November 2014

Building Goal #1: WRITING

Tips for the Content Area Classroom

1. Writing products let teachers see into the minds of their students.

2. Choose from a variety of writing assignments that are relevant to your content.

3. Reduce your assessment anxieties and use the Minus/Check/Plus Syste

  • - (minus sign) unsatisfactory performance
  • (check mark) work meets expectation
  • + (plus sign) strongly engaged in high quality thinking

4. Form a partnership with a Language Arts Teacher

5. Content area teachers can be priceless contributors to writing.


As you can see in the image below, research shows that "79 percent of students agree that tablets help them do better in class." There are a variety of mobile tools that you can use in your classroom that touch on all of the building goals. For example you can use tools such as Socrative, Geddit, or Kahoot as a formative assessment. By creating questions that students need to respond to, that could include writing, higher-order thinking questions, and the use of mobile devices.

Let me know if you would like more information or help designing a lesson with one of these tools.

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Building Vocabulary Using Analogies as a Higher- Order Thinking Skill

Grade Levels: 6 - 12

Lesson Summary

This lesson is for language arts students in middle or high school, but can be adapted for other curriculum areas. During the lesson, students build their vocabulary by using analogies to help them learn the meanings of grade-appropriate words.


Chalkboard or overhead projector, if you prefer.


•Students will determine the meanings of new words through the use of analogies.

•Students will create analogies to build their skills for learning new words.



Explain to students that an analogy shows a relationship between words. Explain that analogies can help them learn new words if they first determine the relationship between the words. Write the following analogy on the chalkboard:

up:down :: hot:cold

Help students learn to read analogies by asking them how they would read the analogy above. Explain that the double colon splits the analogy into two parts. The first part is the left-hand side of the double colon, "up:down," and the second part is the right-hand side, "hot:cold." Ask them what relationship they see between both sets of words (antonyms). Explain that the relationship that exists between the words in the first part is exactly the same as the relationship that exists between the words in the second part. One possible way to read this analogy is, "Up is the opposite of down, just as hot is the opposite of cold." Explain to students that there are a number of relationships that can be shown through analogies. Work through the following examples on the chalkboard and have students talk through the analogy and explain the relationship between the words.

minute:hour :: ounce:pound

Relationship: part to whole

"An hour is comprised of minutes, just like a pound is comprised of ounces."

fork:eat :: shovel:hole

Relationship: object to function

"You use a fork to eat, just like you use a shovel to dig a hole."

glasses:read :: crutches:walk

Relationship:object to function

"Glasses can help you read, just like crutches can help you walk."

Next, brainstorm with students possible types of analogies to help them think of types of relationships they can look for in analogies. Below are some examples of analogy relationships. There are many others, so encourage students to be creative.

◦Part to whole

◦Cause to effect




◦Item to category

◦Time sequence


◦Object to Use

◦Product to Producer

2.Guided Practice

Explain to students that you are going to give them five different analogies to solve. Tell them that each analogy will contain an underlined word for which they have to find the definition. Have students first determine the relationship between the words and write what the relationship is, and then ask them to choose the definition that matches the meaning of the underlined word from the list of choices.

Write the following five analogies on the chalkboard. (Note that the answer is in bold, and the type of analogy relationship is in parentheses.)

  1. ostentatious:showy :: summit:top (synonym)

    a) flamboyant
    b) energetic
    c) successful
    d) argumentative

  2. impound:seize :: represent:portray (synonym)

    a) unravel
    b) confiscate
    c) resemble
    d) break

  3. wicked:nefarious :: represent:characterize (synonym)

    a) evil
    b) innocent
    c) determined
    d) stereotype

  4. contaminated:pure :: indomitable:feeble (antonym)

    a) rhythmic
    b) weak
    c) clean
    d) unconquerable

  5. shark:scavenger :: spider:carnivore (item to category)

    a) eater of plants
    b) eater of plants and meat
    c) eater of vegetables
    d) eater of meat

  1. Once students finish the activity, give them the five analogies below. Explain that each analogy has one word that is missing, and they have to choose the correct word to complete each analogy. Then have them identify the relationship expressed in each analogy.
  2. Write the following analogies on the board. (Note that the answer is in bold, and the type of analogy relationship is in parentheses.)
  3. ________:strict :: comedian:humorous (type to characteristic)

    a) languid
    b) martinet
    c) commentator
    d) artist

  4. geologist:rock :: ________:fish (profession and object of study)

    a) producer
    b) engineer
    c) ichthyologist
    d) composer

  5. sad:________ :: sprinkle:downpour (degree of intensity)

    a) doleful
    b) relaxed
    c) composed
    d) blizzard

  6. ________:trusting :: ecstatic:delighted (synonym)

    a) overjoyed
    b) rambling
    c) credulous
    d) phenomenal

  7. ________:cowardly :: vivid:dull (antonym)

    a) fearful
    b) grandiose
    c) bright
    d) plucky

  • Assessment

    Evaluate students' understanding by assessing their work on these five analogies. Challenge students further by giving them an analogy vocabulary test with difficult words. Have them determine the relationship between the words in the analogies.

    For further testing, have students use the words they have learned to create their own analogies.