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Teaching Tips & Ideas

At a Glance

Classroom Management

Transition Cues

Transitions cues are HUGE if you want to maximize your instructional time. When students are working together in groups, pairs, or even individually, it's important to have signals to transition.Here are a few of my favorites!

  1. Silent Five: This one is very simple and effective. Use a phrase to signal the transition and hold up your hand with five fingers showing. (I use the phrase "I need you back in 5". Without saying another word, simply count down with your fingers until you reach zero which is a closed fist.  Reward students with a "fist pump" and thank them for being ready to work. 

  2. Whisper Snap: When you are ready for kids to transition, whisper the words, "If you can hear me, snap your fingers twice." You will get a few students. Wait a couple of seconds and repeat the phrase at a slightly louder volume. You will now get the attention of the majority of students. Repeat the phrase a third time at regular speaking volume and all students should snap twice. 

  3. Timer: Using your laptop and a projector or panel, set a visible timer. Here is a link to several fun timers you can use to alert students of the time they have for the activity. Click for the timers here.

Remember that students need to practice these transition routines in order for them to work successfully. ​

Happy Teaching!

All in One

Objective: Students use vocabulary words to create complete sentences to show understanding of terms and text. 

  1. Students work in groups for this activity. Groups of 3-4 students work best.

  2. Give each group of list of 10-15 vocabulary words from novel, unit, or other reading . Each group should have access to a dictionary if they have not already learned the meaning of the words.

  3. Challenge student groups to write one sentence using as many of the words correctly as possible in the sentence. The sentence should be related to the reading in some way. Once students have used as many words as possible, they may write a second or third sentence until all the words have been used. 

  4. Monitor student progress to ensure accuracy of word usage.

  5. Students display their sentence(s) on white boards, the classroom blackboard, or on drawing paper depending on what you have available.

  6. Groups share the sentences with the class.

Acrostic Vocabulary

Objective: Students use vocabulary words to create acrostic poems that either define the term or show its relationship to text.
1. Introduce acrostic poems by explaining what they are and how they are written. Write a short acrostic poem together as a class.
2. Students use a list of vocabulary words for the individual poem writing activity. The words might be taken from a novel, weekly vocabulary lesson, or class reading (text, short story, etc.)
3. Students are assigned or select
two to three words from the list and develop an acrostic poem for each that 
defines the word or shows its relationship to the novel/text.
*The poems can be illustrated and displayed in the classroom to reinforce the terms.


Objective: Students guess keywords from a NEW reading selection - novel, short story, poem, or other text in a game similar to hangman. Once all words have been guessed, students make predictions about the text based on the words.

If you are not familiar with the game of Hangman, click here.


1. Choose two to four words from a new reading selection. These are the mystery words and are not revealed to students.

2. Draw a basic pirate ship and plank - see my very simple drawing below using shapes

Next draw one line to represent each letter of the mystery word below the ship.

3. Begin by letting students or teams take turns guessing letters; if the letter is in the word, place it in the correct blank. If an incorrect letter is guessed, draw one part of the stick figure. You can add details to the stick figure depending on how many guesses you want kids to have. As it it set up here, students get six before they are out.

4. Students continue to guess until all words have been revealed or the entire stick figure has been drawn. If students do not guess the word, reveal the mystery word by writing it on the board or displaying in some way and continue the game.

5. When all words have been revealed, ask students to define the words or give them the definitions depending on the time you want to spend on the activity. Have students make predictions about the text based on the words from the game. You may give students hints to the words at your discretion. Hints could be examples of the word, synonyms, antonyms, or a definition.


Students can...

~use the dictionary to look up and define the words and write those in a sentence.

~work together to write predictions about the text

~categorize the words into parts of speech

*Walk the Plank is an alternative for teachers in schools where hangman would not be appropriate due to community or cultural standards.

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