Context Clues - Teach with Tech

Teach with Tech

Students need to know how to find context clues embedded in text, how to use them to understand word meanings, and why they are important. Use technology tools with a variety of differentiated strategies to help students use context clues.

Steps:

  1. Provide Clear Explanations
  2. Give Students Strategies and Models
  3. Provide Opportunities for Practice

Step 1: Provide Clear Explanations

  1. Explain the six different types of context clues.
    Examples of different types of context clues
    • Root word and affix: People who study birds are experts in ornithology.
    • Contrast: Unlike mammals, birds incubate their eggs outside their bodies.
    • Logic: Birds are always on the lookout for predators that might harm their young.
    • Definition: Frugivorous birds prefer eating fruit to any other kind of food.
    • Example or Illustration: Some birds like to build their nests in inconspicuous spots—high up in the tops of trees, well hidden by leaves.
    • Grammar: ​Many birds migrate twice each year.
  2. Demonstrate how to identify context clues with excerpts from an authentic text (e.g., A Vicarious Journey). We were all ecstatic to have visited the Serengeti, but were disappointed that we did not get a chance to see three of Africa's best-known lakes…. Context clue for ecstatic: The signal word "but" shows contrast and hints that “ecstatic” is the opposite of “disappointed.”
  3. After you explain and demonstrate using a variety of materials, have students explain the use of context clues in their own words and show how they would apply the strategy in their own way.
View evidence behind this recommendation

IES Recommendations

Provide explicit vocabulary instruction

Evidence:
Strong

Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices

Provide direct and explicit comprehension strategy instruction

Evidence:
Strong

Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices

Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies

Evidence:
Strong

Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade

Step 2: Give Students Strategies and Models

  1. Use tools like graphic organizers, an online visual thesaurus, word walls, or visual representations of words to illustrate the multiple meanings of words in context, and have students practice with these tools.
  2. Model a self-questioning strategy, using the list of types of context clues, with questions such as these: What are the surrounding words? Where do these offer me clues? What does this mean in terms of the context?
  3. Demonstrate a methodical approach to seeking context clues within a passage.
    Examples of questions to ask to understand a word in context
    • What is the overall intent of the text? For example, is it about science or history?
    • Is the text factual or a work of fiction?
    • What is the genre?
    • What other words in the sentence or paragraph can provide information?
    • What clues does the punctuation provide?
View evidence behind this recommendation

IES Recommendations

Teach students to identify and use the text’s organizational structure to comprehend, learn, and remember content.

Evidence:
Moderate

Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade

Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies

Evidence:
Strong

Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices

Step 3: Provide Opportunities for Practice

  1. Post reminders and examples of types of context clues on class wiki, on the board, and/or in a blog, so students can easily refer to them whenever they read.
  2. Have students work in pairs to read unfamiliar text on the computer, highlight unknown words, find context clues to hypothesize the meaning, and then check the meaning against a dictionary.
  3. Engage in formative assessment to provide students with feedback and determine your next steps to differentiate instruction.
    Examples of ways to engage in formative assessment
    • Record your observations of students’ use of the strategy
    • Make a list of words students marked as unknown, and discuss meanings
    • Have students reflect on how, why, and when they used the strategy
View evidence behind this recommendation

IES Recommendations

Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies

Evidence:
Moderate

Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices

Students need to know how to find context clues embedded in text, how to use them to understand word meanings, and why they are important. Use technology tools with a variety of differentiated strategies to help students use context clues.

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