Determining a Word’s Meaning from Word Parts Lesson Plan


Lesson Plan: Analyzing Word Parts


When you tell students to look words up in a dictionary, they never do. They think bad words about you. I prefer teaching them how to analyze word parts with this determining meaning from word parts lesson plan. They’ll still think bad words about you, but at least they’ll know how to read.


Befuddled by the Dictionary

I gave a vocabulary list not long ago with the word aggrandizement. Out of 37 students, not a single one found it in the dictionary. Befuddled, I grabbed the dictionary. It was in there and I showed it to several students. Befuddled, they asked where. Befuddled, I pointed to it. Befuddled, They still didn’t see it. Befuddled, I highlighted it with the yellow Sharpie I had stolen from the supply room the day before. Befuddled, they looked at me strange and said, “That’s not aggrandizement. That’s aggrandize.” Befuddled, I rammed the yellow Sharpie I had stolen the day before from the supply room up my left nostril and decided to do a determining meaning from word parts lesson plan and teach word parts and meanings.

Here’s how to teach word parts and meaning by using this determining meaning from word parts (mini) lesson plan.

ELA Common Core Standards

You might as well have a list of ELA Common Core Standards covered just in case your administrator pays a visit.

  • L.9-10.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
  • 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).

Analyzing Word Parts Lesson

1.  Write on the board the following:

  • Prefix: a word part that is added at the beginning of another word or word part
  • Suffix: a word part that is added to the end of another word or word part
  • Base word: a complete word to which a prefix and/or a suffix may be added. It can stand on its own.
  • Root: a word part to which a prefix and/or suffix may be added. A root cannot stand on its own.

2.  Explain that each part of the word contributes to its meaning. By learning the meanings of common prefixes and suffixes, we can figure out the meaning by just knowing the meaning of the base word or root. That’s why dictionaries often only define the base word (At this point, think but don’t say, “so quit asking me stupid questions during vocabulary assignments!”).

3.   Give examples. Use mine if you wish.

  • transcontinental: trans is the prefix; continent is the base word; al is the suffix.
  • entrapment: en is the prefix; trap is the base word; ment is the suffix.
  • refortify: re is the prefix; fort is the root; fy is the suffix.

4.   During your next reading assignment, stop when you come across a good word to break down and instruct students to identify the prefix, suffix, and base word. Start with something easy and progress to more difficult words. You can plan the words out in advance or just wing it. The former works better. The latter is easier to prepare. You could even throw in a context clues common core standard, if you really want to impress your department chair.

Learning Vocabulary Via Context Clues

There are many ways of teaching vocabulary that don’t involve a dictionary.

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