Wednesday, December 17, 2014

L.7.4b - Using Greek/Latin Roots to Determine the Meaning of Complex Words

With an understanding of Greek and Latin roots, students can determine the meaning of difficult words - or at least get closer to what those difficult words might mean. I started by connecting this skill to real life. I found two online texts that had words in their titles that were complex and had roots in them that we would study in our lesson.

This online text had the word benevolent in the title. Most students don't know what this word means when they encounter it, so I explained that I would be teaching them a strategy to help them get closer to its meaning.

I then showed students the following slide that had the word malice in the title. We discussed how the word malice is a complex word for most middle school students, but with knowledge of Greek and Latin roots, students can get closer to its meaning!


I used the following SMARTboard presentation to help me introduce the concept of using Greek and Latin roots as a word-solving strategy.

As a seventh-grade team, we decided on several roots that we felt were prevalent in complex words middle school students typically see in texts. The root 'bene'/'bon' was one root we decided to teach.

Students took notes on each word in the Language section of their Thoughtful Logs, and as I revealed each definition, students started to notice a common pattern - all of the words had something to do with GOOD.

We also decided that the root 'mal' was an important root to teach.

Again, students took notes on each of these words and recorded their definitions. There was definitely a common pattern to their definitions. They all had something to do with BAD.

Here is one student's notes from the lesson.

We returned to the two articles from the beginning of the lesson to relook at the words benevolent and malice. In addition, we watched a video clip of the "Malice at the Palace" to see what 'bad' took place during the incident. It was clear that players and fans fighting, throwing food, cups, and drinks at one another, and rushing onto the court supported the fact that 'malice' is not a good thing!

For guided practice, students completed this activity to start identifying roots in complex words.

The second part of the activity asked students to find a word in the dictionary with each of the roots and an appropriate "good" or "bad" definition (depending on the root they were looking up).

The next day, students wrote each of their dictionary words and their definitions on two different post-its. We looked at each word and definition under the doc cam and discussed them. Several students came up with the same words so we grouped them. It was easy for me to see who understood this skill and who didn't. Some students wrote down words like 'mallard' - a type of duck. This was the perfect opportunity for me to discuss that not ALL words that have 'bene', 'bon', or 'mal' in them are related to the root, but many words are. 

I recorded each of the 'bene', 'bon', and 'mal' words students had found and put them on large chart paper to hang in our room for easy reference. Students are encouraged to find words with these roots in them in the books/texts they read on their own and in other subject areas. If they find a word, they are to let me know, and they'll get a smelly sticker in return for sharing it with the class. This is a wonderful way for students to independently identify words with roots outside of our classroom. (It's also amazing how much tweenagers love smelly stickers!!)

During a different week, we studied the roots 'man', 'manu', and 'corp' using these slides during the lesson. Again, students took notes and noticed patterns in their definition to infer the meaning of each root. 



Afterwards, students practiced identifying their new roots, in addition to the roots we learned the week before to spiral students' learning.


They also looked up 'bene', 'bon', and 'manu' words in the dictionary for each root and recorded the definitions, so long as the words' definitions had something to do with 'hands' or 'body'.


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