In Word Detectives: Using Units of Meaning to Support Literacy, Goodwin, Miriam, Lipsky, and Soyeon Ahn (2012), looked at research regarding how students comprehend, how students deconstruct words in order to determine word meaning, and the impact of morphological instruction on student understanding of words. From their findings, here are six strategies that focus on morphological instruction that help students understand how to attack and conquer unknown words, but have the added benefit of being easily implemented into any classroom.

Segmenting and Building

Begin with segmenting and building words with morphemes. Remember that the focus of this exercise is always to help students deconstruct words in order to determine word meaning. In the primary grades, look at simple endings (-s, -ed, -ing). In the upper grades, look at longer words (transport, improper, sickly). Students deconstruct the word and then look at how the parts related to the root word. Afterwards, students brainstorm and list additional words using either the same affix or root.

Begin with segmenting and building words with morphemes. Remember that the focus of this exercise is always to help students deconstruct words in order to determine word meaning. In the primary grades, look at simple endings (-s, -ed, -ing). In the upper grades, look at longer words (transport, improper, sickly). Students deconstruct the word and then look at how the parts related to the root word. Afterwards, students brainstorm and list additional words using either the same affix or root.

 

  • Another strategy is to give students a word, and then they brainstorm and list all related words. For example, give students the word “port,” and they add words that contain this root. Additional words could be transport, portable, transporting, transported, transportation, etc. Students look at how the words are all related, but have slightly different meanings.

 

 

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Brainstorm and List

Explicitly Teach Affix and Root Meaning

If we want students to truly understand and appreciate words, they need instruction on how words are constructed, and how word parts carry meaning. If you have other strategies you use for morphological instruction that you think might help other teachers, please comment and share!