Determine the Meaning of Words and Phrases
Writers use specific content vocabulary when providing important information about their history or social studies topics. For example, the social studies word excavate better describes the activity of removing fossils from the ground than the word dig. The word excavate implies a careful, thought-out approach to removing something from the ground, which is what you would need to do to make sure a fossil wasn’t damaged. The word dig is a general term that could describe just sticking a shovel in the ground to turn over some dirt. The use of exact language is called precise vocabulary.
Sometimes, as you are reading, you come across a word or phrase that is unfamiliar. Sometimes for a particularly difficult word, the author may define it for the reader right in the text. Other times, you could try looking in the text for context clues. Context clues are words, sentences, or images that help a reader determine or clarify the meaning of an unfamiliar word.
Click the Model button to see an example of using context clues to help determine or clarify the meaning of an unfamiliar word.