Students were at their computer working on Study Island, the online learning program. They were doing a session on context clues. When I walked around the room, I noticed that Jacob was using the computer dictionary. Was this cheating? Or, was he the smartest kid in the whole sixth grade?
This S.I. session focused on using the words and sentences around a word students didn't know, to figure out the meaning of the word. Context Clues are hints that the author gives to help define a difficult or unusual word. The clue may be in the same sentence as the word, or it may be in a preceding or subsequent sentence.
This is an example of a context clue:
The difficulty of the assignment forced the student to work hard to complete the tough task. By reading the sentence, you can figure out the meaning of the word difficulty.
Jacob was doing his best to be successful. In no way was he attempting to cheat. His intention was to get the best score possible on Study Island. But, the whole point of learning about context clues is to better reading comprehension by figuring out the meaning of words without using a dictionary. But, as one student said, "if I use the dictionary I am learning the meaning of a lot of words I don't know."
Should a student be punished for using all of the tools available to get the best score? Should all of the students be encouraged to use the dictionary? What about using Text-to-Speech to read words aloud that they don't know. Although Study Island is mostly a tool for assessment and remediation, if students might learn more using these tools, should they be integrated into the daily routine?
Students won't be allowed to use these tools for the Achievement Test, so should they use them every day in class?
Regardless of the decision about the use of these tools during Study Island, good job to Jacob for being creative, and figuring out the best way possible to get a high score.