Words are Everywhere

I am committed to exploring and creating different teaching strategies to engage the students in my schools to build vivid, vital and valuable vocabularies! I am so fortunate to work alongside teachers across Australia who share this commitment!

Some background…

Students need many opportunities for developing a rich vocabulary through listening, speaking, reading, and writing in an integrated manner. Vocabulary instruction should be an integral component in a daily literacy block. Integrating vocabulary instruction provides students with numerous opportunities to manipulate and learn new vocabulary words. Incorporating vocabulary instruction throughout the content areas will encourage students to make connections to new and already known information, discuss meanings of new words, and demonstrate and appropriately apply the new words, providing multiple re-exposures to the words. Encouraging students to think strategically when learning new words is essential.

Creating Strategic Readers

Right now at one of my schools in Ballarat, Canadian Lead P.S., we are working together to explore the best practice in our literacy classrooms P-6.

I am keen to share a teaching strategy that I recently shared with my colleagues at this school.

Let’s get started!

  1. To build upon the students’ vocabularies in your classroom cut out words from newspapers to achieve their learning goals.


  1. Consider the range of words you have selected before mounting the words on coloured card and laminating.

Are there words with…?

  • More than one syllable
  • Single sound letter beginnings/endings
  • Blended sound letter beginnings/endings
  • Smaller words inside the larger words
  • Double letters
  • 2, 3 or 4 vowels
  • Prefixes
  • Suffixes

In your collection are there…?

  • Nouns
  • Proper nouns
  • Verbs
  • Adjectives
  • Common words
  • Student interest words
  1. Let the fun begin! Begin your literacy lesson by exploring these words. Ask each student to select a word that they can read well.
  1. Consider the learning goals in your classroom and work with these words in a variety of ways.

Here are some teaching ideas to consider:

  • Count the number of letters in the words
  • Does your word have more, less or the same number of lessons as your name?
  • Lucky dip a letter and find a word that begins and ends with the letter
  • Count the vowels in your word
  • Identify and share the beginning or ending letter name and sound
  • Sort the words by the number of syllables
  • Find a word that begins with the same letter as your name
  • Select a word and identify the opposite
  • Sort words into nouns and proper nouns
  • Create a sizzling start for your writing using your word
  • Find the word in your just right books
  • What connections can you make with this word?

What is a highly effective teaching idea for your students?

Check out my online shop to explore more teaching strategies to build vocabulary in your classroom.

Have fun with the word wizards in your classroom,


Math Games 2

Instructional Maths Games- Engaging Mathematicians

As teachers, we are continuously reflecting on the quality of the learning experiences we plan and implement with our students.

Using instructional games to teach mathematics is a very viable and successful way to engage students to explore and understand rich mathematical concepts and to extend their mathematical reasoning.

Some background…

Math Game

In this text, The Maths Game, George Booker shares four insights into using instructional games to foster mathematics learning. I have matched each insight with a question that I use to reflect upon my own practice.

  • Games integrated into the mathematics curriculum, using consistent language, materials and symbols.

What are the underlying mathematical ideas of the game and the ways of thinking that the students are required to use?

  • Participation is active not passive.

Do all students have the opportunity to interact with the other players at each move?

  • Discussion is needed, both during and after the game, to make concepts, processes and thinking explicit.

What strategy will I implement to allow for rich discussion to make explicit the underlying mathematical ideas of the game and the ways of thinking that the students are required to use?

  • Teacher intervention is crucial in guiding discussion and helping students adopt new concepts, processes and ways of thinking as their own.

What is the instructional purpose of the game? Is the game I selected answer focussed rather than reasoning driven?

What key questions do you use to select quality mathematics games?

This week I had the pleasure to work alongside my colleagues at Nelson Park School to explore the George Booker’s insights in relation to using instructional games to teach mathematics P-12.

In the sessions we interacted with all the materials presented to play, reshape and evaluate instructional games.

Math Games 2

The game below is a classic. So let’s get started!

Shake and Make:

1) The students collect ten double sided/two coloured counters and place them in a cup.

A great alternative to the counters is lima beans that have been spray painted on one side only.

2)  The students shake and spill the counters. What combination of ten have you made?


If the students are playing in pairs, one player shakes and spills. The other player talks about the combination.

3. The students continue to take turns to shake and make!

Let’s reshape the game!

  • Change the number of counters in the cup.
  • Tens frames can be used to support students.
  • Provide a word splash of key mathematical language to support the students to share their understandings and reasoning.
  • Explore different ways for the students to present their mathematical thinking…photograph the combinations, reflection tool or make a tally.

The effective planning and teaching of math games requires some tools and resources that are available from my online store.

Have fun engaging the mathematicians in your classroom!


Share Selfish Together

The Wonder of Words

As teachers, we’ve all stood in front of our classes at times and felt that uncomfortable pang of anxiety when we’ve realised – “Oh no. I’m losing them!” Our hearts race a little, perhaps a cold sweat grips us, maybe it’s a shudder. Whatever you’re reaction, it’s a feeling we’ve all endured and it’s often followed by self-examination and a session talking to a mentor explaining where it all went wrong.

Well first of all – don’t blame yourself! It’s a healthy part of the learning curve we must all go through as it forces us to consider more deeply how to impart the curriculum while maintaining classroom control.

In this blog, I’d like to share a lesson plan designed to connect your students with the wonder of language. Teaching the love of language is extraordinarily important for developing the self-esteem that goes hand-in-hand with the ability to communicate clearly. It will open many doors in a child’s life well into their adulthood by significantly enhancing their ability to engage with others, exchange ideas and build relationships of all descriptions.

The key aspect of language enabling all this to come about is a comprehensive vocabulary to aid the broad and immediate grasp of verbal and written messages.

Some background…

Beck, McKeown and Kucan’s 2002 research divided vocabulary into three tiers. The lesson plan below targets the improvement of Tier 2 words.

Tier of Vocabulary

So let’s get started!

  1. Select a quality text with an accompanying picture suitable for gaining the immediate attention of the age group in your class. A short movie clip is another engaging tool.
  2. Choose three Tier 2 words from the text/movie. Write these on cards, in a journal or in electronic form.

I use a journal to display the three words:

Share Selfish Together

  1. Read the text/show the clip so the class enjoys the experience. Make no reference to the chosen words.
  2. From the prepared cards or display, show the students the target Tier 2 words. Have them pronounce the words and provide their understanding of the meaning.
  3. Now for the fun part! Reread the text and instruct your students to perform an amusing action or say fun a word when they hear the chosen words.  This works because kids love to be kids!  Allow this to happen all the way through the second reading and stop reading every time they perform.  During each pause, see if they have detected a different contextual meaning for the words.
  4. Next, further their desire to absorb more knowledge by giving them their personal “Aha!” moments. To achieve this, help them make connections to self, text and their worlds.
  5. Now it’s time to cement their knowledge. Instruct students to retell the text to a partner emphasising the three words as they do.
  6. Continue the fun and education combination by displaying the book in the classroom and add the words to your Interactive Word Wall. Every time the words are used in the room, mark this next to the word and develop a fun competition between the words.  Which word will win and become the Word of the Week?

The effective planning and teaching of this lesson requires some tools available from my online store.  These will assist teachers to maximise the benefits to, not only their students, but to themselves as well.  Remember, as teachers, we deserve “Aha” moments too and confidently imparting lessons to receptive minds is a great way to get them.

Happy teaching,