Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mentor Text Exploration: Vocabulary (Tier 1,2,3)


Excerpt from Pauline Gibbons Book:

The sociocultural approach to learning recognizes that with assistance, learners can reach beyond what they can read unaided, participate in new situations, and take on new roles. This assisted performance is encapsulated in Vygotsky's notion of the zone of proximal development, or ZPD, which desribes the "gap" between what learners can do alone and what they can do with help from someone more skilled. This situated help is often known as "scaffolding" (Gibbons 2002).

Scaffolding, in the way it is used here, has three major characteristics:

A) It is temporary help that assists a learner to move toward new concepts, levels of understanding, and new language.

B) It enables a learner to know how to do something (not just what to do), so that they will be better able to complete similar tasks alone.

C) It is future orientated: in Vygotsky's words, what a learner can do with support today, he or she will be able to do alone tomorrow.

Scaffolding is therefore teacher support in action, and is the core learning and teaching for autonomy (Mariani 1997).

Excerpt from Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction

Recall that Tier One consists of the most basic words- clock, baby, happy- rarely requiring instruction in school. Tier Three includes words whose frequency of use is quite low, often being limited to specific domains- isotope, lathe, peninsula- and probably best learned when needed in a content area. Tier Two words are high frequency words for mature language users- coincidence, absurd, industrious- and thus instruction in these words can add productively to an individual's language ability.

Some Criteria for Identifying Tier Two Words
A) Importance & Utility: Words that are characteristic of mature language users and appear frequently across a variety of domains.
B) Instructional potential: Words that can be worked with in a variety of ways so that students can build rich representations of them and their connections to other words and concepts.
C) Conceptualized understanding: Words for which students understand the general concept but provide precision and specificity in describing the concept.

Return to our first blog post and look at the excerpt you selected to use for a mentor text. In that same excerpt notice the number of Tier One, Tier Two and Tier Three words used to construct the mentor text itself. Then complete the following exercise in this week's blog post:

1) Copy the mentor text you posted last week into your new blog post so that we can see it in this week's post. (If you feel like last week's post doesn't have any Tier Two words for you to use then feel free to post a new excerpt- no longer than one paragraph)

2) Choose between 3 to 5 Tier Two from the mentor text you posted last week.

3. Create student friendly explanations (not from the dictionary) for the words you selected. Try to include the words something, someone, or describes in your explanation.


  1. "Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage".

    Maya Angelou

    1. Virtue-describes goodness in a person

    2. Erratically-describes something that is done that is not normal

    3. Consistently- describes something that is done the same way each time it is completed

  2. Alecia WallingfordFebruary 5, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    "The new lieutenant-colonel was offended by the suggestion that he was not a professional soldier, and he regaled the crew with stories of his amatory exploits with gorgeous women – all of which had left his heart absolutely untouched. The crew remained skeptical, pretending to the opinion that the lieutenant-colonel had never, for all his lascivious questing, exposed himself to an intelligent, haughty beauty such as the one in the locked stateroom." (The Sirens of Titan)

    1. Suggestion: a suggestion is an idea someone puts forth that they believe will better a situation
    2. Skeptical: someone is skeptical if they doubt or don't quite yet believe in things they see or hear
    3. Questing: when someone is questing they are on a journey in search of something
    4. Exposed: when someone or something is exposed they are vulnerable and completely open to view
    5. Intelligent: The word intelligent is used to describe someone who has the ability to learn many things quickly

  3. Oi campanas distantes, senti la fragancia del alma de Delgadina dormidad de costado, oi un grito en el horizonte, sollozos de alguien quien quizas habia muerto un siglo antes en la alcoba. Entonces apague la luz con el ultimo aliento, entrelace mis dedos con los suyos para llevarmela de la mano, y conte las doces campanadas de las doce con mis doce lagrimas finales”(108) Memories of my Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    1. Costado- de lado (when someone or something is on their side)
    2. Sollozos- el ruido que haces al llorar (the noise you make when you cry, sobs)
    3. Aliento- respiro o suspiro (a long breath, a sigh)

