This lesson opens discussions on derivational constancy and shows the way in which language evolved and still influences modern spelling. Specifically, the lesson shows students how Latin prefixes can help them determine the meaning of words. Additionally, it will allow students to gain knowledge on how to break down more complex and unfamiliar words as they synthesize knowledge of prefix words. While rote memorization can assist students with their spelling and reading, it is not the best method to help them achieve future success. Knowing spelling rules and patterns will allow students to decode and build words of greater complexity, making them more successful. Starting with basic spelling rules and patterns will create a foundation for strong writing, spelling, and reading skills.
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 prefixes (beginnings of words). There are words beginning with re-, sub-, and trans-. All the words in this sort are derived from Latin words. The prefixes of these words are re- which means again, sub-, which means under, and trans-, which means across. Discuss how many of our common English words are actually derived from Latin and Greek prefixes. 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 meaning. For example, the word “submarine” uses the word sub to mean under, and the word marine refers to water. Submarine literally means “under water”, which is how a submarine travels.
- As a group, create an anchor chart of the sort in the three columns. Write the spelling sort rules underneath, “In this sort, Latin prefixes shape the meaning of the entire word. Re- which means again, sub-, which means under, and trans-, which means across.”
- 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 prefix 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 Latin 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. Then students will write sentences that use the definitions accurately.
Common Core State Standards:
Class Sessions (45 minutes): at least 2 class sessions
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