[Part I of II] What might a daily word learning session look like? STAR approach.

[Pssst. If you click on a screenshot of a tweet, it’ll take you to that tweeter’s profile!]

This is part one of a two-part blog about what a daily word learning session might look like. This approach is based on the STAR process by Blachowicz & Fisher (2010), and is the approach primarily used in @WordAware‘s ‘Teaching Vocabulary Across the Curriculum’. Below is what a ten/fifteen-minute session might look like for the word simmering.



All words have been selected for their usefulness, for their frequency in texts, and for their regular use in multiple situations throughout the topic. This will allow the children to be exposed to each word numerous times. Children will also be given ample opportunity to use the words in their writing.


Semantics (meaning):Simmering means cooking at just below boiling point. If something is simmering, it is cooking gently. A simmering saucepan of water might have a few bubbles on the surface, but would be quite flat.’

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 19.44.18

Context: ‘In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone the sentence with simmering in it is: ‘ … understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes.’

‘Turn the heat down so the sauce simmers gently.’

Interesting Twitter exchange about different contexts and future review here:

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 20.12.59

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 20.12.18

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 20.28.17

Action: Use your body to vibrate very slightly whilst saying the word simmering. Children to copy a few times. Saying the word each time.

Phonology (sounds): 

  • Say the word to your partner, listening carefully to how it sounds.
  • Say it slowly, trying to listen to all of the sounds.
  • Clap the syllables.
  • What speech sound does the word start with?
  • What does it rhyme with? (these are allowed to be nonsense words e.g. bimmering, himmering, shimmering)

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 20.30.38

Record the word for future reference: Write simmering on a card and place it on the Working Word Wall. After, ask someone to write simmering on a small card and put it in the Word Pot.


  • Complete the idea: Jack described the soup as simmering because it was …
  • What is the same or different about these two words: boiling / simmering.
  • Describe the word simmering to your friend.
  • Act out a situation which demonstrates the word. If stuck, give imagine you are a chef as a hint.
  • If a cauldron was simmering, what would you expect to see?


This is to be done for the rest of the week (and thereafter), whenever any opportunity arises. The word will also go on the ‘fridge words’ to be sent home on Friday.

Review the word at the end of the day:

  • What was the word again?
  • What have you learned about the word today?
  • Let’s ‘show’ the word together.
  • When do you think you might use this word again?
  • Tell the person next to you how you’re going to remember the word.

Encourage children to use in independent writing:

  • Refer to/use the word wall.

Other options:

  • Listening out for the word.
  • Using it where possible in speech.
  • Reviewing using games in future daily sessions.
  • ‘Talk to me about the word …’ stickers.

This isn’t a ‘best way of teaching vocabulary’ plan. This is my first thoughts on paper about how I’m going to deliver vocabulary instruction through daily sessions next year. Part II will look at an approach involving lots of games as part of a ‘Word Workshop’. I aim to deliver a mixture of sessions to keep it interesting, and mix it up a bit.

If you can spare the time, I would love any feedback on this. Let’s make it a collaborative document. Let’s work together to create something here. How can we best teach this? I hosted a vocabulary special on #PrimaryRocks on Monday, and I now know for a fact that there are a host of teachers that are as enthusiastic about vocabulary as I am.

Here’s the Microsoft Word version (Word Workshop STAR [simmering]) in case you’d like to edit/improve/comment via that method. If you’d like to discuss more, you can either use the comments section on this blog, find me on Twitter (@Mr_P_Hillips), or use the contact page available somewhere on this website.


Assessing Vocabulary (Part 1)

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 18.30.06

For this area of vocabulary development, I will be drawing upon the books that I’ve read (namely Bringing Words to Life and Word Aware), as well as the conversations I’ve had with other propagates of direct vocabulary instruction such as @29orry (more about her work further down).

My initial thoughts, and they still remain, is that new vocabulary should be assessed in some way. If it’s not, how do we know that children’s vocabularies are expanding? Even if it’s noticing a difference in the words a child is using in their speech or writing, you’re still making some sort of assessment based on what you know about that child.

Beck et al (2013) note that ‘assessment should not be thought of as closing a door on learning a word. Students need to continue their interactions with words across a term or school year.’ The consistent message that I’m hearing throughout my own reading and research is that kids need to be repeatedly exposed to words in order to create and elaborate on their schemas of words.

A major issue here is the around the question ‘What does it mean to know a word?’ Does a child ‘know’ a word if they can give a synonym? If they can put it in a sentence? Give its definition? These different ideas about what it is to ‘know’ a word mean that kids would succeed on some assessments, but not on others.

