Saddle up for Second Grade
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Vocabulary Pictures to Enhance Student Learning

Hey there! Welcome back to part 2 of my vocabulary series where we are focusing on creating effective instruction through meaningful vocabulary activities. In part one of this series, I introduced Marzano’s Six Step Process for teaching vocabulary. They are:

  1. Describe and explain
  2. Restate and Explain in their OWN words. 
  3. Create a Drawing.
  4. Enrich and Expand their knowledge (synonyms, antonyms, prefixes, etc...)
  5. Collaborate with others (partner work, think-pair-share, etc...)
  6. Involve with play (games, work work, etc...)

In my previous post, I shared 3 Vocabulary Activities to Introduce and Explore New Words. Today I’ll be focusing on creating a visual with drawings. Each week we create these vocabulary picture posters to go along with our words. 

vocabulary pictures

Creating visuals for students to relate too is a huge part of the vocabulary process, especially for our ESL students. Each week when new vocabulary words are introduced, we create a new set of vocabulary pictures. I love these because it allows me to see student creativity, incorporate teamwork, and create a text-to-self type connection. Here is how they work:
  1. Put your students into groups of 3-4. Your groups can be more or less depending on the number of words you are working with. I introduce eight new words a week. I would create 2 posters myself and then divide the other six words between six groups. 
  2. Assign each group a vocabulary word. They aren’t allowed to share what word they have with the other groups. Each group will also need a piece of paper (I like to use the large Manila paper but copy paper works great too) and a set of crayons or markers. 
  3. Each group must come up with an illustration that represents their vocabulary word. I normally allow 10 minutes for this. 
  4. Once all illustrations are complete, each group stands and holds up their vocabulary picture. They are to describe their illustration but they cannot say what word they are representing. The students from other groups will then try to guess which vocabulary word is being represented.
  5. I then will display each poster for us to refer back to throughout the week. 
The first example of this is an illustration of the word impossible. They drew a picture of a wrecking ball knocking down the Eiffel Tower. This isn’t something that would normally happen but to a second grader, this was something that seemed impossible to them. It was something that THEY could relate too. 

Vocabulary Pictures


Here, my students drew a picture to represent the word "gather". The children in the illustration are “gathering” apples.


Vocabulary Pictures

I sometimes like to take these one step further and allow each group to create a motion to go along with their word. Here they made a motion like you were picking an apple off of a tree and placing them into a basket. Throughout the week I will say “show me the motion for _____”. It’s a fun and quick way to review and again it allows them to make that personal connection. 

A few other examples are shown below! 
-The hand is reaching for a can of soda on the table.
-The pizza is divided into equal halves. They connected this one with math and it made me so happy!
-The stoplight represents prevent
-The no dogs allowed sign illustrates beware

Vocabulary Pictures

Want to see a closer look and explanation of the above photos? Watch this quick video I shared on Instagram. 


This simple vocabulary strategy can be implemented into your day in just 20 minutes. We spend 10 minutes creating our posters and another 10 minutes sharing their illustrations. 

This lesson has become one of my favorite parts of our week!

Like this post and want to save it for later? Pin the image below! 


Vocabulary Pictures

Have a blessed one,


3 Vocabulary Activities to Introduce & Explore New Words

If you've been following me for a while you know that I am a huge advocate for teaching vocabulary for your kids in the classroom. Vocabulary holds a strong relationship with comprehension. It plays an important roll in helping students learn to read as well as reading to learn.

Effective vocabulary instruction is essential. Students need both direct and indirect instruction in vocabulary meanings as well as multiple exposures to words. It is through multiple exposures, repetition, and vocabulary activities that students begin to understand words and how to when speaking and writing. For years I have followed Marzano's Six Step Process when teaching vocabulary. It involves the following steps:

1. Describe and explain
2. Restate and Explain in their OWN words.
3. Create a drawing.
4. Enrich and expand their knowledge (synonyms, antonyms, prefixes...)
5. Collaborate with others (partner work, think-pair-share)
6. Involve with play (games, word work, etc..)

