Common Core Standards: ELA
Standard 4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
Breakin’ it Down:
This standard has two different skills disguised as one. The first is that students have to be able to figure out the meaning of a word using context clues. At this level, the texts will rarely define complex or technical terms outright. That means students are going to have to do a lot more digging and inferring to figure out the definitions.
The second skill needed to master this standard is the ability to trace a complicated or changing definition throughout the course of a text. For example, a president might use the term “traitor” in his speech, and give multiple examples of what make someone a traitor over the course of the speech. Students must be patient readers and recognize that a complete definition requires a complete reading of the text. No skimming here!
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Using this Standard
- 1984 Teacher Pass
- A Rose For Emily Teacher Pass
- A View from the Bridge Teacher Pass
- Animal Farm Teacher Pass
- Antigone Teacher Pass
- Beowulf Teacher Pass
- Brave New World Teacher Pass
- Fahrenheit 451 Teacher Pass
- Fences Teacher Pass
- Frankenstein Teacher Pass
- Hamlet Teacher Pass
- Heart of Darkness Teacher Pass
- Julius Caesar Teacher Pass
- Macbeth Teacher Pass
- Moby Dick Teacher Pass
- Narrative of Frederick Douglass Teacher Pass
- Oedipus the King Teacher Pass
- Of Mice and Men Teacher Pass
- Othello Teacher Pass
- Romeo and Juliet Teacher Pass
- The Aeneid Teacher Pass
- The Bluest Eye Teacher Pass
- The Canterbury Tales General Prologue Teacher Pass
- The Cask of Amontillado Teacher Pass
- The Catcher in the Rye Teacher Pass
- The Crucible Teacher Pass
- The House on Mango Street Teacher Pass
- The Iliad Teacher Pass
- The Odyssey Teacher Pass
- Their Eyes Were Watching God Teacher Pass
- Things Fall Apart Teacher Pass
- To Kill a Mockingbird Teacher Pass
- Twilight Teacher Pass
Teacher Feature: Ideas for the classroom
1. UNDERSTUDY: Define a word using context clues
Once students hit high school, they have to be willing to dig deeper and read further for context clues. Give them passages where the clues to a word require reading in another paragraph or making connections between two parts of a text. In informational writing, students can’t expect the definition of a word to always be sitting right next to the word itself.
You can create multiple-choice context clue questions with any text you have in class or find plenty of released practice tests from college entrance exams.
2. COLLEGIATE: Transformers
Your visual and artistic students will love this one. First, find a text that has a definition that transforms or builds throughout the entire piece. Push students to create a pictorial representation of the word at multiple points in the text. It’s a classic spin on an old vocab strategy but involves your students tracing a word through a complex, non-fiction text.