* Vocabulary A-Z

Vocabulary A-Z is a classy online resource to support vocabulary development under the Learning A-Z umbrella.  Vocabulary weaknesses may underlie reading comprehension problems and are often characteristic of students with language disabilities, dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder, and English language learners.  Vocabulary A-Z offers pre-made lessons linked to Reading A-Z; in fact, they’re also linked to Science A-Z, Harcourt Trophies, Macmillan Treasures, Scott Foresman Reading Street, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys.

How does it work?  Teachers can select from pre-made lessons, as noted above, or find pre-made vocabulary lists from three grade levels: Tier One for grades K-1, Tier Two for 2-5, and Tier Three for grades 6+.  You may search for words under function (primarily parts of speech, but also compound words, articles, figures of speech, and more) or subject area content (including computer technology).  Another section of vocabulary resources are linked to Learning A-Z resources, with a whopping set of materials for English Language Learners.  Finally, vocabulary lists are available under “Special Lists,” which would relate well to special ed reading instruction.  These lists include Dolch, Fry, and Marzano words, as well as Common Core academic vocabulary.

What if you want a personalized list?  I typically create my own word lists from Vocabulary A-Z, which is another useful feature of this resource.  With the massive lists noted above, I have yet to add a word not already available on site.

What kinds of activities are included?   The vocabulary lessons are designed for a five-day sequence of instruction, which is easily editable, by the way.  At all grade levels, the vocabulary activities include: matching word cards to definitions and/or sentences, analogies, cloze sentences, concept development, and comprehension assessment.  The Vocabulary A-Z graphics are similar to the Frayer model, a graphic organizer used to develop vocabulary comprehension through examples, non-examples, sentences, pictures, and definitions.  More teacher suggestions are included in many lesson plans, with more active learner involvement for Tiers One and Two.

Other positives:  As a special educator, I appreciate the emphasis on parts of speech for all vocabulary, which I have found effective in supporting both reading and writing.  The vastness of the vocabulary lists, as well as the ability to select the activities I prefer, make Vocabulary A-Z a terrific resource for individualized instruction.  For classroom teachers, the pre-made lists would be great time savers with a heterogenous large group.

Costs?  Time is money to a teacher, so this site is a no-brainer.  Right now, Vocabulary A-Z is on sale for $29.95 for a year’s subscription.  That’s $10 off the regular price.

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars   starstarstarstarstar


* Writing A-Z

Writing A-Z 1Writing A-Z has come of age in an decade of changing strategies and expectations for teaching writing.  One of seven sister sites under the Learning A-Z umbrella, it is a well-organized, terrific resource for teaching writing instruction in grades K through 6.

The site is organized into three major categories: Lessons, Skills, and Tools.  Let’s take a look at the Lessons section first.  It has two major components: one for emerging writers and the other for genres.  Under emerging writers, teachers will find a series of lesson plans for six stages of writing, from single words to two complex sentences.  Student checklists, prompts (including photos), and templates for writing are available to download or print.  in the genres section, teachers will find a wide range of lesson plans and samples for beginning through fluent writers in the following types of writing: expository, narrative, persuasive, procedural, and transactional.  Each genre contains a variety of subtopics.  For example, expository writing is composed of five separate types, such as informational and biography.

The Skills section includes five mini-lessons on individual elements of composition.  Under conventions, there are seven categories, such as paragraphs and punctuation.  Each category includes lesson plans, student models, and practice of the related skill at various writing levels.  The practice sheets for students are extremely well done.  For teachers who want to provide daily practice with grammar, the Write Rights packets are a quick way to supplement instruction without overloading students with lengthy worksheets.

The Tools section is divided into two categories: Emerging Writer and Beginning through Fluent writers.  As much as I value the other sections described above, the tools section is really a wonder.  From videos of authors to sample research packets, rubrics to graphic organizers, the breadth of these writing tools is simply phenomenal.

I highly recommend Writing A-Z as a valuable resource for both regular and special education teachers.  The materials are high quality, with super graphics and no clutter.  I have yet to search for a tool that is not available on this site.  This site is perfect for both beginning and experienced teachers and will easily support the wide range of writing programs being used across the country.