Building Vocabulary ‘tier’ by ‘tier’

tiered-3In class we have been reviewing the three tiers of vocabulary which basically are:

Tier 1: Everyday words ( Car, oatmeal, school, lunch)

Tier 2: Vocabulary used by mature language users across several content areas. Because of their lack of redundancy in oral language, Tier 2 words present challenges to students who primarily meet them in print ( bicker, defiant, peddler)

Tier 3 words: Words that are not frequently used except in specific content areas or domains. ( isotopes, stegosaurus, Revolutionary War)

As Tier 2 words are used in multiple contexts however usually only in print material it is crucial that direct instruction occur for these. Multiple exposures in multiple contexts are crucial for learning vocabulary.  Understanding tier two vocabulary will increase comprehension across multiple academic tasks

Robert Marzano has 6 steps to better vocabulary instruction. Marzano 6 step vocabulary.

Rhode Island Department of Education has developed a module that will assist you in understanding the vocabulary tiers.

Module on Academic Vocabulary

Finally here is some information from Beck, McKowen and Kucan that also includes the supports that you need to have in place for ELLs. which_words_to_teach

How do you feel about your ability to choose tier two words?

How are you incorporating tier two  words in your classroom?


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50 comments on “Building Vocabulary ‘tier’ by ‘tier’
  1. I feel as though I have a better understanding of vocabulary due to the experience and exposure I have received in both this class as well as the teaching reading course. Prior to taking these graduate courses, I was exposed and learned about teaching vocabulary so I did have a pretty good understanding of the ways to teach vocabulary. I also knew that there are 3 tiers of vocabulary; however, I did not have the best understanding when it came to identifying tier 2 vocabulary words. I would always mix them up with tier 3 words. I do think that this course has helped me distinguish between the two. I now feel more comfortable when having to identify the different tiers of vocabulary words. I also think that the more I practice and engage in doing so, the more comfortable that I will become.

    Since I do not yet have a classroom of my own, I have not had much experience incorporating tier two words into the classroom. However, due to the graduate courses and undergraduate courses that I have taken, I have had the opportunity to work with individual as well as a small groups of students. One way that I have incorporate tier two words into a lesson is by doing a read aloud. Prior to reading the story, I would ask a student if they knew what a particular word meant and provide them with the vocabulary word card. If the student did in fact know the word, I would ask the student to draw a quick sketch or act out the word. I would then place the corresponding picture card next to the word and discuss what it meant. If the student did not know what the word meant, I would act it out and show her the corresponding picture card as well as ask her to act the word out. I have also done a lesson where I read the story, Amelia Bedelia with a student and focused on the idioms in the story. Since the words mean different things, I provided the student with example and non example picture cards and asked her to complete the graphic organizer based on what Amelia Bedelia did and what she was suppose to do. I have also used paint chip cards to introduce different synonyms of words and discuss how some words have similar meanings. I then asked the student what the words meant, we acted them out, matched the corresponding picture cards with the vocabulary word cards, placed the words from top to bottom based on intensity, and wrote them on the paint chip cards to demonstrate the different shades of meaning and how they increase in intensity based on the shades getting darker.

  2. Coming from a math background, teaching vocabulary has never been a strong suit of mine. The words I mostly teach in my classroom would be considered tier 3 words. Now knowing what tier 2 words are I see the great importance in students learning these in order to understand reading and even word problems in a math classroom. In the past, when teaching vocab I have done a vocab organizer with the word, definition, and picture. This came in handy in my Geometry where the content is vocab heavy. I would have the students keep these organizers in their binder to create somewhat of a dictionary for themselves to reference throughout the year. Knowing what I know now I wish I had done more practice with these words in order to help my students better understand them. There are so many vocabulary games online such as quizlet and kahoot that can be fun to use for practice and that sometimes do not easily lend themselves to a math classroom. In the future I hope to take advantage of these to help my students understand vocabulary in the classroom even if it is tier 3 vocab. As for teaching tier 2 vocabulary, I hope to incorporate this into the end of lessons when we start to do word problems on topics. I am interested to look at some of the word problems I have given in the past to see how much tier 2 vocab is in them. I wonder if in part this could be the reason my students sometimes have a hard time with word problems. An important piece in teaching vocab that I hope to do more of is to have my students come up with their own definitions. I find that a lot of my students are always concerned with being “right” so they want to take my definition. I hope to be able to push my students to come up with definitions on their own, not only to help remember the words, but also to take ownership in their learning and become independent thinkers.
    I now feel comfortable identifying tier 2 vocab after practicing in class and going through the story I am teaching to my student this semester. At first I was overwhelmed that I had to teach all tier 2 words from my book, but after reading the information provided on this blog it is clear that I only have to teach the words that are pertinent to the text and that my student could use frequently. This helped me narrow down my list of 12 words to only 7. After I chose my 7 words I went back through the book and realized that those 7 were in fact the ones that were most important to the text and I felt good about my decisions.

  3. Prior to starting graduate courses in special education, I was not aware of there being 3 tiers of vocabulary. And after learning about each tier, I have realized that when I am teaching social studies, there is more of a focus on tier three words that are specific to the chapter we are studying. A lot of vocabulary work done in social studies classes as a whole is based on tier 3 words as it is expected that students understand the surrounding vocabulary. Because I have realized this and have been given a self contained social studies class to teach next year, I have realized how I need to incorporate tier two words into our practice. If a student does not recognize and understand tier two words, they will struggle to comprehend the text regardless of their understanding of tier 3 words. It will help them deepen their knowledge and truly understand it so they can apply their understanding to activities and assignments. Also by helping students to deepen their knowledge of tier two words, it can help them across contexts, where teaching cross curricular skills is a goal of teachers.

