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What is Tier Two and Academic Vocabulary?

17 Nov

What is Tier Two Vocabulary and why is it so important to focus on when teaching vocabulary?

The term Tier Two Vocabulary refers to one of the three “tiers” of vocabulary outlined by Beck, McKeown, and Kucan in their books “Bringing words to life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction” and “Creating robust vocabulary: Frequently asked questions and extended examples”. The tiers represent an excellent system for differentiating between different types of vocabulary.

The three tiers are:

  • Tier One: words used in everyday speech, usually learned in early grades, typically the least challenging for native speakers but will be more challenging for English language learner (e.g., small, mother, run)
  • Tier Two (also referred to as general academic words in the Common Core Standard): high-frequency, more likely to appear in written material than in everyday speech, words that appear across many different kinds of texts (e.g., informational, technical, and literary), and often represent subtle or precise ways to say simpler things (e.g., mention instead of say, consider instead of think)
  • Tier Three: low-frequency, specialized words that are specific to a domain (e.g., solar system, continent); more common in informational texts than in literature; often explicitly defined in the text or taught by the teacher who is focusing on that particular content

Tiers of Vocabulary Graphic - Tier Two

While all tiers are important, teaching Tier Two words can have a tremendous impact on comprehension because of their usefulness in multiple contexts and across a variety of content areas. If a student learns a Tier Two word that will be found across multiple content areas they are learning, this will have a large positive impact on their comprehension in all areas, whereas a Tier Three word specific to a content area would only be relevant to that area.

Teaching Tier Two vocabulary words can often slip through the cracks since they are not unique to a particular content area. They are typically not explicitly defined in the texts which they appear and are less likely to be defined by contextual cues in the text. This makes it even more difficult for students who may have weak vocabulary skills, speech and language delays, or are English language learners to learn these vital words.

There is no one list of Tier Two words to teach. Every curriculum unit will have different Tier Two words so one way to identify Tier Two words is to pull out the texts that will be used in a unit, make lists of vocabulary used in the texts and then sort the words into the different tiers. Pick the Tier Two words that seem most applicable to your child or group of children. There are also some pre-made lists and materials available if that is easier.

If you are interested in a pre-made Tier Two Vocabulary Curriculum Packet check out either my Tier Two Vocabulary Activity Pack for Second and Third Grade or my Tier Two Vocabulary Activity Pack for Fourth and Fifth Grade.

In a future blog post, I will focus on strategies for teaching the Tier Two vocabulary that you have identified!

Tier Two Vocabulary CurriculumTier Two Vocabulary for 4th and 5th Graders


Thanksgiving Book for Elementary Speech Therapy

13 Nov

TurkeyTroubleWhen prepping activities for my elementary speech therapy kids for November I realized that I didn’t have any Thanksgiving or fall themed books that are appropriate for that age group. I started looking around for a book to buy and settled on “Turkey Trouble” by Wendi Silvano.

I am very happy with my purchase! My kids have found this book hilarious and it is perfect for targeting several different language goals. The book is about a turkey who is trying to avoid being eaten for Thanksgiving, so it attempts to disguise itself as other animals around the farm. Each time it tries a new disguise, one of the farm animals tells him why it is not a good enough costume (i.e. he is too skinny to be a cow, too clean to be a pig). I won’t spoil the ending, but the final costume he comes up with is a winner!

I am using the book to work on sequencing and found a nice freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers that includes a sequencing worksheet. It can be found at this link: Turkey Trouble Comprehensive Pack.

The book also offers many opportunities to make predictions and answer “why” questions like “Why didn’t the turkey’s cow costume work?”

I definitely recommend this book for elementary speech therapy in November!

Free Thanksgiving or Fall Articulation Activities

7 Nov

My free Thanksgiving or Fall themed articulation activities for /s/, /z/, and /r/ are now up on Teachers Pay Teachers. Click here to get them.

It includes Thanksgiving/fall themed lists of 30 words for /s/, /z/, and /r/. I use the lists for the whole month and have my students highlight 10 words each week as their words to practice that week and do as homework.

It also includes a bingo game that has Thanksgiving/fall words that have both an /s/ or /z/ and an /r/ sound so it is perfect for mixed articulation groups.


Regular and Irregular Past Tense Verbs Combo Pack

3 Nov

Past Tense Verbs CoverI’m so excited to get started using my Amazing Verbs Regular and Irregular Past Tense Verbs Combo Pack with my kids this week! I have several students working on past tense verbs on my caseload. I have had a hard time finding an organized way to teach both regular and irregular verbs to my kids because some are readers and some are non-readers. They also get bored very easily so I quickly exhausted my past tense activities and worksheets. This pack is my solution to those problems. It is 62 pages, so no chance of running out of activities!

