July 12

Vocabulary Lesson Plans

Vocabulary lesson plans – research-based and relevant to the Common Core standards – The actual sets are here Vocabulary Sets.

Welcome to my latest project for sharing differentiated instruction. These multi-media vocabulary lesson plans are free for you to use. The reference for these sets is Wordstrips 180 Vocabulary Words, by June Barzowsky-Smith.  The lesson plan sets focus on definitions, context, connections, and analogies. They are appropriate for grades 7-12

The same words in the same order are available on Quizlet, -Type ‘tutorclass’ into the search to Add Class, then scroll down for Vocabulary Sets Grade 9 or, just click on these links. Be sure to “Add Class” to keep it handy.

Quizlet is a free online study tool/app that is popular with my students. They download the flashcards onto their own devices.


Now go to Vocabulary Sets to get lessons 1 – 36

July 9

Vocabulary Sets

Click on the photo to go to the vocabulary set. Click on the Quiz link to go to the quiz*.

If you want to make changes to a Vocabulary Set, just go to file and select “make copy”. You may want to add pictures of your own school or students – they love it, or you may not find my humour relevant or funny. For example, for the word demagogue, I think Hitler blowing kisses is hilarious, but it won’t hurt my feelings if you decide to change it in your own copy – I give it freely – Enjoy!

*Note on Quizzes

– After the first few quizzes, I realized that some students were having trouble, so at Quiz 8 I created a second version, Quiz Modified, most of those are matching.

-You can edit quizzes in Google Docs by choosing “Make a copy”

-Here is a comprehensive quiz I made to use with Scantron to get baseline data to measure a year’s growth in vocabulary. It uses 50 of the 180, including a few word parts.









Quiz 1








 Quiz 2








 Quiz 3

Vocabulary 4







Quiz 4

Vocabulary 5







Vocabulary 5

Quiz 5 








Quiz 6

vocabulary 7







Vocabulary 7

 Quiz 7


Vocabulary 8

Vocabulary 8

 Quiz 8

Vocabulary 9

Vocabulary 9

Quiz 9

Quiz 9 Modified








Quiz 10

Quiz 10 Modified











   Quiz 11

Quiz 11 Modified

Quiz 12

Quiz 12 Modified

Quiz 13

Quiz 13 Modified

Quiz 14










Quiz 15

Quiz 15 Modified







Quiz 16

Quiz 16 Modified








Quiz 17

Quiz 17 Modified








Quiz 18

Quiz 18 Modified


Vocabulary 19









Vocabulary 19

Quiz 19

Quiz 19 Modified

Vocabulary 20








Vocabulary 20

Quiz 20








Quiz 21

Quiz 21 Mod







Quiz 22

Quiz 22 Modified










Quiz 23

Quiz 23 Modified

Vocabulary 24






Vocabulary 24

Quiz 24

Quiz 24 Modified






Vocabulary 25

Quiz 25

Quiz 25 Modified

Vocabulary 26








Vocabulary 26

Quiz 26

Quiz 26 Modified








Vocabulary 27

Quiz 27

Quiz 27 Modified








Vocabulary 28

Quiz 28

Quiz 28 Modified








Vocabulary 29

Quiz 29

Quiz 29 Modified












Vocabulary 30

Quiz 30







Vocabulary 31

Quiz 31

Quiz 31 Modified







Vocabulary 32

Quiz 32







Vocabulary 33

Quiz 33

Quiz 33 Modified








Vocabulary 34

Quiz 34

Quiz 34 Modified









Vocabulary 35










Vocabulary 36

March 4

Baby Steps

babysteps We have all been to workshops and conferences where the speaker gives a glorious, revival-style  presentation on differentiated instruction. We sit there thinking, “Wow, this is fantastic!” Then, we  imagine how in the world we were going to differentiate for 25 – 30 students, six times a day, and  we say, “Wow, this is a fantasy!”

My classmates in UNE’s Differentiation Theory and Strategies course said the same thing at first.  “Overwhelming,” was the most frequent response. I have only 30 students in my special education  classes, but the whole idea of differentiated instruction seemed like a major life change–more  daunting than dieting and exercise.

Two weeks into the course, we saw the light. While reading the introduction to Differentiated Assessment Strategies: One Tool Doesn’t Fit All (Chapman and King, 2005), we discovered that it’s O.K., even encouraged, to “Begin on a limited basis and expand your use of the tools as you grow more comfortable.” Do one unit or one class only, the authors advise. That seems obvious now, but after a good three or four days total of my life have been spent in professional development, this is the first I’d heard of taking it easy.

One step at a time? My colleagues and I assumed that differentiated instruction was all or nothing. The only ones who did differentiate at my school were the type-A, super-teachers, the ones who are so highly organized they can see the tops of their desks at all times. This is not me. I forget what color my desk is painted. But, one step at a time, maybe I can do this–one differentiated instructional day at a time.

February 21

Homework: The Great Debate

Boy with Big Book


The story linked above tells of one student’s efforts to put an end to homework. In six years of teaching, homework has been my single largest source of frustration. As an intervention specialist, I have negotiated with regular education teachers for quantity—fewer math problems, one paragraph instead of three—but I could not negotiate quality. This experience diminished my respect for my colleagues. There is not room in this post to list the abuses of homework that I encountered. Among the worst was the use of homework as a class-wide punishment for behavior.

