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Learn More About Vocabulary

When selecting vocabulary words for the third grade structured program, the BLAST staff chooses words found in the text of the read aloud book. When the students re-read the text, the vocabulary words are then reinforced.

"Conventional wisdom suggests that the major means for developing studentís vocabulary should focus on learning words in context," (Bringing Words to Life, Beck, Isabel). BLAST selects words that are high frequency and slightly above the readerís level. Words are chosen that expand a childís vocabulary knowledge. Most third graders know what the word "scary" means, but may not know the meaning of "petrified." BLAST does not formally teach vocabulary specific to text. For example, the word "tinder" would not be taught in a story about camping.

This method of choosing vocabulary is based on the tier system described in Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction by Isabel Beck. Tier One consists of the most basic words. Tier Two consists of words that mature readers are likely to encounter in everyday life. Tier Three are words that relate specifically to the story.

The BLAST staff selects words that fall within the Tier Two framework. According to Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, there are three identifying criteria for Tier Two words. The importance and utility are "words and characteristic of mature language users and appear frequently across a variety of domains." The instructional potential of words determines a word's ability to be "worked with in a variety of ways so that students can build rich representations of them and of their connections to other words and concepts." The final criteria is denoted by conceptual understanding, or "words for which students understand the general concept but provide precision and specificity in describing the content." (Beck, McKeown, Kucan)