I’m much more interested in assessing the deeper learning of a word, which, to me, means that a child can use the word in multiple contexts, be able to compare against synonyms and other learned words, and give a good definition. Beck et al (2013) suggest some ways of tapping this deeper knowledge.

Ask students to give examples such as:

  • Describe how someone acts that shows being diligent.
  • Tell me about a time that you were perplexed.
  • Describe some things that could make a person feel miserable.

Ask students to describe what is the same and/or different for pairs of words that are semantically similar.

berate/retort                                                        acquaintance/ally

exotic/unique                                                      extraordinary/peculiar

My favourite suggestion from this chapter of Bringing Words to Life is giving students a “context interpretation” task. To succeed at this, the children need to ‘apply the word’s meaning to understand the context of its use. In responding to the contexts in the task, students need to use the knowledge of the words to draw an inference in order to make sense of the context.’ Have a go yourself:

  • When Sam and I arrived at Alvin’s front door, I had to urge Sam to knock on the door. How do you think Sam felt about going to Alvin’s house?
  • Mary thought that Jim was ridiculing her when he said that the cake she made looked beautiful. How do you think Mary thought her cake looked?
  • Rhonda sent out wedding invitations to all the family, including Uncle Charles, who was a hermit. What do you think Uncle Charles’s answer was to the invitation?

from Bringing Words to Life (2013)

What’s Gill Evans (@29orry) doing at her school?

I’ve been talking to Gill quite a bit recently. She’s a headteacher of a primary school, and has started to introduce a daily session where words are explicitly taught. Over a five-week period, this guarantees that twenty-five words are being taught explicitly; a number certainly not to be sniffed at. How is her school going to assess the impact? With these:

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 19.38.46.png

Children are given a list of the twenty-five words that they will be taught explicitly during the next five weeks, and fill in the grid the best they can. Teachers add up the score. After the five-week period is over, the children do the same grid again, and (hopefully!) the scores will’ve gone up. I’ve seen the materials and planning that Gill has prepared for her school, and it’s wonderful. I’m really looking forward to hearing about how it goes, and sharing more ideas!

You can expect part two of this blog to arrive nearer Christmas ’17. This will allow me to explain how assessment has taken place over the first term, and hopefully share what’s really working.

More free stuff: Greek/Latin roots development.

Resources freely downloadable just underneath this sentence, short blog post beneath with ideas on how to use.

Greek root word flashcards (instructions below on how to print)

Greek root words matching activity

Latin root word flashcards

Latin roots matching activity

Firstly, thank you to everyone who’s given positive and constructive feedback on the Greek/Latin root word posters. They took a long time, but the process was highly enjoyable. The most encouraging thing is the thought of how many children could benefit (see what I did there?) from it. They, after all, are who it’s all for.

This next release covers flashcards and a simple matching activity that you’ll all’ve seen before in various formats. I’ll give a brief overview of what you get in each resource, ideas on how to use them, and then a couple of bullet points on further teaching ideas.


Is that one word? I’ve always written it as one. Hmm. This idea came about when I saw that the wonderful @_MissieBee had printed the Latin/Greek posters ready for a display:

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 13.50.02.png

This got me thinking about how else to use them. What if I had smaller versions, but had the sentence examples and child-friendly definitions (available in the ‘Notes’ sections of each slide) on the reverse? I started tinkering around. Each reverse slide looks like this:

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 13.20.30.png

The pictures, filling the root in red/blue, sentences, and definitions all contribute to building a schema of the word for our children. The slides are organised in a specific way. If you don’t like it, or think of a different way – change it! :). The slides are organised as follows:

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 13.18.10

This means that when the slides are printed two-to-a-page, and double-sided, they will come out as flashcards with the poster on the front, and definitions/sentences on the back.

Matching activity

This is a simple idea developed after a conversation with @spinningzoo. Each slide looks like this:

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 23.32.48

There is the picture, the word, and the definition for each of the three words chosen to represent the root word. To use as a matching activity, print each slide off, and cut into rectangles for children to match. Now, I have to say, I’m not a massive fan of matching activities. However, if these were laminated, they could be used over and over again. Though I suppose that would work for any matching activity. Hmm. Should probably stop talking myself out of the idea after spending a couple of hours making it. I digress.

There’s even a level of differentiation available here. Children could match picture – word – definition, or, as a challenge, are just given words and definitions to match.