At present, I teach in a middle school in Cairo, Egypt. My students are in pull out special education classes. In the beginning of the first year, my policy was no homework. Before long, I received a request from parents to assign more homework. I complied, but in the meantime I justified my no-homework philosophy in this way – I spend a tremendous amount of time creating valuable lesson plans and giving extensive feedback in class.

Once I began to assign homework, my distaste for it deepened. I received work which was obviously completed by parents and paid tutors. Besides, how does one assign homework with differentiated instruction? – Do you have to make 20 different assignments with as many answer keys and rubrics? I had trouble making decisions on how to grade homework—Do you count points against students who are practicing skills? Won’t that just discourage them from practicing? Uncompleted homework set up conflicts between me and my students. I had to deal with plagiarism. Gradually I assigned less and less homework.

Occasionally, I gave students assignments for advance reading and answering questions. My thinking was that if students were prepared, we could have richer class discussion. And, in the meantime, I read the research reported by Marzano, et al. (2001) which states that practice and preparation are two of the valid purposes of homework. Marzano’s book, Classroom Instruction That Works, makes the case that homework is necessary, especially in the upper grades, and that it is quality, in the correct quantity, that counts.

Recently I have created homework that is giving me positive results. I call it Reading Reflections, and I use a graphic organizer (example below). The directions are as follows: “Read for pleasure for 30 minutes each evening, five days per week. Write a quote from the passage in the left column and your thoughts in the right column. Due every Thursday.”

Now I know, without a doubt, that the student is doing his or her own work. The value of this work is supported by the research in reading. My website has a blank copy of the chart so that parents and students can download the form and an example.

I grade the Reading Reflection with a check minus, check, or a check plus. The meaning conveyed to the students is completed but with too many errors, completed and accepted, or completed with quality. In my grade book the score is zero to five points. The only way to receive no points is to do nothing. I write extensive comments on the charts for feedback, both positive and negative, and discuss the books with each student. Reading Reflection is an effective evaluation tool for me and a source of joy in communication with students.

Graphic Organizer for Reading Reflection

Reading Reflection Chart

Name Debbie Kay

Title of Book or Article Fahrenheit 451

Author Ray Bradbury

Directions:  Read for pleasure for 30 minutes each evening, 5 days per week. Write a quote from the passage in the left column and your thoughts in the right column. Due Every Thursday.


Quote and Page Number

Your Reflections


“’Happy! Of all the nonsense.’ He stopped laughing.” Pg 10

The girl made Montag think about happiness. Was he
happy in his job? His life? It seems he took happiness for granted and had never thought of it before.

I have changed my mind about my no homework policy. I now believe that quality homework, in the proper quantity, is valuable. Besides, who can argue with positive percentile gains?

For more helpful content on the subject of homework, check out this web page from Stephen Carr.


February 21

Bookmark Sites Make Great Center Assignments

Child at computerJohn Kuglin’s website has a great collection of links. One of them that I highly recommend is ikeepbookmarks.

Teachers can use the site as a center assignment; tell the student to go to ikeepbookmarks, open a certain folder, and complete the activity, quiz, reading, or whatever on a chosen site. This works especially well with Quia because it has the tracker, which lets you know if the student did the work and the results. Since ikeepbookmarks is web based, the assignment can be homework as well. Other ways to verify the work are to have the student print a page or email a completed page to you.

I use Portaportal. To see my links, type dgkerwood in the Guest Access box. ikeepbookmarks has two features that make it better – an easier “public access” choice and instant book marking while browsing.

When students ask if they can play games on the computer, I say, “Sure, you can choose one on Portaportal.” They often head for the Science folder and choose Virtual Knee Surgery.

February 20

A Snapshot of Differentiated Instruction – Lesson Plans

“Activities for Differentiated Instruction Addressing All Levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy and Eight Multiple Intelligences.” Contortionists at Circus This title, by Audrey C. Rule and Linda Hurley Lord sounds too good to be true. I have found similar articles or web pages in the past. They promise to provide lesson plan ideas to create the differentiation of our dreams, only to disappoint with impossible to do activities or little connection to the instructional standard.

However, the above mentioned document is an 83-page gold mine. In the first eight pages, the introduction reviews the basics of both Bloom’s and Gardner’s work. Then it explains the qualities of differentiated instruction, referring to Tomlinson, as well as making the connections to Bloom and Gardner.

After the extensive references, the remaining pages are differentiated lessons, on various topics, that meet every promise with quality and reproducible suggestions for assignments. To make their intended meaning more clear, the authors organized their work by the category of Gardner’s intelligence, then by Bloom’s levels of taxonomy. Within each category the key words are underlined. For example, List, Explain, Graph, Calculate, Design, Create, Compare and Contrast, and 73 pages more.

Although these lesson plans are designed for specific topics, Solar System, Fractions, Ancient Egypt, etc., the use of key words makes it easy to identify the type of assignment, then rework it to fit any lesson plan. For someone struggling to understand what differentiated instruction means, or what it should look like, this is the ideal place to begin.