I know those six steps probably seem like a lot to take in. Research shows that effective vocabulary instruction can happen in just 15 minutes a day. Here is what my weekly vocabulary routine looks like.
Monday: Introduce and Explore
Tuesday Visualize and Define
Wednesday: Synonyms and Antonyms
Thursday: Apply in Writing
Friday: Review

In this post today I'm going to walk you through several vocabulary activities that can be used for step 1, introducing and exploring new vocabulary words.

This post contains affiliate links. You can see my disclosure here


vocabulary activities


Prior to introducing vocabulary words, I like to check their background knowledge and see what they already know. We categorize them using this Spotlight Words vocabulary activity based on how familiar they are with the word. Then, after we've finished the story at the end of the week we go back and recategorize them. This gives you a good idea on what words you need to focus more time on throughout the week.

Vocabulary Activities

Once I have a good idea on their background knowledge then we are ready for the introduction of new words. I use a vocabulary exercise called My Turn, Your Turn. This idea came from Word Nerds. This is hands down, the BEST professional development book that I've read when it comes to vocabulary instruction.

This model focuses on 6 things when introducing new vocabulary words to students.
1. Making predictions about the meaning.
2. Teaching parts of speech.
3. Give a kid-friendly definition.
4. Discuss what they already know.
5. Use it in a sentence.

Before everything you say, use the words "my turn." Then the students will repeat what you just said. Here is an example of how it works. The teacher holds up a vocabulary card with the word breathe.

  • Teacher chants, "My turn, breathe. Your turn, __________." Students fill in the blank with the word breathe as they chant together. 
  • Teacher chants, "My turn, breathe, 1. Your turn, ___________." Teacher claps the syllables and holds up a finger as you slowly and carefully pronounce the word. Students repeat.
  • Teacher chants, "My turn, breathe is a verb. It is something you can do. Your turn, __________." 
  • Teacher: Ok boys and girls, what do we know about the word breathe. Turn and talk with your partner or the person next to you. Allow a few to share what they know.
  • Teacher: Breathe is how air moves in and out of your mouth and nose like an air tank. Model and have students do. 
  • Teacher: Let's try it in a sentence. "I want to breathe some fresh air." Your turn, _____________. Students will turn and talk with their partners using the word in a sentence. 
You can read more about My Turn, Your Turn in this previous blog post that I wrote. 

Once our words have been introduced, it is time to add them to our Vocabulary Journals. We add our words and they write a kid-friendly definition in their own words. At the beginning of the year, we come up with a definition together. As the year goes on and they are more comfortable they can come up and write a definition on their own. 

vocabulary activities

vocabulary activities

These are kept in our Writer's Notebooks and we add to them throughout the week as part of the six-step process. We do not complete the entire graphic organizer for each word on day one. On Mondays, we only add the word and definition. 

Now that our words have been introduced it is time to explore the vocabulary words that they have just learned. Each week I use a simple pocket chart activity. If we have time I will do this whole group or sometimes I will choose to do this during my small group time. 

I choose three or four words and write them on index cards. I do not do this vocabulary activity for all of our words that have been introduced. This allows me to differentiate when I do this vocabulary activity during small groups. Then, I will write sentences using the vocabulary words onto sentence strips and leave a blank space where the vocabulary word should go. As a class, read the sentence aloud together, saying "blank" where the word is missing. 

vocabulary activities

Next, place a word card in each of the sentences but put them in the wrong place. Have your students read each sentence aloud together. They give a thumbs up if the word makes sense and a thumbs down if it doesn't make sense. If they are not sure, they give thumbs sideways. This allows you to visually see what the students know. 

vocabulary activities

Then, call on a student to choose a vocabulary word and move it to the sentence they think it belongs. They will reread the sentence together. If they agree, they will give a thumbs up and if they disagree they will give a thumbs down. Repeat the process with all the sentences shown in the pocket chart. 

vocabulary activities

I hope that you have found some of these vocabulary activities and resources helpful. My next post will be all about the second step in Marzano's Six Step Process. I'll be sharing ways that I help students visualize and define their vocabulary words. 

You can the vocabulary resources featured in this post by checking out the vocabulary section in my TeachersPayTeachers Store. 

