Word Root Worksheets Users' Manual

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Word Root Worksheets Users’ Manual
If you type “pattern recognitions and evolution” into an internet search engine (particularly here:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/patternicity-finding-meaningful-patterns/), you will find a number of
articles extolling the human brain as a “pattern recognition machine” on the same order as the bar code scanners
at your supermarket (themselves, of course, a product, along with the codes they recognize, of the human brain).
So, it makes basic sense, when setting out to assist students in building their vocabularies, to use the brain’s
pattern recognition mechanism in the service of this task. These word root worksheets endeavor to do just that.
These lessons use Greek and Latin word roots to help students recognize patterns in words by knowledge of just
one word root, and therefore to understand all branches of that root, to extend this metaphor a bit further
(indeed, the aim I post on the chalkboard is: How do we use word roots to “grow” words?).
Each worksheet includes a clear description of the task, which in any case is quite simple: students are
presented with a Greek or Latinate word root at the top of the page. The second section of the document lists
words that are derived from the root. Using a collegiate dictionary—these worksheets are for high school
students, and high school is as good a time as any to learn to use a collegiate dictionary; moreover, most of
these worksheets contain at least one word that students will need a collegiate dictionary to find—students will
define all the words in the list. As they work through the word list, they naturally work toward inferring, from
the definitions they find, the basic meaning of that word root.
After students complete their word definitions and infer the meaning of the root from them, if time permits (I’ve
found that one way to assess struggling students’ performance in class is how long, over time, it takes them to
complete their definitions; generally, over the course of the year, the time students require to finish contracts,
sometimes precipitously), you may want to ask them to apply their newly acquired knowledge of these words
and the root that forms them. One means for this is to ask students—and the worksheets are formatted with a
section for this work—to compose several sentences using any of that worksheet’s words. This gives students
an opportunity, and for you to assist them in same, to identify and classify these words further, by their parts of
speech. You can guide this sentence writing with coaching on what parts of speech go where in a clearly
written, grammatically complete expository sentence, and to assist students in correcting basic errors in English
usage.
As with most of the work I’ve designed to assist struggling students develop more advanced and sophisticated
literacy skills, I’ve often wondered how these word root worksheets could be further adapted, enhanced or
synthesized with other kinds of literacy work to make them more cogent. Might you have any thoughts on this?
Please advise via the comments link.