Word Study Activities

Vocabulary Notebooks 8-1

At the derivational relations phase, vocabulary notebooks are an essential part of students’ word learning.  They are used to record word sorts and add words to the sorts after word hunts.  The notebook should be divided into two sections:

            Word Study: weekly sort record, explanation of sorts, and homework

            Looking into Language: Records of whole group word study of related words, semantic sorts, theme study words, interesting word collections and investigations

Following is a description of how older students’ collections of “interesting” words can be facilitated. 

  1. Collect the word.  Mark difficult words while reading.  When finished reading or studying, go back to these words.  Read around the word and think about what it could mean.
  2. Record the word and sentence.  Write the word and then the sentence in which it was used, the page number, and an abbreviations of the book’s title.  (If the sentence is too long, write as much of the sentence to give a clue as to what it means.)  Think about the meaning of the word.
  3. Look at word parts and think about their meaning.  Look at the different parts of the word—prefixes, suffixes, and base or root words.  Think about the meaning of the affixes and base or root.
  4. Record related words.  Think of similar words and write them under the part of the word that is similar. 
  5. Use the dictionary.  Look up the definition of the word and read all the definitions and in a few words, record the meaning that applies to your word on a card.  Look for similar words above or below the target word and also list them.  Look at the origin of the word and add it to the entry if it is interesting.
  6. Review the words.  Aim to collect 10 words a week.  Record words in the notebook or on the card which often present spelling challenges.  For each word, think of related words as in Step 4.   

An example of the process would be 1.) Collect the word orthography.  2.) Record the word and sentence “English orthography is not crazy, and it carries the history of the word with it.” p. 22, Sounds of Language. 3.) Look at the parts of the word and think about their meaning: ortho/graph (could have something to do with writing.)  4.) Record words that could be related: orthodox, orthodontist, graphics.  5.) Study the word in the dictionary and write down interesting information. “A method of representing the sounds of a language by letters; spelling.”  Origin: ortho: correct graph, something written.

You Teach the Word 8-2

A way to help students learn the many vocabulary words required for content areas is to assign each student in the class one word and make it his or her responsibility to for teaching the word to the rest of the class.  Each student should make a small poster to add to a class wall that includes a definition, a synonym and/or antonym, an etymology, a sentence, or an illustration.  Students can share their poster but can also creatively help each other to learn the word.  One example would be to act out the word.

laissez faire

/lay-zay fair/

Definition: noninterference, lack of government intervention

Origin: French laisser – to let and faire – to do

Example: The teacher had a laissez faire attitude about chewing gum in school.

 Words That Grow from Base Words and Word Roots 8-4

This is a small-group or whole-class activity where students see how words “grow.”  The activity will help students build on and extend the understanding of how word elements combine. 

Materials

You will need a drawing of a tree.booktree

Procedures:

  1. Decide upon a root word or base word to highlight.  Begin with commonly used ones; over time, move to less commonly occurring roots.
  2. At the bottom of the tree, write the root word or base word and think of as many forms as you can.
  3. On the individual branches, write the different forms.
  4. Display the word tree in the classroom for several days or a week and encourage the students to find, think of, and record even more derived words.  Wipe the words off at the end of the week and begin again with the introduction of a new root word or base word.

 Variations:

After the words are made, the students may discuss their meanings or use them individually in sentences.  The students should confirm the meaning of the words with a dictionary.

 Latin and Greek Jeopardy 8-5

A minimum of three students are needed for this game (a scorekeeper, host, and two players), but many more can play as well.  The entire class can be divided into two teams.

Materials:

Create a grid containing 6 rows and 5 columns.  Make headers to indicate the categories.  A clue card should be made by writing the points on one side and the answer on the other.  Turn the requested square over during the playing of the game so that the answer can be read.  For a large group, an alternative is to make an overhead transparency of Latin Root Jeopardy and Double Latin Root Jeopardy boards and project it on a screen.  Cover the clues with sticky notes on the transparency.  Use tape on a chalkboard or whiteboard to fix squared of paper in the correct order.

 Procedures:

There are two rounds in this game: Jeopardy and Double Jeopardy.

  1. The game is modeled after the television game show, Jeopardy.  The clue is in the form of an answer and the players have to phrase their response in the form of a question. 

Answer clue: Coming from the Latin root tract, it means “a machine for pulling heavy loads.”

Question response: What is a tractor?

  1. Determine who the first player will be.  The player will choose the first category and point value.  The clue will be uncovered and read by the host. 
  2. The first player who responds correctly adds the point amount of the question to his or her total category and point amount.  A wrong answer means that the points are subtracted. 
  3. The player with the most points is the winner.    

LATIN ROOT JEOPARDY

SPECT

(to look)

FORM

(shape)

PORT

(to carry)

TRACT

(draw or pull)

DICT

(to say, speak)

100

One who watches; an onlooker

100

One form or style of clothing such as is worn by nurses

100

Goods brought into a country from another country to be sold

100

Adjective; having power to attract; alluring; inviting

100

A book containing the words of a language explained

200

The prospect of good to come; anticipation

200

One who does not conform

200

One who carries burdens for hire

200

A powerful motor vehicle for pulling farm machinery, heavy loads, etc.

