Determine technical word meanings

Determine technical word meanings

I can determine technical word meanings.

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Determine technical word meanings

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Students learn how to tackle unknown technical words they might encounter in informational texts. This includes re-reading the text, using context clues, and plugging the new meaning into the text to see if it still makes sense. In this lesson, students will practice applying these skills by reading two scientific texts.


CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.4; CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.4; CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.4

Learning objective

Students will be able to apply a variety of strategies to determine the meaning of unknown technical vocabulary in informational text.


Tell students that they probably see technical words used in their everyday lives. Ask students what kind of technical words they encounter. Share some examples like "geotagging" and "screen rotation," vocabulary they might be familiar with from their technology devices.


Begin by showing students how the organization of informational texts can help determine the meaning of words. This includes the use of titles, subtitles, headings, bold or italicized text, and sections. Then share the strategies they can use when they encounter an unknown technical word: Re-read the text and read ahead, identify context clues, decide on a meaning, and plug the meaning into the text to see if it makes sense.

Read the passage about sharks and guide students through these steps to determine the meaning of the words "otoliths" and "radiocarbon." Do this again with another scientific text and determine the meaning of the words "ptyalin" and "mastication."


Students respond to 10 multiple-choice and true or false questions. They will read a passage and use what they've learned to find the meaning of the word "arboreal."


Have students refer to informational text from their classroom on any topic that uses technical language. Have them use the printable worksheet provided to work out the meaning of at least 2 technical words using the strategies discussed.

Instruction materials

Printable worksheet

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