With all of the glorious orthographic discoveries my students and I are unearthing this year, I find myself continually trying to put my finger on which orthographic bits of knowledge I want all of my students to feel confident with by the year’s end. What will they need to know in order to carry on future investigations on their own? Or in order to abandon the practice of skipping over unfamiliar words in a text?
Then I thought of an idea based on part of a comment Old Grouch left on a previous post in which he wrote the following:
“And since you are budding orthographic linguists, turn your scientific eyes on ‘identification’ which I wrote in my second paragraph.
Here’s your assignment: demonstrate by analysis that ‘identification’:
– is a compound;
– has three suffixes;
-contains an affix that is neither a prefix nor a suffix.”
I used his suggested word (identification) to model this type of analysis with the whole class, and then chose another word for the students to analyze independently. The word I chose was <thigmotropism>. (We are currently learning about living things and how they respond to changes in their environment.) I wanted to see what they could find using an unfamiliar word. My directions were for the students to:
Demonstrate by analysis that <thigmotropism>
-is a compound;
-has one suffix;
-contains an affix that is neither a prefix nor a suffix.
Here is a video in which three students share their findings.
By giving them a list of what they should expect to find in the word, some of the students felt a little less like they were lost in a snowstorm. Of course, there were a good number of students who took it on as a challenge and pretty quickly understood the parts and how they came together to make sense of the whole. But in all honesty, some of my students are just coming around with their interest and understanding of word structure. This helped.
This assignment is one I intend to repeat periodically. I want to nurture those independent research skills. I want to boost the confidence of decision making based on evidence. I want to encourage the idea that the parts come together into a meaningful whole word — a word that can make a connection with the student in a way it never did before.