Focus Question: How do word parts and context clues help us figure out the meanings of unfamiliar words?
Display several pictures of the students’ community and ask students to discuss the pictures with a partner. After 3–5 minutes, have students share what they recognize in the pictures.
Ask, “Where have you seen these places?” Verify that the places are all in our community. Say, “Today we are going to learn about communities.”
Prior to instruction, choose a book about communities to read aloud. As an alternative, you may read a social studies text. The vocabulary in this lesson can be replaced with vocabulary from the text you read.
Say, “Sometimes when we read, we come across words we don’t know. We can use root words, prefixes, and suffixes to help us figure out the meaning. We can use context clues to check the meaning.”
Write the terms root word and context clue and their meanings on the board/interactive whiteboard or on chart paper for students to use as a reference.
Say, “A root word is the basic unit of a word. Knowing the meaning of the root word can help us figure out the meaning of a word. The word community has a root word that means ‘common’ or ‘shared.’ Let’s read the word community in a sentence and see if that makes sense. The context, or information in the text, can also help us figure out what a word means.” Read a sentence from a text that uses the word community and see if determining the root makes sense in the context of the sentence.
Ask, “What do you think community means?” (people who have something in common; a place where people share services) Say, “We used the root word and context to help us understand the meaning of community.”
Provide a definition of the word community. Say, “A community is a group of people who live in the same area, such as a city or town, and share services, such as the police force, the post office, and the grocery store.”
Have students help you determine the root of neighborhood. Ask, “What smaller word do you hear in neighborhood?” (neighbor) Say, “The root of neighborhood is neighbor. What does neighbor mean?” (a person who lives near you) Say, “Let’s read the word neighborhood in a sentence and look for context clues.” Read the word in a sentence to help students determine the meaning of the word based on the root word and context. Ask, “What do you think neighborhood means?” (a place where people live near one another) Ask, “How did you figure out the meaning of the word?” (by using the root word and context clues)
Write the terms prefix and suffix and their meanings on the board/interactive whiteboard or on chart paper for students to use as a reference.
Say, “A prefix is a word part added in front of a root word to make a new word.” Write examples such as read/reread and tie/untie on the board, and guide students to explain how the prefixes change the meaning of the root words.
Say, “A suffix is a word part added at the end of a root word to make a new word.” Write examples such as act/actor, tall/tallest, hurt/hurtful on the board, and guide students to explain how the suffixes change the meaning of the root words.
Have students help you create an anchor chart with common prefixes and suffixes and their meanings. (e.g., re-, un-, -er, -or, -est, -ful, -less)
Say, “I am going to read a book to you called Living in Suburban Communities by Kristen Sterling.” (You may choose to use a different text that complements your curriculum.) “We are going to listen for vocabulary words about community. For words we don’t know, let’s use root words, prefixes, suffixes, and context to figure out their meaning.”
Read and discuss the text with students.
Say, “We are going to go back and look at each page of the text. When you find a word about community, raise your hand. I will write the words on chart paper. We will see if we can use the strategies of looking for smaller parts of the word and using context clues to help us figure out what the word means.” Words that lend themselves to these strategies include baker(y), Laundromat, supermarket, garbage collector, firefighter, and recycling. You may substitute other appropriate vocabulary from the text you read.
Explain to students that sometimes we use a graphic organizer to help us analyze a word and understand it better. Say, “In this graphic organizer, we will list synonyms and nonexamples.” Add these terms and their meanings to the reference used in Part 1. Write an example, such as the word home, on the board. Ask, “What is a synonym for home, or word that means almost the same as home?” (house, apartment, condo) Say, “A nonexample is a word that has a different meaning. A nonexample for home might be street.” Ask students to provide other nonexamples for home.
Model for students how to fill out the Frayer Model Graphic Organizer (L-2-1-1_ Frayer Model Graphic Organizer.doc). Write neighborhood in the center circle.
In the top left box, write the definition of neighborhood. (a place where people live near one another)
In the top right box, write characteristics of a neighborhood (using the five senses) or characteristics of the word (prefix, suffix, root word), depending on students’ skill level.
In the bottom left box, write examples or synonyms of the word. (area, surroundings, territory, or use names of neighborhoods in your community)
In the bottom right box, fill in nonexamples of a neighborhood. (state, nation, house)
Refer to the list of words about community that was created in Part 1 of this lesson. Review each word. Have students work in pairs or in small groups to complete a Frayer Model Graphic Organizer for one of the words from the list.
Walk around the class, observing students’ ability to complete the graphic organizer with relevant information about the words. Provide support as needed. Have students share their completed graphic organizers with the class.
- Work with students who need additional practice or instruction to identify the characteristics of a word. With prompting and support, help them complete the sections of the graphic organizer with a content-specific vocabulary word. Provide examples and nonexamples and have students decide which category they fit. Have students use the word in a sentence to show they understand its meaning.
- Have students who are ready to move beyond the standard work together to create a class resource of content-specific vocabulary words. They may complete a graphic organizer for each word or use another strategy to analyze word parts and create definitions. Students should use each vocabulary word in a sentence. Collect the completed words and compile them in a classroom dictionary.