Category: Word study/Vocabulary

4 Reasons to use Word Problems and 9 Online Resources

Word problems are popular and fun methods of teaching math and English in many schools. Why? See which of these you agree with:

  1. Real-world relevance: They present scenarios that make concepts more tangible and help students see the practical applications of what they are learning.
  2. Critical thinking: They require students analyze information, identify relevant concepts.
  3. Multifaceted learning: Word problems often involve multiple steps that integrate a variety of concepts and skills.
  4. Language skills: Word problems involve reading and understanding written instructions, requiring students interpret written information, extract relevant details, and communicate solutions.

Here are popular online resources to teach about Word Problems (click for updates on this list):

  1. Expii Solve–math word problems and puzzles, lots of them
  2. IXL Word Problems–by grade
  3. Math and Logic Problems
  4. Math Pickle–puzzles, games, and mini competitions
  5. Prodigy Math Word Problems–about 120
  6. Thinking Blocks–free (app)
  7. Word problems–type them in, Wolfram/Alpha provides the answer and the how-to. Amazing.
  8. Word Problems from Math Playground
  9. Would You Rather–more like a justification for decisions using math

–image credit Deposit Photos


frayer model in storyboard that

Teach Vocabulary with the Frayer Model

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.


7 Coding Words You Need To Know 

Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Jeremy Keeshin, is the CEO and co-founder of CodeHS, a leading coding education platform for schools, used by millions of students. He believes educators must focus on teaching students the building blocks of technology–coding, problem-solving, and the vocabulary that clarifies both. Here are a few of the essential tech words that should be part of a students’ daily conversation not just in a tech class but in all learning. OK, maybe not ‘Assembly Language’ but definitely ‘coding’, ‘bits’, ‘debugging’, and ‘apps’ with all of its cousins:

Your Coding Vocab Lesson: 7 Words You Need To Know 

There’s a lot of new vocabulary to pick up as you enter the world of coding. Here’s a few words to help you get started navigating code.

1. Code and Coding 

Let’s start at the beginning: What is code? What is coding?

Coding is giving instructions to a computer. Code is the instructions for the computer.

Your first line of code might look something like this:


This prints “Hello” out to the screen. When you type an email and hit send, someone has written code to make that work. When you open your phone, hit an icon that looks like a camera, take a photo, and it saves to the cloud—that is code. Code is what powers any technology or software you use.

2. Programming Language

Code is written in a particular programming language, which is the set of rules, or language, for giving instructions to the computer. The language may have some specific syntax about what code you can write.

There are many different programming languages used for different things. A few popular programming languages include JavaScript, Python, C++, and Java. They are built for different use cases and have different tradeoffs.

Just like foreign languages, programming languages are often related to each other; they have different histories and taxonomies; and they evolve over time.


5 Websites for 4th Grade Word Study

word cloudHere are a few of the popular resources teachers are using to reinforce and teach word study:

  1. Grammar games–a collection of easy-to-use games that cover grammar, vocabulary, parts of speech, and more
  2. Vocabulary-Spelling City–the ever-favorite word study program that lets you enter your class word lists and the site will turn them into engaging games.
  3. Visuwords–a visual tool to see what words and concepts are related to specific words
  4. Vocabulary Fun–use games to learn affixes, syllables, synonyms, idioms, and more
  5. Word Central—from Merriam Webster–not only reinforces learning with games but allows students to build their own dictionary; also has a tab for educators.

Click here for more Word Study websites.

Click here for updates to this list.


i love tech

Humorous Look at What I Learned from my Computer

i love techAs a teacher on a mission to infuse technology into my classes, I’m often surprised how often technology can be applied to teaching and life. I share these humorous gems with students during classes, post them on the classroom walls, and incorporate them into conversations with colleagues. My goal is to demystify technology, a topic that remains for many confusing and intimidating. If students and colleagues learn to approach it light-heartedly, they’ll be more likely to accept it.

Here are eleven tech terms I find myself applying daily to many of life’s quirks:

#1: Your short-term memory experienced a denial of service attack

A Denial of Service — a DoS – is defined as:

“…an interruption in an authorized user’s access to a computer network…”

If I’m the “authorized user” and my brain is the “computer network”, this happens to me often. Laypeople call it a “brain freeze” and it is characterized as an event, a name, or an appointment that should be remembered but isn’t. I simply explain to the class full of curious upturned faces (or colleagues at a staff meeting) that I am experiencing a DoS and ask that they please stand by.

#2: I don’t have enough bandwidth for that

Bandwidth refers to your computer’s capacity for handling the volume of activity thrown at it. I learned how this geeky term applies to life from my millennial daughter. She says “yes” to everything people ask to the point that she can’t possibly complete what she promised. When she falls short, she explains that she no longer has enough bandwidth.

You might be familiar with the more pedestrian term “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” “Bandwidth” is a better way of saying it because no animals are harmed in its execution.



A New Typing Website With a Twist

keyboardingType Dojo is a new free comprehensive approach to learning keyboarding. The ad- and distraction-free interface provides not only practice drills but quick links to grade-appropriate keyboarding games (including the popular ones from DanceMat Typing). It’s easy to get started and just as easy to use making it the perfect tool for busy teachers and students who have lots to do besides keyboarding.

But in the crowded field of online keyboarding, Type Dojo will become your favorite for one other simple reason: It multitasks. It has tons of wordlists for many subjects so students learn while practicing keyboarding. For example, if you’re working on geography, students can keyboard with the Geography word list or Marzano Science. If you’re studying literacy, use wordlists for Dolch/Fry/Sight words, Compound Words, or Phrases. Activities present as a timed test (between one and five minutes) that are selected by grade and topic. When completed, students get a certificate that can be printed or simply saved in their personal file.


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.