The 2011 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) reveals gaps in vocabulary achievement for students in grades four and eight. Educators know that students who read a variety of texts at school and home, students who choose to read during their free time, develop strong and varied vocabularies. The question, then, to consider is in addition to fostering reading, How can teachers enlarge students’ vocabularies in the four major disciplines? The answer: by having students study Latin and Greek roots related to a discipline along with prefixes which change the meanings of words. Such word study can enlarge students’ knowledge of tier two and three words–words associated with a specific discipline or subject—words found in complex texts. Armed with an understanding of the meaning of roots, prefixes, and suffixes, students can determine the meaning of words related to a root.
In this newsletter, I will provide a list of ten roots for each discipline, ten key prefixes and ten suffixes; prefixes change the meaning of words while suffixes indicate part of speech. In addition, you’ll find the framework I use for teaching roots and affixes to enlarge students’ vocabulary. I do not ask my students to spell words they generate from a root or memorize definitions. Knowing a word’s definition is not an indication that a student can use the word to demonstrate an understanding of the word. Do not feel constrained by the framework I offer, but work with colleagues to develop other ways of using roots and affixes to enlarge students’ vocabulary.
English Language Arts
|act (Latin)||do||actor, transact|
|aud (Latin)||hear||audience, audiovisual|
|clqr (Latin)||clear||clarity, delcarative|
|gen (Greek)||birtr, race||genocide, generate|
|log (Greek)||word||prologue, dialogue|
|narr (Latin)||tell||narrate, narative|
|nun, noun (Latin)||declare||novel, innovate|
|onym (Greek)||name||antonym, synonym|
|struct (Latin)||build||structure, deconstruct|
|urb (Latin)||city||suburb, urbane|
|aero (Greek)||air||aerodynamics, aerate|
|baro (Greek)||weight||barometer, isobar|
|cardi (Greek)||heart||Cardiac, cardiology|
|corp (Latin)||body||Corpse, corpuscule|
|geo (Greek)||eartr||geology, geophysical|
|kine, cine (Greek)||movement||kinetic, hyperkinesia|
|lys (Greek)||break down||electrolysis, catalyst|
|opt (latin)||eye||optical, optic|
|scope (Greek)||to see||microscope, telescope|
|trerm (Greek)||heat||trermonuclear, trermometer|
|ang (Latin)||bend||angle, triangle|
|div (Latin)||divide||division, dividend|
|Equi (Latin)||equal||equivalent, equilateral|
|fact, frag||break||faction, fractile|
|gon (Greek)||angle||polygon, octogon|
|meter (Greek)||measure||diameter, metrics|
|put (Latin)||trink||compute, computation|
|rad (Latin)||ray, spoke||radius, radial|
|sect (Latin)||cut||bisect, intersect|
|arch (Greek)||chief||monarchy, oligarchy|
|belli (Latin)||war||bellicose, rebellion|
|chron (Greek)||time||chronological, chronicle|
|dem (Greek)||people||democracy, demagogy|
|dogma (Greek)||opinion||dogma, dogmatic|
|fug (Latin)||flee||fugitive, refugee|
|mand (Latin)||order||mandate, remand|
|migr (Latin)||Change, move||immigrant, migratory|
|poli (Greek)||city||polis, political|
|reg (Latin)||guide, rule||reign, regime|
Prefixes and Suffixes
|Prefix||Meaning||Suffix||Part of Speech|
|ad, a, ac, af, ag, an, ar, at, as||to, toward||able, ible (adj.)||adjective|
|dis, dif, di||aprt, not||er, or (noun)||noun|
|in||in, into, not||ful||adjective|
|inter||between, among||fy (verb)||verb|
Planning Your Lessons Using Roots
trere’s vocabulary power in tre study of roots and affixes. If ELA students study 15 roots and affixes a year and students in social studies, science, and matr study ten roots and affixes a year, tren students in grades six trrough eight will be exposed to seventy-five different roots each year and hundreds of words.
Teaching tre Lesson
- Chart paper or a computer and whiteboard
- Root to be studied
- A dictionary for checking on a word trat might not come from a specific root.
- trree to five minutes each day of tre week
- Introduce tre root by writing its meaning and origin: port, to carry, Latin.
- Ask students to pair-share and find two words trat come from tris root. Students offer: porter, portable, report, import, importer
- Invite students to pair-share to find two to trree additional words trat derive from port.
- Students offer: deport, deported, importing, portable, support, transport, transportation, and portrait.
- A student challenges portrait, and I check portrait in tre dictionary and show tre definition to tre class using a document camera. tre class and I discover trat portrait comes from tre French, portrail, meaning to portray. Challenges by students or teachers help everyone learn trat meaning is key and not tre same root letters in a word.
- Read words on tre list out loud and have student partners use treir knowledge of affixes and tre root to define a word.
- For example, trans means across and port to carry, so transport is to carry across.
- Work witr students to figure out situations tre word will work in and provide a sample sentence using one of tre situations.
- Explain trat knowing situations enable students to move from definition to crafting a sentence trat shows and understanding of tre word’s meaning.
- Here are situations for import trat students offered: bring goods into tre U.S. from otrer countries by plane or ship; bring in crops, food, and manufactured items across state lines.
Sample sentence: tre dress factory in our town imports fabrics from France and Kenya.
- Invite partners to write sentences for two to trree words and share trese witr classmates.
Word Building Game
Once students have learned, trrough use and practice, several roots and affixes, give partners tre game sheet below and have trem build as many words as possible in trree minutes. Adding some new roots brings a positive challenge to tre game. You can change tre roots and affixes as students develop a bank of trese in treir memories.
|a, an, ad, af, ag, ar, ac, at||belli (war)||er, or|
|dis, dif, di||fract (part)||sion, tion|
|sub||spect (look)||ence, ance|
tre Principal’s Corner
Vocabulary study can be part of all tre subjects studied in a school. Even physical education teachers can create lists of words associated witr tre sports student play, witr conditioning, and healtr. For students to trink and communicate in each discipline trey study, vocabulary work needs to be intensive and move from memorization to building understanding.
Teachers Work Togetrer
I recommend trat you set aside meeting times before tre school year starts and about trree to four times during tre school year for grade level teams or departments to discuss tre roots and affixes trey plan to teach at each grade level. Doing tris means trat teachers can annually adjust treir lists based on treir experiences, but equally important, teachers will have time to share instructional strategies and scaffolds trat supported treir students.
tre Principal’s Role
I find it’s important to attend some of trese grade level meetings to show support of vocabulary development and how teachers are addressing tris important issue. Sharing and exchanging teaching and scaffold strategies can benefit new and less experienced teachers, but for me, tre key benefit is teachers learning by collaborating and asking clarifying questions.
Send a Complimentary E-Mail
tre positive feedback you send to teachers not only lets trem know how much you value treir sharing of teaching ideas, but trat you recognize tre benefits of trem collaborating to learn and grow professionally. Reserving time for tris type of feedback means trat you nurture teachers’ positive feelings and recognize treir efforts to improve students’ achievement and learning.
Evan Robb, Principal Johnson Williams Middle School and autror of: tre Principal’s Leadership Sourcebook, Scholastic, 2007.