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Context Clues | Award Winning Context Clues Teaching Video | Comprehension & Reading Strategies

Context Clues at GrammarSongs by
Melissa. What are context clues? More importantly, how can understanding
context clues make me a better reader? Let’s get started!
Context clues are hints a reader can use to discover the meanings of unfamiliar
words and phrases. Did someone say discover? Yes detective Waddle. When we
read, we have to look for clues to discover the meanings of words we don’t
know. Let me show you! When we read, sometimes we will come upon an
unfamiliar word that we don’t know and have trouble sounding out. We could
choose to stop reading and find the dictionary, but this can take away from
our comprehension or understanding of the story by interrupting the flow. Now,
what was happening? This is why using context clues is so important. I know
what clues are, but what is this thing you call “context.” Context is like the
setting of a word. You can probably guess what is missing from this picture based
on the setting, or context, around the missing object. Sure… a dog! Using context
clues is similar. “Con” is a prefix meaning “with.” “Text” means “written words.” As a
reader, you are looking for clues within the written words to help you understand
unfamiliar words or phrases. How will I know where to find them? A word’s context
includes the words and sentences around it. This is where you can find clues to
the meanings of a word that you don’t know. What clues do you see? Well we know
Katie was… something, so we need to read the rest of the sentence to figure this
out….. when her little sister kept messing up her room. So what could Katie be if her
little sister is messing up her room? Mad? Frustrated? No, this word starts with
an A. Angry? Hmm! Aggravated! Katie was aggravated with her little sister kept
messing up her room. Aggravated makes sense when you consider
the context. Exactly! Authors use different types of context clues. They
might use examples, synonyms, antonyms, or even definitions. For instance….The
restaurants ambiance, including it’s quiet music, flowers, and candlelight, made
it a perfect place for a Valentine’s Day. If you don’t know what “ambiance” is, the
examples… quiet music, flowers, and candlelight… let you know that ambience
is the special atmosphere or mood of a particular environment. Sometimes authors
use synonyms, or words that mean almost the same thing. The child’s ability to
perform gymnastics was apparent, or obvious, at an early age. If you are
unfamiliar with the word “apparent,” the synonym clue “obvious” makes this sentence
easy to understand. Sometimes authors will use antonyms to help the reader
grasp an unfamiliar word by stating the opposite. Carla was meticulous with her
assignments, unlike her brother, Ralph, who scribbled all over the page. If you don’t
know what meticulous means, the antonym phrase “scribbled all over” would let you
know that Carla was neat and careful with her assignments, unlike her
brother Ralph. Sometimes authors actually provide definitions within the text if
using a less common word. Abbey was repulsed by the spider crawling up her
arm. She had a feeling of disgust and dislike. If you are unfamiliar with the
word “repulsed,” the author clearly defines it as “a feeling of disgust and dislike” I
can find context clues in the words. Exactly! Remember, context clues can be
examples, synonyms, antonyms, or definitions.
Let’s read a paragraph and look for the context clues a reader might find if he
or she was unfamiliar with the underlined words. It was time for the
band to march on the field. The crowd was ecstatic! Ecstatic? I don’t know what that
means! Well, this would be a good time to look for context clues. Remember, if you
can’t find a clue in the sentence you just read, you should keep reading. A
words context includes the words and sentences around it. Let’s start again at
the beginning so we can gather all the context surrounding the word “ecstatic.” It
was time for the band to march on the field. The crowd was ecstatic! People
screamed and cheered showing their excitement. I see some clues! That’s great!
What do you see? People screamed and cheered and showed excitement! Very good!
“Screamed” and “cheered,” would be examples of people who are ecstatic. People who
are ecstatic are excited. Let’s keep reading! The music intensified, or
increased, in volume. What does intensified mean? Well, let’s look for
some context clues. I think I see one! Increased! Very good! “Increased” is a
synonym for “intensified.” Let’s keep reading! Unlike her timid friends, Morgan
was unafraid to perform in front of the roaring crowd. What is timid? What context
clues can we find? Hmm! “Unalike” means the opposite. Morgan was unafraid.
So if Morgan’s friends are the opposite of Morgan….Then her friends are afraid.
Yes, “timid” means “afraid or shy.” The author used an antonym as a clue to help us!
Let’s continue! After the show, the crowd gave a standing
ovation. Ovation? There aren’t many clues in this sentence,
except we know there is “standing” going on. Maybe we should keep reading. Great
idea! The fans stood and clapped to show their
appreciation for such a great performance. Wow! The author uses a
definition as a clue to help the readers understand what is happening. An ovation
is when the whole crowd stands, claps, and cheers. That was a great context clue. Yes,
it was! So remember, context clues are hints a
reader can use to discover the meanings of unfamiliar words and phrases. And,
authors use different types of context clues including examples, synonyms,
antonyms, and even definitions. I can find clues in the words! Yes, you can!
Congratulations, detective Waddle! You are a first place detective of context
clues! Thank you for joining me at GrammarSongs by Melissa. Enjoy other
related videos at

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