Teaching Tip Tuesday: worksheetworks.com

This week I am giving you another useful website.


On this website, you choose the type of graphic organizer you wish to use in your classroom.  Then you can customize it and add headings and titles. The worksheets are created in a pdf format.

You can see the variety of graphic organizers below:

If you click on Frayer Model, you can customize it with the word that the students need to explore:

It’s very simple and easy to use!  Many of the graphic organizers are compare/contrast, so they will fit right in with MSB’s instructional strategy of identifying similarities and differences.


Identifying Similarities and Differences

Just to recap what was discussed yesterday, we will be focusing on ONE strategy for the rest of the YEAR.  The strategy is “identifying similarities and differences.”
Click below for the resources & ideas for implementation that were inside of the yellow folders that you reviewed with your department.
Here is the Tier 2 Word of the Week:
Your two goals:
  1. Use the activities and strategies for “identifying similarities differences” as often as you can.
  2. Use the Tier 2 words of the week with your students.
The “Caught Red-Handed” certificates will now be awarded for those two goals.
Let me know if you have any questions or need any ideas about how to make these goals fit within your current lesson plans.  I would be happy to strategize with you…. but I don’t have many days left until baby-time, so let the countdown begin!


Teaching Tip Tuesday: Summary Jar

Even though we are nearing the end of our second “Strategy of the Month,” Marzano’s high-yield strategy of summarizing and note-taking is a very beneficial strategy to continue in your classroom throughout the entire year.  To help you to continue using summarizing strategies, create a “Summary Jar” for your classroom.  Inside the jar, put strips of paper with descriptions of different types of summarizing activities.  At the end of each class, the teacher nominates a student to draw/pick a strip of paper out of the jar.  That student may reject the choice, but then the teacher decides the summary activity for students to work on.  After the summarizing activity has been chosen, students must summarize the day’s work and learnings.

Inside the jar, you can include a variety of different ways for students to bring closure to a lesson from a “Singing Summary” to the “One Word Summary Chain,” where students compose a collaborative summary, one word at a time.

This is a fun formative assessment strategy that you could use with your students on a regular basis. 

***Emailer #3 can win his or her own summary jar!!  The third teacher (from MSB) to email me and ask for a summary jar will receive their own summary jar that is ready to go!  The jar will contain 16 fun summarizing activities.  Email me for a chance to win!

(If you aren’t a winner but want to make your own summarizing jar, click on this link for a list of activities you could use: Summary Jar Activities)

Teaching Tip Tuesday: The Last Word

October’s Strategy of the Month is Summarizing & Note-taking, and we only have about five more days to try and earn your “Get Caught Red-Handed” certificate for the month.  So… I am sharing one more summarizing activity idea for you to try in your classroom.

This week’s activity idea is called “The Last Word” or “Acrostic Summary.”

It is very simple.  After reading or learning about a topic, students will summarize their understanding by turning the topic into an acronym. Students must create a phrase or sentence that starts with each letter of the topic.

Click below for a downloadable & editable template in a Word document:

The Last Word

Here is an example:

Teaching Tip Tuesday: One-Word Summaries

Summarizing can be a daunting task for students, and they struggle with eliminating information and putting it into their own words.  If you ask students to develop a one-word summary about a topic, it seems much more feasible to them.  If you set up the assignment well and give students clear expectations, students still must analyze the topic and think critically about the information they learned.

Follow these two steps:

1) After teaching or reading about a topic with the class, ask students to isolate the critical attributes and come up with one good word that fits the topic.  For example, if students were learning about atoms in a science class, they would not pick the word “atom,” but they would pick one word that could sum up what they learned about atoms.

2) After they have chosen their word, students must be able to defend their word choice with a valid reason.  It is not their choice of the one word that makes this a powerful strategy, but the development of the rationale for defending that choice.  Students must use specific evidence from the text or the lesson.

This summarization strategy can be used as a formative assessment as students evaluate their own justification for word choice.  Teachers can quickly tell who has mastered the learning target.

Websites on Summaries:

My previous post on summarizing:


Summarizing Strategies:


Summarizing Techniques:


Teaching Tip Tuesday: Inside-Outside Circle

As we begin October, this month’s strategy of the month is Summarizing and Note-Taking.  Click on the links below to access pdfs of the powerpoint, handouts, and cheat sheet from the PD I presented on Friday, Sept 28.

Bishop ppt on summarizing

Bishop’s handout for summarizing PD

summarizing & note taking cheat sheet

All three of the above documents will give you some ideas of how to incorporate this high-yeild instructional strategy during the month of October.

For my Teaching Tip Tuesday posts for the month, I will give you an additional instructional activity idea that you can try in your classes.  This week’s activity is….