Like this post and want to save it for later? Pin the image below! 

vocabulary activities


Have a blessed one,




Online Student Assessments Made Easy

Hey there, friend! I don't know about you but I'm tired of spending hours upon hours on student assessments and analyzing data. Let's not forget about all the paperwork that goes along with that. Then you have to keep up with said paperwork to take to parent conferences and RTI meetings. IT IS A LOT OF WORK!

What if I told you there was a way to save you hours of time when it comes to student assessments? What if I told you that you can have data instantly so instead of spending a few hours after school grading and analyzing that you could take those two hours and go get a pedicure or have some extra time with family?

I have the magical answer to solve all the problems above. What is it you ask? It's ESGI!

ESGI is a total game changer and has become one of my must-haves for the classroom. It has completely changed how we can utilize our time in the classroom when it comes to assessing students and collecting data for parent conferences and meetings. All student assessments are given one-on-one via table or computer. Simple yes or no answers give you instant results!

Let's take a closer look at your new best friend!

Note: This is a mock example. No real student data will be shown.

Online Student Assessments



Once you have created your account, this is what your ESGI homepage will look like. You can manage your classes and students on the left and endless options can be found on the right. Student results will appear in the center.

Online Student Assessments

The ESGI test explorer makes it simple for you to easily find what you need. You can browse through hundreds of pre-made assessments created by the Friends of ESGI or you can create your own. 

When browsing through pre-made assessments, you can preview each one before adding it to your class homepage. You can easily filter by grade level, content, test author and more. 

I told you this tool was AH-MAZING!!!

Online Student Assessments

Let's take a look at a mock test. Most assessments will have 4-8 questions. Some will have more or less. Remember, we are just assessing to see if they have mastered a skill. Directions are given at the bottom of the screen. Students will answer orally and all you have to do is click yes or no. 

When they've answered all questions, ESGI instantly grades everything for you giving you instant data. From there you can access reports on the assessment that was just given. 

Online Student Assessments


One of my favorite features that ESGI has is the printable flashcards. These can be printed of questions missed to send home with parents along with a friendly and editable letter explaining what their child was tested over. AHHHH!! Doesn't that sound amazing!! 

Online Student Assessments


Now, I know you are wanting to know how you can try out this FABULOUS tool in your own classroom. Let's get that FREE TRIAL set up!!! I've only shown you part of what ESGI can do. Click to go to the ESGI homepage. From there, click on FREE TRIAL at the top and enter in your information to get your account all set up. Use the code SADDLEUP  to score some HUGE SAVINGS!

Online Student Assessments


I love ESGI so much that I have started creating assessments for them. You can find me under the Friends of ESGI page and browse everything I've created. There is an assessment for EVERY 2nd grade math standard that is aligned with the TEKS. Don't worry, even if you aren't a Texas teacher, you can still use these assessments in your own classroom. Below you'll find every test organized by standard.

Online Student Assessments


Online Student Assessments


I'm telling y'all, you need ESGI in your life. You won't want to teach another day without this resource. Get those long hours back! 

Let me know if you have any questions.

Online Student Assessments



Have a blessed one!



How to Use Student Mailboxes to Control the Paper Chaos

I'm always looking for ways to make my job in the classroom easier. Today I'm sharing a quick classroom organization tip to help control the paper chaos. Let's talk about student mailboxes.

I have never had a set of nice student mailboxes. They can be very expensive and it was something I never wanted to invest in. This classroom organization system cost me less than $15, takes up way less space, and hides the paper clutter that can become a huge eyesore. What do I use?!?

The past seven years I've used the "pick up folder system" and it has worked great. Instead of classroom mailboxes, I use a plastic crate and hanging file folders. I choose to use these green ones that way there is no arguing over who has what color.

Each child is assigned a folder with their class number on it. Inside their folder is where homework, graded assignments, notes, and miscellaneous papers go that need to be sent home.

One thing I did not like about this system at first was that the plastic tags that held their student numbers would easily fall out. I got tired of having to fix them all the time so I decided to make my life a little easier and save my sanity. I made these number labels on Astrobrights cardstock, laminated them, and taped them to the back of each folder so that their numbers would show.

