Monday, February 18, 2013

Nancy Fetzer Literacy Connections

Back in December I took part in a three day training on Nancy Fetzer Literacy Connections.  We were very lucky to have Nancy Fetzer herself as our trainer.  My district had adopted her writing program many years back and implemented lots of training then.  Now that we have moved to Common Core, my district decided to revisit Nancy Fetzer Writing since it ties in perfectly with meeting Common Core skills in ELA.  If you have never heard of Nancy and the strategies she uses, I highly recommend her!  She is currently in the process of getting all of her video demonstrations and her materials onto her website.  She also has a ton of videos on YouTube that are linked from her website.

In the last few weeks I began training the staff at my school to use Nancy Fetzer Movie Scripts, Word Masters, and Story Blasters.  I started off by having staff look at the Three Tiers of Vocabulary from the Common Core Appendix A.  Once everyone had a better understanding of the Three Tiers of Vocabulary, I had each team begin looking at  choosing 3-4 Tier II Vocabulary words for Kinder - 1st grade and 5-7 Tier II Vocabulary words for 2nd - 5th grades that teams would be using in the next few weeks for their Focus Story.

Once teams had their words decided upon, they would then create a Story Blaster using the vocabulary words that students needed to know for their upcoming story.  Students will practice reading the Story Blaster numerous times.  The teacher will divide the class into two groups – readers and definers.  Readers will read the story blaster and stop when they read a vocabulary word. They will point to the definers.  Definers will repeat the word, provide the definition, and act out TPR.  Here is a sample from the 3rd grade training.

    It started on a sunny winter day at my house. I was for once ecstatic about taking my math facts test at school, because I had studied the night before. I knew if I passed my test I would get to go to a movie that weekend.  As I got ready for school that morning, I kept repeating my math facts to myself. My older brother started to mock me which really made me mad. My mother hurried me into our car which she had let idle to warm up the engine. The car started out of the driveway when it chugged and stopped. I was worried that I would not get to school on time to take my test, and I was on the verge of breaking into a cold sweat from being so nervous.  My mother started the car up and drove me to school. I was on time!!  I took my math facts test and got all the problems right. I guess my mother was right when she said I had the potential to learn the math facts.
    Another component of learning the vocabulary words was to create a Movie Script.  Here is a sample Movie Script in which we used in the training.  Teams were to create one together, and then incorporate the Tier II Vocabulary words (nature, dim, and humongous) into each part of the story.  Here is the sample movie script with vocabulary that teachers would present to their class and then practice saying with TPR each day.

    One cloudy day, the Gingerbread Man was walking through the forest.  As he looked around, he saw all parts of nature--- birds, a stream, rocks, and the wind blowing through the trees. Suddenly, the clouds completely covered the sun making it very, very dim.  The Gingerbread Man started running, but he tripped over a humongous rock and landed on his head.

Another important strategy of the Nancy Fetzer Vocabulary is to have each word posted with a simple definition with a picture of what it means to the students.  2nd - 5th grade students also create their own Word Masters in which they write the vocabulary words with a definition and picture with each Focus Story.  In addition students also create their own Story Blaster using the vocabulary words from the Focus Story.  There are also homework extension activities that kids can read the words to their families, read the Story Blaster at home, or create another story using the vocabulary words at home. 

Once the words have been mastered, they are then moved to a Vocabulary Wall in which the words are sorted according to Nouns, Verbs, and Adjectives.  This is separate from a word wall, as word wall words are suppose to be a place for kids to look for common words that they may need a reminder of how to spell.  The current Movie Script is also posted with the current vocabulary story words.  Once the Movie Script has been retired, many teachers move it into a class book and will revisit them throughout the year.  

Many of the teachers at my school were eager to begin using the vocabulary strategies, although some of the upper grade teachers were a bit uncomfortable with the idea of using TPR to tell the stories.  But then again, the dual language teachers were very impressed and excited to use as much TPR as they could with their ELL kids.  As teachers begin to use more of her strategies and we roll out more Nancy Fetzer Strategies to my district I will continue to post more.



  1. my kids really like having pictures to help them with vocab words. I post words on my word wall and I have a 4 colored pocket chart that I use for spelling, sight words, math, and story words...and then a whole other section on my wall for "thematic" words (like St. Patrick's Day) which have pictures on them to help them. I'll have to figure out how to incorporate this next year!

  2. I too have take her course. She's phenomenal. My school is not using her program but I've gotten so much out of her work.

    I highly recommend her course to anyone!

  3. I too have take her course. She's phenomenal. My school is not using her program but I've gotten so much out of her work.

    I highly recommend her course to anyone!