Tier 3 Words: Vocabulary & Activities

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

As students advance through school, they learn a variety of new vocabulary words. Tier 3 words can be particularly challenging because they are often content-specific. This lesson provides teachers with Tier 3 word lists and accompanying classroom activities.

Tier 3 Vocabulary and Classroom Games

Tier 3 words are commonly defined as low-frequency, subject-specific words. It is common practice to teach these words as part of content-specific lessons. The following word lists are a small sample of the thousands of Tier 3 words that can be used for the activities in this lesson. Feel free to add Tier 3 words that you feel would be beneficial for your students.

Tier 3 Word List - English Language Arts (A-I)

  1. Abbreviation
  2. Abstract
  3. Acronym
  4. Adage
  5. Advocacy
  6. Ambience
  7. Articulation
  8. Audible
  9. Authoritative
  10. Bandwagon
  11. Bias
  12. Brainstorm
  13. Clarification
  14. Cohesion
  15. Composition
  16. Diagram
  17. Diction
  18. Distinction
  19. Diverse
  20. Editorial
  21. Efficient
  22. Emphasis
  23. Etiquette
  24. Feedback
  25. Figurative
  26. Focus
  27. Formal
  28. Genre
  29. Gesture
  30. Hardware
  31. Heading
  32. Historical
  33. Humor
  34. Hyperbole
  35. Hyperlink
  36. Idiom
  37. Illustration
  38. Imperative
  39. Informal
  40. Interpretation

Tier 3 Word List - Mathematics and Science (A-I)

  1. Absolute value
  2. Abstract
  3. Additive
  4. Adjacent
  5. Algebraic
  6. Algorithm
  7. Approximate
  8. Base
  9. Beaker
  10. Biased sample
  11. Binary system
  12. Blueprint
  13. Calculation
  14. Category
  15. Corresponding
  16. Cubic
  17. Data
  18. Decibel
  19. Decimal
  20. Diagram
  21. Equation
  22. Equivalent
  23. Exponent
  24. Finite
  25. Force
  26. Generalization
  27. Geometric
  28. Graph
  29. Horizontal
  30. Identical
  31. Improbability
  32. Inference
  33. Input
  34. Intercept
  35. Irregular

Find the Word

  1. All students place the same textbook on their desks. Any type of science or math text generally works well.
  2. Call out a specific page number and start a timer.
  3. Students open their books to the page you called out and try to find as many Tier 3 words as possible before time is up.
  4. After one minute, figure out which student has found the most Tier 3 words on that page.
  5. Ask the student to read the words aloud. As the student reads, write the words on the blackboard.
  6. When the student has finished reading, discuss with the class the definitions and uses of the words you wrote on the board.
  7. You can further the discussion by asking if students think any of the words on the blackboard are not Tier 3. If there is disagreement, encourage class feedback to determine the reasons and possible solutions.

Keep A List and Check It Twice

This activity can be used over a longer period of time or during a single lesson. Before you being a study unit, tell students to keep a list of all of the Tier 3 words they encounter in their readings, assignments, and other components of the lesson or overall topic. At the end of the class or the end of the week, ask for a few volunteers to write their lists of Tier 3 words on the blackboard.

As students should be studying the same material, it can be interesting to observe the similarities and differences in the lists. As part of a class discussion, try to raise the following questions about the student provided lists:

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