Showing posts with label Context Clues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Context Clues. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You Can't Always Sound it Out

They just kept trying over and over, to sound out the word.  They broke it into two parts-- con and science.  Basically, the word was made of two words that they knew.  But together it didn't sound right.  

What's a group to do?  How about trying to sound it out another way?  Hhhmmm, let's see.   kɒns  kĭn  or as they were saying it cons kins.  Still, it didn't sound right.

Students, in groups of 3 or 4 were doing the assignment from How to Figure Out Those Hard Words.  This was a follow-up to the practice run through using the 2006 OAT.  Students had identified words from the questions that they didn't understand.  As this group started today's assignment, they coasted through the first three, and then they came to this word that they didn't know.

Unfortunately, they used one strategy over and over and over, and never did find the meaning of the word.  This led to a discussion of why we have more than one word attack strategy.  Hopefully the next time they get to a word they don't understand, their conscience will tell them to try other strategies like using context clues, word substitution, or using prior knowledge.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Words Students Don't Know--Achievement Vocabulary

Students frequently miss questions during an assessment simply because they don't understand the question.  Use of unusual or uncommon words is a common practice on the Ohio Achievement Assessment.  In addition, simple requests are often worded in a way that create confusion for the test takers.

To overcome this barrier, students went through the OAA 2006 test booklet that they just used as a practice test and highlighted all of the words in the questions that they didn't understand.  Once we compile this list, I will compare it to the vocabulary list from The Reading Workshop Achievement Vocabulary Page.  Also, I will use to to look for specific vocabulary and word attack needs.
  • barked--All afternoon, Uncle Orrin barked orders.
  • description--Support your description of each attitude with a specific detail.
  • symbolize--Which place symbolizes love and safety to Nathan?
  • conscience--the value of listening to one's conscience and being honest
  • intimidated--Why was Ella too intimidated to dance?
  • scat performers--What do the selection and the footnote suggest about scat . ..(this is defined in the footnotes)
  • footnote--What do the selection and the footnote suggest about the scat performers?
  • evaluation--Identify two factual details from the selection that support the author's positive evaluation of Ella.
  • factual--Identify two factual details from the selection.
  • amateur--A number of other amateur venues
  • venues--After her early success at the Apollo and as a popular performer at a number of other amateur venues . . .
  • analysis--To write a scientific analysis of why some frogs jump farther than others.
  • organizational--Which organizational tool would most clearly contrast the lengths of winning jumps?
  • contrast--Which organizational tool would most clearly contrast the lengths of winning jumps?
  • wilted--But she wilted under the glare of the spotlight.
  • star-struck--She was star-struck and she just sat there looking at everyone.
  • rental frogs--Rental Frogs includes which piece of information?
  • coachable--Frogs don't understand about money and they're not very coachable.
  • capacity--Having the capacity to be taught.
  • figurative language--In the poem, how does the poet use figurative language?
  • repetition--Explain why the poet makes this repitition.
  • personification--Which characteristic can be found in the poem?
  • dialogue--Which characteristic can be found in the poem?
  • emperor--Each emperor built a magnificent palace.
  • prosper--It also helped the Inca prosper.
  • terraces--Why did the Inca farmers build terraces to plant their crops?
  • ravines--Suspension bridges made of plant fibers spanned deep ravines.
  • spanned--Suspension bridges made of plant fibers spanned deep ravines.
  • priorities--What was one of the Inca government's main priorities?
  • adequate--To make sure everyone had adequate food and clean housing.
In one class, students averaged not knowing 6.75 words.  This would obviously lead to many missed questions.  We will spend the next few days working on word attack skills, looking for root words, prefixes and suffixes, and context clues, and we will spend the next few weeks improving vocabulary specific to achievement test questions.  This will allow students to show their ability on the 2010 OAA.
Image from

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Word Substitution

PyramidWe worked collectively to figure out the meaning of a phrase from Coach John Wooden's Pyramid of Success. You can view the entire excerpt here.

This is the phrase we were working on:

I believe the players collectively looked for whoever was able to help the team most on any given night

We discussed that collectively was an adverb which may or may not be needed to understand the essay. I asked two questions:

1. What is the purpose of collectively in the sentence?
2. What word does collectively describe?

We looked at the root word, collect and talked about its meaning. According to
  1. To bring together in a group or mass; gather.
  2. To accumulate as a hobby or for study.
  3. To call for and obtain payment of: collect taxes
We decided that collectively tells how the players looked. The challenge when students left class, was to find a word to substitute that was easier to understand, but had the same meaning.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How Fast Do You Read?

Are you a fast and fluent reader? Should you be? Today in Reading Workshop we discussed the pace used when reading. Sometimes even the most fluent reader should s l o w d o w n. Sometimes even the slowest reader should speed up and get through the text. The important thing to know is how to pace yourself depending on your purpose.

Reading Rate

If you want to be a better reader, first think about your purpose. Then adjust your reading speed to fit your purpose. Most readers do this, at least to a certain extent, without even thinking about it. In fact, as you become a better reader, you will constantly move back and forth on the continuum, without even being aware that you are making adjustments.

However, with difficult text, it is important to consciously take the time to understand what you are reading. Look at key vocabulary, using context clues to figure out words that you don't know. What part of speech is a word? Maybe it is just an adverb that will not keep you from understanding the sentence, so it can be ignored if you don't understand it. Determine whether a point is a major component of an article, or just a supporting detail. Frequently supporting details are not necessary to understand the gist of the writing.

This decision to slow down, and break down an essay for key concepts and ideas (like finding the W's) will help you become a better reader, improve comprehension, and improve your grades.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Smart or Cheating?

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.