. I like for the students to do the questions alone and the response in partners. 

Here are examples of a Fiction Passage and a Non-Fiction Passage





After the students finish the reading activities, they have Word Work and a Writing Prompt to complete!





I feel comfortable leaving these activities with the kids because they are student led but still challenging. I allow my kids to do the word work together in partners, but you can do what fits your kids the best! :)

Lastly, I feel like you always need something for those kids that ALWAYS finish things early. My kids LOVE these Fast Finisher Task Cards! I just include a set of these in page protectors in my Sub Folder! Just be sure to include some dice also. I just make sure my kids know where I keep the dice and so they can get one when needed. Easy Peasy! lol.


(Sorry for the bad lighting...yikes.) lol.

I think the biggest thing to remember is our kids needs to be actively engaged even when we are gone. It is not a time for busy work! I always take on the philosophy of "it's not my student's fault I am sick." I want them to be learning, engaged and happy! 

I hope this post helps you see how I organize these plans. Now that they are done...it is super easy to keep adding a new day to them when I have used a day up! I am also able to relax a bit when I know I have to call in sick. I have used 5 days so far and these have been a life saver! 

As always, please feel free to e-mail me at Hillary3986@gmail.com if you have any personal questions on how to use these in your classroom! I LOVE collaborating with teachers and would love to visit with you! 

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Guided Reading #forthewin

Are you a fan of Guided Reading? Or find it to be a huge pain because of planning? Well, I once was on the...not. a. fan. side of Guided Reading. In fact, I dreaded it each day. My problem though came from being unorganized...I am one of those people that needs everything in a specific place and I have to have a plan for everything. Can you say micro-manager? Yikes. Nevertheless, it is what I need.

Many people have asked me how I do my guided reading lessons, groups, etc. Now keep in mind, the advice I am about to give is based on 3rd grade students, not my current 5th graders. Guided reading in 5th grade is more book club based and doesn't lend itself to the type of plans I used in 3rd grade.

My groups vary, I sometimes do them based on reading level, and then sometimes (closer to testing time) do my groups based on skills. When I am doing groups based on level, they really do not look that different from the skills groups, just different kids.

I start each lesson with about 5-6 in a group (we have large class sizes) and I meet with each group twice a week. Some days I have to meet with two groups, other days I meet with just one group. On the days I have two groups, I might cut the lesson a little short. Typically a GR lesson takes 20-25 minutes for me. Sometimes I just do 15-minute lessons though. Is your head spinning yet? Truthfully, you have to just sit and figure out what works for you. Work smarter, not harder! :)

Each lesson begins with a brief intro of the book. I do chapter books after Christmas in 3rd grade. You might choose to do picture books, but I love how much we can learn from each chapter and the different characters in a chapter book. Chapter books are also great for summary (by chapters.) Anyway, that is just a personal choice but it works great for my kids!


I do not do Common Core in Texas, but these lessons still adapt for our TEKS, so I use them as a guide and can use all of the materials. It is really all about which number of TEKS match which number in CCSS. (In my opinion!) :) I teach what the TEKS say but the lessons go well with our TEKS. So, I don't sweat the small things...OR reinvent the wheel. lol

After the book intro, we move to vocabulary. I have already chosen 4 words to work on before the lesson begins. I write them on index cards or these partial sentence strips. The kids love them and it is a great visual for the students.


Just a quick tip, I would label them too like I did...it is so much easier for organization later. 

I have the kids do a number of things with these words. I have them use them in a sentence verbally with me, tell me what they already know about the word and what they still need to know, etc. IF time permits, I love to do this four-square activity. It is so flexible but more of a visual for me to see their thoughts. 



In this particular lesson, the students were working on Character Traits...that's a biggie in 3rd grade. I started them with this chart and we discussed the words briefly. 


(Snag this FREE chart!!)

After discussing these words, we began reading the book. I assign different chapters each time I meet with them, and while they are reading, I am listening to each of them and asking questions along the way. The lesson plan I have gives question stems, so I typically use those as a guide. During this particular lesson, I focused largely on Fern and her character traits while I was questioning the students. 

Side Note: I love Charlotte's Web for characters because the main character changes in portions of the book. Oooooo...ahhhh. lol.

Moving on, after the students have read for the day, we move on to our guided activity. I had the students complete this Character Trait graphic organizer on Fern. This is my example, lol...don't laugh, I am not an artist. (The person template was there, I just added to color parts.)



Side Note #2: I encourage you to do the guided activities (and even independent questions) some with the students. They love to see your work and it is a great model for the students. Model neatness and they will begin creating neat products. 

We discussed how caring Fern is but she also was LOUD...lol (their words, not mine.) We decided a better word choice for that might be opinionated. You can see how I guided their word choice and thinking. 

After that, I wrap up for the day...believe it or not, that takes 15-20 or even 25 minutes. 

The next time I meet with them, we start our lesson with a quick review of the previous meeting, then dive right in with vocabulary. 





I have new words picked out and a new four-square sheet (if time permits.) 

I repeat my process for the reading, asking questions, etc. Then we do another activity, this one is more independent. Notice the character change, we were further into the book and now Wilbur is the main character. 


I really enjoyed the discussion on this one, the kids felt like he was being a "weenie." We changed that to "not confident" then discussed why. Loved it!

Finally, we wrap up with some comprehension questions. 





Special Note: This is only one week, with one group. The next week we would be on the same book, different skill. :)

After we are finished with each session, I fill out an anecdotal record sheet (which is included with the lesson plans) on each child. I am not including a picture of that because it has personal information on it. However, these are very handy when looking back for improvement or what areas you need to still target. 

I really hope this insight on how I teach guided reading has helped you! Don't let it control your life...just get organized. That is what I had to do anyway, and now life is so much easier! 

If you are looking for Guided Reading Materials and Lesson Plans--check mine out in my store. I have them for 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades. 

Guided Reading is so beneficial for your students and you--it tells you where to go next with your kids! E-mail me at Hillary3986@gmail.com with any questions, I'll be happy to collaborate with you!

Happy Teaching!

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