Teaching Greek and Latin Roots Lesson Plan: Teach Thousands and Thousands of Words by Teaching Greek and Latin Roots

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After continually finding vocabulary lists in the trashcan next to my desk, I knew I had to take drastic measures, so I removed all garbage cans from my room. The neighboring ants, cockroaches, and rats loved it. The health district did not; nor did the legion of parents angry over a sudden outbreak of bubonic plague.

Back came the trash cans and the discarded, unlearned vocabulary.

I knew I had to do something to stop the epidemic of unlearned words. Minutes before trying the Clockwork Orange Vocabulary Method, the nerdy teacher down the hall we all make fun of because he stays every day until 7:30 dropped by looking for toothpicks and rubberbands in exchange for a really great Greek and Latin roots lesson plan.

To my utter astonishment, his Greek and Latin roots lesson plan worked. Teaching Greek and Latin roots had never been easier.

Procedures for Teaching Greek and Latin Roots

  • List 20-25 Greek and Latin roots with their meaning on the board and instruct students to copy the information.
  • Engage in a one minute free-for-all with students shouting out words using the copied roots.
  • Join in the free-for-all and start chanting. Do jumping jacks, fist pumps, and cartwheels (optional: this part of teaching Greek and Latin roots is more effective after 8 Red Bulls and 17 cups of coffee).
  • Tell students to stand up, face a partner, and quiz each other (90 seconds apiece), come up with more words (30 seconds apiece), point at each other, yell “you are a word master,” high five each other, and sit down.
  • Ask this question: “How many of you had a light bulb go off?” (All but the really cool or really dumb students will raise their hand).
  • Now that they’re all fired up and excited, nail them with the assignment (detailed below). Before they realize they’re actually doing work and using their brains, they’ll be nearly finished.
  • Collect the assignment (I usually allow two days), assign a grade and give it back. Options include, picking one card at random, checking only one quadrant, or doing a drive by(a nerdy Greek and Latin roots lesson plan drive by, not an actual one involving machine guns).
  • Enjoy the silent roar of learning.
  • Assign 10 sentences using the roots in regards to a piece of literature or other topic you are studying.
  • Give a quiz (two days after assigning the sentences).
  • Celebrate the completion of a successful vocabulary lesson by vacationing in the Caribbean.

Main Assignment

  • Use one 3 x 5 index card for each root.
  • On front side of index card, write the root in the center.
  • On the other side write the following: in the upper right hand corner, write the definition; in the upper left hand corner, write two examples; in the lower left hand corner, use a word with the root in a sentence; in the lower right hand corner, draw a picture or symbol that demonstrates the meaning of the root.

English Syllabus

Find a standards based language arts curriculum map with links to a semester’s worth of lesson plans, handouts, and powerpoints by clicking the link.

This post is part of the series: Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Increasing student vocabulary enhances their ability to communicate effectively.

  1. Effective Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary
  2. Lesson Plans: Greek and Latin Roots
  3. Even More Effective Vocabulary Strategies
  4. Strategies for Unlocking Word Meanings: Using Context Clues
  5. Determining A Word’s Meaning From Context: Different Types of Context Clues
  6. Determining Meaning from Word Parts Lesson Plan: Analyzing Word Parts