  4. Last semester, I attended a reading class that gave me some insight into the different tiers of vocabulary as we were required to teach a vocabulary lesson. However, I do fine the explanations of Beck on the tiers much more helpful and easier to remember when selecting vocabulary to teach my students. I feel confident in my ability to choose vocabulary for my students, but also feel like all teachers feel a bit unequipped in this perspective at the start of the school year. After getting to know are students a bit, I feel that all teachers gain more confidence as they begin to know more of their students abilities and backgrounds.

    I incorporate tier two words in a number of ways. I always have an opening activity for my students at the beginning of class and these activities always either have to do with grammar of any vocabulary I feel that they need for the days reading. As suggested in the slides, I love games and constantly incorporate them into my classroom. Students love participating in a morning vocabulary activity because they then know they can play eye spy and search for our words in the days reading.

  5. I incorporate tier 2 vocabulary in the classroom by making a point to discuss it when it comes up in reading, and also by posting it on a word wall. I then make an effort to use it in everyday language while teaching.

  6. Prior to this class, I did not know what Tier Two Words were. To my astonishment, I was already teaching Tier Two Words!
    When I teach above grade level texts, I often find many Tier Two and Three Words. Prior to the unit, I look at each chapter to find words that students might not understand based on their cultural background and/or experience. These words can be interesting and/or relate to the lesson. After I pull out the words from the text, I choose between two to three words per lesson. Next, I create a worksheet incorporating the word, part of speech, definition (the students fill it in from the slide show on the board), two sentences (one teacher created, the other student created), and a picture to represent the word. Additionally, as a class we chorally say the word with a gesture or dance to better comprehend the word. I find this way of teaching vocabulary beneficial to not only English language learners, but to all learners.

  7. Previous to this class, I was not entirely sure what a tier two word would be. However, most recently, I feel strongly that I could identify tier two words. I think that much of this has to do with taking a step out of my own perspective. Looking at a text from the point of view of a student allows me to better grasp what a tier two word would be. I think this kind of strategy helps me readily identify tier two words.

    In my classroom I incorporate tier two words by first using a vocabulary journal. I do this through the use of Google Docs. I have the students use the word in various ways as follows: The word, its definition, a definition in their own words, and finally a funny picture or gif that represents the word. Students tend to love this activity because the pictures they find are typically hilarious and memorable. I think this can be helpful for various types of learners as well. Another strategy that we use is a vocabulary wall. In my room we have a wall dedicated to the current vocabulary that students are working on and they are encouraged and rewarded by using those words in class. Errors are not punished, but correct use is rewarded.

  8. Unfortunately, I’m not quite knowledgeable about incorporating Tier 1, 2, or 3 vocabulary words in my daily lessons with the students just like Beck, McKowen and Kucan describe in their slides. It’s not a skill/strategy that teachers mention in my school to classify teaching vocabulary terms. I would definitely need more practice and study the concept of using “Tier” vocab words in the classroom. At my school, students are taught new strategies for decoding unfamiliar vocabulary words but, it’s explained in a different approach through the American Reading Company (IRLA) curriculum.

    I think the strategical methods in IRLA can be modified to teach the Tier vocab words with my students at Veterans School. Usually the students in my school are introduced to vocabulary words or decoding strategies to enhance their language skills in the White level of the IRLA curriculum. The White level (Wt) is the first level in which students typically by third grade will enter in this curriculum. The student will try to identify words while reading that are unfamiliar to them or find uncommonly used words in everyday conversation. The curriculum stresses independent reading to help the students familiarize and enhance their vocabulary knowledge through continuous IDR independent reading blocks each day. The following skills are taught by the teachers to the students in my school as instructed in the IRLA curriculum:

    1. Context clues: notice new words or phrases and use context clues to hypothesize meaning.
    2. Distinguish shades of meaning among related words.
    3. Word Parts: notice and use prefixes, suffixes, and roots as clues to the meaning of unknown words.
    4. Figurative Language: distinguish between literal and nonliteral language.
    5. synonyms/antonymous: come up with synonyms/ antonyms for words in the text.

    For example, in my small reading groups the students would read their IDR books and write on a post-it note any unfamiliar words that he/she wouldn’t use in everyday conversation. We would regroup and add our post-it note words onto a large chart paper. Together the students and I would try to use the detail IRLA decoding strategies to figure out the word meaning used in the text.

    Although, listening to the explanation of the vocabulary tiers from the RIDE modules it shared similar ideas expressed in the IRLA curriculum. Using the foundation of how to teach vocabulary in IRLA, I would be interested to learn how to include the method for classifying Tier vocabulary into my reading lessons.

  9. I did not know much about tiered words before this class. After learning about them in class, I feel more comfortable in recognizing tiered words. After practicing in class, and working on my lesson plan, I feel more confident in my ability to distinguish between tier one, tier two, and tier three vocabulary words. I would like to use my new knowledge when creating my lessons for school!

    As a math teacher, I am struggling with how to incorporate tier two words in my classroom. Most of the vocabulary that I introduce during class is tier three or academic vocabulary. When I teach problem-solving, I teach words to look for to help decide what operation is needed to solve the word problem (i.e. altogether means add, difference means subtract). I am not sure if you could consider those words tier two? I would like to do my best to incorporate tier two words as often as possible into my lessons, I am just not sure the best way to go about it.

