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O U R   L E S S O N   S T R U C T U R E

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Vocabulary and Reading

There are three types of activities or lessons in the program that combine vocabulary development and reading comprehension: Reading Passages, Vocabulary in Context, and Vocabulary for Comprehension.


Students receive instruction on preparing for the kinds of questions that accompany extended reading selections: Main Idea Questions, Detail Questions, Vocabulary‐in‐Context Questions, Inference Questions, Questions About Tone, and Questions About Author's Technique.


They are also given five general strategies to help as they read the passages and answer the questions.

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Literary Text Examples

Literary text pages contain excerpts from classic literature. Each excerpt uses one of the vocabulary words from the Unit and provides students with exposures to the vocabulary in the context of authentic literature.  


In addition to providing practice in the sort of vocabulary exercises found on standardized tests, students practice deriving meaning from context.


Furthermore, they are able to glimpse the artistry of great British and American writers in their careful choice and use of words in relation to the elements of story.

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Reading Passages

Each reading passage is a two‐page informational text that introduces at least 15 of the 20 unit based vocabulary words in a natural, multi‐paragraph context. The selections represent a variety of nonfiction genres that students commonly encounter at school and in their non‐academic activities.


Students read the words in context to activate prior knowledge then draw on context clues to help them determine the meaning of unfamiliar words.


In addition, the reading passages provide context clues and information referenced in other activities.

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Vocabulary Comprehension

This section is designed to help students prepare for the reading sections of standardized tests.  Students read a passage of expository or informational text then answer vocabulary‐in‐context and comprehension questions.

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Using Vocabulary In Writing

For this exercise students use the vocabulary words in an extended context. Two writing prompts allow students to demonstrate their understanding of new vocabulary. The first prompt refers to the passage that introduced the vocabulary words and requires a close reading of the text in order to respond appropriately. The second prompt may also refer to the passage or related topic and is modeled after writing tasks found on standardized tests such as the SAT.

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Vocabulary Strategies

Students learn to recognize and use context clues in order to decode unfamiliar words they encounter in their reading. The three types of context clues emphasized include restatement, contrast, and inference clues.

Word Structure: Students are shown how to use their knowledge of the meaning of word parts— including prefixes, suffixes, and roots or bases—to help determine the meaning of unfamiliar words in which these word parts appear. This teaches how to build vocabulary by learning the meaning of word parts that make up many English words. The first section presents common prefixes and suffixes, their grammatical function, their meaning, and how they appear in sample words. The second section lists Greek and Latin roots, meanings, and sample words.

Using Context: This section provides instruction to students on how to recognize and use inference clues to arrive at a preliminary determination of the meaning of an unfamiliar word or phrase.

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In the definitions section that follows each reading passage, students see the importance of context as they read each illustrative sentence then write the vocabulary word in the blank in order to complete the sentence. This activity prepares for the student for the more challenging "complete‐the‐sentence‐ using‐context‐clues" exercises.

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Choosing the Right Words

These exercises present a pair of words.  Students consider figurative, extended, or abstract meanings before selecting the word that best fits the context of the given sentence.

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Connotations and Denotations

Students read each sentence then consider context clues before selecting one of two vocabulary words that best expresses the desired connotation (positive, negative, or neutral).

Students apply what they've learned about being sensitive to the nuances in the meaning of words. They select words studied in the previous three units to replace highlighted words in the sentences provided. Then they explain how the connotation of the replacement word changes the tone of the sentence. Next, they organize several words according to connotations – positive (+), negative (–), or neutral (0). Then they analyze the positive, negative, or neutral connotation of several words in the shades of meaning exercise.

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The synonyms activity requires students to rely on context clues to help find a vocabulary word to match each given synonym. Students learn about the relationship of words with similar meanings. After this preparation, they learn about the nuances or shades of meaning that distinguish synonyms from each other.

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The antonyms activity requires students to use context clues to help find a vocabulary word to match each given synonym. Students learn about the relationship of words with similar meanings. After this preparation, they learn about the nuances or shades of meaning that distinguish antonyms from each other.

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Completing the Sentence

Students rely on embedded context clues to help them choose and write the word that logically and/or figuratively fits into a blank in a given sentence


Working with analogies helps students better understand analogies—a relationship or comparison between two sets of words linked by a word or a symbol that stands for an equals (=) sign. Students encounter many different kinds of relationships represented in the analogy questions in the Final Mastery Test.

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Two Word Completions

Students practice with word‐ omission (cloze) exercises that appear on college entrance exams, including the SAT.  Students use embedded context clues to identify the correct choices.

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Word Study

As part of the word study lessons in each review section, the choosing the right adage/idiom/proverb activity helps students practice using context clues to figure out the meaning of figurative expressions.

Classical Roots: Students use context clues to help choose which word based on the featured root best completes the sentence. In addition, students discover how words with a pattern of shared Latin or Greek roots and affixes may vary in structure while retaining similarities in meaning.

Adages, Idioms, and Proverbs: An idiom is an informal expression whose literal meaning does not help the reader or listener figure out what the expression means.

English is particularly rich in idioms and idiomatic expressions, such as “raining cats and dogs,” “the apple of my eye,” “a dark horse.”


An adage expresses a common experience, often in the form of a sentence, such as “Time flies when you’re having fun.”


A proverb is a statement that provides a lesson or a moral, such as “A stitch in time saves nine” and “A rolling stone gathers no moss.


After introductory instruction, students practice these exercises by matching an adage, idiom, or proverb. Following this, they use what they have learned in short sentences to demonstrate their understanding.

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