Knowing root words will help improve your students reading and writing skills. Understanding spelling rules and patterns will allow them to decode and build words of greater complexity, making them more successful. It additionally will allow students to gain knowledge on how to break down more complex and unfamiliar words as they synthesize knowledge of Greek root words. With older students, the lesson could open a discussion about root words and the development of the English language.
Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction
- Explain to students that they are going to get a list of words to cut out and sort. They are going to look for patterns and sort the words into groups that fit the patterns.
- Distribute TWO copies of the spelling sort for each student. Instruct them to cut out only one copy.
- Students work independently to try to read the words and sort them into patterns. It is all right if students do not successfully sort them, this is an independent attempt to see if they recognize patterns.
- Walk through the classroom and see how students have sorted. Ask questions to students to build understanding, such as “When you look at these words, what do they have in common?” “What do you notice about these words?” “How are these words alike/different?”
- Call students together after sorting independently. Ask what patterns they noticed. The students should have identified patterns of roots within the words. Unlike prefixes, these words can be at the beginning, middle, or end of the word and can still be considered the root of the word. There are words containing -geo, jur/jus/jud, and dic-. All the words in this sort are derived from Greek words. These are Greek roots. Geo- means earth, jur/jus/jud- refers to law and dic- means to speak. Discuss how many of our common English words are actually derived from Latin and Greek roots. Explain that during this spelling lesson, students will be working to uncover how those meanings affect the rest of the word and give it its current meaning. For example, the word “dictate” means to give an order, or to speak something that must be copied down. In either meaning, the Greek root dict shows that speaking is part of the meaning of the word.
- As a group, create an anchor chart of the sort in the three columns. Write the spelling sort rules underneath, “In this sort, Greek roots shape the meaning of the entire word. Geo- means earth, jur/jus/jud- refers to law and dic- means to speak. ” Have students write the correct sort that you completed as a class in their spelling notebooks.
- Introduce the activity sheet where the students will use dictionaries to create a root word tree.
- Assign homework page- students take home the second sheet of words, cut them out at home, and sort them into the columns. They practice writing the rule at the bottom. Students should practice sorting words EACH NIGHT for several days. They may use writing sorts, sorting in the grid, speed sorts, play taboo and write sentences/definition at home with family members. Only one formal homework assignment is given here, but daily sorting and practice is encouraged, either at home or as part of your language arts center time.
- Students complete the practice sheet independently. They may work in partners or groups to support each other, but they should each complete an individual sheet. Students will use a dictionary to write definitions of all their words, specifically relating to how the Greek word influences the meaning. An excellent resource is http://www.etymonline.com/index.php which helps students understand the origins of parts of words to better understand the complete definition.
- Complete another in class sort with a partner. Students will complete a writing sort . Partners take turns drawing words from the pile and saying them aloud. The other partner must spell the word correctly and write it down. At the end, partners exchange papers and check with their piles to make sure their partner spelled accurately. The one with the most words spelled correctly wins.
Common Core State Standards:
Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions.
Want more language arts resources? Check out our other Language Arts Lesson Plans!