context and connotation

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Assessment Instructions

Step 1: Read an Article

Read this excerpt from the article about William Kamkwamba:

Malawi windmill boy with big fans

Former Associated Press news agency reporter Bryan Mealer had been reporting on conflict across Africa for five years when he heard Mr Kamkwamba’s story.

The incredible tale was the kind of positive story Mealer, from New York, had long hoped to cover. Sometimes from the humblest beginnings, great things are achieved. This is not just a story of paraffin lanterns being put out and replaced with light bulbs; this is the story of a village saved by one of their own.

The industry of Mr Kamkwamba includes using nails and magnets off an old stereo speaker to create a circuit breaker, and a light switch cobbled together from bicycle spokes and flip-flop rubber.

The author spent a year with Mr Kamkwamba writing The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind which has just been published in the US.

Mealer says Mr Kamkwamba represents Africa’s new “cheetah generation”, young people, energetic and technology-hungry, who are taking control of their own destiny.

“Spending a year with William writing this book reminded me why I fell in love with Africa in the first place,” says Mr Mealer, 34.

“It’s the kind of tale that resonates with every human being and reminds us of our own potential.”

Can it be long before the film rights to the triumph-over-adversity story are snapped up, and William Kamkwamba, the boy who dared to dream, finds himself on the big screen?

Step 2: Things to Do When Reading

Track where you needed to look at the context carefully to find meaning.

  • Identify three words where context seemed to help you understand the meaning of what you were reading.
  • Write out these words and the context that helped you. Now look up dictionary definitions for your three words. How did you do?

Which words had positive connotations?

  • Do you see words in the excerpts that have really positive connotations?
  • Write out five words that make you feel good about William Kamkwamba’s story.

Step 3: What to Submit

Reflect on how your new tools for reading aided you in understanding the article about Kamkwamba.

  1. Write a paragraph of five or more sentences in which you explain how you used context clues and connotation to better understand words in the article.
  2. Include at least three instances in which you used context clues to understand specific words in the article. Explain how the context clues helped you understand each word’s meaning.
  3. Identify three words from the article that have a positive connotation. Briefly explain their connotations. Explain how knowing the connotation of these words influenced your interpretation of the article.

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