  10. I sometimes struggle with teaching tier 2 and tier 3 words. My high school students read and write mostly at second and third grade levels, and sometimes I forget their limited knowledge of vocabulary. I think that it is important for my students to learn to build their vocabulary in school. Many of them are from lower income homes, in which studies show that there is a gap between the vocabulary of children who grow up in lower income homes versus in the homes of professionals.
    It is difficult to come up with strategies to teach tier 2 and 3 words without making it too “childish.” A strategy I have been using for high school students is to have them look over a text selection we will be reading and pick out maybe 10 vocabulary words they either don’t know the meaning of or are unsure of. Then, I have them try to come up with a definition based on the context of the word used in the sentence Once they have come up with a definition, I have them look up the definition of the word and see if it matches what they have said. If the meaning does not match, I have them write the accurate definition. Finally, I have them write their own sentence using that word. I have found that this strategy usually works, however, I had a student last year that would use the vocabulary word as part of his definition. One example I remember was using the word “benefit.” My student would write his definition as “something that benefits you for the good.” I struggled with having him not use the vocabulary word to give the meaning. I also try and incorporate tier 2 words into class discussions or even my conversations with students, and I use a word wall in my classroom. I would love to learn new and different strategies to teach tier 2 and tier 3 words to my students.

  11. Before taking this class I did not even know about Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 words. When teaching I feel that most teachers post the Tier 3 words for an important lesson because those are content specific and students need to know those words. However, Tier 2 words are what help a students vocabulary grown and help student understanding of words that they might hear in a novel, conversation, while reading a magazine or when watching TV. I feel that I am confident in picking out which words are Tier 2. It is not just important to pick out Tier 2 words but to chose the ones that you will teach in the classroom and the ones you will give a quick explanation for. Which of the words are most important for comprehension, and will it help with major understanding of the text.

    There are many ways to incorporate Tier 2 words in the classroom. First it is important to pre read the text, choose the best Tier 2 words and then plan. It is important to give students exposure to the words many times through out the day, week, and month. Some of the ways I would teach the words would be to provide a description of the word and use pictures to help the student visualize it. I would give an example of the word in a few different sentences. I would ask the student to restate the words definition in their own words and have them try and use it in a sentence, along with a picture they drew of the word (some students refuse to draw so this depends on the student). Have students add all the words to their vocabulary note book and to a classroom word wall. I would end with them working in pairs to discuss word or maybe playing a fun game.

  12. Before taking this class I had never heard of tiered words whether it be tier 2 or tier 3 words. After learning about them I now can begin incorporating them into my classroom. In my previous long term assignment students had spelling words and a word of the week. The word of the week was a tier 2 vocabulary word and their challenge words (they had two on every spelling test) was a tier 3 word. The spelling words the students had were always found directly in their reading and their challenge words were words specific two the text. For example students read about Thomas Edison and had words related to the text such as experiment on their test. The word of the work was often word such as courageous or patiently. Students not only had these words on their spelling test but they worked with them everyday. They had to use them all in a sentence, come up with an illustration to help them learn the word and their daily grammar worksheets had the words within the sentences they needed to fix. Students were constantly working with tier 2 words during ELA. Every vocab word they had was added to their word wall that was displayed in the front of the classroom as well. The ELA/Reading program in place at the school I worked at and will be working out makes it easy for me to provide students instruction using tier 2 words. I personally saw these strategies work, as students would include they’re previous spelling words and vocabulary words in their narrative writing pieces. They would talk about a child patiently waiting or reluctantly doing what their parents said.

  13. After doing a lot vocabulary practice and instruction, I feel extremely confident in my ability to choose Tier Two words. I think it is so important for the age level I am working with to promote the use and understanding of Tier Two words as much as I possible can with my students. I want to always make sure that I have the vocabulary Tier 2 words readily available for my students to be continuously exposed to. The activities we went over in class the other day I want to incorporate into my classroom for Tier 2 words. For example the colored balls on the string or the powerpoint activity are ones that I definitely am going to start using with Tier 2 vocabulary in my instruction with my third grade class. I have also always used a word wall but just having the words up there is not going to do much. I will encourage my students to use the words in daily conversation or find examples of the words being used. I am considering doing a pom pom jar for Tier 2 words. When a student uses the Tier 2 word accurately or finds an example of it I will add a pom pom to the jar. When its full we can decide as a class a fun activity we get to do like an extra recess.

  14. I found my ability to choose tier-2 academic vocabulary words is not a problem at all and has also grown over the past year. The program I work for included a comprehensive list of tier-2 academic words in our beginning of the year training binder as well as the iReady web based program we use. Also, I have found the internet is filled with sites that include resources and lists of tier-2 words.
    I am also comfortable with my ability to incorporate tier-2 words in the classroom. This past school year I made it a priority to work from the list of words that were provided to me. This year I chose 9 words each week in an alphabetical order and students would work with the words in some fashion each day and every Friday morning before their first rotation we would have a spelling test on them. For example, on Monday during their “teacher” rotations I would provide a list of the academic tier-2 words to a small group of students and together we would go over each word verbally. I would say the word and then ask them to repeat it, I would then ask after saying each word if they had ever seen the word or ask them if they think they know what the word meant to see who might need more support.I would also model breaking up the word, looking at the root word and the prefixes and/or suffixes. Next, during their computer rotation, they would look up the word and write the definition on the word document form I created using a table. If a student preferred to write the definition on lined paper they could. The next day, or usually Tuesday, we would go over the definitions and discuss how they could put it in their own words to create sentences on their own and again,by doing this I would be able to gauge which students might need more support. They would then create their own sentences on another teacher created word document form with the support of the teacher assistant or independently. I would then look over their sentences they created to assess if they understand the word and which students may need further direct instruction. On Thursday for homework, students would be handed out another form to write out the words multiple times(very traditional I know), but seems to work. On Friday they would take a spelling test and I would say the word twice, being sure to pronounce the word slowly while enunciating the syllables slowly at least once and use the word in a sentence that were created by students earlier in the week. However, I plan on going a step further for the upcoming school year incorporating some of the strategies I have been exposed to in this class. For example, I really like the research backed six-step process after reading the Educational Leadership document which was translated by Robert J. Marzano. This seems to be an excellent strategy for teaching new vocabulary terms to students. I especially liked the parts that incorporates students drawing a picture or symbol, as well as, playing vocabulary games with students. When I teach new tier-3 words for students taking Biology and Earth Science I always encourage students to include a picture or symbol that will help them remember a particular word. I realize the importance of teaching academic vocabulary in the classroom, it is essential to increase reading comprehension across academic subjects and increase diagnostic scores. One success story from last year was with a 9th grade boy I had who scored multiple grades below grade level on the iReady reading diagnostic in Vocabulary and still hadn’t tested out of phonics in the first testing window we did in November. However, by early June during the last iReady testing window, he increased his Vocabulary score to a 9th grade level. He worked really hard during the year and I was blown away and concluded that incorporating tier-2 academic vocabulary words weekly attributed to his success!

