Fantastic and Free First Fridays: Tier 2 Vocabulary Lessons + Quizlets!

As the adult education field transitions to the College & Career Readiness Standards by way of required shifts to new tests, the standards—which turned 5 years old this year—have for all intents and purposes become required as opposed to being a guiding document for curriculum development and alignment. 

I knew I was holding on to my Scrabble board game for something!!

The CCRS represent an increase in rigor and complexity for adult education, summarized by key shifts in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. For literacy, with the increased focus on informational text and the role it plays in our everyday lives for learning new things and understanding the world around us, the key shifts pay attention specifically to "the close connection between comprehension of text and acquisition of knowledge." 

Given that research suggests complexity of text represents the greatest indicator of success for learners' college and career pursuits, the first core shift of the standards is "Complexity: Regular practice with complex text and its academic language." While there seem to be plenty of resources out there that provide complex texts, there is limited attention paid to the academic vocabulary within—both in instruction and assessment. While most intermediate learners have a good grasp of Tier 1 words—concrete words (and often nouns) that comprise the majority of most basic level texts—they often struggle with Tier 2 words. Tier 2 words include academic vocabulary that begins to appear in intermediate level texts—words such as significant, evaluate, and perspective—and needs to be mastered in order for learners to comprehend and connect concepts as they engage with more complex texts required for acquiring new knowledge through reading. 

Recognizing this gap in resources aimed specifically at developing Tier 2 vocabulary, adult basic educators across North Carolina took it upon themselves to develop a comprehensive curriculum that provides easy-to-implement activities for instruction of Tier 2 vocabulary. The result is this month's Fantastic and Free First Fridays Resource of the Month—Teaching Vocabulary for Intermediate Adult Learners from Appalachian State University's Reich College of Education. 

1) Download. 2) Print. 3) Go!

The curriculum is comprised of (at present) a total of 38 lessons that include a total of 190 Tier 2 vocabulary words. Each lesson is a downloadable Word document, allowing for instructors to adjust as they see fit. Within each lesson, learners begin with a knowledge rating scale, providing opportunity to rate their current and ongoing understanding of the words. This is followed by listings of words and their definitions, examples of the words being used within sentences, and routine series of exercises. At the end of each lesson are authentic readings that incorporate all five words within the passage. (Note: Some of these readings are original works and are included in the Word document; others draw from publisher resources.)

In addition to this curriculum, Appalachian State University's website includes a number of great resources supporting Evidence-based Reading Instruction—including this assessment packet that includes ways to test learners' alphabetics, comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary levels—the latter of which is done by way of an oral administration of the Word Meaning Test. 

Mom Always Said, "Leave things better than you found them."

In the spirit of demonstrating the power of sharing, we challenged ourselves to develop something technology-based and mobile-friendly to support these great lessons. Using Quizlet—an awesome, free resource used by many adult educators to develop flash cards and quizzes—we've taken all 38 lessons and created study sets for each, as well as a master set of all 190 words. You can access all 39 sets by clicking on this link

For each lesson, there are a range of activities students can work on to develop their mastery of the words, including listening and spelling exercises, matching exercises, and more. Quizlet's auto-generated audio readings of text is one of the best I've seen out there, so all of the words and definitions also include audio. 

All of these exercises are free to use and easy to share with others. Quizlet also allows you to copy sets to your own account, meaning you grab your own copy and adjust. This could include adding pictures, adding your own audio recordings of the readings of words and definitions, and more.

Quizlet is ΓΌber mobile-friendly. (Left) This shows the range of activities that can be done on a mobile device. Each of the words and definitions shown on the bottom are read aloud when tapped. (Middle) Matching activity. (Right) Each activity type can have settings adjusted, including audio settings and question types.
Best of all, each Quizlet can be embedded into Google Classroom or learning management systems such as Canvas so learners can access them directly within the body of a course. With this in mind, you technically could create your own vocabulary course within an LMS that simply includes the Word docs from Appalachian State University and the associated Quizlet decks.

One Great Resource + A Couple Volunteer Hours = Increased Options for Learning

The development of these Quizlet sets took our "volunteer" just a couple of hours to create. Imagine if we found a few great resources such as Teaching Vocabulary for Intermediate Adult Learners and set volunteers out on doing similar work? Or, what if we took each of the domains of the College & Career Readiness Standards and established volunteer teams to create vocabulary decks to support learners with mobile-friendly options for developing key vocabulary? There is so much we can do if we work together! 

We have a lot of events coming up over the next few weeks to share the work we are doing and tell more about how you can help. Here's how you can get involved:
  1. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on our projects and opportunities to volunteer or spread the word of our work. 
  2. Become a volunteer! If we all tackle this work in small, organized efforts, imagine the impact we can make? In fact, on Monday, November 5, we have a webinar that introduces the volunteer opportunities that are going to open up starting in January of next year! (Sign up here.) 
  3. Join the Crowd! We are going to soon be launching a #jointhecrowdedu campaign to raise awareness and raise funds for the development of SkillBlox. In the meantime, please sign your name to let people know this is necessary work to support the adult education field and increase learning opportunities for our nation's adult learners. 
  4. Join us for one of our upcoming webinars on topics such as blended learning and strategies for integrating technology in the adult education classroom.
In the meantime, enjoy this month's resource and, as always, please share out ideas for how to use this with adult learners!


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