Context Clues, Connotation, Denotation

These topics can be quite boring since it takes a lot of practice for students to recognize and use what the author provides. Has anyone figured out a way to practice these skills that students have become excited about? I have done escape rooms, but don’t want to overuse one strategy.


@cshepherd I keep reminding my students that denotation starts with a ‘d’ and that means it’s the dictionary definition of a word, so they seem okay with that. Connotation is challenging and some students are not mentally ready to be able to grasp connotation. Additionally, as people are reading less and less, they have no real consistent practice. I have always found that my readers have no problem with connotation or context clues (most of the time) . I start my classes out by talking about sports teams name. Why is the San Antonio soccer team called the Scorpions and not the Turtles? Why has there been a debate over some team names like the Redskins? I have them look at a variety of names and talk about the perception/connotation of each. I also then have them create their own names for things such as a robotics team, a swim team, a bowling league, etc. Now, when it comes to context clues it becomes more challenging, but we cover vocabulary in the texts we are reading. part of our test is a paragraph with blanks where the vocab words should go. This paragraph is chock-full of context clues and we do many samples prior to first testing. It is very hard for them, but I teach freshmen and they do get better at it. I also go back to old standardized state tests and we go through those as a class. I find this really helps.

I’m looking forward to hearing other ideas @ela_educators because I think these are issues for many ela teachers.

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I always talked about Denotation and Connotation this way:

The dictionary definition for a cat is a feline. The connotation for a cat for me is negative. They don’t like me and in turn, I don’t like them.

Maybe make a Formative where you have a list of words they can choose from and in the box below, they must type the denotation for the word and then have them type the connotation next to it.

As they progress through the Formative, then show them a poem or piece that is rich with connotation. Have them point them out. I hope this helps.

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