Did you know that students should encounter a word up to 70 times before is is mastered? NO LIE! That is why teachers need to provide practice, practice, practice for words they want students to learn! Here is what a week of word study should look like in an upper elementary classroom.
Day 1– Introduce the words by having students look them up in the dictionary. They will remember the word more with this activity than simply giving them the definitions. I like to give students a matching sheet where they still need to look it up, but the definition I want them to learn is a choice. There are so many multiple meaning words that simply looking the word up could get a variety of answers. Then you have to explain that it isn’t the right one. So make it simple for yourself while giving them the practice!
Next, add the words to a word wall in your classroom. This is extremely important so they can see it throughout the week! Whether they are getting in line, going to the restroom, or sharpening a pencil, they have that chance of seeing it! Below is an example of a Greek and Latin display I created in my classroom towards the beginning of last school year. Each unit is either Greek or Latin. I place the Greek words on the left and the Latin words on the right. I also mount them on different colors. Prefixes are placed in the clouds, root words are placed by the trunk of the tree and on the roots, and suffixes are placed below the roots. (I attempted to make a burrow of some sort.) No laughing please!
For Homework: On a separate piece of paper, students need to create a sentence for each of the words. What I like to do is have students leave a blank for where the root or vocabulary word belongs- like a fill-in-the-blank question. I tell them that the sentence needs to have enough detail in it so another classmate can guess the word. I give them examples the first couple weeks.
Ex. She placed her telescope on a _____________ to look at the stars in the sky. (tripod)
I also give them flashcards to use to study each night!!!
Day Two- Everyone gets out their homework. If someone comes in with simple sentences, (I use a ______.) I bring them back to my table and help them write good sentences while others exchange their papers and fill in the blanks. I also hold them accountable for the following week. Then we play a game. My favorite is Headbandz! I’m sure you’ve seen this game in stores. Use it with vocabulary words! It is the greatest and the kids have a blast! Below is a picture of my daughter and good friend as we play the real Headbandz at home. At school, I replace the game cards with our vocabulary cards. With this game, students give the person with the Headband on clues to their word until they guess it correctly. Here is a pic of a student when we played it for a Social Studies review! ( I love the student in the background.)
For Homework: Students have a worksheet to complete- preferably one that has fill-in-the blanks. I like to provide a story with hints in the sentences to help them guess the correct word. They sometimes get silly! Here is an example of a story from a Greek and Latin Unit. Also study flashcards.
Shelly was having trouble sleeping. It has been a whole decade since she was able to saw wood! She tried many outrageous attempts to try to catch a wink. First, she participated in all ten events of a decathlon. The exhausting competition did not help her sleep so she rode her unicycle around the outside of the Pentagon in Washington, DC for 5 days. She decided to go home and get some cheese for a snack. She trisected the cheese so she could have it again for two more nights. When Shelly tucked herself in bed that night, her eyes remained wide open! Since she was still awake, she put her telescope onto a tripod and glanced up at the pentacle in the night sky. The room was so quiet that she heard crickets singing in a hexameter verse. They were all in unison too! What finally put Shelly to sleep? She started counting sheep on her hexagon-shaped ceiling. Why didn’t she think of that earlier? She was now snoring. Zzzzzzzzzzzz!
Day 3- In groups, for Greek and Latin words- students brainstorm/research words that have the same root or affix. They also create a nonsense word. For vocabulary, they choose a word and do a word web. Of course they can do this for Greek and Latin study too-use it with the words created from the roots or affixes!
For Homework: Draw a picture depicting each word. I have my students write the answers on a separate piece of paper so we can exchange them the next day in class! Also study flashcards.
Day 4- Students exchange their pictures and guess the correct word from homework. Then we play the game I Have Who Has. These are easy to make for your word list.
Homework: I like to incorporate some sort of technology throughout the week. Since most of my students had computer access this past year, I had them either create a crossword puzzle in Puzzlemaker or one of my students will make a Quizlet for me to assign. (If you teach upper elementary, they are completely capable and willing to create it for you! I usually offer a coupon for my treasure chest for those who offer to make one. Sometimes I have too many people who want to do it and I have to assign it to someone!) They love to compete against each other on Quizlet to see who can get the best time. If a student doesn’t have internet access, I tell them to create flashcards to play Concentration. (Their flashcards from Day 1 won’t work because they are printed on front and back.
Day 5- Before the quiz, we have one last review. I might have students act out a word or even have them create a jingle with some or all of the words for first work and share it before the quiz. Quiz- This also includes a spiraling review. I include 5 questions at the end of each test where students have to remember past words studied in class. For each word list of the year, students get a hard copy and add them to a metal ring. That way they have all the words to study for the spiraling review. You will be surprised at how much they retain by the end of the year!
If you would like a free unit of Greek and Latin prefixes, click on the picture below!