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How to use strategies of word selection

Modelling how to use three methods of word selection to identify vocabulary to teach
So we are going to have a look at the poem lone dog and think a little bit about how we might identify some of those words and I’m going to think with lone dog about the idea of useful, important and difficult words. So, as I’m looking through, I think im going to start by looking at the important words as that’s really key to understanding the poem, so the first one I pick up quite obviously would be the word lone – absolutely core to the concept of this poem and quite a tricky word for some children, so we need to look at that one.
Most of that first verse is fairly clear and some tricky bits which I’ll pick up again in a minute. I think other important words are those words that relate to how we know about the character of the dog and how he’s feeling and the position he’s in, so you might pick up a word such as cringing, because that really shows a lot about his character, but also what’s actually happening - that’s a really key keyword that children would need to understand and also within that same verse at the end ‘but sharp shut door and sharp stone’ and ‘cuff’ and ‘kick’ and ‘hate’ - they’d be okay with kick and hate but cuff, cuff because I think is a really important word there to be to get that sense of how the dogs been treated.
Perhaps looking at the last verse got a few tricky ones and quite useful words in there - maybe that word ‘quest’ at the end because, actually, that sort of captures what’s going on in there that the dogs quest for food quest for survival. Quite a significant important word, so I’m quite happy with those as important ones – I’m going to go to the difficult ones next, as those are sometimes want to jump out.
We’re okay in the first verse I think until you get that last line ‘I love to sit and bay the moon to keep fat souls from sleep’ I think that’s quite tricky isn’t it - primary kids, understanding that and actually it’s little phrases rather than particular word, so I think ‘bay the moon’ is a really difficult collection of words, the and moon fine but ‘bay’ is a word you might look at its own concept of it being together and I think also ‘fat souls’ – you know ‘souls’ is quite a tricky difficult word for children, but the idea of ‘fat souls’ why are they fat – well its because everyone else is fat except that the dog at the moment so I think that’s really difficult for children as well.
Okay, we’ve got a couple of difficults – useful, useful words. Let’s have a look through for useful words. I think useful words that really carry the meaning you really do need to get an understanding of to be able to follow the poem so in verse two, links a bit with cringing I suppose. I might pick that would ‘meek’ - it’s a really useful adjective and an interesting adjective to describe the dog, so quite useful I think for the children’s understanding of this poem.
Let’s go on down here in verse three ‘Some have run a short while, but none of them would bide’ you could possibly put bide in difficult words but I think it’s a really useful word, because without that word, you’re not really understanding the fact that that’s why he’s alone because they’re not sticking with him and he really is the lone dog. So I think those are probably the words that I would pick out from that poem - you might pick different ones out, but that’s a good starting point. Okay, let’s have a think now then about one of the other ways of selecting words with a different poem.
Let’s look at the tiers of words – tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 words and for this we’re going to look at the poem ‘Nettles’ by Vernon Scanell, which is more of a probably more of a secondary poem, but you could use it with children at the top of primary.
So I’m actually going to dive straight in at tier 2, because tier 2 words of the really important ones, so there’s loads of tier 2 words in here so let’s have a little look through ‘my son age three fell on the nettle bed’ - nettle bed, that’s definitely going in there because we may know what a nettle is but that idea of a nettle bed I think is a concept that would need to be explored.
‘Beds into curious name for those green spears’ you could possibly pick green spears, depending on the children that you’re working with green easy concept ‘spears’, it’s one of those words with two meanings and I think for that reason that makes it quite a tier 2 word so I’m just going to pop that one in ‘green spears’ is interesting that we got little phrases in here again. ‘Regiment’ I think that’s got to go in, you know, it’s clearly military terminology – it’s not quite tier 3 because actually it’s got a variety of means again but definitely tier 2 – that ‘regiment of spite’.
I think you could possibly put ‘spite’ in there it’s not perhaps an emotion that is a very easy one for children to understand or describe it is not as concrete as some - okay carrying on a little bit. Possibly, I’m probably not going to write this one down, you could have ‘white blisters beaded’ - that idea of beading could be a tier 2 word. Actually if you look at the next line ‘we soothed him and his pain was not so raw’ I think soothed is definitely a tier 2 word and really key as well to understanding relationships between the father and son in this poem.
Carrying on ‘then I took my hook honed the blade’ – ‘I took my hook and honed the blade’ - honed has got to go in there I think. It’s quite a sophisticated verb and one that would need to be explored. Fierce parade, possibly put fierce parade in there - I’m not so sure but you could as they are tier 2 words. ‘Funeral pyre’ - pyre undoubtedly. Oh spelt it wrong – there you are you see we all make mistakes! To burn the fallen dead. In two weeks ‘the busy sun and rain had called up tall recruits behind the shed’.
I think recruits again it’s really interesting when you look at poetry, particularly a lot of those tier 2 words have got this double meanings and recruits really has the verb and the noun. Nice full set of tier 2 words. I don’t actually think there were really any tier 3 words in this poem and there’s nothing that is particularly specialised subject specific words like regiment, recruits possibly, but I think because of the double meanings that they’re more tier 2 words in the context of this poem.
I think when you look at tier 1 words most of the other words a tier 1 words so I’m not going to pick them out but if you look just as first-line - My son aged three, fell in the’ we’ve got a whole range of tier 1 words. So I won’t be picking them out what you would want to be, though, is alert to where children’s understanding of the poem might be falling down because there may be a tier 1 word that they’re struggling to understand. Okay, last way of thinking about which words and why thinking about Avril Coxheads high incidence academic word list is.
It’s interesting on this one because obviously we are we looking at a poem or poems, so it’s unlikely that any of this vocabulary will actually turn up in the poem. It could, but in this case is actually doesn’t. So what I’m thinking about here is terminology vocabulary that we might use when we’re discussing this poem that may help the children to convey the concepts and to convey their understanding. So I’ve just had a quick look down through here, there’s not loads but I might be able to pick up a word like ‘establish’ – that’s the sort of language you might usually talking about poem - we can establish that.
Illustrate an image, so when we talking about the visual imagery in the poem and the actual sort of literary devices of those images we would use perhaps illustrate image. You’ve got the things that relate more to the concept of the military thing here so we’ve got words like military that we might well use in the concept in the context of nettles. I also began to think about other words that are not on this list that might be termed academic vocabulary that you might use.
I came up with a couple things like conflict or aggression, which are words that go across different disciplines, subject disciplines, but would be very relevant, particularly for nettles and also maybe that very slightly more literary specific terms like metaphor, metaphorical. Again, words that you would use beyond talking about this poem specifically and in that context I think makes them academic words.
In this video Rebecca demonstrates the three methods of word selection as mentioned in the previous step using a text. She uses the Academic word list, Useful/Important/Difficult table and Tiers of vocabulary table which are all available to download below.
You may want to read the poem Lone Dog by Irene Rutherford Mcleod , a text suitable for primary age children, and Nettles by Vernon Scanell more suitable for older primary or secondary age pupils, to engage with and understand how Becca is identifying words in the video above.
Rebecca starts off looking at how to use the useful / important / difficult chart, then at 3:40 minutes in to the video she models using the tiers of vocabulary chart. At 7:20 minutes in, she uses the academic word list.

If you haven’t already downloaded these charts, you can do so below.

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