Student Mailboxes

Would you like these labels to create your own set of pick up folders? Fill out the form below to have them sent straight to your inbox.

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    I'm all about teaching independence in 2nd grade. I refuse to stuff their folders for them each day. I did that my first year and it took up SO MUCH time. This has solved that problem. At the end of each day, they grab all of the papers out of their pick up folder and put them in their take-home folder to go home.

    This best thing about student mailboxes is that it is mostly student-lead. As the year goes on, I'll allow students to place homework and other items in folders for me. I'll check their folders daily to make sure everyone has cleaned their's out, but other than that, students can take care of the rest most of the time. These are seriously the EASIEST student mailboxes ever.

    Student Mailboxes
    This post contains affiliate links. You can see my disclosure here




    Subtraction Strategies: 4 Methods for Teaching Two-Digit Subtraction

    Second grade is a very important year when it comes to fact fluency. This is the time when they are learning to become familiar with two-digit addition and subtraction facts. In my previous post, I shared four addition strategies that I focus on  Today, I'll be sharing four subtraction strategies used for introducing 2-digit subtraction.

    Just like introducing 2-digit addition, I expose my students to multiple strategies and models they can use to solve subtraction problems. We spend lots of time focusing on WHY something is done before we teach HOW something is done. Giving students choice in their learning by providing them with multiple ways solve problems is helping them succeed. Flexibility is key because every child learns differently. 

    The Texas TEK for two-digit subtraction states:
    2.4B: Add up to four two-digit numbers and subtract two-digit numbers using mental strategies and algorithms based on place value and properties of operations. 

    The Common Core Standard for two-digit subtraction states: 
    2.NBT.B.5: Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction. 

    Note that the bolded text above says nothing about the standard algorithm we learned growing up years ago. Keep reading to learn about four subtraction strategies I introduce and teach my students when focusing on two-digit subtraction. Also, note that these strategies will not focus on regrouping. Students need a strong understanding of place value AND simple subtraction before moving onto that task.

    subtraction strategies



    At the beginning of our subtraction unit, I always make this anchor chart. As we learn a new strategy it is added to our whole group chart. My students keep a matching copy of this in their math journal to use later on when they need extra support. 

    Subtraction Strategies

    subtraction strategies

    Now let's break down these four subtraction strategies. Before we get started, I want you to make sure you are familiar with the vocabulary that will be used. Throughout this post, you will hear the terms minuend, subtrahend, and difference. In the problem 67-33=34, 67 is the minuend, 33 is the subtrahend, and 34 is the difference. 

    Base Ten Model
    When introducing two-digit subtraction, I always start with the base ten models. In addition to using base ten blocks, I also teach them to draw the blocks out on paper. This is because students won't always have access to manipulatives, but they will have a pencil and paper. 

    I always give my students a place value mat placed inside a plastic sleeve. This allows students to also write or draw using a dry erase marker and they can be used over and over again. 

    Here is how this strategy works using the example 59-15=44
    • Build/draw out the minuend (59) with base ten blocks.
    • Take away the amount of the subtrahend (15). Remove 5 ones blocks and 1 tens block. 
    • Count the remaining blocks left and solve for the difference.

    subtraction strategies


    For students to draw out this strategy it works the same way. We draw "sticks" to represent the tens and "dots" to represent the ones. I also teach them to take away or cross out the ones first followed by the tens. This will help when regrouping is introduced later on. 

    subtraction strategies


    Expanded Form Method
    The second subtraction strategy that I introduce is the Expanded Form Method. Your students need a strong understanding of place value and expanding numbers for them to be successful using this strategy. The minuend and subtrahend of the subtraction problem will be expanded and lined up vertically. I always have my students circle the minus sign to help them remember to subtract rather than add. 

    Here is how it works using the example 86-43. 
    • Expand the minuend. >>> 80+6
    • Expand the subtrahend and write it vertically underneath the minuend. >>> 40+3
    • Circle the minus sign. 
    • Subtract and solve vertically based on place value starting with the ones, then the tens. 
    • Solve for the difference. >>> 40+3=43
       80+6
    -  40+3
       40+3
          43


    subtraction strategies

    Number Line Model
    The number line model subtraction strategy tends to be more challenging for students. They need a strong knowledge of mental math and skip counting for this method to come easily for them. 