The whole pack has a fun superhero theme and is organized into a regular past tense verbs,  irregular past tense verbs, and mixed regular/irregular past tense verbs. There are 20 regular and 20 irregular past tense verbs targeted.

For both regular and irregular past tense verbs there are pre/post tests, worksheets, sorting mats, game cards, and bingo!

Past Tense Worksheet PreviewPast Tense Sorting Mat Preview

One of my favorite parts of the packet are the Silly Actions Game Cards. The game cards give a funny action to do (“Paint a picture of your face in the air”, “Lick the biggest ice cream cone in the world”). After the student does the funny action, they have to tell what they did using the verb (i.e. “I painted a picture of my face”, “I licked the biggest ice cream cone in the world”).

Past Tense Game Cards Preview

Click on the contents page below to see everything that is included.

Past Tense Contents Preview

Over at Teachers Pay Teachers you can download a free preview that shows more of the activities. Here is the link to the Super Verbs Regular and Irregular Past Tense Verbs Combo Pack on Teachers Pay Teachers. It is on sale for the first 3 days!

Thanksgiving and Fall Free TPT Finds for Speech Therapy

31 Oct

November is almost here! That means putting away all my Halloween activities and pulling out Thanksgiving and fall themed activities. Once again, Teachers Pay Teachers has been a treasure trove of free activities that I can use in speech therapy this month.

First up, Thanksgiving Bingo Create Your Own Luck from Jason’s Online Classroom. What I love about this bingo board set is that kids get to make their own bingo boards with the cute pictures. I use the “creating” of the bingo boards time to target following and giving directions (i.e. “first glue the pumpkin, then glue the scarecrow”, “glue the turkey under the apples). Once the bingo boards are created, it is easy to target several language or articulation goals while playing. I will pull out a picture and ask a “wh” question as the clue (i.e. “What month is Thanksgiving in?”) or for kids that are working on describing I will have them pull out a picture and have them give a clue (i.e. this is something that changes color and falls from trees).

Next, is  the Thanksgiving Roll A Turkey Freebie. I love this style of game because you can work on any goal while playing it. It is similar to the Roll a Scarecrow game that I wrote about in my Halloween Freebies Post.

I also found two nice freebies for prepositions (Thanksgiving Preposition Concept Matching Game) and following directions (Thanksgiving Following Directions Freebie).

Finally, for my students that are working on describing similarities and differences I found the Thanksgiving Compare Contrast Cards.

I am working on a Thanksgiving/fall articulation freebie that I will hopefully be able to get posted soon!

Update:  My S/Z/R Sound Thanksgiving/Fall Freebie is now up on TPT. Click here to get it. It includes word lists and bingo games.

Halloween Articulation Word Search Freebies

9 Oct

My articulation students always seem to enjoy word searches and I like using them in therapy because they are a quiet activity a student can work on while I am working with another student on their sound. Tonight I created a couple Halloween themed articulation word searches for my /r/ and /s/ kids that I can use in the coming weeks. I called them “Spooky Word Searches” in case you cannot refer to Halloween at your school or prefer not too.

Here is a preview of the /r/ word search:

Halloween Articulation ActivityThe word searches are available for FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers here.

Halloween TPT Freebie Finds for Speech Therapy

7 Oct

PumpkinThis week I pulled out my “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything” book as my first Halloween theme activity for the month. I blogged about how much I love this book for speech therapy a few years ago. You can read that post here.

Today I had mostly articulation groups, so I hopped on Teachers Pay Teachers to see if I could find any free activities to pair with the book for my articulation groups and found a couple great activities!

First, I found the Spooky Speech: Halloween Articulation Word Lists and Activities pack from Danielle Reed. This awesome pack has Halloween theme articulation lists for several different sounds and a few activities. I used the “R” list with my 5th grade artic kids today and they really enjoyed it. I had them highlight 10 words they wanted to practice today and we used those words throughout the session. Those words will then be their homework words for the week. Because there are so many words on the list, I plan on having them keep the list all month long to highlight more words each week to work on in our session and then do for homework. Hooray for a whole month of homework planned!

My next freebie find that I will use with all my elementary groups while we are reading through “The Little Old Lady” is from Sped-Ventures Roll or Spin a Scarecrow – Fall/Halloween Center Activity. I printed out the “roll a scarecrow” page from this pack to use as a quick turn-taking game for drilling language and articulation targets. I gave each kid a blank piece of paper to draw their scarecrow and we all loved seeing their silly drawings.

Love the amazing free finds you can find on TPT!

Miss Nelson is Missing! Language and Artic Unit

22 Sep

This year I have groups filled with kids who have very different goals. Even when I have a group of three “language” kids, they all seem to have different goals. This makes it a bit tougher to select activities that cover all their goals in a session. I also have groups that have one language kid, one pragmatic kid, and one language/artic kid. Tricky! My solution for this year is going to be doing lots of literature units. Literature units are great for being able to hit lots of different goals in one session. Plus I just love including books in my sessions and kids seem to love it too.

Miss Nelson Is Missing - Language and ArticulationMy first literature unit this year is going to be on the book, “Miss Nelson is Missing!” This book is very entertaining and good for a variety of grade/ability levels. It is also short enough to read in one or two half hour sessions depending on how much you stretch it out. I searched around for some pre-made activities for the book and while there are loads around, none really suited my needs for directly targeting most language and pragmatic goals. There was nothing I could find focusing on articulation targets. The book is actually fantastic to use for articulation because it is loaded with “R”, “S”, and “L” words (among others!).

So as they say, “necessity is the mother of invention”, and because of that my Miss Nelson is Missing! Language, Pragmatics, and Articulation Unit was born.

It has a bunch of different activities to cover language, pragmatic, and articulation goals. Here are some of the goals that it can be used to target:

Reading/listening comprehension
Synonyms and antonyms
WH Questions – who, where, and why
Past tense verbs – regular and irregular
Describing and comparing/contrasting
Pragmatics – expected vs. unexpected behaviors, perspective taking, feelings, problem solving
Articulation – /r/, /s/, and /l/ in words, sentences, and reading

It includes worksheets for language and pragmatic targets:

Miss Nelson Who Questions Worksheet WatermarkMiss Nelson Perspective Taking Preview Watermarked

Game cards and a game board to work on comprehension, synonyms/antonyms, vocabulary, and more.

Miss Nelson Game Cards Preview WatermarkedMiss Nelson Game Board Preview Watermark

Articulation worksheets and SLP data sheets for taking data while student’s read from the reader’s theater pages.
Miss Nelson Readers Theater Data Preview WatermarkedIt’s 39 pages of activities so plenty of things to cover several therapy sessions. I plan on using it over the next 2-3 weeks with my groups that come two times a week.

The Miss Nelson is Missing Literature Unit can be found over on Teachers Pay Teacher here.

Tier Two Vocabulary Activities for Fourth and Fifth Grade

15 Sep

Tier Two Vocabulary for 4th and 5th GradersLast week I posted about my Tier Two Vocabulary Activity Pack for Second and Third Graders and have been working furiously this week to finish up my Tier Two Vocabulary Curriculum and Activities pack for Fourth and Fifth Graders.

Therapy starts tomorrow and I wanted to have this pack ready to go with my large group of fourth and fifth graders with vocabulary and semantic goals. This pack has similar activities to those in the Second and Third Grade pack with a few additional activities to target figurative language and antonyms since those are goals that Fourth and Fifth graders often have. Figurative language is also part of the Common Core Standards for Fourth and Fifth grade.

Like the Second and Third Grade pack, this pack targets 60 tier two words (30 at each grade level) with worksheets, game cards, “Apples to Apples” style game cards, graphic organizers, and word wall visuals.

Worksheets and Cards Preview

I can’t wait to get started with all these vocabulary activities with my kids. I have never had an organized system for teaching vocabulary while working on other goals as well. I feel much better this year having a plan and ready to go activities to really get my kid’s vocabulary skills going!

You can find the pack here over on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Steps to Articulation Therapy Visual

13 Sep

Whew! It has been a long week of trying to get my new room and caseload organized and decorated. I finally had some time today to do a few fun things around my room and get a little crafty! Now I don’t consider myself a crafty person but I think my Articulation Steps visual turned out not too shabby. To make it I picked up a variety pack of rainbow patterned card stock and some ribbon at Michaels with their good coupons. The hardest part assembling it was getting the length of ribbon close to matching between each card. Once I got the hang of that it only took about 20 minutes to get it assembled. If I get really motivated, I will write my artic kids names on clothespins to attach onto the visual at whatever step they currently working.

Articulation Therapy Steps Visual