Other teaching ideas

  • What’s the missing word? Read out sentence (given in the ‘Notes’ section of the posters resource) and ‘blank’ the word with the Greek/Latin root. Children could do this with each other too.
  • Matching pairs memory game. Using either the pictures/words, words/definitions, pictures/definitions, lay all cards out face down. Take turns to pick two cards to try and find a match.

I would love to hear about you using any of the resources with your children. Share how they’ve worked (or haven’t!), how your children found them. Also, please do share if you think that something’s missing, or needs further development. I won’t take offence, I just want to help children learn words. I’d love to share great examples of children’s work on the blog in future. Finally, if you have any suggestions for activities/resources, please let me know!

(updated) FREE RESOURCES: Greek and Latin root words.

Resources FREE to download here:

Greek root word posters

Latin root word posters

If you’d like to hear more about why I’m doing it, and a mini-explanation of these particular resources, read on.

As a wise sage once said, ‘Celebrate good times, come on’. Yes, it is the summer holidays (in the U.K., anyway), and it’s time for teachers and students alike to rest and recharge. And whilst I’m resting and recharging, bear in mind that I’ve been off for six weeks already to recover from a major operation, I’m going to be making some (hopefully!) useful teaching resources based around words.

I love words. I love language. It’s my hobby. Making this resource was, first and foremost, a lot of fun. It didn’t feel like ‘work’. This resource is primarily for me and my word study sessions that I plan to teach daily next year (more information coming up in future blogs). I’ve taken a lot (and I mean a lot) from Twitter throughout my first year on there, and I’m very much an advocate of the generous sharing culture.


What you have here is a PowerPoint presentation crammed with information about words with certain Greek and Latin root words in them. There are many more Greek and Latin root words, but I’ve chosen the most popular ones (just the fifty-seven of them combined).

On each slide, you will find a root word, and three examples of words containing it. Above each of these words is a picture which aims to give visual context to each word, thus adding to the schema being created of that word. As all the images used are copyright and royalty free, some of them are … interesting. If you want to change any images, please do so. All I ask is that you do not then reproduce this resource and pass it off as your own.

There is a ‘Notes’ section for each root word. In this you will find child-friendly definitions from the Collins COBUILD dictionary, which is now integrated for free on the Collins website. This is truly a fantastic website for teachers and students, and should be a classroom staple. You will also find an example of a sentence with each word in. I have tried to use sentences where the context is clear, and simple for children to understand. If you believe there is a better sentence, let me know, or just change it on your own copy – I won’t be offended!

A little bit of honesty here. I was originally going to include some basic etymological knowledge about each word. But after discussions and further research, I realised that my knowledge on this is not ‘there’ yet. This is all part of my journey to a better understanding of the English language system. I have included links for those who would like to find out more.

Please feel free to comment on the resource, either through Twitter, or the comments section of this blog. Any feedback you have will help to a) edit and improve these resources, and b) help to make future resources that much better.

NB: please do let me know if/when you use this resource. I’d love to hear about how it’s been used, and how effective (or ineffective) it’s been.

Thinking: etymology / morphology

I don’t proclaim to be an expert in any of this, although I would rather like to be. I aim to grow and nurture a blog filled with reflections on research and practice, including my own, which will propagate the notion that vocabulary development be at the heart of our day-in-day-out teaching.

Last week, I outlined this as the first point in an action plan of sorts for 2017/18:

Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 00.06.18


The word avocado originates from the Aztecs referring to the fruit as ahuakatl, which was their word for testicle. Because, you know, it looks like one. And, in fact, it could be argued that the Aztecs believed it to be an aphrodisiac. When the Spaniards, erm, ‘visited’, they thought it sounded like aguacate. Which the English then modified to avocado (1). Why am I telling you this? Because it’s cool and interesting, no?! But is it really necessary for an eight-year-old? Yes, it is! Explaining the origins of words can help to inspire a love for words in children.

There is also huge benefits to having a growing knowledge of frequently-used Latin and Greek root words. There’s a tremendous table of these in the references section at the bottom (2). What do you think the bold word means in this sentence?

When the police questioned the malefactor about his evil deeds, they were shocked when he laughed in their faces.

If you don’t, what are you now doing to try and gain some sort of understanding of the word? If you know your Latin/Greek roots, you’ll know that mal means bad. You may now be applying that linguistic nugget to other words you know like malevolent or malodorous. Now you have a clearer picture of what the word might mean, you’d then start to look at the context the word has been used in. Words like police, evil, shocked, and the phrase laughed in their faces are now all painting new strokes into the picture you’re creating of the new word.

malefactor: a person who commits a crime or does something wrong.