    I often use skip counting as a warm-up for our math block. Example: Have students stand in a circle. Choose a student to go first and skip count by 10's starting with the number 35. The first person says 35, the next says 45, and so on. For the ones that struggle I will often let them hold a hundred chart in their hand to help. You can have them do this counting forwards or backward. Another way to squeeze in counting practice is to have them chant while they are lining up. Example: Class, let's skip count by 2's as we line up. We will start with the number 40 and see how high we can count. When everyone is lined up correctly, we will stop.

    The number line strategy focuses on students "hopping" and "skipping" backward on a number line to solve for the difference of a given problem. I call the 10's hops, and the 1's skips. I've also found it helpful for students to write out their steps before solving the problem. 

    Here is how it works using the example 57-26.
    • Draw an open number line. 
    • Write the minuend at the end of the number line. >>> 57 
    • Determine how many hops and skips you need to take.
    • The subtrahend is 27. You need to draw 2 large hops and 6 small skips. 
    • Skip count backward to solve for the difference. 
    • 57-26=31
    subtraction strategies



    Standard Algorithm 
    This traditional method is probably how you learned two-digit subtraction growing up and is what our children's parents are most familiar with. 

    For this strategy, students need to line up both numbers vertically underneath each other. The minuhend (larger number) goes on top and the subtrahend (smaller number) goes on the bottom. They will subtract the ones place first and then the tens place to solve for the difference. 

    One tip that can be helpful when first learning this strategy is to have students use a highlighter to highlight the ones place or have them circle the numbers in the ones place first. This helps them visualize where they need to start first. This concept can be more complicated for them than we realize because they are trained to read and write from left to right. 

    subtraction strategies

    At the end of our unit, we always make these Subtraction Strategy Flipbooks to help us review. They can keep these to use later as a reference when needed. 

    subtraction strategies


    subtraction strategies

    Whew! That may seem like a lot of information to process. We all learn concepts in different ways and the subtraction strategies that I have shared are what I have found to be beneficial for my own students. There is no right or wrong strategy when it comes to solving two-digit subtraction problems. Allow your students to choose the method that works best for them and have them stick with it. Once they have found a method that they are comfortable with, it is important to provide them with multiple opportunities to practice. Below are some resources that you may find helpful. 

    This unit features 10 days worth of hands-on and engaging activities for your students to practice all the subtraction strategies for 2-digit subtraction without regrouping that I have listed above. There are daily addition and subtraction word problems, interactive notebook prompts, subtraction without regrouping games and so much more. 
    subtraction strategies


    Want to save these subtraction strategies ideas for later? Pin the image below! 

    subtraction strategies




    Addition Strategies: 4 Methods for Teaching Two-Digit Addition

    Second grade is the first year students are exposed to two-digit addition problems. It is the year that they will be exposed to multiple addition strategies that they can use to solve problems. We spend a lot of time discussing these addition strategies, using models and manipulatives, and doing mental math.

    It is often asked why we teach things so differently from the way we as adults learned growing up. The answer is simple. We need to teach the WHY before we teach the HOW.  We want to give student’s lot of options and flexibility when it comes to solving problems. Each child learns differently.

    The Texas TEK for two-digit addition states:
    2.4B: Add up to four two-digit numbers and subtract two-digit numbers using mental strategies and algorithms based on place value and properties of operations.

    The Common Core Standard for two-digit addition states:
    2.NBT.B.5: Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.

    Note that the bolded text above says nothing about the standard algorithm we learned growing up years ago. Keep reading to learn about four strategies I introduce and teach my students two-digit addition. Note that these strategies will not focus on regrouping. Students need a strong understanding of place value AND simple addition before moving on to that task.

    Addition Stratgies



    At the beginning our addition unit I always make this anchor chart. As we learn a new strategy it is added to our whole group chart. My students keep a matching copy of this in their math journal. This is helpful for them to look back on when they need extra support.


    addition strategies


    Let me break down these four strategies a little more.

