Close this search box.

Teaching Tip: Breaking the Code-Context Clues

In our after school tutoring I have 12 students that I target for remediation in reading and math. On our reading days we focus on decoding multi-syllabic words and vocabulary. We have been reading a nonfiction passage that focuses on the life of an elderly lady  who did not have any formal training but painted from memory. I noticed that the students were  having difficulty finding the meaning of unknown words so I asked the students what do you do when you come to a word that you do not know, their response was, “skip over it.” I am aware that nonfiction text vocabulary is usually above the current student’s grade level and many times causes difficulty for most elementary students or non-proficient readers. Because my students did not have any tools in their tool boxes for identifying unknown words I decided to use the context clues strategies that I read in the book Breaking the Code in Reading Comprehension.

Strategies for Context Clues

Look …….

1.  After the word “OR”- I used the globe, or a model of the earth to find where the country was.

2. After a comma- The leader of the city, the mayor, was elected today.

3. Before or after  ” called”- The town that you live in is called a community.

4. In the sentence before the unknown word- Nellie held her bumbershoot above her head to walk in the pouring rain.

5. In the sentence after the unknown word- Mr. Jakes has to beg his dog to get into the car. He said he’s had to coax him into the car ever since he took the dog to the vet.

As the student master the above strategies for context clues, they then can be introduced to antonyms of unknown words.

The flames were visible from above the house. The smoke kept the rest of the fire hidden.  If hidden is the opposite of visible then visible means “not hidden”.

I introduced context clues strategies 1 and 2 to the students and after redirecting them a couple of times they used their new context clues strategies without having to be prompted to do so.

2 thoughts on “Teaching Tip: Breaking the Code-Context Clues”

  1. I used to use Breaking the Code in Reading Comprehension that is referred to in this article. However, I have changed districts and am not able to find this resource ANYWHERE. I found it to be crucial in teaching context clues and other reading skills.
    Where can I find this resource?
    Thanks for your help!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I help math teachers who teach high need students to effectively manage their classrooms and deliver high quality math instruction. Learn more about me


Join our free resource library for free math instruction lesson plans and materials.