How close were you if you hadn’t heard the word before? I picked one that I thought would be fairly unheard of to most (myself included).

This process forms a crucial part of our ‘word attack skills’, a phrase first introduced to me very recently by Kelly Ashley (@kashleyenglish). Check out her terrific posts on her Word Power! training sessions (see references 3, 4, 5). Children are capable of doing this. Of thinking like this. We have to show them. We have to model doing it ourselves.

As previously mentioned, I’d like to run a ten-minute Word Workshop every day. At the moment, I’m thinking of having etymology – with specific focus on a Latin/Greek root – as one of the sessions.


“In order to analyse words, children need to have sufficient word-attack skills to break words apart into their constituent morphemes.  A morpheme is a unit of meaning within a word.” – Kelly Ashley (see reference 5).

Before I get started on this, I implore/beg/entreat you to take the time to read the newsletter available to download here. It’s from @HertsEnglish and is entirely focused around vocabulary. The first article, brilliantly written by Sabrina Wright, is all about morphology. There’s so much in there that I was enthusiastically nodding along with. She understands morphological knowledge to include ‘root words, compound words, suffixes, prefixes and the origins of words (etymology)’.

I love this graphic in Sabrina’s article which shows how you’d morphologically decompose the word ‘hopefully’:

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 15.02.15

A healthy knowledge of prefixes and suffixes, and how they change/add to the meaning of a word, is imperative. Take the prefix -un (meaning notunkind, unrelenting) for example. Did you know that it accounts for 26% of all prefixes in English? The next highest is -re (meaning again: redo, rewrite) at 14%. If you’re interested, the suffix -s/-es accounts for 31% of all suffixes, with -ed notching up 20%. Wait, that’s over half of all suffixes! Thanks to @WordAware for those stats (6).

Developing morphological knowledge will form another of the daily Word Workshop sessions in my classroom next year. Keep an eye on the blog from September for weekly updates on how these sessions are going.

I’d like to leave you with an activity to try from the Word Aware book referenced below. I keep mentioning it. I know. But seriously, it’s that good. This activity is called What’s the difference? and it presents children with a table with a number of rows. On each row there’re two words and a third column to ask how the words are different.


How are they different?

bicycle         tricycle                A bicycle has two wheels, and a tricycle has three.

The children have to circle the part of the word that is different from its pair, and then explain how the difference alters the meaning of the root word, which, in this case, is cycle.

Also, check this out from @storimagic:

morphology maker

What a brilliant, simple, and inexpensive idea!


Since this blog began, only three short weeks ago, it’s been hugely encouraging to see lots of people on Twitter interacting with not only the blog and its posts, but with each other, and with vocabulary in general. The people who’ll benefit most from all this are the children in our classes.

Questions and considerations:

  • Do you have any awesome etymology / morphology related activities to share? I’d love to use this blog to create a bank of activities. Please share either on Twitter, or in the comments section below.


(1) – The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language (Forsyth, 2011).

(2) – http://www.readingrockets.org/article/root-words-roots-and-affixes

(3) – https://kellyashleyconsultancy.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/word-power-powerful-vocabulary-instruction-part-1-starting-point/

(4) – https://kellyashleyconsultancy.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/word-power-powerful-vocabulary-instruction-part-2-choosing-words/

(5) – https://kellyashleyconsultancy.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/word-power-powerful-vocabulary-instruction-part-3-word-attack/

(6) – Word Aware: teaching vocabulary across the day, across the curriculum.

Vocabulary Report 2016/17: Part 2


This week’s blog dives headfirst into the aspects of vocabulary development that didn’t go well, or happen, in my classroom last year. It’s been a lot harder to write this one than last week’s, as it’s so easy to show off the positives. This is a vital step to improving teaching and learning next year, which, fundamentally, is what it’s all about.

Did I hit the children who struggle to learn new words enough?

Please don’t take that question literally.

Honestly, no. I don’t think I did. This is something I’d barely even given thought until I started really researching into vocabulary development. One of the most hard-hitting realisations so far has been that children don’t have the same life experiences, and, in truth, the difference between certain children in your class in terms of life experience will be utterly shocking. Therefore, it is unreasonable to expect some children to have even remotely similar vocabularies to their peers. It is these children who I desperately want to impact the most in 2017/18.

How do I plan to do this? 

