Top 5 Classroom Strategies to Improve Vocabulary

One of the challenges of teaching is choosing effective strategies to help build and strengthen literacy skills in the classroom. Strong readers have strong vocabularies, therefore it is important has as efficient instructors we employ strategies that develops their vocabulary.

Word Walls
A word wall is an organized collection of words prominently displayed in a classroom. Word walls provide easy access to words students need. The specific organization of the word wall will match the teacher’s purpose: sight words organized by alphabet letter, unit-specific words, new vocabulary words, for example. The most helpful word walls grow and change throughout the year and are used as a learning reference.

Word Maps

A word map is a visual organizer that promotes vocabulary development. Using a graphic organizer, students think about terms or concepts in several ways. Most word map organizers engage students in developing a definition, synonyms, antonyms, and a picture for a given vocabulary word or concept. Enhancing students’ vocabulary is important to developing their reading comprehension.

Possible Sentences
Possible sentences is a pre-reading vocabulary strategy that activates students’ prior knowledge about content area vocabulary and concepts. Before reading, students are provided a short list of vocabulary words from their reading. Students create, based on their prediction of what the reading will be about, a meaningful sentence for each vocabulary word or concept. After reading, students check to see if their “possible sentences” were accurate or need revising.

List Group Label
List-group-label is a form of semantic mapping. The strategy encourages students to improve their vocabulary and categorization skills and learn to organize concepts. Categorizing listed words, through grouping and labeling, helps students organize new concepts in relation to previously learned concepts.

Word Hunts
Word hunts are one way to focus spelling study on patterns within words. Typically used within word study, word hunt activities engage students with texts they have previously read. Students hunt for other words that follow the same spelling features studied during their word or picture sort. Word hunt activities help students make the connection between spelling words and reading words.


5 Great Websites for Math Teachers

Khan Academy

Khan academy is a website that has over 3 thousand instructional videos on various topics, including math, history and science. The best part about the website is that not only are the videos quality, but they are also free as well. As an elementary math teacher, you may click the Math tab and select Arithmetic and Pre-Algebra. You then would come to a page listing various topics such as Addition and subtraction, Order of Operations, Fractions, etc. Once you click on of these topics there are a variety of instructional videos to choose from.  You can send students needing intervention to the computer to watch one of the videos or use it as your guiding teaching.


Bright storm is another website similar to Khan Academy, though not as many videos it does provide free step by step guides on how to master various skills in Math, science and English.  After going to the site, click on the math tab and if you are teaching algebra, click the algebra link for various videos. What is good about this website is that it generates problems for you as well. So students can test their skills after viewing the video.


Mathtv is an excellent video tutorial site that has thousands of videos from basic math to trigonometry. What’s good about this website is that each topic also comes with questions that assess how much you master each concept. One the left side of the website you can select what topic to view.


Brainpop is a student favorite, not only is it educational, but the website provides cartoon animations that are funny and entertaining. There Is a wide range of topics to choose from, whether it be social studies, math or science. You click on the subject, and then click on the topic you want to choose from and choose a lesson.


WatchKnowLearn is a free educational video website. It has over 20,000,000 videos spanning a wide range of subjects from Language Arts to Life Skills. Some of these videos are cartoons or even familiar clips from Sesame Street. All videos are placed in categories making it easy for you to choose what best can fit for your class instruction.

Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying in Public Schools

bullying in school

HIB is defined as “any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it be a single incident or series of incidents, that: is reasonably perceived as being motivated by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic, takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function, or off school grounds as provided for in section 16 of P.L. 2010, c 122, substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of other students.”

There exists a difference between HIB and conflict, though for the untrained may seem similar. For example, HIB is one sided while conflict is “mutually” competitive or consists of opposing action or engagement.  HIB, consists of one or more students that are victims or one or more person’s aggression, as it applies to the HIB definition under the ABR. This aggression has the intent to physically or emotionally hurt someone. Though disagreements and arguments within conflicts may cause physical or emotional harm, the aggression’s intent is different.

The responsibility of the educator is to confront any forms of HIB before it has the chance to escalate to threats of physical intimidation and violence. There are several steps to reduce bullying and creating a healthier climate and culture in the school building. First, it is important to increase adult presence in “hot spots” for HIB. This adult presence also needs to be active and trained to confront any signs of HIB and follow through with defined procedures. The school most normalize and reinforce pro-social behavior to increase student solidarity and decrease chances of bullying.  What’s important is establishing and protecting the culture of identifying and reporting incidences that have signs of HIB. These reports can come from students, faculty, or parents and all must be investigated effectively. A consistent zero tolerance policy can prevent HIB before it has a chance to progress into physical or more emotional harm.

How can teachers integrate evidenced-based practices into classroom instruction?

In order for teachers to take advantage of the evidence-based practices, they must be effectively integrated into classroom instruction. In order to organize instruction to space learning over time, the teacher must use class time to review important curriculum. Quizzes, exams, as well as, homework assignments, must also be used as an opportunity for students to have spaced practice of key skills and content.

In regards to organizing instruction to include interleaved worked examples and problem solving exercising teachers may have to do extra work. Most curricular materials do no come pre-included with large numbers of worked examples. In that case, teachers may have to create their own worksheets, homework and quizzes to include interleaved worked examples. The benefits of doing so for the students will outweigh the cons of performing sucha laborious task.

Lastly, teachers need to identify key concepts, vocabulary or skills to create a set of pre-questions. These questions should be tailored in such a way to engage students to the topic. They should introduce the student to what they will learn in the unit and are responsible for learning in order to achieve mastery.

How can teachers organize instruction to improve student learning?

One of the challenges of teaching is maximize student learning in the most efficient and effective way in which all children, regardless of differentiation can achieve.  There exists various methods to organize instruction and study to improve student learning. One recommended change is to space learning over time. It’s a technique that allows key elements of course content after a delay of several weeks to several months to be reviewed after the initial presentation. Homework, quizzes and exams are arranged in a way that promotes delayed reviewing of important course content. Research shows that delayed re-exposure to course material increases the amount of information that a student remembers. This recommendation is vital for material covered in the early marking periods, which may appear in state tests, to be continually reviewed to ensure mastery.

Another recommendation on organizing instruction is to interweave worked example solutions and problem solving exercises. This technique calls for alternating between worked examples and problems the student is to solve on their own. This method enhances student learning by helping students recognize what they do not understand. It also provides children with a way to check their answers and learning/mastery of the objective.

Finally, using pre-questions as a way to introduce a new topic can contribute to improved student learning. Pre-questions can help students identify what material they know, what they do not yet know and need to study.