Transition Time: Word of the Day

I cannot believe I haven't blogged about this before, but even if I have, here's a fun refresher & freebie :)

I have a rowdy bunch this year, so a lot of my teaching involves movement, Brain Breaks and Whole Brain Teaching strategies.

One thing that rates at the top of my pet peeves is when kids start to transition the second I start giving the directions. It turns into a scene of me yelling over a group of moving kids who, of course, end up asking me what to do 2 minutes later.... grr!

Enter Ms. Noonan, from Teaching Channel, and her great video about managing transitions using the Word of the Day.

I love so many things about this video, don't you?!
Rewatch it, you will find something new every time :)

Every day, I end our Morning Meeting by introducing the Word of the Day. This word can come from our content units, character ed training, a new vocab word from Teacher Time, anything!

Some recent examples include:
  • schooner when we started our Westward Expansion unit
  • herbivore when we researched our Colorado Animals 
  • profit when we began our economics unit
  • compromise when our day included making decisions as a group
I will intro the word using the "I say, you say" she highlights in the video above, then write it on the board and have a child define it aloud to the group. I will add on to his/her definition and provide a few examples. The word stays written on our board all day (and sometimes it's the Word of the Day for two days in a row if it's a really fantastic one!).

Then, whenever it is time to transition and begin a new task, I begin all directions by saying, "When I say the Word of the Day..."

This has worked out so incredibly well this year and it has also increased by students' vocabularies! During Birthday Circle today, one student's compliment to the Birthday Boy was, "You are always willing to find a compromise," and I knew it was because that had been our WOTD late last week :)

Interested in my Word of the Day poster? Pick up your free copy HERE.


  1. What a great idea. Your pet peeve is my number one pet peeve in the classroom. I HATE having kiddos move before the directions and not know what to do. This is an awesome idea to combat that problem. Thanks for the freebie :)

    My (Not So) Elementary Life

  2. I love this idea. I have a chatty class this year that often does the same thing -- before I'm done talking they are trying to get ready and subsequently half the kids end up not knowing what they need or should be doing. Thanks for sharing this video AND your printable :)

  3. Nice! I love the Whole Brain stuff. I do a modified whole brain thing for transitions. When I start directions, I say, "Hands and Eyes for Directions!" and everyone freezes. They stay still until I clap twice and say, "Move!" and then they move. It's worked out. Thanks for sharing everything!

    Buzzing with Ms. B

  4. Love it. Up until now, I have been using "when I say go" but that isn't educational. I will start this today to try it out. I have a request. I have an Idiom of the Week. I teach 100% ELL students. They don't know any idioms and it irks me that they are tested on them on big state tests. It's not their fault! Sorry, soap box. Anywho, I started IOTW and I post it on our door. As walk out the door (on our way to ancillary, lunch, home, etc.) I say the IOTW and they have to tell me what it means. They get bonus points if they use the idiom in conversation. So, here's my request, can you please make a cute poster for Idiom of the Week? Pretty pleas? I'm not artistic and besides, I want it to match your WOTD. :)
    Susan at

  5. Hi Susan,

    You got it!

    Thanks so much and I can't wait to hear how it works for your kids!


  6. I can't believe it! I haven't even fed my kids breakfast yet, and you already have that done. That's a gift. I can't wait to blog about it (and give you tons of props)! I just re-read my comment. Ugg. So many errors. I worked 12 hours yesterday with our Family Fair/Book Fair/Science Fair. In so many ways I am ready for summer. Thanks again.

  7. Such a wonderful video and resource. I often think I am on it with my classroom management, but then I see something like this and it puts me to shame. I loved her use of the management strategies in addition to the sign-language and ready signals. She is definitely a model teacher and someone I strive to be more like! Thanks for sharing.

    Miss Rorey's Room

  8. Love the word of the day poster. Just found your darling blog. Thanks for sharing...great ideas~

  9. I love your Word of the Day poster. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I love this idea! I just came across the Whole Brain Teaching and am going to try it out this year in my classroom. I am so glad I found your blog to try this idea also.

  11. Great blog! thank you for the poster! We start back to school tomorrow, and this will be a great tool for building vocab! glad you are trying the WBT! It's amazing for all learners!
    Mrs. Stoltenberg's Second Grade Class

  12. I know this is an older post, but I've been revisiting your blog this afternoon and wanted to say THANKS!! Plus, I know you see all of your comments :) I am definitely going to implement this starting first thing Monday!

  13. Just found this lovely blog and will be using so many of the great ideas in your video tomorrow with my class! I'm a teacher in England and I have the exact same issue of children trying to sneak off before they have heard my instructions! Word of the day will be a perfect way to combat this whilst improving their vocabulary. Many thanks!

  14. I Love this idea. I am a brand new teacher in a 2-5 library and I have the word of the day up - with no idea how to make it "stick" - AND - transitions are my pet peeve too! 2 birds, 1 stone.