I recently tweeted this:

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 21.17.36

The book on the left, first recommended to me by the incredible, fellow verbivore @mrlockyer, has dramatically radicalised my thinking on the whole subject of vocabulary development; it gave me a truckload of logs for which to begin building the fire. The book on the right became the petrol (@WordAware).

Word Aware outlines an excellent way of using small group sessions to teach new vocabulary, specifically words that will be targeted in the next session. Three to five children in each group, and careful planning of activities is key. The book gives lots of examples of how it could look like, structure, activities etc. Towards the end of the summer holidays, I’ll share what my planning will look like for these small groups.

I honestly can’t recommend either book enough. It might be worth asking your school to purchase a copy, as it is around £40 (a steal, if you ask me, considering what you get for it). I’d like to point out that I’m not on commission! I genuinely believe the Word Aware approach could transform schools and their children’s vocabulary.

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on targeting those children with considerably smaller vocabularies, and best ways to expose new vocabulary and activate that deeper learning, so the words are actually learned, contextualised, and memorised.

Scattergun reflections

Without doubt, I’ve definitely ploughed into a ‘scattergun’ approach to vocabulary development this year. This has been great in some ways, but the more reading and research I do, the more questions it opens up.

Yes, it’s exposed the kids to a gigantic range of vocabulary. And to good effect. It’s had a massive impact on their reading, writing, as well as their oracy. Yes, they love words. They are enthused by the simple discovery of them, by using them in their speech and writing. These two things are great things to do, and definitely important.

But is there a better way? In the positively-intentioned attempt to immerse children in an exponential linguistic universe, is it possible to overload? Is there enough deep learning of words going on? My current thinking leans towards a more direct/structured teaching approach so that words are learned and retained across the class. Apologies for the repetition, but there will be an entire blog devoted to @WordAware’s STAR approach. Which leads me nicely onto action points for next year … From here on out, I’ll be purely thinking out loud.

Three actions for 2017/18

1. Focus on etymology / morphology of words.

etymology: origin of words

morphology: shape/formation of words (word building)

I want a daily Word Workshop (idea from Word Aware: teaching vocabulary across the curriculum) which focuses on either a root word, then how it contributes to the morphology of other words i.e. help > helped, helping, unhelpful etc, or on a specific prefix/suffix and its meaning and effect. It’d involve lots of games to maintain the enjoyment aspect of word learning

2.Key vocabulary in lessons other than English.

Goldilocks words (from Word Aware: teaching vocabulary across the curriculum) are tier two words (usually, but can also be specific topic-related words) which are not too hard, not too easy, but just right. Quick outline of tiers if you’re unfamiliar:

Tier 1: basic vocabulary e.g. house, cat, car, happy, angry.

Tier 2: useful words, words that appear frequently in books and adult conversation e.g. ferocious, malevolent, swirling.

Tier 3: subject related, content specific vocabulary e.g. evaporation, stamen, permeable.

I want to have a Goldilocks word as a vocabulary focus every lesson. That word will be paramount to the lesson, and the children will have opportunity to use it in their writing and speech.

Further thought: kids who find word learning easy will still benefit from this, as you could provide a list of other words around the subject. They will also learn target words (Goldilocks) at a deeper level. Kids who struggle to learn words, I’m hoping and will be evaluating, will learn words quicker and deeper.

3. Deeper planning of vocabulary.

Here, I’m advocating that word learning in the classroom should be planned like any other subject. I’m going to spend some time mapping out what this could look like, so keep an eye out for future blogs.

In essence, target words will be chosen in advance. All adults in the classroom will be aware of them, and will attempt to use whenever possible – thus increasing the amount of exposures to each word the children get. The vocabulary opportunities that arise from read-alouds should be planned. Five or six words is sufficient. Again, I want to look carefully at my own planning already for this, and change it (I will share!).

Questions and considerations (these are deliberately the same as last week’s):

  • Choose one thing that you feel has had the greatest impact on the vocabulary of your children this year.
  • Choose one thing that you really, really want to implement in terms of vocabulary development in 2017/18.

If you feel comfortable, share your thoughts and responses either on the comments section that follows this blog, or on Twitter.

Vocabulary Report 2016/17: Part 1


Thank you to everyone who took the time to read last week’s inaugural post. The comments left, and the tweets over on Twitter, were a delight to read, and gave me lots of ideas about what this blog will be most effectively used for. I feel thoroughly welcomed into the edu-blogosphere.

What will this two-part post cover?

Part One

  • What I’ve done this year in regards to developing vocabulary and a love for words in my kids.
  • What’s worked (with an in-between thrown in for good measure)

Part Two

  • Questions and reflections (some difficult ones too). 
  • Main ambitions for 2017/18.