  15. Before this class, I rarely heard of Tier Two words or the idea that certain vocabulary words fall into certain categories. Now that I know more about tier two vocabulary words, I will be able to utilize this vocabulary in the classroom. To promote tier two vocabulary words, there are multiple things that can be done. First, creating a word wall in the classroom will help students visually see the word posted and remind students about the importance of this vocabulary word during the unit or chapter we may be working on. Along with this I may add a picture to the word wall that relates to the word, to make it easier for students to make connections between the word, the image, and the unit the class is talking about. I find that students may use the wall to help remember the vocabulary words, as well as understand the entire context of the subject that class period. For example, the word “anarchy” is considered to be a tier two vocabulary word for eleventh graders. Anarchy relates to history as a state of disorder that come about due to absence or non- recognition of authority. If our history class is talking about a period where there was an anarchy, a picture of a rebellion may go on the word wall next to the vocabulary word to show that the state is in disorder. Another way to promote tier two vocabulary in the classroom is by creating a graphic organizer with this vocabulary. Having the students write the word, the meaning, draw a picture, use the word in a sentence, or even have students write a comic using tier two vocab in their graphic organizer makes it easier for students to connect the vocab word to the context. By giving students the freedom to choose a sentence, and drawing or comic they are able to describe the vocab in their own words or using their own meaning and are then more able to understand the vocab in the context.
    I feel that my ability to choose tier two vocabulary words has gotten a lot better just from taking this course. Before, I would pick words that may have had multiple meanings but were not on the correct grade level, and may have been too easy or too hard for the grade level or classroom I was working in. After reading a few resources, and understanding how to choose certain tier two vocabulary words, I am more confident in my tier two vocabulary choices. With this being said, I feel that I teach more words that relate to the content in the classroom, rather than general tier two vocabulary. Being a social studies teacher, there is a lot of terminology that goes with different time periods that students need to know to understand how society functioned during that time. In doing so, vocabulary about the content is explained more often than tier two vocabulary. This coming year, I will try to implement the same content vocabulary, as well as some tier two vocabulary that has multiple meanings and may be helpful in other classes. Both the RIDE Academic Modules and the Choosing the Text document helped to better my knowledge about vocabulary and have a better understanding of ways to teach tier two vocabulary in the classroom. Overall, the use of tier two vocabulary is a very important aspect to learning classroom material but also to better students’ understanding and use of vocabulary.

  16. When first asked about Tier 2 words, I was unsure of what that meant. I had heard Tier 1,2,3 in reference to RTI. Then when we were actually given the chance to do hands on work with Tier 1,2,3 words, it felt natural and also felt like I had been doing this all along in curriculum but did not have a label for them. I am now aware of what I am doing and more importantly the WHY behind why I am choosing these words. Why and how I will be able to get my students to understand, use, and give examples of in their own life, and then relate it back to the literature or subject that the vocabulary words were used in. There may be times when there are multiple Tier 2 words to choose from, but deciding which ones are important.

    As of right now, I feel that my school has a lot of vocabulary practices in place. Currently, we do four vocabulary words each week that we discuss during morning meeting and different points throughout the day. Something that we could improve is actually using the Tier 2 words from the literature that we are reading that week. Making the words more meaningful with more connections. We also use a “High Five Hand.” At the door of each classroom there is a high five hand that all students have to hit on their way out of the classroom and say the word. These are usually tier 2 words of words that the students may have trouble saying, remembering, or understanding. As of now, this system is pretty solid, but maybe taking it to the next step and having the students use an example of the word in the own life at some point would be a good addition. I feel that understanding what Tier 2 words are how to find appropriate words will help to make our curriculum and vocabulary building much stronger.

  17. I feel as though my ability to choose tier two words has improved since covering the materials in class. As a certified history teacher, I had some background experience in teaching literacy, but it was not as in depth as what I’ve been learning in class. One of those pieces is the 6-step vocabulary instruction. This instruction is based on in depth research and the six steps incorporate multiple intelligences that help students learn vocabulary words. I have incorporated games into my classroom, but they rarely involve vocabulary words. I have known and seen success in having students connect ideas and words to their own lives. Once they incorporate these things into their own lives, the student is able to get a strong understanding of the topic at hand.

    There has been serious value to learning how to appropriately choose tier two words for students to learn. I see myself using it in either reading as a group or support working with individual students.I was unaware of the RIDE academic vocabulary modules. After listening to some of the topics, I can see this as a resource I will consistently touch base with when I begin planning out lessons involving tier two vocabulary words. When referring to the “Choosing the Right Text” document, it is important to choose the appropriate tier two words when working with students that are English Language Learners. A point that stood out to me was that not all tier two words are important for students to learn and that as an educator, I need to decide what words are important for all my students and help them get a strong understanding of those words. I feel as though this class and the materials provided, have given me more confidence and better knowledge with teaching vocabulary.

