Context Clues: Lesson Plans and Activities

Are you teaching your students how to use context clues? If so, then keep reading for information about planning lessons and activities that will help your students understand and use context clues effectively.

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Improving Student Reading with Context Clues

Teaching Students to Use Context Clues

Students use context clues to figure out unfamiliar words in a text and to increase reading comprehension. When students use context clues, they look at the text surrounding a word and use it to figure out what a word means. As students become more comfortable with context clues, they will read more fluently and have better comprehension.

Most students need to be explicitly taught how to use context clues, because many will not figure it out on their own. Context clues are commonly used in textbooks to define the meanings of vocabulary words through bold font and italics. However, context clues are often very common in other texts for children as well. A lot of children's literature utilizes context clues in order to help a child improve his or her vocabulary simply by reading.

There are different kinds of context clues. One kind simply defines the new vocabulary word. Another type provides a synonym that students are likely to know. There are also context clues that provide information about the new word.

Context Clue Lessons and Activities

A picture walk can be extremely helpful for certain lessons. Look through a new book with your class before reading it and discuss the pictures. They are likely to give your students an idea of what to expect from the text. In this case, the pictures themselves act as context clues.

Alternatively, write sentences with a key word missing or scrambled. Your students can use the context of the sentence to figure out the scrambled word. For example, you could write the sentence, 'When Rudy turned six, he had a yadhtrib party.' Students can use the familiar words to figure out the meaning of the unfamiliar word, which in this case is 'birthday.' Make it more difficult by using a blank space where the scrambled word once was.

Reading in the Classroom

There's no overstating how important consistent reading is for the improvement of fluency, comprehension and, of course, the ability to use context clues. You can encourage students to use context clues during guided reading lessons. Highlight new words in advance. As you read to or with a classroom full of students, make a class activity out of figuring out what these words mean based on context clues.

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