Academic Vocabulary

Aleia Burwell

What is Tier 3 Academic Vocabulary?

Academic vocabulary is a vital part of learning and understanding. In grade school we begin to teach basic vocabulary as shown in the Tier 1 picture below, students begin to recognize words and general meanings. Later students are taught high frequency word and grasp a greater comprehension and application of the word in reading and writing. Finally as students enter High School, Teachers expound on vocabulary and introduce "domain specific" words. These words develop a deeper knowledge and application of the content area.

Promote Growth and Understanding in Tier 3 Vocabulary

Teaching Family and Consumer Science, specifically Foods, allows for hands on participation and demonstration. Fisher and Frey (2008) describe "kinesthetic in role-play, citing students involved in “acting-out” vocabulary use movement and gestures to portray a word and are likely to remember the word because they must think critically about the features of the word" (p. 70). Students who are able to visualize and interact with concept of words are better at explaining and retaining information in their long-term memory.

I hope to incorporate academic vocabulary daily and assist in utilizing words through writing and speaking in class. I feel thought vocabulary matching games, that will promote critical thinking, and constant repetition students will be knowledgeable about their content and able to speak in a variety of settings.

Vocabulary Instruction

Blachowicz and FIsher (2009) "identified four principles for effective vocabulary instruction.

  • Be actively involved in word learning;
  • Make personal connections;
  • Be immersed in vocabulary; and
  • Consolidate meaning through multiple information sources" (p. 64)

Tier 3 words are "domain specific" and Fisher and Frey (2008) describe the words as " "dense" in meaning; that is, the level of knowledge necessary to fully understand the word is directly related to the content itself "(p. 65).

Teaching Foods, students are able to make personal connections. While student may have seen a Grandmother kneading bread, they may have not made a connection with the term, meaning or the importance of the process. After visualizing the process of kneading bread the student would be more invested in learning the word and analyzing the process for a greater knowledge base and retention when seen again.


Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2008). Improving adolescent literacy: Content area strategies at work (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Blachowicz, C., & Fisher, P.J. (2009). Teaching vocabulary in all classrooms (4th ed.). New York; Pearson