Making Words REAL
Proven Strategies for Building Academic Vocabulary Fast

Learn how to tap into the power of imagery, communication, and collaboration to make vocabulary building fun and meaningful! Research has proven that students with a larger, more nuanced vocabulary become more proficient readers, writers, critical thinkers, and learners, making them more likely to succeed in academic environments. In this new book from Joanne M. Billingsley, an award-winning teacher and educational consultant, you will discover how to help your K-12 students expand their academic vocabulary across the content areas.

Topics include:

  • Using card sorts and video trailers to make vocabulary-building interactive;
  • Expanding your teaching strategies to support ELLs and early readers;
  • Building students’ word knowledge through emblematic and iconic gestures;
  • Writing and asking scaffolded questions to get all students engaged with academic vocabulary;
  • And much, much more!

The book also features sample teacher-to-student dialogues to demonstrate how to talk about words, as well as games and activities that motivate students and help word meanings stick. No matter what subject area you teach, your students will benefit from the exciting and powerful strategies in this book.

“Joanne Billingsley has done an amazing job with this book. Finding the time to think of and create fun and interactive games and activities is almost impossible for a classroom teacher. This book presents strategies and ideas in an easy-to-use format, including ways to support and encourage ELL students. Each activity is described in great detail with step-by-step instructions on how to facilitate learning for ALL students.” 
–Sara Cope, Principal and Former Teacher, BonDeCroft Elementary, Sparta, TN

“I love the thorough research base made comprehensible for everyday teachers. The instructional practices that are espoused are effective practices that will actually work in the classroom and mirror much of what I have already implemented in my classes. Many teachers struggle with effective vocabulary instruction, and this book can help them improve.”
–Janna McClain, Former ELL Teacher, Hobgood Elementary School, Murfreesboro, TN

“I have seen Joanne Billingsley in action teaching and modeling the varied vocabulary strategies outlined in this book, and I’ve observed our Harlandale ISD teachers and students using and enjoying the strategies! Our teachers’ practices were enhanced with easy-to-implement, interactive, and engaging strategies which resulted in improved academic vocabulary acquisition for our students. Her years of research and first-hand work with students and classroom teachers have now come alive in a masterful book, providing both the research/rationale and practical application of the Vocabulary Magic® six-step process, read/talk/write activities, and so much more.”
–Carol Berg Harle, Ph.D., Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Harlandale Independent School District, TX

AIM to Grow Your Brain

Lessons & Stories That Transform Students’ Motivation to Learn

This is an exciting time to be studying the human brain. Advances in brain imaging and neuroscience have revealed new and exciting secrets about how the brain learns and responds to life’s experiences. Research is confirming that the brain changes constantly throughout our lives. These advances in neuroscience have enormous implications for educators and students.

Aim to Grow Your Brain provides its reader with basic neuroscience lessons, allowing them to understand their potential for intellectual growth. Powerful, personal stories and fun activities help explain the impact of attention, effort, and practice on brain structure. As students discover that intelligence is expandable, not fixed, they begin to view difficult challenges or failures as opportunities to get smarter, to learn something new. They remain more fully engaged when lessons are difficult and understand that more effort results in more ability.

If you embrace challenges, give your best effort, and practice – you will grow in intelligence. We all have the potential to grow a better brain.

Joanne Billingsley

Discover Neuroscience Lessons that…

Inspire students to embrace academic challenges, and understand their potential for intellectual growth.

Motivate teachers to create an enriched academic environment, and help them visualize the impact of that enriched environment on learning and brain structure.

Provide a message of hope: “If you embrace challenges, give your best effort, and practice – you will grow in intelligence. We all have the potential to grow a better brain”.

Are you interested in bringing the Aim to Grow Your Brain Program to your campus? I can individualize the program for your specific needs. For more information about pricing and the availability in your area, please contact me at