Tier 2 Vocabulary Routines

Goodbye, balanced literacy!  Hello science of reading!

A huge part of the science of reading research supports explicitly teaching
comprehension through read alouds in the early elementary years.  That
includes direct vocabulary instruction.  

higher vocabulary = higher reading comprehension

That’s my why.  Now, let’s talk about the routines I’ve used in K-2 for
explicitly teaching
tier 2 vocabulary words with trade books.

What Are Tier 2 Vocabulary Words?

Tier 2 words are the colorful words authors use to craft and enhance their
stories.  They are words like beckon, cheerfully, soar, etc…

They are NOT sight words or high frequency words.  Those are tier 1
words.  These are less frequent and sometimes called WOW words in my
classroom because their better choices than your basic words.

They are also NOT academic vocabulary words.  Those are tier 3 words.

Which Words Should I Teach?

Research through the science of reading teaches us that vocabulary words
should be taught in context, not in isolation.  And anytime you can give
multiple definitions for words, you will always get a higher return on your
teaching investment.  

I always use trade books to teach vocabulary words.  Sometimes I only use
that book for the vocabulary words.  Other times, I use the book on
Mondays for vocabulary and we reread the book the next day to work on
different comprehension skills.

Do you have time for a sad story?  If not… no worries.  Just skip
on to the next section! 🙂

When I first started teaching 15 years ago, I went to a balanced literacy
training to get “certified” to teach balanced literacy.  We did a day on
vocab instruction and they actually gave us a huge list of trade books and
tier 2 words to teach with each book.  I loved the idea.  Prepped
everything to teach year after year by laminating covers and words on sentence
strips (Hey, there, 2006!) and was good to go. 

And then as balanced literacy goes, there was very little time for whole group
reading comprehension instruction outside of shared reading.  So, with
what little read aloud time I had… vocabulary got the boot.  🙁 
Fast forward several years when I moved schools and I got rid of those
sentence strip words I barely used and also tossed THE LIST OF BOOKS AND TIER
2 WORDS!  I’d never need that again, right?

I’m sure you know what happens next.  The last few years, I’ve been going
through our state training with the science of reading and now have time to
explicitly teach vocabulary.  And, of course, when I went hunting for
that awesome list, it was no where.  BOOOOO!  I’d give anything to
have that list back as a good starting point for teaching my 2nd grade
vocabulary this year, but oh well.  We’ll be starting from scratch.

I’ll be using the trade books I select for each week and
pulling out words to explicitly teach–without a premade list! 🙂

Before Reading Routines

Before reading the trade book, we go over our vocabulary words.  15 years
ago, this looked like me holding up the sentence strip and introducing the
word, definition, and a student action for kids to act out the word.

The past few years, it’s looked a little different.  I use a
slide show.  

I introduce the word, read the definition, explain it by using it in a
sentence, and teach the kids a motion to go with the words.  I love using
Total Physical Response wherever I can, and this is the perfect way to use it
and have kids show you the motion as you read the story.

After we introduce the word, the next slide has kids choose between 2 or 3
photos and tell which photo best describes the word.  We move the object
to the photo to show which photo displays the word meaning.

We go through each of the words this way.  Then, we go through the
interactive activities together.  These can include matching words to
photos, matching vocab to synonym words, or choosing vocabulary words to label
a specific photo.  (We usually do these whole group, but this would work
well in Google Classroom for distance learning also!)

During Reading Routines

Now we are ready to READ!  I read aloud each vocabulary word and the kids
quickly show me each motion as a quick review.  Then I say, “Let’s read
the story and listen for our WOW Words.  When you hear one, let me know
by quietly showing me the motion for that word!”

As we read and come to the word, students give me the motion.  We stop at
that sentence, reread how the author used the word and discuss the meaning and
any nuances of the meaning from within the context of the text compared to the
definitions we learned in the slideshow.

After Reading Routines

Once we finish the story, we don’t discuss much of the story… I usually save
that for another day so the focus stays on the tier 2 vocabulary
words.  

Kids will respond to the vocabulary words used in the story.  Sometimes,
they just respond by choosing 2-3 of the words to write their own sentence for
and illustrate.  Other times, they match synonyms, label photos and write
and illustrate just one vocabulary sentence.

Traditionally, they do this using a paper copy, but it’s also super simple to
do in
Google Slides
as well!

Where Can I Find the Materials?

I’ve just started a new line of Tier 2 vocabulary activities to coordinate
with trade books.  You can find the
first one here.  And make sure you follow me on TpT to be the first to know when I
release the growing bundle at a steep discount!

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