200

A speaking against, a denial

300

To regard with suspicion and mistrust

300

To form or make anew; to reclaim

300

To remove from one place to another

300

The power to grip or hold to a surface while moving, without slipping

300

A blessing often at the end of a worship service

400

Verb: to esteem

Noun: regard, deference

Literally: to look again

400

To change into another substance, change of form

400

 To give an account of

400

An agreement:

Literally, to draw together

400

An order proclaimed by an authority

500

 Looking around, watchful, prudent

500

Disfigurement, spoiling the shape

500

A case for carrying loose papers

500

To take apart from the rest, to deduct

500

To charge with a crime

 “Questions” for Latin Root Jeopardy

 

100

200

300

400

500

Spect

Spectator

Expectation

Suspect

Respect

Circumspect

Form

Uniform

Nonconformist

Reform

Transform

Deformity

Port

Import

Porter

Transport

Report

Portfolio

Tract

Attractive

Tractor

Traction

Contract

Subtract

Dict

Dictionary

Contradiction

Benediction

Edict

Indict

 

DOUBLE LATIN ROOT JEOPARDY

CRED

(to believe)

DUCT

(to lead)

FER

(to bear, carry)

PRESS

(to press)

SPIR

(to breathe)

200

A system of doing business by trusting that a person will pay at a later date for goods or services

200

A person who directs the performance or a choir or an orchestra

200

(plants) able to bear fruit; (Animals) able or likely to conceive young

200

A printing machine

200

An immaterial intelligent being

400

A set of beliefs or principles

400

To train the mind and abilities of

400

To carry again; to submit to another for opinion

400

Verb: to utter; Noun: any fast conveyance

400

To breathe out: to die

600

Unbelievable

600

To enroll as a member of a military service

600

To convey to another place, passed from one place to another

600

To press against, to burden, to overpower

600

To breathe through; to emit through the pores of the skin

800

Verb, prefix meaning “not”, word means to damage the good reputation of

800

The formal presentation of one person to another

800

Endurance of pain; distress

800

State of being “pressed down” or saddened

800

To breathe into; to instruct by divine influence

1000

An adjective, prefix ac, word means officially recognized

1000

An artificial channel carrying water across country

1000

Cone bearing, as the fir tree

1000

To put down, to prevent circulation

1000

To plot; to band together for an evil purpose

 

““Questions” for Double Latin Root Jeopardy

 

200

400

600

800

1000

Cred

Credit

Creed

Incredible

Discredit

Accredited

Duct

Conductor

Educate

Induct

Introduction

Aqueduct

Fer

Fertile

Refer

Transfer

Suffering

Coniferous

Press

Press

Express

Oppress

Depression

Suppress

Spir

Spirit

Expire

Perspire

Inspire

conspire

Variations

  1. A Final Jeopardy round can be added if you wish.  When it is time for the Final Jeopardy question, the players can see the category but not the question.  The players decide how many of their points they want to risk.  They have 30 seconds after they see the answer to write the question.  If correct, the number of points they risked are added to their total; if incorrect, the number of points they risked are subtracted from their total.
  2. Play can be alternated from one player to the next or from one team to the next instead of who shouts out the response first.  If a player incorrectly replies, the other team gets a chance to respond.  If correct, they get another turn.
  3. If desired, Daily Double Jeopardy may be included.  The number of points for an answer is doubled and added to the players score if correct.  If incorrect, the doubled number of points is subtracted from the player’s score.
  4. A Vocabulary Jeopardy can be developed to go along with a unit of study.
  • Vocabulary cards can be generated from a unit of study that fit into four or five categories.
  • Questions can be written on cards that relate to concepts and facts studied.
  • Teams of students play the game as a way for the whole class to review the vocabulary for a unit.

Brainburst 8-8

Players compete to brainstorm as many words as they can that are derived from the same root in this game.  Unique words are the only words that will earn points.

Materials

Different roots should be written on cards such as phon, dict, port, graph, scope, struct, spect and so on.  Roots that have a wide variety of possible derivations should be chosen.  Each player or team needs to have a piece of paper and a pencil.  A standard dictionary and a timer are needed.

Procedures

  1. The timer is set for 2 to 3 minutes and a card is turned over.  Each team or player attempts to think of as many words as possible derived from that root.
  2. Players draw a line under their last word and count the number they have when the timer goes off.
  3. The player with the longest list reads the list aloud.  If another player has the same word, the word is crossed off of everyone’s list.  Words that are not on another list are checked.
  4. Each player reads aloud any words that no one else has called to determine whether he or she has a unique word.  A dictionary should be used to help settle any disputes. 
  5. The winner of the round is the player or team with the most unique words.

Variations

This game can also be played with prefixes (post-, pre-, ex-, sub, etc.) and suffixes (-able, -ent, -ant, -ible, etc.)

