The Wheel of Feelings

inside-outIf you have not seen Disney’s newest film Inside Out I highly recommend doing so!  I am excited to discover how the exposure to this movie will impact students’ thinking about character emotions both in their reading and their writing.

The past two days there has been a lot of buzz about this diagram:

CJ6ha97UMAACu5PIt has been labeled the “Wheel of Feelings” and when I first saw it I immediately thought of the characters from Inside Out.  How great is it that it starts with the names of the main characters (+1 other) and then branches out to more advance synonyms!

The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy highlighted this wheel today with a post from Mental_Floss titled Improve Your Vocabulary With the “Wheel of Feelings” (click on the title to read).  In the posting, an English teacher named Kaitlin Robbs was credited with designing the wheel.  When I clicked on the link to her website I also found this awesome vocabulary chart:

vocabulary-expand I am ESTATIC (I found this word on wheel under happy) to use both of these tools with my readers next year.


Flood. Fast. Focus.

No-More-Look-Up-the-List-Vocabulary-InstructionToday I finished the other Not This, But That book I own.  This one was on vocabulary instruction.  The general message of the book is that vocabulary should not be studied in isolation but instead be fused into the culture of the classroom.  They used the term word consciousness (which I loved) to describe student awareness of when a word’s meaning is understood and when it is not.

Here are a few great quotes for the book:

  • “The understanding of word meaning is one of the most significant factors that influence reading comprehension” (p. xiv)
  • “There are more than 100 definitions of the word run.” (p. 7)
  • “So how is a GPS like a dictionary?  They are both resources that guide us to a destination.  They both are more effective if you know a little bit about where you are going when you start the journey.  They can both take you to an incorrect place, and it’s always helpful to have someone else along for the journey.” (p. 9)
  • “Word knowledge is not an all-or-nothing proposition, like a switch that turns a light on or off.  A better analogy is that of a dimmer switch that gradually supplies an increasingly richer supply of light.” (p. 25)

dimmerThe authors provide a three-word mnemonic for different forms of vocabulary teaching – Flood, Fast, Focus.

  • Flood – consciously flood your classroom with words related to your topic of study.
  • Fast – words where an easy definition or analogy will build on the knowledge the students already have.
  • Focus – words where deeper, semantically rich teaching of a new concept is required

Here are their guidelines for teaching an individual word:

  1. Make sure students see and can pronounce the word.
  2. Provide a kid-friendly definition
  3. Present and oral and written context (using visuals when possible)
  4. Ask students for a semantic response.
  5. Have students use words in speech and writing.

This book is great for classroom teachers as it provides a variety of examples on how to teach vocabulary throughout the day in all subjects.  My position as a reading specialist limits me from using all the great techniques.

These are 3 activities from this book that I want to try next year:

  • Student Word Squares (p. 58) – Yes, this is just the Frayer Model.  I see it everywhere that vocabulary is mention SO this is tell me to use it more!  In the book they combine examples in the bottom left box and leave the bottom right box for drawings.


  • Vocab-o-gram (p. 59) – The example provided in the book used the narrative text structure: Characters, Setting, Problem/Goal, What Might Happen, Resolution, and Mystery Words.  These words are set in a table (like the one shown below).  Students read the book and write down vocabulary words important to each story element.  The teacher also gives each student 2 words to locate while reading and determine the meanings.  The Vocab-o-gram is then used to guide the group discussion.  Finally students can use the vocab-o-gram to help them write a summary of the whole book or just a section.


  • Possible Sentences (p. 63) – In this activity you present students with a list of important words they will see in a book (8-12 words is optimal).  Make sure students can pronounce the words.  Then students are asked to write as many words as possible in sentences.  Sentences are shared but not corrected in the group before reading.  Students read the text.  After reading students review the sentences by writing a C next to sentences confirmed in the text and a A next to sentences that need to be adjusted.

As you can see this small book (82 pages) is packed with information!  If anyone would like to borrow the book just let me know!

Also, if anyone has a copy of any of these other books in the series (and are willing to let me borrow them) please let me know:

  • No More Phonics and Spelling Worksheets
  • No More Sharpening Pencils During Work Time and Other Time Wasters
  • No More Summer Reading Loss
  • No More Taking Away Recess and Other Problematic Discipline Practices

I would love to read all of the books!

Teaching Vocabulary

Yesterday Education Week offered a FREE Webinar titled “No More Word Lists: Teaching Vocabulary in Context.”  The presenters included a professor from the University of Michigan (Cervetti), a professor from Michigan State (Wright), and a special education teacher from Nevada (Westmont).  The hour went quickly and was filled with lots of good tips.

Below are the three big things I hope to remember for next school year:

  1. Text Sets – The presenters found that students learned vocabulary better when they read 6 books about the SAME topic verse 6 books on VARIOUS topics.  As a result, they are working on creating text sets on a variety of topics.  What I loved was that they provided a link to the rough drafts of these sets!  If you would like to explore the text sets they have created they can be found at and the group code is sma265.  After exploring what they have created, I want to think more about the topics that are covered in social studies and science for my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at the beginning of the year and then start pulling together a text set for one topic for each grade.
  2. Sensational Six – In this idea students were encouraged to locate and discover six new vocabulary words from a text that exemplifies the main idea.  These six words were then used in text discussions as well as in sentence and summary writing.  I appreciate the presenter pointing out that identifying the sensational six was difficult to do at first but got easier with time.
  3. – This website was listed in the Webinar as a place to go for professional development, lessons, and training opportunities.  I hope to find time to explore the site…even if Virginia does not practice the common core!

    If you would like to see the FREE Webinar it is available on-demand at:;F:QS!10100&ShowKey=25386&partnerref=TOC&