Understanding & using context clues is vital to overall reading comprehension, so it makes sense to practice these skills often. Here are some strategies that can help your students boost their overall reading comprehension, and have a little fun while they’re at it.
Introduce & Model Finding Context Clues
Students need to see how real readers use context clues in their everyday reading. As you are reading, stop after you come to a challenging word. Think aloud “What does ____ mean? I’m going to go back and reread that paragraph to see if I can figure it out.” After you have found a context clue, model replacing the definition in this sentence and asking yourself out loud, “Does this make sense?” This process models what students should do when they don’t understand what they’ve read.
I also explicitly teach students that there are 3 type of answers:
- Right There
- Think & Search
I tell them: “Right there answers are the easiest to find & color code in text. Think and search answers might require more digging. There might be partial answers or clues to be found in the text. Finally, some answers we must infer. That means we must take what the text has told us & the background information we already know to come up with an answer. We may not be able to color code the answers to these types of questions within a piece of text.”
We can easily move past boring “read the passage and answer the questions” types of worksheets by inviting students to color code key pieces of information. This turns them into active readers. When they are asked to physically locate the answers it’s harder for them to blindly guess and move on. The problem of citing text evidence disappears because it becomes a natural part of the assignment. These interactive worksheets become bright and colorful assignment students can be proud of.
Incorporate Listening Skills
Many students may benefit from the auditory input of a read aloud while following along with the text. Reading the passages aloud can encourage questions, improve understanding, and help hold their interest!
Here are seven important benefits of reading aloud with children:
- Develop stronger vocabulary.
- Build connections between the spoken and written word.
- It’s fun sharing the experience with a group.
- Increase attention span.
- Strengthen cognition.
- Provide a safe way of exploring strong emotions.
Real World Applications
The goal is to teach these skills so students become stronger readers, right? So, we need to teach them how to transfer this skill to independent reading. After watching you model this process out loud several times, it will become more automatic for your students when they are reading independently. After independent reading time, invite students to discuss what they have learned.
If your students are still having difficulty with this skill and need more support, try differentiating with these strategies:
- Provide sentence frames, and have students fill in the blank. For example: Jamal has a sister and a _________. Kasey did not study, so she failed her ______.
- Allow student pairs to go on a scavenger hunt to search for different types of context clues in their books. Have students notate what type of context clue the author uses.
- Assign your students different passages. If your students are below level, try assigning passages aligned with a lower grade level. Once they master the skill with simpler passages, continue to give them increasing difficult passages.
If you’re looking for reading passages to help your students master these standards, check out the resources available from Peas in a Pod lessons.
You might also be interested in the post How to Teach Main Idea.
(Peas in a Pod)
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