Part One

Showing off

This one took a while for the kids to get used to, but ended up having a hugely positive effect in developing an excitement around words; elevating vocabulary development to the status it needed within the classroom. I’d make a deliberate show of using ‘cool-sounding’ words. These words were relevant, not superfluous, but I’d be purposefully boisterous in my delivery.

This is all part of general teacher attitude and enthusiasm. Your enthusiasm and passion will rub off on your children. My mind immediately beelines to that quote about the teacher being the one who controls the weather in their classroom.

I’ve been off sick for the last few weeks to recover from an important operation. My kids sent me some postcards. This was my favourite quote:

‘I have been a vocabulary show off. You got me into that.’

Walking, talking thesaurus

I go by a ‘Power of Three’ rule. This technique is difficult to plan for specifically. Instead, it relies on the teacher’s own knowledge of words, and the size of their vocabulary. When speaking, particularly to the whole class, get into the habit of giving extra synonyms to certain words.


‘Carla was furious, angry, livid about the events of the previous night.’

The use of angry is also deliberate. It helps to attach clearer meaning to the other two potentially unknown words, furious and livid.

Speaking directly to three children after a playground quarrel: ‘I understand that you’ve had a squabble. I think it’d be a good idea to discuss, talk about, debate the issue as a group.’

Again, as with the first example, talk about is sandwiched between two potentially unfamiliar words to help associate meaning.

It serves two main purposes: helping children realise that there is more than one way to say things. And accelerating the chances of deeper word learning.

Vocabulary Ninja

The Vocabulary Ninja has been a revelation. It (sorry, he/she?!) provides excellent daily resources such as KS1 and KS2 Word of the Day. The Ninja is also beginning to branch out with other useful and interesting resources like Word Power-Up, Synonym Alley, Synonym Circle, and I’m sure I’ve seen a word mat somewhere. I use the resources in a couple of ways:

  • Every KS2 Word of the Day is printed, in colour, and displayed on a giant ‘Wall of Words’.


  • Used as a ‘morning work’ activity. Children arrive at school and immediately begin looking at the KS2 Word of the Day. They discuss it, and then begin to use it in their own sentences. This isn’t marked, but I make a point of glancing at certain children’s sentences to see if they’re using in the right context, then a discussion happens if not.

Check the Ninja out if you haven’t already:

Twitter: @VocabularyNinja

WordPress: https://vocabularyninja.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VocabularyNinjaLive/

Essential vocabulary whiteboard


Exactly what it looks like. Any word used throughout the day that is integral to the learning. Try to keep at a minimum to avoid overload. One or two essential words per session.

Child-led word wall


This is used to display words the children have encountered mainly in books, but in general life too. The children are named and thanked for their contributions – the plane is there to hide an abysmal spelling mistake on my part, only realised after the photo was taken. The kids love this, and the board is regularly updated with fascinating new words they’ve discovered.

Reading aloud to the class EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I’ve chosen to colour this subheading orange for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I haven’t read to my children ‘EVERY SINGLE DAY’. Sometimes it is just impossible. I’d say I regularly hit four out of five days in a standard week. But on those PPA afternoons, the late-back-from-PE days, the school trips, and the plethora of other things that we all know pop up in the chaotic general timetable of a school, it is a challenge to hit five out of five on a consistent basis.

There is a mountain of research supporting the act of reading aloud to children. It has simply massive implications for a child’s development, but this is not what this post is about. I intend to blog about this in the near future.

However, the read-aloud, in my opinion, is a goldmine of opportunity for vocabulary development. Again, there’s a whole post waiting to be written on this aspect of vocabulary development alone.


Part Two will focus more on where I feel I need to develop, and put forward three points as part of an action plan. This was originally going to be included in one behemoth-style post, but, after some great advice from certain Twitter pals, decided that it’d be better split into two.


Questions and considerations:

  • Choose one thing that you feel has had the greatest impact on the vocabulary of your children this year.
  • In prep. for next week’s post, choose one thing that you really, really want to learn more about in terms of your own PD for the teaching of vocabulary next year.

If you feel comfortable, share your thoughts and responses either on the comments section that follows this blog, or on Twitter.


I’m putting on a workshop at Lead, Learn, Lancs ’17 on September 30th. There are lots of brilliant teachers/educators/leaders there providing a vast array of workshops too, it’s worth checking out!


Tickets are £10, and can be purchased here: