Here, as I mentioned last week, are two context clues worksheets on the words empirical and empiricism. These sat on my work table for months before I finally summoned the will to use them a couple of weeks ago in two of my classes. I avoided them because I’d erroneously assumed that these words, or the concepts they represent, were simply too abstract for the struggling and often disengaged learners I serve.
Once I started leading the students through them, however, I realized we were in one of those serendipitous “teachable moments.” To our surprise. a series of Socratic exchanges quickly yielded–on both worksheets, which we completed, interestingly, on two non-successive days–definitions that were within two or three words of those in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (which, incidentally, is the dictionary I use to guide me when I write sentences for these kinds of context clues worksheets). We all, I think, found this gratifying.
Immediately after these classes, when I’d realized what had happened, I grabbed my notebook and wrote down the sequence of questions I asked to guide students through these two exercises. I shaped them into typescript; I’ve included them at the bottom of the two worksheets linked to above.
If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.