Lesson plan

Master Decoders

Being a fluent reader means being able to use different strategies to figure out unknown words. In this lesson, students learn how to use pictures and context clues.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Reading Picture Clues pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Reading Picture Clues pre-lesson.

Students will be able to use pictures and context clues to figure out unknown words.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Ask, “Have you ever come across a word that’s tricky to read?”
  • Have a few students share their experiences. Then ask, “What do you do to help you read words you don’t understand?”
(10 minutes)
  • Explain that readers use different types of clues to figure out unknown words. Sometimes you can think about what would make the most sense, sometimes you can look and sometimes you can think about similar words.
  • Take out a book that you’ve selected. Decide on one word (the “mystery word”) to try to decode with the class. Read the page where the word is aloud, but don’t decode the mystery word.
  • Explain that you’re going to try to figure out what the mystery word is. Look at the pictures to see if that gives you any clues.
  • Then read the sentence, but say “blank” where the mystery word is. Think aloud about what word would make sense in the blank. Model how to look at the letters in the unknown word to check your guesses.
  • Finally, decode the mystery word by putting the different clues together.
(15 minutes)
  • Have students work in pairs to grab a book. Have their partner read the first several pages, stopping each time they get to an unknown word.
  • When students get to an unknown word, prompt them to use picture clues and context cues to figure out the words.
  • Have students write each tricky word that they decode on their index cards.
(20 minutes)
  • Have students complete the following worksheets:
    • What Does the Picture Tell You?
    • Read/Guess/Check
    • Word Meaning: Picture Clues
  • If students finish early, have them read independently. Ask students to record all the tricky words they decode on the index cards.

Support: Have students continue to work with a partner while completing the worksheets.

Enrichment: Have students make “reading strategies” bookmarks to remind them of ways to decode words.

(5 minutes)
  • Assess students’ understanding by noticing the strategies they use when decoding unknown words.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students share the tricky words that they decoded.

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