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Word study/Vocabulary

Is Orton-Gillingham Right For Your Students?

Orton-Gillingham started over seventy years ago as an instructional approach intended for those with difficulty reading, spelling, and writing, like what children experience in dyslexia. Sometimes, teachers recognized the special needs of a reading-challenged student, but just as often, it was blamed on disinterest or lack of effort, leaving the child to conclude s/he “just wasn’t good at reading.” When those same children were taught to read using the Orton-Gillingham (O-G) approach, many felt like that child who puts glasses on for the first time and his/her entire world comes into focus.

Since then, the Orton-Gillingham Method has enabled thousands of children to access worlds opened to them by reading, something they never thought would happen. In fact, it has been so successful, O-G is being mainstreamed into the general education classroom, as a way to unlock the power of reading for more students.

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Categories: Classroom management, Reading, Teaching Strategies, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

How the Frayer Model Helps Thousands Learn Vocabulary

Frayer Model flowchartIn a perfect world, vocabulary is learned in context: The phrases and sentences around the unknown word define the meaning. If that isn’t sufficient, students use affixes — prefixes, suffixes, and roots — to decode meaning. But because the world isn’t always that pristine,  Dorothy Frayer and her colleagues at the University of West Virginia came up with a vocabulary teaching tool that has come to be known as “the Frayer Model”. Now used by thousands of educators, this approach to word study relies on analyzing words rather than memorizing definitions. Somewhat like Concept Circles, the Frayer Model uses a graphical organizer that asks students to describe words by much more than a memorized definition. They must:

  • define the term
  • describe essential characteristics
  • provide examples
  • provide non-examples

Because the Frayer Model digs deeply into understanding the word, it promotes critical thinking and a granular familiarity with unfamiliar vocabulary. It draws on a student’s prior knowledge to build connections among new concepts and creates a visual reference by which students learn to compare attributes and examples.

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Categories: Critical thinking, Teaching Strategies, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Power of Symbols–What does the word ‘Turkey’ mean?

thanksgivingLast year, I did a poll on the meaning of the word ‘turkey’. This was to demonstrate how powerful symbols are to your students and do so with an authentic use of technology to support discussion on math, language standards, and the holidays. As a summation to your discussion with students on symbols, idiomatic expressions, geography, farms, or another topic, post this on your Smartscreen. The poll includes lots of definitions for the word ‘turkey’. Have each student come up some time during the day (or class) and make their choice.

[polldaddy poll=7398424]

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, Holidays, Kindergarten, Lesson plans, Math, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: | Leave a comment

Mindsnacks–Learning in Bite-sized Pieces

Mindsnacks is a series of education apps on topics like geography, vocabulary, languages, and SAT. With colorful graphics and cute characters, it’s a cross between flashcards and multiple choice with lots of visual thrown in. Though these are game-based learning, there’s no plot as you might find simulated games. Think Number Munchers rather than Minecraft. Each app includes personalized learning, an enhanced review mode, and additional challenges to keep students motivated.

To start, download the app and log in. If you have several Mindsnacks apps, you can log into a central profile and track your progress on all of them. Here are three of my favorites:

mindsnacksU.S. Geography

Fee

Mindsnacks’ U.S. Geography includes eight games for beginner and intermediate students with over 40 hours of interactive content, more than 600 hand-drawn graphics, and 1,000-plus questions on borders, shapes, landmarks, history, state culture, flags, mottos, capitals, and major cities. Initially, only four of the eight games are available; users unlock others by successfully navigating a virtual road trip across the country. A tutorial is provided for each state so kids can review basic information prior to beginning play. To keep learning interactive, the app includes features such as a dart players use to mark the spot on the map where a certain U.S. landform or landmark exists. Post-quiz reports show how close users are to mastering each state’s information and what skills they developed during the game.

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Categories: Geography, Language arts, Reviews, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: | Leave a comment

10 Grammar Tips You Don’t Want to Miss

TOP TEN LISTHere are ten of the top grammar/word study/vocabulary tips according to Ask a Tech Teacher readers:

  1. Website Review: Grammarly
  2. 3 Apps to Combat Grammar Faux Pas
  3. 50 Sites to Add Rigor and Authenticity to Word Study
  4. Monday Freebies #32: Color my Grammar
  5. #32: How to Use Art to Teach Grammar
  6. Weekend Website #91: 16 Word Study Websites for 2nd Grade
  7. Dear Otto: How do I teach vocabulary?
  8. 5 Sure-fire Ways to Teach Vocabulary
  9. Weekend Website #92: 43 Language Arts Websites for 3rd Grade
  10. 50 Word Study Websites

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Categories: Tech tips, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: How do I teach vocabulary?

tech questions

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please contact me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it here. 

