Secondary Curriculum Newsletter

Vocabulary & Engagement Strategies

Two Six Weeks Down, Four More to Go!

Hello Everyone! We are two six weeks down and only four more to go until Summer! I have been on all campuses and things seem to be running smoothly. I have a seen a lot of great things going on in the classrooms. During the next six weeks, I will be walking through all classrooms. I am not there to evaluate your performance. I am looking to see where I can help as far as resources are concerned. Please ignore me and continue with what you are doing.
In this newsletter, I have included some engagement strategies and information on Academic Vocabulary. Some of this information may not be new to you. Some of it may not pertain to you. My hope is that you can find one nugget you can use in your classroom.

If I don't get around to see you before fall break, I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for. I hope you take time to count your blessings. Keep up the great work!


Amanda Goode
Secondary Curriculum Specialist

Marzano's Six Step Process to Teaching Academic Vocabulary

This is a great handout about how to teach academic vocabulary. It will give you some ideas on how to implement each of the six steps.

Click on the link below for Marzano's process for teaching vocabulary.

How to Hook Learners

Bell Ringer/ Warm- Up

Start your class with a Bell Ringer. This gets students on-task and thinking about the subject. It should be something that can be completed in 5-7 minutes tops. It can be a review of the previous lesson or to gauge prior knowledge before beginning a new lesson. Below is a list of ideas and tips for implementing bell ringers.

Tip: To add more rigor to your class, choose bell ringers that cover content in the grade level above.

Ways to Engage Learners During Lessons

They Like to Move It, Move it!

Kids need to move. Brain research states that kids can only pay focused attention for 1 minute per year of age they are. That means you need to take this into consideration when planning your lessons.

Lightning Rounds

Just the name "lightning round" suggests energy. Make it even more dramatic by playing up the concept of speed, fun and excitement. Have your discussion questions prepared in advance so that you can ask them faster. Short-answer questions obviously work best for this technique. Students have 30 seconds (or a more appropriate time for your particular class) to answer. They can either answer or pass -- and no negativity is associated with passing. Ask the questions rapidly while growing the anticipation for each next question by imitating quiz show lightning rounds: "Are you ready for the next question? Here it comes." Ask the question before calling on a student so that all students must be ready to answer. The lightning round should take no longer than ten minutes, the approximate time that the energy begins to diminish.

Throw the Ball

When you ask a discussion question, call on students by letting them catch a ball. With young children, you can use a beach ball and roll it to students in a circle. Older students can catch a beach ball or nerf football. This way of calling on students can either be a lot of fun and full of energy, or it can be a disaster. Be sure to keep the throwing distance short enough to prevent chaos. Make the rules clear and stop if they are broken:

  1. Do not intercept the ball.
  2. Do not throw the ball at another student.
  3. Do not try to break anything in the class with the ball.

In spite of the potential danger with using a ball, I have seen this done with much success and great student involvement. A variation that is safer and fun for grades 1-3 is to pass a teddy bear to the student who will answer the next question.

Group Answers

Two commonly used discussion techniques can be put together to allow a discussion that involves everybody at the same time. One is to form small groups of about three students. When the teacher asks a discussion question, every group has a small discussion of its own to come up with an answer. Questions of complexity work best with this method. Add to that the use of small cards with each having a method of group identification. After allowing enough time for each group to develop its answer, randomly pick a card and let that group give their answer. You can pick more than one card for each question. When the answer has been completed, put the used card back in the deck, so that no group can relax and think that their turn is over.


Keep each question going longer by engaging more students in the discussion. When the first student answers a question, ask another student if he or she agrees or disagrees with that answer. Then ask another student to add to the answer, and keep going until at least five students have participated in each question.

Quick Write/Quick Draw/ Quick Write and Draw

Quick Writes are great ways to have ALL students reflect on what they are learning. It also gives the teacher some quiet time. Students are asked to write, draw or a combination of both for a specified time (5 minutes, 3 minutes, etc.). Quick Writes should never be longer than 10 minutes. This can be used in every content area.

Below are some guidelines for a Quick Write:

How to Engage Students in the Classroom

This is a great article about how to engage students in the classroom. It basically summarizes the information in this flier. Here's how to engage kids:
  1. Eliminate dead time (do the time audit-- do you have dead time? ). Start with a warm-up (Bell Ringer).
  2. Get kids moving throughout the lesson.
  3. Teach kids to collaborate before asking them to do so.
  4. Use quick writes when you want quiet time for students to reflect on learning.
  5. Run a tight ship when giving instructions.
  6. Be fair when questioning... ask all students to engage in answering questions.
  7. Use signaling so everyone can participate in answering questions ( Remember, the summer training-- what are some of the techniques you learned? All Raised Hands or 8 Raised Hands)
  8. Mix up your lessons-- don't fall victim to what is easiest. Students like variety. Don't be the teacher who does Vocabulary on Monday, read on Tuesday, worksheet on Wednesday, review on Thursday, and test on Friday. That becomes too routine and students will check out.

To read the entire article, click on the link below:

Weekly Challenge: Take a Time Audit

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Why Conduct a Time Audit?

I challenge you to conduct a time audit. Maybe you could pair up with another teacher in your department and conduct time audits for each other.

Time audits allow us to maximize instruction time and pinpoint dead time. Dead time interferes with students' learning, and it is contagious. It lures those who are on task into wondering, "Why should I pay attention if others aren't?"

Dead time can be eliminated by having routines in place and activities lined out. Extra time activities are a great way to turn dead time into useful instruction time. Don't just count on worksheets... worksheets are not great motivators. Try hands-on activities, on-line resources, quick-writes, exit tickets, vocabulary games, and the list goes on. Tie these activities back to what students have already learned or are currently studying.

Exit Tickets

What are exit tickets and how can you use them in classroom? Exit tickets are a great way to gauge student understanding. What did they learn today? What are they still struggling with? Did they "get" the concept you were teaching today?

Exit tickets can be used that last 3-5 minutes of class. There are a variety of exit tickets out there. You can take them for a grade or just use them to guide your future instruction.

Below is a link to some printable generic exit tickets:

I Want Your Feedback...Please!

Click on the link below and give me some feedback. Tell me what new knowledge you obtained from this newsletter or maybe something you are going to try in your classroom. I appreciate your feedback. As always, if you need anything, don't hesitate to call, email, or text me.

Click below to share your feedback:

Cell: (903) 752- 1960
Extension: 2446