Inside-Outside Circle (Kagan, 1994) is a summarization technique that gets students up and moving.  It provides a way to get students who normally would not talk to interact with others.  After students read a section of text, the teacher divides the group.  Half of the students stand up and form a circle with their backs to the inside of the circle.  They are partner A.  The other half of the students form a circle facing a partner from the first circle.  These students are partner B.  Partner A will speak first, quickly summarizing what they read.  This takes about a minute.  Then partner B speaks for the same length of time, adding to the summary.  If the teacher stands in the center of the circle, he/she can easily monitor student responses.

Now it is time to move.  Have the students who are partner A raise their right hands and then move two people to the right to meet with a new partner.  Repeat the summary with partner B speaking first.  For the third move, have all students who are partner B raise their right hand and move two people to the right.  After they are with a new partner, they continue with the summary with partner A speaking first.  Depending on the size of the class, teachers may have students move more or fewer times to complete the activity. Inside-Outside Circle holds all students accountable for having something to say.  The teacher can use this activity as a formative assessment by standing in the center of the circle and listening to the conversations that take place.

Websites on Inside-Outside Circle:

Inside-Outside Circle Directions – PDF


Norm Green Shared Pair Circles – PDF


Strategies to Probe Deeply into the Text


Inside-Outside Circle by Spencer Kagan


Inside-Outside Circle


Teaching Tip Tuesday–Shaping Up Review

Today’s Teaching Tip is an adaption of a formative assessment strategy that Dr. Mills often uses with her students.

Shaping Up Review

Purpose: To engage students in synthesizing major concepts in this summary strategy

Description: Using the Shaping Up Review, students will synthesize major concepts from the lesson using four different shapes. By varying the manner in which students visually summarize their learning, retention of the information learned is increased.


• Pass out the Shaping Up Review worksheet. 

Click here for the Shaping Up review worksheet

• In the upper left-hand corner, “The Heart,” have students write one thing that they loved learning about in the lesson being reviewed.

• In the upper right-hand corner, “The Square,” have students write four things that they feel are important concepts from the lesson being reviewed. One concept should be placed in each corner.

• In the lower left-hand corner, “The Triangle,” have students write the three most important facts they learned from lesson being reviewed. One fact should go in each corner.

• In the lower right-hand corner, “The Circle,” have students write one, all-encompassing (global- like the circle) statement that summarizes all of the important concepts and facts learned in the lesson being reviewed.

Teaching Tip Tuesday: 3-2-1


This activity helps structure students’ responses to an activity, a reading or a film.  It requires students to summarize key ideas, rethink these ideas in order to focus on information they found interesting or difficult to understand, and then ask questions about what they still want to know.  It provides an easy way for teachers to check for understanding and to gauge students’ interest in a topic. Sharing 3-2-1 responses can also be an effective way to prompt a class discussion or to review material from the previous lesson. 

3-2-1 chart

1) Step one: Answering 3-2-1 prompt
After students engage with a text or a lesson, ask them to answer the following questions in their journal, on a separate piece of paper, or on a graphic organizer:

• 3 things that I learned from this lesson/from this text.
• 2 questions that I still have.
• 1 aspect of class/the text that I enjoyed.


• 3 key ideas I found out from the reading.
• 2 things that were interesting or hard to understand.
• 1 question I still have.


• 3 differences between ____________and ______________.
• 2 similarities between them.
• 1 question I still have.

2) Step two:  Responding to these prompts
Use students’ responses to guide teaching decisions.  3-2-1 responses can help you identify areas of the curriculum that you may need to review again or concepts or activities that hold special interest for students.

• Content-specific 3-2-1: You can modify the elements of the 3-2-1 to focus on particular content questions. For example, if the class has just been studying the International Criminal Court, a teacher might have students write down 3 differences between the ICC and tribunals such as Nuremberg, 2 similarities between the ICC and tribunals, and 1 question you still have.
•  Identifying main ideas 3-2-1: You could also use the 3-2-1 structure to help students identify main ideas from supporting information. For example, you could ask students to record 3 of the most important ideas from the lesson or text, 2 supporting details for each of these ideas and 1 question they have about each of these ideas.

Teaching Tip Tuesday–INSERT

INSERT (Interactive Notation System for Effective Reading and Thinking)

Ms. Strong showed me a great strategy she is using with her Literature classes to help actively engage her students in the reading.  She is very excited about it, and she said the kids are responding well to it.  She gives the students strips of paper, and they write their reactions and thoughts for each page of the book as they read.  The students keep the slips of paper inside the book on the corresponding page. To provide students with feedback, Ms. Strong writes them a note back and leaves it tucked inside their book.  What a great reading activity, Ms. Strong!!!

INSERT is a very similar strategy that is even more simplified.

 Purpose: To help students become more involved in their reading and to help them make decisions as they read and clarify their own understanding.

 Procedure: While students read, they will use post-it notes or slips of paper to place alongside the text.  On the paper, students will use a marking code to reflect their thinking. After reading, students will transfer their post-its to a graphic organizer and respond to the text in writing.


