Teaching Greek and Latin Roots
Why teach a dozen words when you can teach thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of words?
The Trojan Horse Was Actually Greek
After continually finding vocabulary lists in the trashcan next to my desk, I knew I had to take drastic measures, so I removed all garbage cans from my room. The neighboring ants, cockroaches, and rats loved it. The health district did not; nor did the legion of parents angry over a sudden outbreak of bubonic plague.
Back came the trash cans and the discarded, unlearned vocabulary.
I knew I had to do something to stop the epidemic of unlearned words. Minutes before trying the Clockwork Orange Vocabulary Method, the nerdy teacher down the hall we all make fun of because he stays every day until 7:30 dropped by looking for toothpicks and rubberbands in exchange for a really great Greek and Latin roots lesson plan.
To my utter astonishment, his Greek and Latin roots lesson plan worked. Teaching Greek and Latin roots had never been easier.
ELA Common Core Standards Covered
Here are some common core standards that apply.
- L.9-10.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies. Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or text; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
- L.9-10.4b Identify and correctly use patterns of word changes that indicate different meanings or parts of speech (e.g., analyze, analysis, analytical; advocate, advocacy).
- L.9-10.4d Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).
- L.9-10.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Teaching Literary Terms to Different Learning Styles Lesson Plan Procedures
If I remember to post my list of SAT roots, you won’t even have to come up with any on your own.
- List 20-25 Greek and Latin roots with their meaning on the board and instruct students to copy the information.
- Engage in a one minute free-for-all with students shouting out words using the copied roots.
- Join in the free-for-all and start chanting. Do jumping jacks, fist pumps, and cartwheels (optional: this part of teaching Greek and Latin roots is more effective after 8 Red Bulls and 17 cups of coffee).
- Tell students to stand up, face a partner, and quiz each other (90 seconds apiece), come up with more words (30 seconds apiece), point at each other, yell “you are a word master,” high five each other, and sit down.
- Ask this question: “How many of you had a light bulb go off?” (All but the really cool or really dumb students will raise their hand).
- Now that they’re all fired up and excited, nail them with the assignment (detailed below). Before they realize they’re actually doing work and using their brains, they’ll be nearly finished.
- Collect the assignment (I usually allow two days), assign a grade and give it back. Options include, picking one card at random, checking only one quadrant, or doing a drive by(a nerdy Greek and Latin roots lesson plan drive by, not an actual gangster drive by involving knives).
- Enjoy the silent roar of learning.
- Assign 10 sentences using the roots in regards to a piece of literature or other topic you are studying.
- Give a quiz (two days after assigning the sentences).
- Celebrate the completion of a successful vocabulary lesson by vacationing in the Caribbean.
The Main Greek and Latin Roots Assignment
This is the main part of the assignment.
- Use one 3 x 5 index card for each root.
- On front side of index card, write the root in the center.
- On the other side write the following: in the upper right hand corner, write the definition; in the upper left hand corner, write two examples; in the lower left hand corner, use a word with the root in a sentence; in the lower right hand corner, draw a picture or symbol that demonstrates the meaning of the root.