  18. I had never heard to phrase tier 2 vocabulary until I became part of a close reading team a few years ago through a grant with RIDE. When I first signed up, we thought we could create an interdisciplinary lesson but it ended up being just a lesson for the English class, so as a math teacher it was a learning experience. We used many of the same tools we used in class so even though I had not seen the tools for 2 years I was able to remember some of the concepts and develop tier 2 vocabulary for my lesson plan. I have grown more comfortable choosing tier 2 vocabulary but still unsure with what grade level each word would be appropriate for. Not having an English background makes this difficult when deciding what texts and ultimately vocabulary are appropriate for a certain grade level and are not too high or too low.

    Vocabulary in the math classroom is more common thank you think, especially in geometry which is one of the main areas I teach. Many of the terms are tier 3 words as they are content specific but through their definitions or similar words many tier 2 words come up. These words come up on a daily basis and I try to emphasize them regularly but am always looking for new strategies for teaching them. As most words, once learned, are crucial to the rest of geometry if the students do not know what they are when first taught they are going to have a hard time the rest of the year. I believe word walls can work but with the amount of vocabulary in Geometry I would like to know more strategies that can be used throughout the year to aid students in learning and retaining the vocabulary.

  19. This year, I was Emergency Certified as a Math teacher. My degree is in Social Studies. When I first started as a Math teacher, I did not find much of a difference between teaching the vocabulary words. Both subjects have important vocabulary words the students must know to understand the content. However, this year was the first time I used a word wall. The students really benefited from it. It was especially easy because I could write the vocabulary word and draw a quick illustration of the word on the paper. For example, I wrote “product.” Next to it I wrote a multiplication sign or “x.” Students were then able to quickly look at the word wall and figure out what product meant if they were asked on a problem.

    After reading the resources on the blog, I think I will be better at teaching tier two vocabulary words. I like the six steps to teaching Vocabulary by Marzano. He says to:

    1. Provide a description, explanation, or example of the vocabulary word,
    2. Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words,
    3. Ask students to construct a picture to represent the term,
    4. Engage students in activities that help them add to their knowledge (Example: create a PowerPoint of vocabulary words that the teacher reviews once or twice a week to constantly reinforce vocabulary)
    5. Periodically ask the students to discuss the terms with one another (Example: Perhaps the students can engage in a peer activity where they play with flash cards and “quiz” their other peer)
    6. Involve students in games that enable them to play with the terms (Example: Create and use the Expanding Expression Tool or Jeepers Peepers)

    I also liked when he suggested to describe the term or tell a story using the term instead of just giving it a textbook definition. This may make the students remember it if it is in context rather than just a definition. I think both may be appropriate but the students may relate to the story in a different way.

    I feel as though I teach more words that are related to content rather than tier two words that are more high frequently used words such as coincidence, absurd, and industrious. As I reflect on the resources, I realize I teach more tier three words than tier two words. If the words can be used in other text or help with understanding a major portion of the text, the teacher should definitely explicitly teach these tier two words. The more practice I have with teaching tier two words and the more I educate myself on various strategies on how to teach vocabulary, I feel as though the better and more natural I will feel with teaching tier two vocabulary.

    • Thanks for mentioning that there is vocabulary in math. Math vocabulary is extremely important as understanding each word in a math problem is vital to being able to solve it. I love your word wall example.

  20. I still struggle to differentiate between tier 2 words and tier 3 words. I think this is because I am not yet familiar enough with the tier 2 words for each grade level in elementary school. I do not know the expectations for each grade level well enough to know which words are tier 2 or tier 3. As I read more resources and look at lists of tier 2 words for each grade level I am becoming more familiar but I think it will take time and experience with a variety of grade levels. Throughout this course I have definitely become more comfortable choosing tier 2 words but still have progress to make.

    In my classroom we keep a running slide show of vocabulary words we have learned from the books we’ve read or the subjects we’ve learned. Each slide has a picture and an example of the word. We look at these as we are learning the word and then review them periodically or when the word resurfaces in a new subject or even just in conversation. Looking to the new school year I would like to start playing more games with the vocabulary like we did in class. These games make learning vocabulary more engaging and help students remember the words better. I would also like to keep a word wall this year for each subject so that the students are continually reading the vocabulary words and thinking of their meaning.

  21. When we were first asked to find Tier 2 words for the vocab part of the project, I was not sure if I was doing it right. But I feel like my ability to choose tier two words is pretty decent. I usually look at the word and decide how often they’d be using the word and in what context. That seems to help me determine tier 2 versus tier 3 words. I feel like tier 2 words are words they may not see every day but words that can be interchanged with words they use daily to increase their vocab. I liked looking through our books and pulling out words and completing the chart. I feel like that was helpful. Going over the examples helps too. So I feel like I have a good understanding now of tier 2 words.

    In my classroom we do close reading. Each student has a reading journal that they use when we read. If they do not understand a word in any reading we do, they put it in their reading journal and their job is to then look up the word to better understand it. We also do word of the week in my classroom. I pick a tier 2 word and I leave it up in the classroom all week with the part of speech, definition, and synonyms so they know how it’s used. The goal is for the students to try and use it in their writing all week. They get a bonus point each time it’s used in their writing the correct way.