1. Give students post-it notes & write the marking codes on the board or on a handout.

2. As they read, students will place post-its alongside the text & label with a code.

3. After reading, students will transfer the post-it notes to a double-entry journal to reflect on the reading in writing.

4. As a whole class or in small groups, students can share their reactions and ideas.

Teaching Tip Tuesday–Chalk Talk!

Our teaching strategy for the week is Chalk Talk!!

Mrs. Monahan had a great instructional activity she used in her classroom with her Psychology students.  After a unit on gender roles, her students wrote advice for males and females on the board.  To compile the information, they created one male figure and one female life-size figure out of butcher paper and wrote the corresponding information in each figure.  This was an excellent way to assess student learning and to help students connect with the material and make real-world applications.  Students were actively engaged and enjoyed the activity.  What a great idea!

Chalk Talk is a very similar strategy with a couple of twists.  It is a silent way to reflect, generate ideas, check on learning, or solve problems. Because it is done completely in silence, it gives groups a change of pace and encourages thoughtful contemplation. It can be an unforgettable experience.

1. The teacher explains VERY BRIEFLY that Chalk Talk is a silent activity. (No one may talk at all. Anyone may add to the chalk talk as they please.) You can comment on other people’s ideas simply by drawing a connecting line to the comment. It can also be very effective to say nothing at all except to put finger to lips in a gesture of silence and simply begin with #2.

2. The teacher writes a relevant question in a circle on the board. Sample questions:
· What did you learn today?
· So what? Or now what?
· Why does this matter to you?
· How can we keep the noise level down in this room?
· How can you apply this concept to your life?
· What advice would you give….
· How does this concept connect with…
· What do you know about…

3. The facilitator either hands a marker to everyone or places many markers at the board and hands several to people at random.

4. People write as they feel moved. There are likely to be long silences—that is natural, so allow plenty of wait time before deciding it is over.

5. How the facilitator chooses to interact with the Chalk Talk influences its outcome. The facilitator can stand back and let it unfold or expand thinking by:
· circling other interesting ideas, thereby inviting comments to broaden
· writing questions about a participant comment adding his/her own reflections or ideas
· adding his/her own reflections or ideas
· connecting two interesting ideas/comments together with a line and adding a question mark
**Being an active participant encourages students to do the same kinds of expansions.

Practical Uses for Chalk Talk
Assessing prior knowledge
Before starting a unit, assess what the students already know about the topic so you can plan instruction accordingly.  Begin by writing in the center of the chart paper, “What do we know about (the presidential election process, sharks, the circulatory system, families, the moon, etc.)?” and let your students write all they know on the page. Leave the chart up for the entire unit, using it as a resource. As you progress through the unit ask your students to correct any misconceptions that they may have had at the outset.

Assessing what was learned
At the end of a unit, ask, “What did we learn about (the Industrial Revolution, spiders, the Brooklyn Bridge, exploding manhole covers, etc.)” Then compare what the students say they’ve learned with your goals or expected outcomes for the unit. Not only will you assess your students’ learning, you will be able to assess your own teaching and determine whether your goals were appropriate to begin with.

Discussing difficult issues
Sometimes it’s hard to get kids to talk about certain issues, especially when it involves their own behavior in a group. Chalk Talk can be a way to overcome this problem. On your chart write the question, “How did we work in our groups to complete this project?” Tell your students that no individual names may be used. Stand back and watch them go, they might be writing till next week. Next, write the more important question, “What can we, as a group and as individuals, do next time to make sure that the group works better?” The students may really begin to take responsibility for their own behavior.

Solving problems
When there is a problem in the classroom (interpersonal or related to an academic issue) that is likely to cause arguments, denials, or defensiveness, Chalk Talk once again proves useful. “What can we do about our class’ behavior with …?” can generate great ideas, as can, “How can we make sure that we all do the homework that is necessary for our class work to progress?” All the suggestions can be compiled and a course of action decided upon by the class.

Recording what was discussed
When a Chalk Talk discussion is over, you will have a written record, if done on chart paper. You can categorize them, look for commonalities, count how many people said what, etc. I give the compilations back to participants to expand upon even more.

Communicating to others
Chalk Talk communicates a large body of knowledge to an outside group or individual. Students in one hour or grade level could do a Chalk Talk to communicate to another hour or grade level what they can expect to do and learn.  The benefits of using a conversation in writing are enormous. To start, quiet students have as much opportunity as outgoing ones to offer their thoughts. Your class clown cannot as easily disrupt this conversation, nor can your most articulate students dominate. Given the reflective nature of Chalk Talk, you’ll also find that dissenting viewpoints can be more easily “heard” and responded to in a thoughtful fashion.

If you have an instructional strategy or activity to share, invite me into your room!  I love to see and share our successes and strengths.