Are you feeling the pressure of “teaching to the test” to ensure passing scores on those standardized tests? I was too, until I stepped outside the box, and thought, why am I not teaching word prefixes and suffixes? There is just no practical way to teach my students all of the vocabulary words they may possibly encounter when taking a standardized test OR in their reading novels. Cue the entry of…WORD MASTERS. I started teaching my students word roots and stems from day 1, and the results I saw were incredible, much improved test scores, and significantly improved reading comprehension, and confidence. If you aren’t already convinced that word roots and stems are the best way to teach vocab, read on…
- Improved vocabulary comprehension.
The English language is derived from Greek and Latin and many words that we encounter have meaning behind them that help us understand the word. By having an understanding of prefixes and suffixes, students can break apart the word into its roots, and make their best educated guess on the meaning of the word, no matter how familiar the term is. For example, say a student is reading their favorite novel and comes across the word, barometer. With understanding of roots and stems, students can deduce the meaning of the word, baro- meaning pressure -meter unit of measurement. Ah ha. A barometer must be something relating to measuring pressure.
Hint: Check out this 50 common roots and stems, meaning, and example photo below. It’s included this handy ELA lapbook for easy and quick student reference.
- Increased number of vocabulary words mastered.
This is one that really hits home with me. I used to teach 5 new vocab words each week. In a 36 week school year that’s just 180 words. And how many words are there in the english language?! What in the world was I thinking?! By using word stems and roots, students learn 5 new word stems and roots a week. Okay, so they they still learn 180 new prefixes and suffixes a year…BUT how many words have the root aqua-, bi-, bio-, circum-? A ton! So in theory, students may learn the meaning of 20+ words a week by unlocking the meaning using prefixes and suffixes, that’s 720+ words a year vs. 180!!
- Improved test scores.
Let’s face it, as teachers we constantly feel the pressure to improve student test scores. Our success as a teacher is often defined by the test scores our students get. The pressure was just too much for me to handle, and I knew there had to be a better way. Far too often there are vocabulary words that tend to come out of left field on a test, and you’re thinking, shoot we didn’t learn that word! Have no fear. Using stems and roots allows students to unlock the meaning of those tough words, and make their best guess. While they may only know a piece of the word, they can make an educated guess, rather than just sitting and staring. Example: A student comes across a passage talking about pathology. But with the help of Greek and Latin stems and roots, they know that -ology means “the study of.” The student is able to deduce that the passage is talking about the study of something. While they may still be stumped, kids are a few steps ahead in picking the correct answer, by understanding even just a part of the word. This method has helped me improve reading scores tremendously.
- Word stems and roots transfer to other content areas.
It’s all about reading and writing right? Think again!! Word stems and roots cross all subject areas. Math? You bet! Think about, centimeter, centi- means one hundredth, meter means measurement. Voila! Science? You got it! Hemoglobin, hema- means blood. History? Of course! Antebellum, ante- means before, -bell means war. It’s amazing how useful word stems are roots are for ALL content areas!
- Improved confidence with reading.
With stems and roots, kids can stretch outside of their comfort zone with novels. We all know that the range of reading levels in a classroom can be tremendous. In my 4th grade classroom I had readers at the 1st grade level all the way to 8th+ grade level. By learning word stems and roots, my readers started reading at a higher level, challenging themselves, because they were confident in their reading abilities. Students knew that they could comprehend a harder text than what they were currently reading because they were confident that they could understand the vocabulary.
Helpful Hint: Are you ready to start improving student vocabulary skills but not sure how to get started? Check out the Word Masters Unit featuring 36 weeks of lessons ready to print and go! Here’s a little sneak peak at what’s included.
Helpful Hint: Want to try out Word Masters, but scared to take the leap? Try one week FREE!
- COMPLETE Yearlong Word Masters Greek & Latin Stems & Roots Program
- Free Week of Word Masters
- ELA Student Helper Reference Charts