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Determining Meaning from Word Parts Lesson Plan: Analyzing Word Parts

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/20/2012

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.

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    Befuddled by Vocabulary?

    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 lesson plan.

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    Determining Meanings from Word Parts Lesson Plan Procedures

    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.

    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!").

    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.
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    Teach Word Parts and Meaning: A Word about Suffixes

    Students often struggle to use and understand different forms of a word correctly. Be sure to teach them suffixes do more than just change the meaning of a word; they change its part of speech. Here are some common suffixes with their part of speech:

    • noun suffixes that make people who do things: commandant, teacher, mortician, pianist
    • noun suffixes that make abstract words: constance, imagineation,confuseion, attitude, autism, colonization
    • suffixes that turn base words or roots into adjectives: readable, vivacious, magical, massive, beautiful
    • suffixes that turn base words or roots into verbs: fabricate, enlighten, magnify, finalize
    • suffixes that change base words and roots to adverbs: happily, likewise, skyward.