Sylphie's Squizzes: Proud Proboscis

article by Zoë Disher , photo by Alamy

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to use Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary so that I can express a greater precision of meaning in my discussion of a text.

Success Criteria:

  • I can identify and define Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary in a text.
  • I understand the codes and conventions of a nature documentary.
  • I can apply my knowledge of precise vocabulary when delivering commentary in the style of a nature documentary.

Essential Knowledge:

More information on the commonly understood arrangement of text types can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Code and Convention.

An explanation of the distinction between Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary can be found on the NSW Education site Vocabulary.

Read the article as a class. If you have a digital subscription you may wish to listen to the audio recording on The School Magazine website. After reading, discuss the content of the article. Suggested discussion points include:

  • What is this article about? (The proboscis monkey – their physical features and personality characteristics.)
  • What are some important details from the article? (Answers will vary. Students are likely to identify the characteristics and features, habitat, diet and predators.)
  • What are some interesting details from the article? (Again, answers will vary. Some examples are specific features of their nose or their full and round belly.)

Once students have a thorough understanding of the content of the article, explain the distinction between Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary (adapt the definitions to suit your class):

  • Tier 1: Most basic, typically appear in oral conversations, rarely require instructional attention.
  • Tier 2: High utility, found across domains, more likely to be written than spoken.
  • Tier 3: Low frequency, limited to specific topics and domains, low utility.

Explain that while Tier 2 words are the most important words to know and understand, when you want to sound like an expert on a topic you need to use Tier 3 words. Using a T-Chart, model how to identify a range of Tier 2 and Tier 3 words in the text. Some examples are below:

Tier 2 Tier 3















Students should notice that there is only a limited amount of Tier 3 vocabulary in the text. This is to suit the primary school audience. Provide students with a range of additional websites to conduct research and locate Tier 3 vocabulary so that they can become experts on the proboscis monkey. Students should define the Tier 3 vocabulary as they locate it.

Finally, show students a YouTube clip of a proboscis monkey, without sound. (Suggested resource: Proboscis Monkeys | World's Weirdest.)

List the codes and conventions of nature commentary:

  1. Describes what the animal is doing on the screen.
  2. Embeds a range of facts about the animal at appropriate moments (habitat, diet, size, predators).
  3. Uses a range of Tier 3 vocabulary to establish the commentator as the expert on the animal.

Provide students with access to the muted version of the clip. Students should watch the events in the clip and construct their own nature documentary to superimpose over it. Students should construct notes (“cheat sheet”) which list the facts, details and Tier 3 vocabulary they will use as part of their commentary. They then rehearse the delivery of their commentary, before presenting it to a peer.

Assessment as/of learning:

The codes and conventions of a nature documentary can be converted into a peer assessment checklist.

Informative Text Rubrics can be found on The School Magazine website. Students can use these rubrics as success criteria in the crafting of their persuasive texts via anchor charts. The rubrics can also be used to provide structure for peer or teacher assessment.