  22. I think it is extremely important that teachers continue to learn so they don’t forget what it feels like to be learning something new for the first time. I did not understand tier 2 words in the beginning but now that I understand the difference and had it modeled (both correctly and what the incorrect looks like) it makes a lot of sense. I’m constantly struggling to choose vocab words from our trade books that will be meaningful. I now realize I used to use a lot of tier 3 words and even though they have a definition I can’t expect that my students would use them in their writing very often. I love that it is a skill I can teach my kiddos to do as well. They will be much more engaged with the words if they can find and choose them themselves. I think I will see these words in their writing much more often because they are useful and they’ll take ownership for them. I also love all the examples of different ways to introduce vocabulary. Kids need concrete things to tie words to, especially my ELL students. If a child can say when something is “not being a certain way” and “when it is”, I can see they have a little more of a grasp on the meaning of the word.

  23. How do you feel about your ability to choose tier two words?
    Before this class I have very limited knowledge about the different types of tiers of vocabulary. I am really glad that I learned about this, this semester. and I plan on using this in my knowledge in my classroom.

  24. How do you feel about your ability to choose tier two words?

    Before this class, I had very limited knowledge of the different tiers of vocabulary words. However, after now practicing in class multiple times and learning more about the different tiers I feel confident in my ability to choose tier two vocabulary words for instruction in my classroom.

    How are you incorporating tier two words in your classroom?

    Even though I do not currently have a classroom, I plan to facilitate in depth word studies of tier two vocabulary words using meaningful activities. In high school I remember memorizing countless Wordly Wise lists to pass vocabulary quizzes, but I do not now have any understanding of many of those words because I did not learn them in a meaningful way. When I become a teacher, it will be a goal of mine to make vocabulary teaching relatable for my students.

  25. How do you feel about your ability to choose tier two words?

    After completing the Sheltered English Immersion course offered by the Mass Department of Education, I feel very comfortable with my ability to choose tier two words. The course stressed the importance of teaching ELL students tier two vocabulary to assist them with reading comprehension skills. I have done many projects and assessments based on my ability to decipher tier two words.

    How are you incorporating tier two words in your classroom?

    In my classroom, we use an ELA Curriculum entitled “Reader’s Workshop”. With Reader’s Workshop, we spend time completing word studies on tier two vocabulary words that are used in our grade level text. We discuss meaning, synonyms and antonyms, use it in a sentence, and use it conversationally multiple times in a set week. My students respond well to this and enjoy using their new vocabulary in conversation because they are implementing what they are learning in a real life scenario.

  26. How do you feel about your ability to choose tier two words?

    When we first started to choose tier two words from our books, I felt completely lost because I still couldn’t get a sense of what these were. When it was fully explained I felt more at ease in choosing to do so along with the help of one of the classmates in selecting vocabulary from my book. I feel that tier two and tier three can be somewhat tricky but knowing the difference between the two is key in selecting the appropriate tier two words to teach during a lesson.

    How are you incorporating tier two words in your classroom?

    I have one classroom where all the students are low-level readers and before we start a next reading assignment, I make sure that vocabulary is emphasized. I can see how looking for words in the dictionary is boring so I am glad that my classroom is equipped with computers so that they can look for them by typing it into the dictionary. Many of the lists incorporate tier two and three words but I emphasize the necessity of this worksheet so it allows students to gain a better of understanding of what the word means when it is used in the context of reading.

  27. Before this class, I was not aware of the three tiers of vocabulary. After learning about them in class and going through books, I feel my knowledge has strengthened greatly. I feel confident I can go through a book and pick out a word. The module from RIDE was also very helpful. It broke the tiers down and gave examples.

    Tier 2 vocabulary words can be used in a variety of ways. When learning a new tier 2 word it can be put up on word wall and students can be encouraged to use when writing or speaking instead of a “dull” word. They can also be used in games (memory, jeopardy, wheel of fortune, hang man, etc.)

  28. How do you feel about your ability to choose tier two words?

    My ability to choose tier two words has strengthened since we started learning more about them. I consider them to be words that are not too simple, yet not too difficult. They are words we use in everyday life as we mature. Though they may not be so common, they will be words they will hear, as they get older and hopefully use one day themselves. They should be useful to their everyday life/vocabulary. The words can be used in different contexts and all forms should be taught. When choosing the tier two words, I want them to be ones that they will benefit from once they are learned.

    How are you incorporating tier two words in your classroom?

    You can use tier two words on a word wall so the vocabulary is visible and readily available to them in print and other forms. You can use them randomly in class discussions and in lessons throughout the day. It is best to generalize the words as much as you can by using different strategies. There are many different types of learners so providing visuals and other forms will help immensely. You can have the students use the words as well. This could be having them draw, define, and write a sentence using the word. If I had my own classroom I would make fun activities and games using the words (Jeopardy, name game, etc…).

  29. As a toddler teacher, I really haven’t worked on choosing words from text to teach using a tiered model. I would simply explain, illustrate or try to act out a certain word or theme in the book. The hardest part sometimes is trying to get all my kiddos to sit for circle time, which includes reading a book. However, I’m interested in seeing how the child I’m working with will react to learning new words from the book we will be reading together; I wonder if the words will overwhelm him or if he will retain the information. Now that I have a better understanding on how to identify tier 2 words and new strategies to teach new vocabulary I can introduce this to other teachers at my school to begin to challenge the use of these words at a young age. At this age we tend to focus more on the tier 1 words because many of the kids who come to my class have very little to no language- We’ll see how this plans out on Friday!

  30. As a preschool teacher, I must implement different strategies and instruction that provide positive effects on my students’ vocabulary achievement. Implementing different strategies in a particular context or subject matter will enable me to assess their knowledge and understanding. How can feedback have a negative effect on student’s achievement? Asking questions is the key to understanding and comprehension? I believe providing feedback is one strategy to assess a student’s understanding and knowledge on a particular subject or context regardless of the grade level.

