Learning at the Lake

Notes from your coach, Tara :o)

Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core

During the month of November many classrooms have continued with lessons on the Essential Vocabulary. Some grade levels have taken the words as suggested from district and plugged them into a calendar for the year. This way, we are sure to teach the words students should know by the end of their current year. If all classes teach the words this year from the K Set through their grade level, then next year we can reinforce words from the previous year and focus on words from the current year. The Essential Vocabulary has been translated and delivered to teachers who requested a Spanish version. If you still need one, let me know. All Essential Vocabulary books have also been delivered. These have jingles and activities for each of the words as well!

Activity for teaching a set of words:

-Divide students into groups and give them each 2-3 words. Have students discuss what they think the meaning of the word may be. Students can then look up the meaning of the word.

-Have students create posters using the template shown below for their words.

-Collect the word cards and place them face down on the table. Draw a word card. That group comes up and shares their word and the poster. Have them describe the illustration they chose and how it connects with the word.

-When all the students have finished, fill in the vocabulary organizer below.

-Continue to use these words when writing Higher Order Thinking questions.

-Highlight the words whenever they are in assessments you create.

If you would like any of these resources, please let me know. If you would like to talk about some more vocabulary activities to teach the Essential Vocabulary, shoot me an email!


In November and this month as well, I have had the pleasure of modeling the second skill of Academic Conversations in some 3rd, 4th, and a 5th grade classroom. This is the skill of Supporting your Ideas with Evidence. This lesson lent itself very well to writing an argumentative piece which many classes did following the Academic Conversation lesson. When modeling lessons, I also try to embed strategies from SIOP in order to continuously build language acquisition. A great strategy to engage students that ties into this second AC skill is the Take Your Corners Strategy. This allows students to share their opinions and move in a physical way around the room. We labeled each corner of the room as Agree, Disagree, Strongly Agree, and Strongly Disagree. Students were given the topic, "Parents should help their students with homework". Students went to the corner that fit their opinion and shared their reasons with other people in the group. We then read an article on this topic from Storyworks and found text based evidence to support our opinions. Students were given prompt and response starters to prepare them for their final conversation on the topic. After reading, some students changed their opinions. They now had text based evidence to support their thoughts instead of only their experiences. Students were given prompt cards to use in their conversations. Students then wrote an argumentative piece on the topic. Storyworks magazine includes a debate in every issue. These are great for this activity! If you are interested in co-teaching a similar lesson, let's talk!