To my Valentine … the valiant valedictorian of my heart!

Just last week we started talking about Latin verbs and their principal parts.  We looked at several Latin verbs and practiced identifying which of the 4 principal parts is helpful to us as orthographers.  We became a bit familiar with the infinitive suffixes that can be removed.  We became familiar with the supine suffix and stem suffixes that can be removed.  We practiced recognizing whether or not the removal of those Latin suffixes resulted in a modern English unitary base or modern English twin bases.  Then the students searched for words that shared those bases (and denotations).  That was just last week.

Today I wrote the following principal parts on the board along with this Latin verb’s denotation:

          valeo    valere    valui    valitus
“be strong, influential, healthy, of worth”

I asked, “Which two parts are we going to work with as orthographers?”  As students gave answers, I had them come to the board and label the second and fourth parts.  Then I asked, “What is the infinitive suffix we can remove?”  Several hands went up and I asked someone to come up and draw a single line through it.  Next I asked, “What is the past participle suffix that can be removed off the supine?”  I chose a volunteer to come and cross it off.  But before I could ask my next question (Is there a stem suffix?), a student waved her hand and said, “There’s a stem suffix too!”  I had her draw a line through it as well.  Lastly I asked someone to come and write what was left of the infinitive next to what was left of the supine, so we could compare the spellings.  Here is what this ended up looking like on the board:

Next I put the students in random groups of 3 or 4.  I told them I wanted to see which group could find the longest list of words that share this base.  They had to be able to prove that their word shared the base <val(e)> and was not just a word that coincidentally had that same string of letters.  I also told them that if they found unfamiliar words there were to jot down a quick definition so that they could explain how the word related to the denotation of the base.

I don’t normally set up orthography work in a timed fashion, but I wanted the students to be focused and to work productively.  Sometimes, with longer term projects, I see them working at a slower pace.  I wanted to see what would happen.  See for yourself.

I was very impressed and knew that after 20 minutes it was time to share our findings.  I shared a matrix for <vale> on the Smartboard and asked each group to look for the words they found on the matrix.  I told them that even though this matrix looks complete, it probably isn’t.  A word they found might not be on the matrix.

As they shared words off their lists, we talked about how we would use the word and what its connection was to the denotation of <vale>.  Then a volunteer wrote its word sum on the board.  They used the matrix to double check their hypothesis of the word sum.  We went from group to group, writing words they found on the board.  It didn’t take long before the board looked like this:

What rich discussions about each word.  Tomorrow we will talk some more about this family of words and which words the students didn’t expect to find!

5 thoughts on “To my Valentine … the valiant valedictorian of my heart!

  1. The word ‘valentine’ was a complete surprise to a girl I was working with today.

    She just didn’t see it. She has a pretty strong dyslexic mind and came up with ‘veil’ as a homophone, then came up with the ‘lav’ in ‘lavatory’ as a complete reversal of ‘vale’. Whew!

    Fortunately, word sums came to the rescue, and she was able to come up with several unfamiliar words to explore. At the very end of our session, I dictated to word sum: vale + ent + ine. After removing the final nonsyllabic ‘e’ and rewriting the word, she announced with delight, “Valentine!” Thanks for a great lesson!

  2. Thank you Ann! When the matrices for ‘vale’ started to surface on the SWI fb page, it dawned on me that my students might just be up for this challenge. They no longer enjoy someone handing them information to “know”. They like being active in their learning – and that means finding things out for themselves. It did my heart good when I overheard one boy say as he was getting up from his chair, “I’m going to get some more dictionaries!”

    • Thank you Rebecca! I also loved seeing ambivalent surface. My students were not familiar with either ambivalent or convalesce, but they knew equivalent quite well. They just did not think of it as two things of equal value or worth.

      This provoked such great discussions!

  3. Mary Beth and valiant Students of Grade 5- this is a wonderful example of showing the interrelationship between the roots of a word and the morphemes. Brilliant work and Mary Beth so clear in your explanation and instruction for those looking to see how these understandings can be explored and experienced by students. So much to take away from this lesson. Thankyou.

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