  4. “… cannibalism in Vanuatu was a form of ancestor worship. In Kiribati, for instance, when someone dies, it is customary for family members to partake of the flesh of the decomposing corpse, ladling it into a kind of soup, which is then consumed, ensuring that, for those in bereavement for Grandma, she will always remain some part of them. I’d prefer a wake of a different sort, but as someone raised Catholic, I could get my head around the custom. The starchy wafer produced by nuns, given to us towards the end of Mass—provided, of course, that we confessed our sins and preformed our penance (four Hail Mary’s and three Our Fathers, typically for not making up my bed, being mean to my sister, and having unholy thoughts)—was, we were assured by Father David, the very flesh of Jesus. (Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Maarten Troost, p. 81)

    Customary (adjective-describing word) = normal for a group of people
    Example: It is customary to fist bump with your friends in San Diego.

    Consumed (verb-action word, base form-to consume) = to eat or drink
    Example: I consumed too much candy on Halloween so I got sick!

    Bereavement (noun-thing) = the feeling of sadness we feel after someone close to us dies
    Example: I was in bereavement for a long time after my dog Trooper died.

  5. “Buddy, the wind is blowing.”
    The wind is blowing and nothing will do until we’ve run to a pasture below the house where Queenie has scooted to bury her bone (and, where, a winter hence, Queenie will be buried too). There, plunging through the healthy waist-high grass, we unreel our kites, feel them twitching at the string like sky fish as they swim into the wind. (Truman Capote A Christmas Memory)

    scoot - Describes a way of running very fast from one point to another

    hence - A word used to describe something that will happen at a future time

    plunge - Describes a way of going into a place or a situation without hesitation

    twitch - Describes a way of moving in short, jerky movements

  6. (I selected a different part of the same mentor text. I felt that my previous piece was conveyed purposefully in such simple terms, but that this on encapsulates more tier 2 words)

    The TV shows pictures from Florida: a man unable to stand because of wind, cars abandoned, trees lying on the ground. The weatherman says: "In Florida, several are reported missing and the damages are in the millions. While Katrina was just a Category One, she was slow moving causeing greater than normal damage. Now she's two, on her way to becoming three times more powerful. When she lands again, the destruction will be unfathomable."

    Unfathomable. I need to look it up. I can guess what it means, but I want to know exactly.

    (The Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes)

    Abandoned: a word that describes anything that has been left by itself; alone.

    Damage: harm, injury, or loss caused to a person, place or thing.

    Category: a word to describe a certain group or division in a larger group. In this example, category is a word that describes the type of hurricane that Katrina is becoming. Category 1 is a smaller hurricane, and the further the category goes up, the worse the hurricane becomes

    Powerful: a word that describes someone or something that is strong either physically or mentally; a word that describes someone or something that has a lot of influence or control.

    Unfathomable: a word that describes something that is impossible to understand or something that cannot be measured.

  7. “Extraordinary creative activity has been characterized as revolutionary, flying in the face of what is established and producing not what is acceptable but what will become accepted.”

    Extraordinary-describing something or somebody greater or better than usual

    Revolutionary-describing something or somebody making a great change

    Characterize-to describe the specialties of something or somebody

    Establish-to start something like a company, an organization or a relationship

    Produce-to create something, or to have a baby or baby animals

    Accept-to agree, welcome, or believe somebody or something

  8. "When I got off at my stop, I suddenly realized that he was walking alongside me. I braced myself for the hassle that would come next, my mind racing ahead to various tactics for shaking him. He accompanied me in silence until we got to the street. 'You have beautiful eyes,' he said finally. I thanked him politely. And then he was gone-no ulterior motive, no agenda." (FOREIGN AFFAIRS, by Holly Brubach-I selected a different text as my first post didn't include enough tier 2 vocabulary)

