To understand unfamiliar vocabulary words, students can either look at associations of words or hints throughout the text. Context clues is not a technique that is new for my students. However, it is a strategy that many students do not use when tackling meanings of unknown words.
To hook students back into the practice of using context clues, the following prompt will be placed on the whiteboard
In the following sentence what clues helps you to define the word “traitorous?”
Our victory will be swift, and the rebels will learn that they should not have unleashed Pandora ’s Box with their traitorous ways.
To define the bold word, students look to the clues of rebels and unleashed Pandora's Box to define the word as "having the character of a traitor; treacherous; perfidious." During this task, students work independently to locate the clues. To go over the vocabulary word and definition, I tell students the denotation of the word and ask what clues support this meaning from the sentence.
To review the basic concepts of context clues, I show students a video clip. The purpose of the clip is to help students determine ways to use context clues in passages. Because many of my students are oral and visual learners, this clip incorporates these styles while also adding other media effects to make learning in this point of the lesson FUN. While I watch the clip along with my students, a task that students could complete is to list of finding Context Clues as they are told throughout the song.
It is now the time in the lesson where students can practice what they heard and saw in the clip. I will give students a list of text-dependent vocabulary to define as they read The Battle Picnic. In the passage, students circle or highlight clues to help them define each word. In a chart drawn in their notebooks, students write out the word, clues, and an implied denotation of each word. At the end of this activity, students check the dictionary to see how many definitions were correct.
I am allowing students to work independently on this assignment so I could help those who may struggle with the many steps of this lesson. Many of my students may chose to read the entire passage prior to defining vocabulary words. Others may just find the word in the passage, the clues, and create an implied meaning of the word. Check out my context clues reflection video to see how I modeled with students how to determine the clues for each word and how students did overall with this lesson's activity. No matter what entry point students use to complete this activity, the importance of using clues to define words will be tested by the accuracy used by students when checking thier meaning of words in a dictionary.