All set!

All set for teaching vocabulary to my first class gang this year. Vocab packs printed, laminated, cut and organised!


I may change the way I store these as I go but for the moment this large tub from IKEA seems to be a good solution.

If you want to see what my year long plan for vocabulary instruction of tier 2 words in First class looks like, see here.  In the next few days I will also add the book lists for each class level that I have made book packs for.

Now that that’s done I can move on to getting the last of my plans in other subject areas tied up too. I really want to enjoy the last few days of the holidays before school starts back.

Best of luck everyone.

There really is no getting away from it…

Vocabulary instruction matters and needs to be embedded into a balanced framework of literacy instruction. This means finding time in an already very stretched teaching day. The research highlights the strong link between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension. According to Graves (2009) vocabulary knowledge in Kindergarten and first grade is a significant predictor of reading comprehension in the higher grades. The work you put into it in the early years is worthwhile. So how should explicit instruction look…?

Suggested Instructional Sequence for Teaching Individual Word Meaning

10-15 minutes a day of systematic vocabulary instruction.

Day 1: Read the story aloud

  • Select a text that is rich in Tier 2 words for your class level. (For more on how to choose Tier 2 words see here).
  • Prepare child friendly definitions for each selected word on cards. All book packs including word cards are available to purchase HERE.

  • Read the text aloud so that they have the story in their head.


I recommend you pre-read the story before introducing the word cards. As some stories are longer than others it may be hard to reread the full story each day you work on the words. You may need to just focus in on the sentence/paragraph to show the word in context.

Day 2: Introduce the Tier 2 words in context and discuss

  • Read aloud the sentence or paragraph in which the new word occurs. This provides context.
  • Introduce the Tier 2 words with a child friendly definition (using the word cards).
  • Have children repeat the word (“Say it with me”) to build memory for the sound and meaning.
  • Give additional context in which we might use the word.
  • Have children provide their own examples of when to use the word.

Day 3-4: Engage children in activities to encourage deeper understanding of the target words

  • Engage children in activities in which they need to deal with various dimensions of the word’s meaning. Ask questions using the target words which the children have to justify their answer. E.g. Would someone be wet if they avoided the large puddles on yard? (do this for each word/encourage children to come up with questions also).
  • Provide opportunities for multiple exposures of the words. E.g. If avoid is one of your target words, instead of saying “keep away from puddles on the yard”, say “avoid the puddles on yard”.
  • Provide opportunities for children to apply the words to a range of contexts. E.g. Sentence stems to complete, that’s… game. E.g. if I walk around the puddles on yard, That’s … “avoiding”.
  • Challenge children to think about how the words could be used outside of the classroom: e.g. for a healthy diet what are some of the foods we should avoid or have less of?

Day 5: Assessment

The kind of knowledge that needs to be assessed is not definitional. The important thing to think about is what can children do with the words that they know? and how do they use them?

  • During the week collect and record data on the frequency and context of Tier 2 words used. (Data sheets are available with each book pack purchased).
  • Use teacher designed assessment such as multiple choice questions and true or false.

General organisation

Vocab display on stairs

Display word cards around the room/school. Keep them active by drawing children’s attention to them. Remind children to include them in their writing where appropriate.


For more detail on this approach, read Chapter 4 of Bringing Words to Life,

by Beck, McKeown, and Kucan.



The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

So firstly to put the teaching of vocabulary into context…

There are several ways to go about teaching vocabulary and the research recommends doing a variety of methods (National Reading Panel 2000).

According to Michael Graves (2000), there are four parts to a successful approach to vocabulary instruction. These are:

  1. Wide or extensive independent reading to expand word knowledge.
  2. Instruction in specific words to enhance comprehension of texts containing those words.
  3. Instruction in independent word-learning strategies, and
  4. Word consciousness and word-play activities to motivate and enhance learning.

For the moment I am going to focus on explicit instruction of specific words and building word consciousness.

Image result for bringing words to life

A lot of what I know about the explicit instruction of vocabulary has come from the research of these three authors:  Isabel Beck, Margaret McKeown, Linda Kucan.

To understand what words to teach and how to go about selecting them Beck, McKeown and Kucan (2002) came up with the notion of tiers. This idea is further explained in this article on the reading rockets website which is an excellent source of information on all things reading related. It’s definitely worth a look.

At the moment I’m working on developing resources for explicit vocabulary instruction focusing on Tier 2 vocab. I’m hoping to have them ready before the back to school madness in September. I will make them all available to purchase but of course I will add some freebies along the way. More on that later… Watch this space!