Morphology: Start Your Engines

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Information about Morphology: Start Your Engines

Published on March 14, 2014

Author: drswaggerty



Knowledge of how prefixes, suffixes, base words, and Greek and Latin word roots combine is the engine that generates students’ learning about thousands of words. This presentation shares ways to support morphological development at the high school level. Presenters: Kenneth McKee and Elizabeth Swaggerty.

Morphology: Start your Engines! Kenneth McKee Buncombe County Schools Elizabeth Swaggerty East Carolina University

Word Tiers Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Basic words that require little to no instruction. Precise or sophisticated words that appear across domains. Low-frequency words that appear in specific domains. Book, girl, sad, run, etc. Adjust, translation, depend, structure, etc. Allegory, monarchy, hypotenuse, mitosis, etc.

Academic Language: Bricks & Mortar Bricks = Tier 3 - Technical words specific to a discipline Mortar= Tier 2 - General but sophisticated words used to communicate complex thoughts (process or test words & phrases, idioms)

Tier 2 Knowledge

Generative Morphology Prefixes Suffixes Roots Students generate “known” words to link to “new” words.

Impact of Explicit Generative Vocabulary Instruction on 10th Grade Biology Students’ Tier 2 Vocab Knowledge 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 PreTest Class Mean Posttest Class Mean General Academic Vocabulary Knowledge

Let’s do this!

genotype Definition: the genetic makeup of an organism or group of organisms with reference to traits. Although we cannot visibly see all of our traits physically (phenotype), they can be found within our DNA (genotype). (gen) o (typ)e

Morpheme Web Activity “gen” – birth, kind

So, how did we get here?

Generative Vocabulary Routine 1. Introduce/define a morphologically complex content word. 2. Prompt students to break down words into morphemes. 3. Introduce the target morpheme, and explain how it relates to the meaning of the content word. 4. Have groups of three or four students generate all the words they know that include the morpheme.

Generative Vocabulary Routine 5. Circulate to prompt groups who need help. 6. Use a whole-class format to discuss words and create the class morpheme web. 7. While discussing words, emphasize the spelling-meaning connection. Identify “false” roots by “taking the route back to the root.” 8. Extend students’ word knowledge by introducing new words and their meanings to the web.

Inquiry Activities

M. E. E. P. Morpheme (prefix, root, or suffix) Examples (from students) Explanations (whole class or small group) Picture (individual student association) Mal- -Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter) -Malificent (Sleeping Beauty) -Malpractice -Malevolent Bad Pens-, pend- Cap-

Dinner Party Find the “guests” who have place cards similar to yours. Sit down at a table for your “dinner party.” Discuss what you have in common.

Work backward

Word Hunting


Brainburst 1. Select a root. Set a timer for two minutes. Each team generates as many words as possible derived from that root. 2. When timer goes off, each group draws a line under their last word and counts the total number of words. 3. The group with the longest list reads the list aloud. If any other group has the word, it is crossed oof from all lists. Any words that are not on a nother list are crossed off.

Brainburst 4. Each group in turn reads any words that have not been called to determine if he or she has a unique word. Disputes can be settled with the help of a dictionary. 5. The team with the most unique words are the winners of the round.

References Bear, D. R., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S., & Johnston, F. (2012). Words their way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction. (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York, NY: Guilford. Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34(2), 213-238. doi:10.2307/3587951

References Flanigan, K., Templeton, S., & Hayes, L. (2012). What’s in a word? Using content vocabulary to generate growth in general academic vocabulary knowledge. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 56(2), 132-140. doi:10.1002/ JAAL.00114 Kieffer, M. J., & Lesaux, N. K. (2010). Morphin into adolescents: Active word learning for English language learners and their classmates in middle school. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(1), 47-56. doi:1598/JAAL. 54.1.5 National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Washington, DC: Authors. Retrieved from

Elizabeth Swaggerty East Carolina University Kenneth McKee Buncombe County Schools TWEET: @kennycmckee @swaggerty #NCRA14 #morphology

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