I discuss teaching vocabulary a lot on this blog. If you’re looking for specifics, try these posts:

But recently, I got into a conversation on one of the forums I frequent about how to teach vocabulary without ever giving a test or grading homework. Here are a few ideas:

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Categories: Dear Otto, Word study/Vocabulary | Leave a comment

The Power of Symbols–What does the word ‘Turkey’ mean?

Last year, I did a poll on the meaning of the word ‘turkey’. This was to demonstrate how powerful symbols are to your students and do so with an authentic use of technology to support discussion on math, language standards, and the holidays. As a summation to your discussion with students on symbols, idiomatic expressions, geography, farms, or another topic, post this on your Smartscreen. The poll includes lots of definitions for the word ‘turkey’. Have each student come up some time during the day (or class) and make their choice.

[polldaddy poll=7398424]

(more…)

Categories: 1st, Geography, Holidays, Kindergarten, Lesson plans, Math, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: | 1 Comment

6 Tech Best Practices for New Teachers

A study released last year by the National Council on Teacher Quality found that nearly half of the nation’s teacher training programs failed to insure that their candidates were STEM-capable. That means new teachers must learn how to teach science, technology, engineering and math on-the-job. Knowing that, there are six Best Practices teachers in the trenches suggest for integrating technology into classroom instruction:

digital citizenDigital Citizenship

Many schools now provide digital devices for students, often a Chromebook or an iPad. Both are great devices, but represent a sea change from the Macs and PCs that have traditionally been the device-of-choice in education. While I could spend this entire article on that topic, one seminal difference stands out: Where PCs and Macs could be used as a closed system via software, materials saved to the local drive, and native tools, Chromebooks and iPads access the internet for everything (with a few exceptions) be it learning, publishing, sharing, collaborating, or grading. There’s no longer an option to hide students from the online world, what is considered by many parents a dangerous place their children should avoid. In  cyberspace, students are confronted often–if not daily–with questions regarding cyberbullying, digital privacy, digital footprints, plagiarism, and more.

The question is: Who’s teaching students how to thrive in this brave new world? Before you move on to the next paragraph, think about that in your circumstance. Can you point to the person responsible for turning your students into good digital citizens? When third grade students use the internet to research a topic, do they know how to do that safely and legally?

When asked, most educators shrug and point at someone else. But it turns out too often, no one is tasked with providing that knowledge.

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Categories: Digital Citizenship, Keyboarding, Problem solving, Teaching, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: | 2 Comments

Website Review: Grammarly

grammarly-logoGeorge Orwell lamented in his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language, that:

“Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it.”

‘Most people’ can safely ignore society’s grammar problems, but if you’re a teacher, you can’t afford to ignore your own. Words are the coin of your realm. They hold pride of place in your professional presence in the classroom. For years, I’ve searched for a good grammar-check program. I’ve tried many different online and software options that promised results (such as White Smoke, Ginger, After the Deadline, and Correct English Complete). None were better than the built-in program that comes with MS Word, and that is wrong half the time.

Then I found Grammarly. This online tool and word processing add-in (free or fee) searches 100 points of grammar (250 with Premium), is a contextual spellchecker, and offers word choices to improve writing. Both versions come with a Chrome extension to review emails, FB updates, and entries in Discussion Boards and Forums. The premium account offers a Windows Microsoft Office add-in and a choice of thirty writing styles like business emails and academic essays.

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Categories: Reviews, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: , | 8 Comments

66 Writing Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Here’re a wide variety of writing tools for students. Some practice good habits, others offer options for writing requirements. See what works for you:writing

  1. Character Trading Cards
  2. Context Clues Millionaire
  3. Friendly Letter Maker
  4. Garfield teaches Writing Skills
  5. Identify the Main Idea
  6. Letter Generator
  7. Main Idea Battleship
  8. Make another story
  9. Monster Project
  10. Newspapers, posters, comics—learn to create
  11. Using a table of contents
  12. Videos—using Sock Puppets (iPads)
  13. Writing games

Blogs

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Categories: Websites, Word study/Vocabulary, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment