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Vocabulary Units

The vocabulary curriculum accessible from this Google folder was originally created by two STAR trainers from the Adult Learning Resource Center, Arlington Heights, IL, in 2009-2010. With their permission, the units and lessons were adapted by Melissa Lupinek and Vicki Ostrom, Central MN ABE (Cambridge), in 2012. The original units covered 10 Tier 2 words. The adapted lessons cover only 5 Tier 2 words, a more reasonable number for students to learn deeply.

The concept of word tiers was developed over 30 years ago and based on frequency within English spoken and written language (Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. G. & Omanson, R., 1987).

  • Tier 1 words are frequent in everyday, spoken language; examples include familiar and concrete words such as store, girl, truck.
  • Tier 2 words are frequent in written language at or above 4th grade level; examples include abstract and academic words such as approach, benefit, contract.
  • Tier 3 words are frequent only in content-specific, written materials; examples include math/history/science words such as pyramid, emancipation, ecology.

Tier 2 words are essential for ABE students to know in order to read and understand the academic language used in print or online text. If they are not readers, they do not encounter and do not learn enough Tier 2 words. The experts referenced above recommend explicitly teaching Tier 2 words when students “can manage everyday conversation.”

Suggestions for Use:

For each Lesson, there are Teacher Notes for modeling, Student Activities for guided practice and application to context, and Teacher Answer Keys for checking. Each Unit also has a Review activity.

  1. Use the Teacher Notes only as a guide for modeling and oral introduction – do not copy and distribute to students.
  2. TELL students the pronunciation, “friendly” meaning, and part of speech – one word at a time.
  3. SHARE the two contexts for each word. After students are more familiar with each word and its usage, ASK them to share personal contexts.
    Note: Beginning with Unit 11, other members of word families are listed on the Teacher Notes. Present them carefully to avoid “word overload.”
  4. Select Student Activities to complete together and alone. Begin with simple, closed activities like Matching, Fill in the Blank, Fill in the Blanks.
  5. As students develop deeper knowledge of the words, scaffold to more complex, open activities like Sentence Completion, True/False/Why, Yes/No/Why, and Writing Prompts. Not all activities need to be completed!