Learning Strategy
Tier I,II
  • Paper/white board or SLAP chart handout
  • appropriate informational text
Target Student

Students who struggle with the meaning of words within a passage or who struggle with vocabulary will benefit from this strategy


The SLAP strategy is designed to assist students with deciphering the meanings of words found throughout informational texts by utilizing context clues. SLAP is an acronym for steps of the strategy which equips the students to determine a word’s meaning by looking at the clues within the text itself. After being taught each step explicitly, it is the goal for each student to independently use SLAP while reading to increase understanding of both the text and individual vocabulary words.


Learning strategies aid students in understanding information and are to be used by students independently.  Use explicit instruction (explanation, modeling, guided practice, independent practice) to teach learning strategies to students.
Explain the strategy. Provide students with an explanation of the strategy: what it is and when it should be used.
Model the strategy.  Model how to use the strategy.  Using a think aloud procedure, voice out the thought process behind each stage of the strategy. This may need to occur over the course of several days based on the needs of the students.
Guided practice.  Guide students in performing the strategy in small groups or in pairs.  During this time, scaffold the learning and support students who need assistance in using the strategy.  They can also model the think aloud strategy (when in pairs) to strengthen comprehension and learning of the steps involved.
Independent practice. After guided practice, students should only use the strategy independently, once they have shown they have mastered the strategy. Students can also be given the opportunity to reflect on the strategy.

How To

1. Choose an appropriate Information text (i.e. textbook, newspaper, websites, etc...)
2. Select multiple key sentences that are contextually rich to be used for modeling and guided practice.
3. Choose one of the sentences and write it on the board or a piece of paper. Underline the unknown word and model for the students the following four steps in the process: S - Say the word, L - Look for context clues, A - Ask yourself what the word might mean and think of another word that has the same meaning (synonym), P - Put the synonym in place of the word in the text and ask if It still makes sense. If it does, then you can understand the meaning for the word. If it does not make sense, repeat the last two steps.
4. After modeling has occurred, involve students in guided practice.

Adapted from 40 Strategies for Guiding Readers through Informational Texts
(Moss, B., & Loh-Hagan, V. (2016). 40 strategies for guiding readers through informational texts. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.)


Beck, I. L., Perfetti, C. A., & McKeown, M. G. (1982). The effects of long-term vocabulary instruction on lexical access and reading comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 506-521.

Berlin, I. (n.d.) African immigration to colonial America [abridged]. Retrieved June 5, 2015, from

Katz, L. A., & Carlisle, J. F. (2009). Teaching students with reading difficulties to be close readers: A feasibility study. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 40, 325-340.

Nagy, W., & Herman, P. (1987). Breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge: Implications for acquisition and instruction. In M.

McKeown & M. Curtiss (Eds.), The nature of vocabulary acquisition (pp. 19-35). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

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