We had talked earlier in the year about the bound base <fer>, so I thought it was time for a review. I listed the following words on the left side of the board:
We began by reading the words. Next we discussed each one, often using it in a sentence as well as defining it. I pointed out the suffixes used and how they indicated a specific part of speech. After that I asked someone to underline the base in each word. Now we were ready to build a matrix. This particular matrix became interesting when we came to the word <preferring> and were looking to represent it on the matrix. One of the students explained that the <r> was doubled because we were adding a vowel suffix. So then I pointed to <offered> and <suffering> and asked why the <r> wasn’t doubled in those words. The vowel suffix <ing> was the same suffix used in <preferring>.
At this point we needed to talk about stress. I had the students say the words out loud, switching the stress from the first syllable to the second. Then we began to notice how that affected the doubling convention.
I led students through this activity three times today. The video below was taped with the third group, although all three classes were engaged and participated with enthusiasm! My favorite part of the video is where the students have one of those “light bulb” moments and it is clear that they understand when to double the final <r> in the base before adding a vowel suffix and when not to. To quote one of the students, “That is so cool!”