 Joined at the Roots 8-9

This word sort, appropriate for individuals, partners, or small groups, is an effective extension of students’ exploration of Latin and Greek word roots.

Materials

You will need a word study notebook, a word sort board, and word cards.

Procedures

  1. The teacher begins by modeling how to place words with appropriate roots under a particular category, for example, “Building/Construction,” “Movement,” “Thinking and Feeling.”  Then, the teacher involves the students in the categorization. 
  2. After the students have grasped how the categorization scheme works, they can work in pairs or small groups.  Each pair or group will take a different category and sort the words whose roots justify being in the particular category.
  3. Words can be written in word study notebooks and brought back to the larger group to share and discuss.  (Several words to be sorted may be placed under different categories.)  Following are examples of categories and illustrative words.

 Sample Categories

Building/  Construc-tion

Thinking & Feeling

Movement

Travel

Government

Speaking & Writing

Technology

Philanthropy

Synchrony

Astronaut

Economy

Autobio-graphy

construct

Philosophy

Fracture

Fracture

Demagogue

Photograph

tractor

Attraction

 

 

Politics

Catalogue

 

 

 

 

 

Emphasis

 From Spanish to English – A Dictionary Word Hunt 8-14

Purpose

Expand students’ vocabularies by finding relations among languages.  These words are called cognates. 

Procedures

  1. Look through a Spanish-English dictionary to find words in Spanish that are similar to English words.  Note the definition or synonym.
  2. Find words that share the same root or affix using an English dictionary.  Write these related words in your word study notebook.
  3. Record the findings in the word study notebook and create a class chart.

Below are sample entries on a class chart of cognates that one group of students collected in this activity.

Spanish (Translation) English Relations Spanish Relations
Presumir (boast)Extensor (extensive)Nocturne (nightly)Polvo (powder) Presume, presumption, presumptuousExtend, extensionNocturnal, nocturnePulverize (from Latin, pulvis, dust) Presuncion, presumidoExtensive, extenderNoche, noctambuloPolvillo, polvorear

 

 The Synonym/Antonym Continuum 8-15

Students will be encouraged to think about the subtle differences between word meanings as they work with antonyms and synonyms in this activity.

Materials

Think of opposites such as brave/frightened, cold/hot, young/old, lazy/energetic, etc.  Find synonyms in a thesaurus for each word in the pair and write them on cards or in a list.

Procedure

Have the students arrange the words along a continuum.  Antonyms (words that are most opposite in meaning) will be at the ends of the continuum.  Next to each of the words, students will decide where to place the synonyms (words that are the closest to the meaning of the opposite word) and so on until all of the words have been used.  For example, the words boiling, frigid, tepid, cool, balmy, hot, warm, and cold could be arranged as follows: frigid   frozen   chilly   cool   tepid   balmy   warm   hot

Students could first work individually and they could compare their continua with their classmates.  They should discuss the differences and explain why they arranged particular words as they did.  The dictionary should be used to end disagreements. 

Variations

  1. Encourage students to use descriptive words such as steaming, sweltering, balmy and so on by brainstorming or by using a dictionary or thesaurus.
  2. Give students a word pair of opposites and a thesaurus and have them create a list of words.  Then they can order them as above or give them to another team to order.

 Which Suffix? 8-18

This is an excellent activity to use as a follow-up to previous work with base words, word roots, and suffixes.  It can be used by individuals, buddies, or small groups.  The included suffixes are –ible/-able, -tion/-sion, -ence/-ance, -ary/-ery.    

Materials

You will need a word sort board, word study notebook, and word cards.notebook

Procedures

  1. The teacher decides how many suffix pairs to place at the top of the word sort board.
  2. The word cards are mixed by the teacher and then the deck is placed with the base words face up.  The students choose the top card and decide in which suffix category it belongs.
  3.  After all the cards are placed, the students record in their word study notebooks what they think the correct spelling of the word is.
  4. After all of the words are recorded, students turn over the card to self-check the correct spelling.

Variations

Students can work in pairs to explore a particular suffix “team” (e.g., -tion and –sion) to see what generalization(s) may underlie the use of a suffix.

 Eponyms: Places, Things, Actions 8-22

Words that refer to places, things, and actions that have been named after an individual (from Greek epi-, after, + noma, name) are called eponyms.  Often, students’ interest in word origins is sparked by discovering where such words originate.  These words can be recorded in a special section of the word study notebook and/or displayed on a bulletin board. 

Following is a sampler of common eponyms:

  • Magnolia- Pierre Magnol, French botanist
  • Pasteurize- Louis Pasteur developed the process whereby bacteria are killed in food and drink
  • Sandwich- John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich, who requested a new type of meal
  • Diesel- Rudolph Diesel, a German engineer who invented an alternative engine to the slow-moving steam engine
  • Boycott- Charles Boycott, whose servants and staff refused to work for him because he would not lower rents

Donald Bear, M. I. (2008). Words Their Way. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.

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