The last few days the students have been working in pairs and trying to find and prove as many suffixes as they can. I love this activity because over and over they are asked to explain their choices and elaborate on their thinking. It sets the tone for the rest of the year. I want them to experience that personal pride in being able to explain and defend one’s choices. By doing so we deepen our thinking and weave each day’s investigations into a larger understanding of our language.
In this first film, Tyler is testing out the process he will become proficient at this year. At first he is hesitant to come right out and make a choice. I got the feeling he was fishing – waiting for me to tell him whether he was right or wrong. But as I asked him questions and put the decision making back on him, I could feel him letting go of the notion that his answer must first and foremost be correct. He began to see that logic and reasoning would help him make sense of whether the suffix in <adoption> was <-tion> or <-ion>.
The next student in this film is Ilsa. She is playing around with structure. She understands how the building blocks work and fit together. Her word choices give us opportunity to be playful with words, and yet see the need to communicate meaning as well as structure.
In the next film Amanda is revealing what she understands about word structure. In the word <daddy>, she knew that when removing the <-y> suffix, the base would not be <dadd>, but <dad>. She also knew that in the word <user>, the suffix was an <-er>, and that the final <e> in the base <use> would not remain in place once the suffix was added. The only things she was iffy on were the reasons why.
Hanna also understands that letters sometimes get doubled before a vowel, but she doesn’t sound too sure of when or why. Calli is recognizing similarities in the words she found: <graduation>, <innovation> and <irritation>. At first she thought they each had a <-tion> suffix. But when she actually went through the process of imagining the word without the final suffix, she realized the <t> had to be part of the base and not part of the suffix. Kaitlyn proved that <-ive> was a suffix with the word <creative>.
As I walked around, I did mention that some of the words being looked at might have a prefix or another suffix besides the base. The students nodded as if they understood that. But then one of the suffixes that at least two groups identified was <-ier>. They did not recognize that in the word <happier>, there are actually two suffixes. In the weeks to come I will make sure they learn to investigate words to be more precise when identifying the base. We have already created several large matrices on the board in which the students saw that a word could have several suffixes. But today’s task was to focus on proving a final suffix and to be able to share our reasoning for our choices.