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Overlapping Vocabulary and Comprehension: Context Clues Complement Semantic Gradients

by Scott Greenwood, Ed.D. and Kevin Flanigan

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Overlapping Vocabulary and Comprehension: Context Clues Complement Semantic Gradients

Grades 3 – 8
Type Journal
Published November 2007
Publisher International Literacy Association



Despite the clear and longstanding connection between meaning vocabulary and reading comprehension, programs designed to teach vocabulary have often had surprisingly little impact on overall reading ability. One possible reason for this small effect is that teaching methods may not make this vocabulary-to-comprehension connection explicit for the students.

To address this disconnect, this article describes practical tips for overlapping vocabulary and comprehension instructional methods. Specifically, the authors combined two strategies, context clues and semantic gradients, to support their graduate students as they, in turn, helped their own students examine shades of meaning among related sets of words. The purpose of overlapping these two strategies is to enable students to reconnect individual word meanings back to the text, helping them bridge the vocabulary to comprehension divide. A specific sequence of instruction is provided.

Greenwood, S.C., & Flanigan, K. (2007, November). Overlapping Vocabulary and Comprehension: Context Clues Complement Semantic Gradients. The Reading Teacher, 61(3), 249254. doi: 10.1598/RT.61.3.5


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