Hello! Its Jen Bengel here from Out of this World Literacy. I love talking about teaching vocabulary with intention. Today I’m going to continue our talk by going over the three different types of vocabulary words. This is a really important chat because it breaks down words in a way that makes it easier to understand exactly what types of words we should focus our instruction on.
The first type we call the tier 1 words. These are basic words. Words that students have likely seen before and already use in their conversation. If you read my blog post about the 8 shades of words, tier 1 words are where the students have a really great understanding of those words. They know how to use them not only in isolation but they can use them in the context of reading and writing and they can also apply them to their own language. These are words like road, sign, left, right, walk. They can use these words over and over and they really don’t need a lot of direct instruction with them.
The second type of vocabulary words is what we call tier 2 words. Tier 2 words are context words. Words that directly impact the meaning of a passage that they are reading and listening to, and can often be used in real-world experiences. They often have multiple meanings as well. Words like winding, jealous, intricate, bombarded. These are all tier 2 words. Words that directly affect the context of a passage that they are reading. These are words that we want to focus our instruction on because they have so many layers of understanding and meaning and they can be used directly to understand a passage. The kids can take ownership of these words and put them in their own reading, writing, listening, or speaking and are really powerful for the students just to know. So we focus a lot of our instruction on Tier 2 context words.
The last layer of vocabulary words we have are tier 3 words. Tier 3 words are genre specific. These are words that are usually used in a specific genre or subjects like social studies, or science. They’re often nonfiction in nature. For example, photosynthesis, which we would normally use that to describe something in science, doesn’t really have a lot of meaning or multiple layers to it. You don’t go around saying “I’m going to have a photosynthesis kind of day!” That doesn’t really get translated into figurative language. So really tier 3 words are genre specific like electrons, atoms, or equator. They’re words that you would more than likely teach in your social studies or science type of context and aren’t really that necessarily that applicable to a tier 2 vocabulary instruction.
So tier 3 typically stick to the content areas, tier 2 words are what you would focus your vocabulary instruction, and tier 1 words are those basic words that students likely already have a good understanding of what you might touch on, but not spend much time on them in a vocabulary instruction. I hope this explanation of the 3 types of vocabulary words helped you understand where to focus your daily instruction.
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It was my pleasure to share this with you today. Please know I’m the biggest fan of the work you and your students are doing. If you enjoyed today’s lesson you can find this post and many more on iTunes, Spotify, or Alexa Briefings. Click here to listen!