Part of our work in SPaG lessons is to teach vocabulary. We do this by using words from the model text in our Talk for Writing sequence. As such, each class has a word garden, where unknown words are put on the board to ‘grow’. Once pupils understand what they mean and can use them in a variety of contexts and sentences, they are moved to the ‘words we know’ section of the board.

How do we teach vocabulary at Hexham First? 

Vocabulary comes in three tiers, Tier 1 is a group of words that we would use in everyday life and that children are exposed to on a regular basis. 

Tier 2 words are words that appear in different contexts and can support pupil’s comprehension of a text. Tier 3 words are more subject specific and could be taught in a science topic for example.

Recently, we have started to look more at how we can develop Tier 2 vocabulary across school. We have created a list of Tier 2 words that each year group will teach their pupils. Each class chooses a ‘Tier 2 word of the week’ from the list to focus on.

Lessons take place throughout the week that immerse the pupils in reading, understanding and using the word in a variety of situations. We look at the dictionary definition of the word, synonyms that can be used in its place, the word class (is it an adjective, verb, noun?) and how we can use it within different sentence types. Each week, this Tier 2 word is displayed on a sunflower in the word garden as well as in the dining hall for everyone to see


Why Tier Two Words?

In school, we tend to focus on the spelling of tier 1 words (sight words) and the instruction of tier 3 words (academic words). It isn’t often that kids receive explicit instruction of tier 2 words, but they should.

The graphic below explains the difference between the three “tiers” of words. Thinking of it like a birthday cake, it makes sense that we shouldn’t be skipping the instruction of the middle tier, or layer.