    Base Ten Model

    When introducing two-digit addition, I always start with the base ten model. We do lots of work with base ten block manipulatives but I also teach them to draw the blocks out on paper. This is because students won’t always have those manipulatives available to them, but they will have a pencil and paper. I’ve found that this strategy is most often used if students have a strong sense of place value. 

    I always give my students a place value mat placed inside a plastic sleeve. This allows students to also write or draw using a dry erase marker and they can be used over and over again.

    Here is how this addition strategy works using the example 62+34.

    1.     Build/draw out both addends with base ten blocks. (Sometimes it is fun to use other manipulatives. In the photo example, I used pipe cleaners cut into pieces for the tens and small pompom balls for the ones.)
    2.     Count the ones first and then the tens. This will help when regrouping is introduced later.
    3.     Solve for the sum.

    addition strategies


    When students need to draw out this strategy it works the same way. I teach them to draw “sticks” to represent the tens and “dots” to represent the ones. I also teach them to draw out the first addend and then draw the second addend underneath. They’ll count to solve for the sum.

    addition strategies


    Expanded Form Method

    The second addition strategy that I always introduce is the Expanded Form Method. This is another strategy that is extremely beneficial, but students must again have a strong knowledge of place value and expanding numbers. Each addended will be broken apart into tens and ones and helps students see that the tens place isn’t just a 6. It’s value represents 60 or 6 tens.

    Here is how it works using the example 52+45.
    1.     Expand the first addend. >>> 50+2
    2.     Expand the second addend and write it underneath the first.  >>> 40+5
    3.     Solve vertically based on place value starting with the ones, then the tens.
    4.     Solve for the sum. >>> 90+7 =97

       50+2
    + 40+5
       90+7
          97

    Number Line Model

    Using an open number line to solve two-digit addition problems is highly beneficial but also tends to be more challenging for students. Especially if they do not have a strong knowledge of mental math.

    This strategy focuses on students “hopping” along a number line to solve the sum of a given problem. Large hops are drawn for plus 10 and smaller hops are drawn for plus 1. To help students visualize this strategy more, I always include base ten blocks at first. When they are more comfortable with this strategy then they can take them away.

    Here is how it works using the example 22+43.
    1.     Draw an open number line.
    2.     Write the larger addend at the start of the number line.
    3.     Then, students use base ten blocks to build the other addended horizontally across the number line.
    4.     Draw large hops over the tens for +10 and small hops over the ones for +1.
    5.     They’ll skip count and write out the numbers to solve for the sum.

    addition strategies

    When it comes to putting pencil to paper your students can easily do the same strategy. If they need to draw base ten blocks along their number line they can. Our goal is for them to be able to mentally add.


    Addition Strategies: 4 Methods for Teaching Two-Digit Addition

    Standard Algorithm

    This traditional method is probably how you learned two-digit addition growing up and it is what our children’s parents are most familiar with.

    For this strategy, students need to line up both addends vertically underneath each other. They will add the numbers in the ones place first and then the tens place to solve for the sum.

    One tip that can be helpful when first learning this strategy is to have students us a highlighter to highlight the ones place or have them circle the numbers in the ones place first. This helps them visualize to add the ones place first followed by the tens. I want this to become a habit for my students. This concept can be more complicated for them than we realize because they are trained to read and write from left to right. It will be more difficult when they learn how to regroup when adding two-digit numbers so getting them in this habit first will be helpful.

    addition strategies

    At the end of our unit, we always make these Addition Strategy Flipbooks to help us review. They can keep these to use later as a reference when they need it. 

    addition strategies

    addition strategies

    Whew! That may seem like a lot of information to process. We all learn concepts in different ways and the addition strategies that I have shared are what I have found to be beneficial for my own students. There is no right or wrong strategy when it comes to solving two-digit addition problems. Allow your students to choose the method that works best for them and have them stick with it. Once they have found a method that they are comfortable with, it is important to provide them with multiple opportunities to practice. Below are some resources that you may find helpful.


    addition strategies

    Want to save these ideas for later? Pin the image below.

    Addition Strategies



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