Activity Introduction

Quick summary: This lesson supports the development of the key reading skill of using context to understand unfamiliar words or phrases. Specific reading strategies are modelled in a teacher-led activity, then students will work in pairs to apply the strategy while reading a separate section of the same text. Students will share their work with their peers and reflect on the activity and their own approach to it. This lesson is designed to provide valuable practice for NAPLAN, the national literacy test held in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9*.

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Learning intention:

  • Students will be able to use context clues found in a text to develop their understanding of unfamiliar vocabulary or familiar vocabulary used in an unfamiliar context.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

  • Understand how to use spelling rules and word origins, for example Greek and Latin roots, base words, suffixes, prefixes, spelling patterns and generalisations to learn new words and how to spell them (ACELA1539)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret, analyse and synthesise ideas and information, critiquing ideas and issues from a variety of textual sources (ACELY1723)

Syllabus outcomes: EN4-3B, EN4-2A.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Literacy.

Relevant parts of Year 7 English achievement standards: Students demonstrate understanding of how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary affects meaning.

Topic: NAPLAN Preparation.

Unit of work: Faber-Castell – NAPLAN Preparation.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – roam while students completing independent task. At times you may provide a vague definition of a word, support them to find further clues, and discuss the importance of trying to develop an understanding of the precise meaning of a word.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a website to the class. Vocabulary Definitions – Worksheet. Vocabulary Definitions – Answers. Faber-Castell – Colour Theory & Techniques.

Keywords: NAPLAN, English, vocabulary, definition, meaning, word, phrase, antonym, synonym, similar meaning, opposite meaning, prefix, illustration, diagram, synthesise.

*This lesson plan is not an officially endorsed publication of NAPLAN’s creators and administrators – the ACARA body – but is designed to provide practise for the Australian Curriculum’s compulsory NAPLAN testing scheme.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Learning intentions: Students will be able to use context clues found in a text to develop their understanding of unfamiliar vocabulary or familiar vocabulary used in an unfamiliar context.

Success criteria: Students can...

  • ...identify words they do not already know the meaning of.
  • a passage for clues that help define a word.
  • ...synthesise information and propose the meaning of a word.
  • ...explain the context clues they used to define a word.

The learning intentions and success criteria have intentionally been written in the first person perspective to assist students to internalise them as their own goals for the lesson. Invite students to read them aloud.

Teacher content information: This lesson provides the opportunity for you to explicitly model how context clues can be used to develop an understanding of the meaning of unfamiliar words in a text. Through teacher modelling and a student activity, it builds understanding of the followin

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” ― Dr. Seuss


Work independently to answer the questions below, recording your answers in Column A. Once complete, you can team up with a classmate and discuss your answers. Add any new information or changes to your initial ideas in Column B.

  Column A Column B
What new strategies have you learnt today?
How will these strategies be helpful in the future?
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