Expanding Your Roots Through Greek and Latin Word Study
- Grades: 3–5
For the past four years I have incorporated a Greek and Latin etymology study of five word stems a week. This has helped my students with understanding known and unknown words as well as spelling. Through these studies we developed mnemonic devices such as hand movements, drawings, slide shows, and a visual word wall to aid in really learning the words introduced. This year I am continuing with these plans but have some new resources for you to learn about and incorporate in your room. This includes a grade specific commercial program that has done all the work for you already.
Why Study Greek and Latin Words (and Old English, too)?
In Essentials of Elementary Reading, Michael Graves, Susan Watts-Taffe, and Bonnie Graves estimate that students learn between 3,000 and 4,000 new words each year, with the typical student knowing some 25,000 words by the end of elementary school. If your students read for thirty minutes a day, they will be exposed to an average of one million words by year's end. How many of those words will be new and how can we help them? It is obvious that five pre-selected vocabulary words from a basal textbook doesn't make the grade. Even if a new word is taught each day, in addition to five pre-selected vocabulary words for the week, that is still fewer than 400 words a year. So, how can we maximize vocabulary acquisition? One Greek word stem can open up vocabulary acquisition for hundreds of other words found while reading.
Word stem studies work when you combine them with ample time to read. According to Richard Allington, the time spent reading in class is critical to vocabulary acquisition. Consider these numbers, tied to achievement:
Photo: Both the self-made and pre-made/purchased word stem cards go on our designated word stem word wall.
Development of the Word Station Program
With SAT/ACT/TAKS scores needing improvement, The Word Station Team decided to get busy. The process began with compiling SAT/ACT/Testing materials and feeding the vocabulary words into spreadsheets (literally thousands of words). The spreadsheets were correlated and the words most commonly used became our word walls. Once the word wall words were identified, we broke the words into stems and those became our stem wall. The words were then broken into grade levels six through twelve. The easier words with the first hundred stems became our TWS 6th Grade Word Wall, the next hundred by degree of difficulty are the seventh grade, eighth grade and so on through the twelfth grade.
—The Word Wall, www.thewordstation.com, accessed 8/23/10.