Vocabulary Instruction

Critical for vocabulary instruction is how words are introduced and context is key, according to the writers of the Common Core State Standards. Giving students lists of words to look up in the dictionary and then write into context isn’t an effective teaching strategy. Instead focusing on a topic that provides context for vocabulary words helps students learn effectively, and can be a way of incorporating interdisciplinary learning. The book Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction, explains there are three tiers of vocabulary words. Tier-one words are the most common of all and are used in everyday speech (but, they, know.) They’re generally not the focus of classroom discussion. Tier-two words are the most common words used in everyday speech and are transferable across disciplines (layers, solid, surface.) Tier-two words are considered common core material because they’re academic, but also applicable in a variety of contexts. Tier-three words are domain-specific and they’re uncommon outside of particular academic or topical contexts (molten, magma, lava.)

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