    1: hassle: describes the act of bothering, annoying or being rude to someone. Can also be used to described a task that is boring or a pain to do.
    2: tactics: describes strategies or methods or a preconceived plan to deal with a problem. A way of fending off something or someone effectively. Kind of like the word tackle-is used a lot to describe a defensive plan.
    3: ulterior motive: describes an underlying plan or reason for doing something that is usually not apparent or made clear by someone who is attempting to do or get something from someone without the other person realizing it.
    4: braced: to hold on tight to something or someone, usually right before something is about to happen. Can also be used to describe the act of preparing for something physical about to happen such as a storm, bad news (you are about to get shoved by a bully, you are about to get fired, your dog has to be put to sleep etc,)
    5: agenda: can be used to describe a calendar like book or planner. Agenda frequently describes the plan of the day in a meeting or what will be discussed. Also describes a person's reason or motive for doing something. Can also be reffered to as someone's "angle." Similar to the slang term of"mo" which comes from latin term "modus operandi" which describes why someone does something or describes their attitude/style/manner of doing something.

  9. 1) “The Golden Gate Bridge is a well-recognized landmark in the United States. It spans the Golden Gate Strait - a mile-wide stretch of water that connects the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. The Golden Gate Bridge itself connects the city of San Francisco with Marin County on the other side of the Strait. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most beautiful bridges in the world. It is also one of the tallest. The idea for a bridge across the strait had been around for many years, because San Francisco suffered from its isolated location.” (9th grade text on The Golden Gate Bridge)

    2) Two Tiered Words:
    Recognized : remember, recall
    Landmark: distinctive feature, place to remember
    Connects: joins, puts together
    Suffered: pain or affective by
    Isolated: closed off, kept separate, singled out

    3) Student Explanations:
    Recognize . Look at examples students can relate with. For example, I recognize student A wore her hair in a pony tail today. I noticed it. To notice or recall is to recognize.
    Landmark. Show different landmarks. Explain that a landmark could be marker (a tree someone parks next to to remember where they parked), something that is distinctive or original to something (Golden Gate Bridge), or a critical decision (deciding to choose a certain profession).
    Connects. Puts together. Have students realize that it is more than just placing two objects together to connect them, but it can be a similarity that connects two ideas or objects.
    Suffered. Someone can suffer if they are physically injured. Someone can also suffer if they are deprived of something such as food.
    Someone could be isolated if they are not included in the classroom. They could be isolated if they are taken away from someone or thing.

  10. My original mentor text had very simple language, but profound meaning. I ended up selecting a different quote.

    "Love, compassion, and tolerance are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” - the 14th Dalai Lama

    1. Necessities - Things you must have, like food and water

    Necessities are things you have to have, not things you want to have, like food and water.

    2. Luxaries - Things you want, but don't need

    Luxaries are items that we don't really need, but they make our lives better. For example, video games are luxaries, you don't have to have them in the way that you have to have food and water, but it makes life more fun.

    3. Tolerance - Being open to people or ideas that are different from your own.

    Tolerance is when you may not agree with someone but you let them be and don't bother them. For example, if you really like football and another student thinks it's the worst sport ever, instead of fighting about what sport is the best everyday, you let them have their own opinion.

    4. Compassion: When someone has a problem, you feel for them and want to help.

    Campassion means when something bad is happening to someone else, you put yourself in their shoes and feel like you want to help. For example, if you see someone who is very sick in a hospital and you want to do something to make them feel better, you are being compassionate. If you were not compassionate you wouldn't care about what the other person is going through because it isn't happening to you.

  11. "like anything else in life..if you go at it 'specting something bad to happen, all you gunn do is draw that bad thing to you. You caint be timid 'bout nothing you do, you got to go at it like you 'specting good things to come out of it.

    Another example from my the same book as the first didn't have enough words to Tier.
    " We learnt a long time ago not to make no big commotion when we first seen em. We learnt that all the running they'd been doing, all the looking over their shoulders and not knowing when they were gonna eat again or where they were gonna sleep or who they could trust made em skittish and even dangerous and not likely to take to on one running at them."
    Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

    1. 'specting- expecting. Something you are waiting for.
    2. timid-shy, the opposite of outgoing
    3. commotion- to make a big deal out of something, to make a lot of noise
    4. skittish- in this text it means to make someone feel uneasy, not comfortable, a bit anxious and nervous.