Your older speech students are still struggling with their vocabulary. We need to give them compensatory strategies. But where to start with context clues?
There is a ton of evidence out there that teaching your students how to use clues in a text to help them determine the meaning of unknown words is a great strategy for those with weak vocabulary. It will help their reading comprehension and also will help them carryover the skill in the classroom and feel more successful when you are not around. But where to begin?! How exactly do we teach it?!
First, we should review different levels of vocabulary words.
- Tier 1 = common, every day words, familiar words, primarily learned through conversation (dog, chair, apple)
- Tier 2 = high frequency words found across all subject areas (increase, compare, evidence)
- Tier 3 = Domain specific academic vocabulary or words found in specific content areas (cell wall, judicial branch).
Why is this important to review? Because we need to know what vocabulary words our students might struggle with most and which words we should focus on. We should assume our students already know tier 1 words. We can drill with our students tier 3 words to help them prepare for a test but will it help them in a different subject? No. I like to focus on tier 2 words the most. Let’s give them the strategies to help them figure out what those words mean. Now, how to teach them the strategy of using context clues?
Start with Nonsense Words to Teach Context Clues in Speech
Substitute a common tier 1 word with a made u word. Can your students guess the word? How did they know? What clues in the sentence helped them? Can they identify them? Was it a description? Was it a synonym?
Use the EET to help them identify what describing words helped them guess it. For example, if you give the students the following sentence “The student wrote with the yellow blah in math class. Good thing she had an eraser for her mistakes.” What clues were there?
Yellow = what it looks like
Math class = where you find it
Eraser = part
Wrote = what you use it for
Then, use nonsense words, or just cover up the words, for tier 2 or 3 words. For example, “James was blah to see an A on his science project. He did not spend much time working on it.” What could blah be? Is it something good or bad? I like to teach my students to look for these things when they don’t know a word:
-What is the sentence or story about?
-Are there any pictures to help you?
-Are there any examples of the unknown word?
-Is there a synonym or antonym used for the unknown word?
Using this strategy, students can discuss what they know: it is about a student, he did well, he didn’t think he would do well because he didn’t spend time on it, it is probably a feeling word, and what word can you use to substitute? What are some feeling words: happy, sad, angry, frustrated, surprised, worried, scared. Can any of these work?
What are some context clue types we can teach our speech students to be familiar with?
Can you students pick out and use clues in the text that has the definition of the unknown word?
Sometimes a text will use examples to help illustrate or explain the unknown word. Can they spot them in there?
Is there an opposite near by? Can they spot key words such as: but, although, rather, in contrast, however.
WOULD YOU LIKE ALL OF THESE SCOOT GAME ACTIVITIES SO YOU CAN PROBE AND SEE WHERE TO BEGIN WITH YOUR STUDENTS?!
Scoot games are fun because they can be used in centers, to gather baseline, or to collect data as a review. Students can do the tasks independently by writing down their responses on the student recoding sheet (answer keys are provided so they can even check their own work). You can even use it as a group activity if needed. You can give different students in the group different levels at the same time if needed. They all just need the same student recoding page! You can print the different levels/types on different color paper to help you quickly grab the one you need!
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