Happy Wednesday Teachers of Emergent Bilinguals! Today I want to outline a plan for you to boost your students’ reading comprehension with morphological awareness. Ok, quick self-reflection:
- I know what morphological awareness is. I actively teach it during vocabulary instruction or try and teach it some of the time.
- I’ve heard of it but don’t really teach it or don’t know how exactly to teach it.
- I’ve never heard of it. What is it?
No matter if you chose 1, 2 or 3 – I will help you decide how you to make this a part of your instructional routine this year.
What is morphological awareness?
Morphological awareness is when we can ‘see’ the parts of a word. Let’s look at this example:
construct – construction – constructive
Struct is a root from Latin that means ‘to build’. Even though it’s not a word on its own, we can use it to create many words!
Prefixes are word parts that attach to the front of the root and have their own meanings. Suffixes attach to the end of the root and determine the word’s part of speech. The suffix -ion changes the verb construct into a noun construction. The suffix ‘ive’ changes it to an adjective.
Morphological awareness is when a reader looks at a word and recognizes its parts. (We also can have morphological awareness listening, speaking, and writing).
Morphological awareness is perhaps the best deal you can get in language instruction: 3 for 1! For the amount of time you spend teaching it, your students boost their
1. vocabulary knowledge
2. decoding skills, and
3. syntactic awareness of the word’s part of speech and role in the sentence.
All three boost reading comprehension significantly.
In the coming weeks, I’m going to outline for you the most important prefixes, roots, and suffixes to teach for both the lower and upper grades.
For now, I want to show you my 20 minute sample mini-lesson plan for Grades 3 and up.
Access the Google Slides here and make a copy for yourself to use!
It can be included one to two times a week in your ELA block, ENL stand alone period, or in another content area.
step 1: introduce the new root
Make sure to read my teacher script in the notes section of the slides. In this step, we’re introducing the concept of a root, the root itself, and activating students’ background knowledge around that root. Make sure to model first for your students how to identify a prefix, root, and suffix by its position in the word.
Step 2: students practice creating new words
Next, create a worksheet or just copy my Google Slide template and have students work in pairs or groups to experiment creating new words. Don’t forget to model, do a quick Guided Practice, and then have them work independently!
step 3 students read word lists and create sentences
This is a super important last step. It’s not enough that students learn the prefixes, root, and suffixes. They have to recognize it in words! Even more importantly, they have to read the words quickly and accurately.
Finally, if time allows, have students create sentences from the word list. This can and should be connected to your content! This is how we integrate language and literacy into our content instruction!
There are two things you need to get started: 1. A scope and sequence for teaching the word parts and 2. Creating the word lists.
First, teaching morphology isn’t as straightforward as phonics instruction because there are dozens and dozens of prefixes, roots, and suffixes.
In the coming weeks, I will curate some lists for you to get started.
If you want to read through a general guide and more in-depth information, see Morphology Matters, a free online resource generously provided by William van Cleave.
Second, creating word lists to use in the mini-lesson isn’t necessarily easy. Here are some good resources to consult:
Membean They do want you to subscribe as an individual or school, but they also offer a ton of free pages of roots and words.
Etymonline A great etymological online dictionary! Just search using a keyword like ‘construction’.
Wordpandit A decent selection of words by root, ready to go.
Vocabulary.com Another subscription website but they also offer a lot of free material.
Tune in again next week and let me set you up for this year’s plan to teach morphological awareness! Questions? Comment below!