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The ability to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words by using context clues, an integral Common Core standard, is essential to effective reading comprehension. Possessing this skill also enhances the reading experience by making it more enjoyable and fruitful.
In this activity, students will first view a comprehensive, engaging PowerPoint that explores the use of context clues (definition, synonym, antonym, and inference) in solving the mysteries of unfamiliar words. As a writer of both passages and test questions for year-end formative assessments in various states, I have learned that relevant topics for specific age groups yield the best test items.
Following that line of reasoning, this activity includes ten culturally diverse examples (some a bit humorous or quirky and all specifically tailored for the grade seven population) created by me. Each of the engaging, original paragraphs contains context clues (primarily inference) for the students to use in determining the meaning of an unfamiliar word. All ten words are taken from the EDL Core Vocabularies in Reading for Grade 8. Also included within the paragraphs are EDL core vocabulary words from several previous grades for review purposes, if desired.
This lesson incorporates critical thinking, as students are asked to explain their reasoning (see preview). This activity can also be used for advanced seventh graders as well as a review for ninth graders. A PowerPoint of the activity is provided in case the teacher prefers group participation and class discussion as the students work through the examples. Also a worksheet is included for individual student use. Have fun!
Note: EDL core vocabulary words for grade 8 included in this activity: curfew; bloated; elated; fanatic; blemish; prophecy; cumbersome; quizzical; relish; and cascade.
Common Core Standard
Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word's position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.