    The Marzano six-step process provides six specific instructional strategies that can be implemented when teaching vocabulary for every grade level. Before introducing Tier II vocabulary words to my preschool students regardless of subject matter, I must review the vocabulary words and their meaning. During a read-aloud, I will pre-read and review the story before selecting the Tier II vocabulary words to introduce and teach. During a math lesson regarding length and measurement (tall, taller, tallest, wide, wider, long, etc.) or a math activity regarding symmetry, the vocabulary must be first introduced in a whole group discussion then reinforced in a small group activity.

    When selecting the vocabulary, I always assess my student’s age and their current academic level. My class is a multi-age preschool classroom, ranging from 3-5 years. I want to make sure when selecting vocabulary words, I will be supporting all my preschool students current academic level. When selecting Tier II words to teach, I have to determine what words are for explicit instruction. Some students may still require explicit instruction on Tier I words.

    My first goal is to ask my students questions, for example; “What do you think this word means? I will then repeat the sentence in the book. What is the animal doing? I will ask “wh” questions to build on their prior knowledge to support their learning. It is crucial for the students to generate their own explanation or idea what the vocabulary word might mean. This will enable the students to identify new and difficult terms. I will then introduce, explain, and describe the word through gestures, pictures, and examples. Providing hands-on explanations and visuals will enable my students to actively participate. My students represent their understanding of a new term in many different ways. Some students will illustrate a picture to represent their ideas. For some students who are still developing their emergent writing skills, they represent their ideas and thoughts through hands-on activities such as retelling the story with props or playing a game related to the vocabulary through play. Introduction of new vocabulary words require constant support and reiteration of it’s use in the student’s vocabulary. Building word meaning is essential for functional use of language.

  31. I feel pretty good about the tier two words I have chosen for my lesson. In my classroom, I love to expose children to new words. I use “big” words on purpose and they can usually figure them out by the context or they’ll ask me what it means, I will then, overhear them using some of their new words. I do need to do more direct vocabulary instruction. It feels like class time is so sacred because you’re always rushing to cover everything that needs to be covered, vocab can sometimes be skipped, but it’s important too.
    I had mentioned in class, I spend some time on prefixes and suffixes. A new one is introduced, we brainstorm what it means, I’ll tell them, then we brainstorm words. Students then pick one of the words we brainstormed, define it, use it in a sentence, and draw a picture of it. By learning prefixes, they can figure out the meanings to other unknown words. This uses most of the steps Marzano describes. I still need to work on instituting step 6: involving them in games that use the new terms.

  32. The RIDE module helped my overall understanding. The specific examples from Freedom Walkers was particular helpful. The instructional guide for academic vocabulary was also helpful because it thoroughly provided examples of words and planning for explicit instruction.

    The Marzano article surprised me because I would think that providing feedback would be a good thing. The “more than ⅓ of studies showed a negative effect on student achievement.” I provide feedback as often as possible and consider it positive reinforcement so I personally question these studies.
    Example: If a student uses a word in a sentence (given a word bank
    and part of a sentence) and selects the wrong word. I would say “great job staying focused” or “good try.” Then I would read the sentence aloud to the student, quietly, and ask “what do you think?” I would then read the sentence with the correct word and wait for the student’s response. I would then continue with “What do you think?” I have never had a negative reaction from a student and 90% (roughly) of the time the student selects the correct word. To be clear they select it before I use the sentence with the correct word. Perhaps it is the read aloud component that help? I have not done longitudinal studies on this but I do have positive experiences with this method.

    The Marzano Six Steps seem great and align with what I have read, used and learned in my graduate courses. Six steps include: previewing vocab words, peer discussions, drawing something that they associate with the word and playing games with the words to name a few.

    A lesson plan that I designed for a previous class was a scrabble games solely using vocabulary words. I think that would fit nicely in the Six Steps.

    I unfortunately do not have a classroom. However when I substitute I do implement my own strategies when I can (if the lesson allows). My graduate courses have explained the tiers ad when the time comes I do believe that I can select Tier 2 words and use strategies that will help students learn and retain the knowledge of the words. Repetition is very important and this can and should be done through the year not just the lesson to help with comprehension.

    Question that remains: does feedback really have a negative effect?
    Comment: I love the RIDE module and I hope that they create more on other concepts.

    • In the article when the author talked about the research on feedback I think the point of the analysis was that it is not just the strategy but how the strategy is implemented. So for feedback there were studies that indicated 16 percentile gain however there were other studies that showed a negative. Why would be? The author made the supposition that it was not the ‘strategy’ but rather how the person implemented the ‘strategy’.

  33. No problem! I’ll email it to you. The reason I like it is because it eliminates the “non-examples” piece of Frayer. That piece is extremely confusing for Deaf students, and I assume for many students who are language delayed/deprived. We work on the idea of antonyms and synonyms, but not right when they are just starting to learn what the word means and how to use it. I feel like it’s a good idea to wait until after they’ve mastered the word before introducing “non-examples.” The one I use includes: the word, definition, picture, characteristics of the word (for example, if it has a suffix, prefix, etc.) and examples of the word. It works for Deaf students well because it helps them break down the word into parts in the characteristics section, and they start to notice the patterns for themselves over the course of working with many words.

  34. Laura,

    Do you have a template of your on-going dictionary? I have tried two different styles and would love to see yours if you found it to be very effective!!

