Monday, November 4, 2013

It's All Greek (and Latin) to Me

If you are a fifth grade teacher you know the Common Core State Standards require fifth graders to "use common, grade appropriate Greek and Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word." This actually makes a lot of sense given that each root a student acquires can lead to the understanding of twenty or more English words, rapidly expanding the child's vocabulary. As learning progresses, this knowledge of Greek and Latin roots  proves to be essential since 60% of the words students encounter in school textbooks have recognizable word parts, many of which are Greek and Latin roots.

Knowing how important it is for my students to learn the meanings of the most common Greek and Latin roots, I looked for materials last year that I could use to help structure my delivery of this essential content. As usual, Scholastic came to my rescue. For under $10.00, I was able to purchase Vocabulary Packets: Greek & Latin Roots: Ready-to-Go Learning Packets That Teach 40 Key Roots and Help Students Unlock the Meaning of Dozens and Dozens of Must-Know Vocabulary Words by Liane Onish. This teacher resource book introduces 40 of the most common Greek and Latin roots across eight units.

I now use Onish's book to introduce five new roots every other week, alternating the etymology lessons with more traditional spelling lessons on the off weeks. On the weeks we do work with Greek and Latin roots, I introduce the new roots in class on Monday with a worksheet from the resource book. 

For homework on Monday night, the students complete a crossword puzzle from the book using derivatives of those roots. 

Then, my students practice the words throughout the week using a Root Word Tic-Tac-Toe homework sheet I created. 

On Friday, we add Onish's Word Cards for that week's roots to our Literacy Copybooks. The cards are actually my favorite feature of the resource book. The children glue a picture card for each root on the front of a folded third of a notebook page. Under the flap, they glue a card that gives the meaning of the root, definitions of three common derivatives, and examples of enrichment words for the root. We, then, use the Word Cards as study aids, because every three weeks we take a cumulative test on 15 roots and some of their common derivatives.

We are about to take our first cumulative test on Greek and Latin roots for this year, and I wanted to come up with some motivating review activities to help the children prepare. I ended up using a free Jeopardy site to make three review games to play in class, and I made several sets of "I Have, Who Has" cards to use as well. I am eager to use both of these activities in class this week, because I know how popular both are with fifth graders.

I am combining the "I Have, Who Has" cards, the links to the Jeopardy games, the Tic-Tac-Toe homework sheet, and my written assessment and answer key into a companion resource packet for Onish's book that is available in my TpT store. The companion materials I've created can be used on their own, but they are more effective if used in conjunction with Onish's book. If you decide to purchase Onish's book, and I recommend you do, you can use the link on the right of this page. Then, you can go to my TpT store and purchase the companion materials I've created. For under $15.00, you will be well on your way to having everything you need to teach Greek and Latin roots for the entire school year. Then, if you follow my TpT store, you will be notified as I add the next two sets of companion materials for the Vocabulary Packets book. I plan on using these resources to teach my students Greek and Latin roots for years to come, and I recommend you do, too. 

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