Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Word Parts: Searching for Morphology Clues

Yes, besides hunting for treasure, even pirates search for clues to determine the meaning of unknown words! For example, let's take a look at the title of my blog post, "Word Parts: Searching for Morphology Clues". Now, which word in the title will your wee pirates probably not know? I'm guessing it is "morphology"
The remaining words more than likely will be familiar to them and most can be used as context clues.

For example, the first two words in the title inform us that word parts must have something to do with morphology, but what?Intermediate students, particularly 4th and 5th graders, will have some degree of knowledge regarding prefixes, suffixes, and roots. The words, searching and clues, should be relatively easy for our students to define. They will know that searching means looking for something and clues are pieces of information that help us solve a mystery or in this case a word's definition. At this point, students will realize that the word, morphology, has something to do with words. In fact, some may conclude that morphology specifically is related to word parts, but they still do not have a specific definition. So what do they do now? 

Perhaps some students will recognize -ology or -logy. They may have seen this suffix in these words, geology or biology. Science units in Intermediate grades often cover types of rocks, fossils, and layers of earth as well as categories of animals and their habitats. During class discussions and related readings, the words, geology and biology, may have come up, and perhaps their teachers or parents may have informed them that -ology/-logy is a suffix that means the study of a type of science or branch of knowledge. If so, now they know that morphology is a science or specific area of knowledge. They're getting closer to the meaning!

But what about morph-? Well, perhaps during the animal study, there was a unit about insects and the word, metamorphosis, was discussed, or perhaps some of the students have read books from the series, Animorphs -science fantasy stories in which human characters change into animals. Now students may conclude that morph- means change.

So where do we go from here? Does morphology mean the study of change? If so the change of what? Here is where we use our context clues. We know we are searching for information regarding words and word parts. Might we conclude that morphology in this context is the study of word formation, how words are formed and how words are changed? 

If we look up morphology in the dictionary, we will find that morphology is a branch of both biology and geology. In addition, we will find that it means the study or structure of anything! However, we will also discover that morphology is the study of word formation and the word-forming parts that change words.  

Hurrah! We did it! We discovered the meaning of morphology!  

Now let's look for some morphology teaching treasure. Here is my most recent resource, an interactive slide show to introduce word parts. These 47 slides define roots, prefixes, and suffixes. It encourages students to create words with these parts and write sentences using their created words. Once students understand the roles of roots and affixes, they define underlined words from well-known children's books.


I have also created resources for prefixes. This product, Prefix Hunt, has a variety of engaging activities that will help students learn the meanings of these prefixes and assist them in determining the meaning of words formed by these prefixes.

In addition, there are challenging resources for what I call Root Families. These are roots that are related by meaning or content such as "Audi/Dict".

For each root, students focus on four target words that share that particular root. These words are introduced in a brief narrative, and students are required to use context clues and root meanings to determine definitions for these target words. Once meanings are verified, students engage with these words by writing definitions, drawing pictures, completing sentence stems, and listing related words and phrases. 

More practice is provided with games. Additional word lists are included with “Word Parts Boxes”, a strategy for determining word meaning by identifying word parts (new addition to this resource). Word Wall cards with illustrations are included for review of the target words, their roots, and definitions throughout the year. Also provided are suggestions and activities such as "Mystery Word" on how to utilize the Word Wall cards.


Thanks for taking the time to dock your ship at my blog and visit with me. I hope you find my morphology teaching ideas and resources useful and beneficial for you and your students.

Wishing you a safe journey! 


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