This module is for Grades: 9-10 Welcome

Have you ever had the problem of reading your social studies text and finding unfamiliar words? The word cloud at the right is just one example of the words you will encounter when you study the Russian Revolution. Do any of these words look unfamiliar? Not knowing the meaning of these words makes understanding a reading passage that uses them very difficult. There are several ways to approach this problem. You could use the dictionary, but often the dictionary’s definition is as confusing as the unfamiliar term, or even worse, it may give you several different meanings of the same word.

For example, review the definition for revolutionOpens a new window on As you can see, this definition might not be useful if you are trying to figure out what “revolution” means in the context of your social studies class.

You could use the glossary, which provides the definition of the term as it is used in the book. However, what do you do when the book does not have a glossary, or the term is not listed in the glossary? In this activity, you will look at two strategies, using context clues and examining word parts, to help you determine the meaning of unfamiliar terms.

Word cloud for the term Russian Revolution.

Context clues and examining word parts are two strategies that can be used to determine the meaning of an unfamiliar term.

Focus Standard

RH.9-10.4 – Determine the meaning of words, and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social studies classes.


  • Use prior knowledge and context clues to determine meaning of words, phrases and other discipline specific vocabulary.
  • Interpret, explain and apply appropriate academic and/or domain-specific vocabulary when responding to and discussing informational text.

Module Objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Determine the meaning of unfamiliar terms using prior knowledge, context clues and examination of word parts.