This summer, students in READ 6313 Literacy Development and Language Study were asked to contribute a post to this blog.
by C. Ramos
One of the many things we learned in our Literacy Development and Language Study course this summer is the way to incorporate word study strategies to improve vocabulary acquisition. We read Timothy V. Rasinski and Nancy D. Padak’s book titled From Phonics to Fluency. They explained how helping students gain knowledge of affixes and root word meanings allow them to be more successful in understanding unknown words, in particular academic vocabulary.
As a teacher, when it came time to introduce prefixes and suffixes to my students I would begin with the definitions of what they are. I would follow this definition by supplying a list of common prefixes and suffixes that my students will come across when they read. Along with each prefix and suffix, I would provide the meaning of each and give my students examples of words with prefixes and the words’ meaning. I realize now that this method does not give my students opportunities to interact with new words involving affixes, nor take ownership of learning how to make meaning of these words.
One activity I came across in From Phonics to Fluency really caught my attention because it made me think about the way I teach and reinforce affixes and root words. This activity is titled Word Spokes. Through Word Spokes, the students create a visual display of affixes and root words to understand their meanings. To begin the students are placed in groups (can be done individually) and given a prefix or root word. Then they are handed a chart paper with a drawing of a spoke (think of a wagon wheel). In their groups, the students brainstorm words that they have come across that has that specific prefix. Next, each student will write down the words they thought of at the end of their designated spoke section. The teacher will then guide the students into discussing the meanings of the words they wrote and write them down. From there the students will create a sentence using their word. Once they have completed this, the students will draw the meaning of the word in the sentence. Each Word Spoke chart can be placed around the classroom to allow students to refer to them to help them understand unknown words, and teachers can encourage students to add onto each Word Spoke.
Although the photo example given below is a poster by Smekens Education Solutions, Inc., Word Spokes can easily be created using markers and chart paper.