  35. I have been a Substitute Teacher and have completed many long-term assignments in History and for the past school year I have worked at the Alternate Education Program teaching at risk youth. I would have to say that until I took this course I was focusing on primarily Tier 3 words in my instruction. I felt that these academic words were important for my students, in order to understand the social studies curriculum and that is why I placed a huge emphasis on these words in my teaching practices, but now I realize how important it is to teach Tier Two words from our lectures and from the Lesson Plan which I am creating. I have to say that I didn’t realize that many students may not know words that I would have assumed they would have known until I had the opportunity to take this course. I now will go back to my social studies textbooks and look at each section and make a list of the Tier Two and Tier Three words that are embedded within the text. Like one of the sources mentioned I will narrow down the Tier Two words to the ones that are most important to teach and do a review of these vocabulary words before I begin direct instruction on the Tier Three words that are in my curriculum. I have to say that I was not effective at teaching Tier Two words in the Secondary Level because I was not aware of how important they are for students to grasp. Perhaps their is a disconnect between the Elementary and Middle and High Schools levels when it comes to the instruction of vocabulary. I feel that this should change and that all teachers regardless of content need to make sure that their students can understand Tier Two words before they move onto Tier Three words because if the students cannot understand Tier Two words then how can they comprehend the textbook from their content area classes which is loaded with Tier Two and Tier Three words. I would have to say I am feeling much more comfortable at picking Tier Two words from the Textbook that I am using which is Vacation Under a Volcano, but I would have to say that I am still not an expert at picking at all Tier Two words and I will continue to practice until I master the skills. Thanks to all of the resources that you provided us, it will make my job much easier, because in the future I can always go back to those resources and use them as references when I am selecting the list I came up with and be able to narrow the words down to the most important that will require direct instruction!

  36. I find that I have had enough practice over the past couple of years working with Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary to fairly easily distinguish the various tiers. As Lisa points out, however, sometimes a word comes along that could fit into either category, depending on its context.
    My challenge is how to find time to teach Tier 2 and Tier 3 words in class. Marzano points out that Tier 3 words should only be taught as needed in content classes, but as a history teacher who teaches very low language learners, I find it necessary to teach both tiers very frequently. Simply annotating Tier 3 words doesn’t always work for students who struggle with basic vocabulary, which means both tiers need to be directly taught in context.
    For Tier 3 words, I also use color-coding, like Lisa. I use colored index cards, with each color representing one of the six themes of history (political, social, economic, religious, technological, geographic). I typically explain the meaning of the terms to the students, and they summarize on their note card. However, having it color-coded means that the students have to fully process the meaning, and determine for themselves which theme best matches the term. Even though I put less time into directly teaching these terms, the students still process the meaning, decide for themselves, summarize the meaning, and draw a picture that will help them remember. The students are free to refer back to these terms anytime they need to.
    For Tier 2, students have an ongoing dictionary of modified Frayer models for each Tier 2 word. I spent more time on these words overall, but we still go through the steps that Marzano describes, with a few modifications. In deaf education, helping students use conceptually accurate signs is most important to their overall comprehension of meaning. The example I always use is “run.” This is really a tier 1 word, but because it has so many different meanings, for Deaf students, it can be tier 2. There are at least 6 different signs for “run” in ASL, depending on the context (the faucet is running, the person is running, my stocking has a run in it). Therefore, including an explanation of the meaning of the word, while modeling a contextually accurate sign for the word is vital prior to students summarizing their own explanation and drawing a picture. I always try to teach these words in multiple contexts because students who struggle with language have a hard time carrying over words they have learned into other contexts, and Deaf students especially learn words in isolation too often. This causes them to struggle with reading, because they read word for word instead of whole phrases for meaning. For example: the two people run into each other. In this sentence, none of the other signs for run would apply. Instead, there is one sign for the chunk “run into.” Because of these complexities, tackling tier 2 words becomes very complicated for deaf students.
    The other category of Tier 2 words that I find it important to emphasize are direction words like “explain,” “analyze,” “summarize,” etc. These are words that it is becoming increasingly important that students know, so that they understand what they are expected to do when they see them

  37. As a high school math teacher, I think I am still a little unsure about how to choose proper tier two words since most of the vocabulary we introduce and use are academic words. Maybe some geometry vocabulary like point, plane, or line could be considered tier two words because normally the students know of have seen these words, but they take on a slightly different meaning in the math world. Are there some resources that would help me better identify tier 2 words in my lessons? We see a lot of written language when it comes more to word problems. For example, would altogether be considered a tier two vocabulary word in some instances since it has a slightly different meaning in the mathematical context? This would be similar to the word cloud in the online module. How if it is referring to an object in the sky it would be considered tier 1, but if you are talking about clouding someone’s judgement it would be considered tier 2.
    Marzano 6 step vocabulary is a really great resource for introducing and teaching new vocabulary. I have been incorporating many of these strategies into my daily lessons when introducing new vocabulary. I find these steps very helpful when introducing new words to ELL students especially. I also use a lot of color coding in my ESL and Inclusion classrooms. For example if we are learning about slope all slope problems or anywhere slope is found in a problem will be written in one color. I have to keep a color coded chart in my room to help make sure I stay consistent and provide my students with a key for quick reference during a lesson. I really found that it helps my ELL students particularly well because they can match the colored number with the correct meaning. They become more independent in a way as well!
    Does anyone do something different that works for them?

    • Lisa,

      I can only imagine how difficult it is in your content area. What about using Tier 2 in word problems?
      Do students have to do power points or writing assessments? The Tier 2 could be utilized there. Just a suggestion.
      With numeracy and literacy push in all subject areas it is challenging!

    • Excellent information. I have uploaded a pdf about teaching vocabulary in math but I will also include a link here.

      It is very important that content curriculum teachers also understand how directly teaching the vocabulary will enhance the understanding of the content.

      Here is another great website that has resources and ideas for teaching math vocabulary.

    • Hey Lisa, a word wall is an effective strategy as well. If you put up difficult words on the board and teach the vocab word, it will be easier for the visual learners to go back to as a reference if they forget the word. This strategy works wonders with ELL students as well. You can put up all the math Tier 2 AND Tier 3 words.

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