Posts Tagged ‘context clues strategy’

Context Clues in Reading and Writing

Unknown Words

Clues to Unknown Words

We teachers love a bargain. Especially a “two-for one” bargain. the two for one skill which can be used in more than one context. We are all about efficiency!

Context clues strategies provide that skill which can be used both to improve reading comprehension and writing clarity.

In reading, context clues help students apply strategies to figure out the meaning of unknown words through hints in the surrounding text. Of course, decoding the word (SOUND IT OUT!) and identifying morphemes which the student already knows (BREAK IT APART!) should always be the first two strategies for a reader to use when encountering an unknown word.

In writing, context clues help students define unfamiliar or technical vocabulary to be courteous and readable to their audience.

After reading this article, I invite you to check out my 12 Tips to Teach the Reading-Writing Connection.

So, how can you get students to use context clues in their reading and writing? Teach and practice the SOUND IT OUT! BREAK IT APART! WHAT’S ITS JOB? S.E.A.L. strategies.

  1. SOUND IT OUT! Often hearing the word will help connect you to its meaning.
  2. BREAK IT APART! Examine each part of the word. Knowing a prefix, base, or suffix may help you understand the meaning of the whole word.
  3. WHAT’S ITS JOB? Read the sentence to determine the function of the word in the sentence. Pay attention to where the word is placed in the sentence, its part of speech, and any punctuation.

Now read the sentence before and after the unknown word and search for S.E.A.L. context clues to figure out the meaning of the unknown word.

  1. Synonym–Sometimes an unknown word is defined by the use of a synonym. Synonyms appear in apposition, in which case commas, dashes, or parentheses are used. Example: The wardrobe, or closet, opened the door to a brand new world.
  2. Example–When part of a list of examples or if the unknown word itself provides an example, either provides good clues to meaning. Example clues will often use Signal Words such as for example, like, such as Example: Adventurous, rowdy, and crazy pioneers all found their way out West.
  3. Antonym–Sometimes an unknown word is defined by the use of an antonym. Antonym clues will often use Signal Words such as however, not, but, in contrast Example: He promised innovation, not keeping things the way they are.
  4. Logic–Your own knowledge about the content and text structure may provide clues to meaning. Logic clues can lead to a logical guess as to the meaning of an unknown word. Example: He petted the canine, and then made her sit up and beg for a bone.

Learning and practicing the SOUND IT OUT! BREAK IT APART! WHAT’S ITS JOB? S.E.A.L. strategies will help your students figure out the meanings of more unknown words as they read. Teach students to use the SOUND IT OUT! BREAK IT APART! WHAT’S ITS JOB? S.E.A.L. strategies for their reading and the last part, i.e., the S.E.A.L. strategies, to improve the sophistication and readability of their writing.

But wouldn’t it be better to teach Tier II (academic) and III (domain specific) reading and writing vocabulary by using the dictionary? Or asking the teacher?

No. The dictionary is a fine tool and should be used to look up words that are critical to the comprehension of any reading and for precise usage in writing. However, the dictionary is not a practical tool for most reading and writing. And teachers are not available to help with definitions 24-7. We do have lives outside of the classroom!

When shouldn’t we encourage students to use context clues?

Don’t use context clues strategies as a “psycholinguistic guessing game” (Goodman). The three-cueing whole language and balanced literacy methods of meaning-making contradicts the science of reading research. Don’t teach students to look for picture clues for assistance.

Kylene Beers, in her book When Kids Can’t Read, summarizes the problem of using context clues strategies for word identification: “. . . Discerning the meaning of unknown words using context clues requires a sophisticated interaction with the text that dependent readers have not yet achieved.”


Vocabulary Programs

Comprehensive Vocabulary

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Comprehensive Vocabulary programsEach full-year program provides 56 worksheets, along with vocabulary study guides, and biweekly unit tests to help your students collaboratively practice and master these Common Core Standards:

  • Multiple Meaning Words and Context Clues (L.4.a.)
  • Greek and Latin Word Parts (L.4.a.)
  • Language Resources (L.4.c.d.)
  • Figures of Speech (L.5.a.)
  • Word Relationships (L.5.b.)
  • Connotations (L.5.c.)
  • Academic Language Words (L.6.0)

Also check out Mark’s comprehensive, no-prep, no-advanced-training required reading intervention program for students ages 8-adult.


Intervention Program Science of Reading

The Science of Reading Intervention Program

The Science of Reading Intervention Program: Word Recognition includes explicit, scripted instruction and practice with the 5 Daily Google Slide Activities every reading intervention student needs: 1. Phonemic Awareness and Morphology 2. Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling 3. Sounds and Spellings (including handwriting) 4. Heart Words Practice 5. Sam and Friends Phonics Books (decodables). Plus, digital and printable sound wall cards and speech articulation songs. Print versions are available for all activities. First Half of the Year Program (55 minutes-per-day, 18 weeks)

The Science of Reading Intervention Program: Language Comprehension resources are designed for students who have completed the word recognition program or have demonstrated basic mastery of the alphabetic code and can read with some degree of fluency. The program features the 5 Weekly Language Comprehension Activities: 1. Background Knowledge Mentor Texts 2. Academic Language, Greek and Latin Morphology, Figures of Speech, Connotations, Multiple Meaning Words 3. Syntax in Reading 4. Reading Comprehension Strategies 5. Literacy Knowledge (Narrative and Expository). Second Half of the Year Program (30 minutes-per-day, 18 weeks)

The Science of Reading Intervention Program: Assessment-based Instruction provides diagnostically-based “second chance” instructional resources. The program includes 13 comprehensive assessments and matching instructional resources to fill in the yet-to-be-mastered gaps in phonemic awareness, alphabetic awareness, phonics, fluency (with YouTube modeled readings), Heart Words and Phonics Games, spelling patterns, grammar, usage, and mechanics, syllabication and morphology, executive function shills. Second Half of the Year Program (25 minutes-per-day, 18 weeks)

The Science of Reading Intervention Program BUNDLE  includes all 3 program components for the comprehensive, state-of-the-art (and science) grades 4-adult full-year program. Scripted, easy-to-teach, no prep, no need for time-consuming (albeit valuable) LETRS training or O-G certification… Learn as you teach and get results NOW for your students. Print to speech with plenty of speech to print instructional components.

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