ED Tech: Academic Vocabulary Digital Helpers

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Interested in learning more about academic vocabulary instruction and the Idaho Core Standards? Join our ELA Workshop Series cohort tomorrow afternoon at Seltice Elementary.

Repeated research by Robert Marzano and others has shown that vocabulary instruction is most effective when it is learned in context and is intertwined with concept development in the early grades.  High-quality vocabulary instruction is also deep and must involve the study of word structures and word parts to determine meaning. Students must be supported with many non-examples and examples of new words and how they can be used in order to develop rich vocabularies.

Of utmost importance instructionally is the teaching of Tier 2 academic language.Tier 2 words can be used across content areas and  be used to help navigate complex text. The Internet has a wealth of tools and resources for supporting vocabulary instruction.

Digital tools allow students to:

  • View images and videos related to new words
  • Hear pronunciations
  • See  and read words  in a variety of contexts
  • Reinforce learning through gameplay
  • Create visual representations of words and their meanings

Online Resources:

  • VocabAhead – Short videos targeted toward 6-12 students
  • Word Hippo – Geared toward elementary students this site helps students discover antonyms, synonyms, rhymes and definitions.
  • Wordsymth Kids – Interactive dictionary for younger students
  • Visuwords – Online graphical dictionary
  • Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary – A twist on the classic dictionary
  • Word Dynamo – Lists, games, and quizzes from teacher-generated words.
  • Lexipedia – Concept mapping dictionary
  • Shahi – Visual dictionary that uses images from Flickr, Google, and Yahoo!
  • Snappy Words – Another mapping dictionary for sorting words by concept

Apps for iPads:


ELA: Close Reading — What it Looks Like

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In this video from EngageNY,  fifth grade students in Andrew Hossack’s class use close reading strategies to determine the main idea and key details from an informational newspaper article.

Want more strategies for close reading in your classroom? Check out these other Curriculum & Technology posts about close reading.

Still not sure? I’d be happy to demonstrate close reading strategies in your classroom. jennifer-signature

ELA: Idaho Core Workshop Resources

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Missed our first three ELA Workshop sessions? Grab the take-aways here!

icsLogoMore than twenty-five Post Falls teachers have been meeting on Thursday afternoons to tackle the ELA Idaho Core Standards.  The sessions will continue at Seltice Elementary until Spring Break. If you’d like to join us it isn’t too late. Just head on over!


Idaho Core Basics

Digging into Informational Text

Scaffolding Complex Text


Using Academic Vocabulary — February 20 & 27

Text-Dependent Questioning — March 6 & 13

Writing in the Idaho Core — March 20

Want more information about the ELA Workshop Series? Looking for something specific? Email me at jolsen@sd273.com.jennifer-signature

ELA: Reading Strategy Guide By Standard

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Last spring the state of Illinois charged a team of reading and language arts specialists with creating four user-friendly Common Core Teaching and Learning Strategies guides as part of their Realizing Illinois project.

imageThese guides offer teaching suggestions for each Reading Literature and Informational Text Standard using familiar instructional strategies such as Think Alouds, Reciprocal Teaching, Very Important Words, Coding the Text, Sticky Notes, QAR, Word Sorts, SQ3R, Graphic Organizers, and Jigsaw. Like the Common Core Lesson Book, these guides were designed to help educators better meet the goals of the Idaho Core Standards using best practices for reading instruction. Each strategy guide also offers suggestions for formative assessment of each standard in the classroom.

Is there a reading strategy you are currently using you’d like to share with others? Want to try one of these suggestions together in your classroom? Email me!jennifer-signature

ELA: Informational Text and Digital Literacy

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Looking to introduce students to Internet Literacy Skills? Try this site!

ImageFifth grade students in Laurie Buckel’s class at Seltice Elementary have been  developing their informational reading skills the past two weeks. Students have closely read very complex text, analyzed academic vocabulary, written argumentative essays, and explored digital text via Powerpoint presentations and Discovery Education video segments.

This morning, however, they learned a valuable lesson about credible web sources.

All About Explorers is a website created by teachers and students in Centennial School District in Pennsylvania. It looks and acts like a typical educational website geared toward elementary students. However, once students started reading closely about their selected explorer they realized it was all a spoof.

See if you can spot the errors in these passages!

Interested in team teaching? Or want help with a lesson? Contact me! Image

Ed Tech: Learn Zillion

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Screencasts aligned to Idaho Core Standards? Yes, please!

Learn ZillionLearn Zillion is a a completely free source for hundreds of instructional screencasts directly aligned to the Idaho Core Standards. Currently the database contains Mathematics and English Language Arts videos for grades 3-12 that are searchable by Idaho Core Standard. Videos and lessons for grades K-2 are in the works. The project started as a way for teachers at  E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. to share common resources aligned with best practices.

Have you used Learn Zillion in the classroom? We’d love to see it in action!Jennifer Signature

Ed Tech: Grade Level S-BAC Training Sessions

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Want to learn more about the new S-BAC assessment? Join us for an optional grade level training session.


Grade level teams from across the District are invited to explore the Smarter Balanced Testing Portal on Thursday afternoons in November and December. Teachers will be able to share ELA materials, instructional and assessment tools, and Idaho Core resources.  All grade level teams will walk away with grade level ELA performance task and sample constructed and selected response questions.

Grade Level SBAC Sessions will occur in the computer lab at Ponderosa Elementary.


November 7 – Third Grade
November 14 – Fourth Grade
November 21 – Fifth Grade


December 5 – Sixth Grade
December 12 – Seventh Grade
December 19 – Eighth Grade

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