“Words are just words aren’t they?” was the question one young person asked during a recent lesson about Parts of Speech.
Words can appear to be basic commodities when in fact they are much more than basic — they, along with punctuation, give our writing definition, character, style and most importantly, sense and meaning. If we use them properly, then what we write will convey a message, story, directions, feelings, and much more.
How do words become more valuable to students? By helping them form a deeper understanding of them and their grammatical functions. So, we study words and we study the structure of sentences. Continue reading →
We are too happy about spelling on International Day of Happiness not to share these unedited videos!
With at least 5 unfinished drafts about our learnings from this year in my Draft folder — I’m just gonna make this entry short but sweet for fear of running out of time to complete the post! One thing’s for sure, when one begins to understand a language that previously appeared to be crazy or weird, one does not want to post about it in a way that is less than scholarly — so as it often happens, I begin writing, then want to double check my work (for good reason!!). Then the enemy of lack of time and my personal need for extended processing time interrupt that all-important work. I actually don’t mind in some ways because when I set something aside for a bit then come back to it, I see errors or less than accurate information that I know I can fix or I learn something in-between time and am glad I waited to post so I could clear it up.
Today however, is notone of those days — this topic is time-sensitive. We are participating, school-wide in the International Day of Happiness today so my groups began investigating the words ‘happy’, ‘happiness’, ‘happily’, etc. to see what we could learn about their spelling.
We tried taping ourselves during the lesson but it did not work out so instead, I taped myself giving a mini-lesson. The first video is a condensed version — 7 minutes long — about the relationships between the spellings of words in the family ‘happy’. (NOTE: volume increases about half-way into it)
The 2nd video is longer and more packed with information about structured word inquiry, matrices, orthography, relationships of words, histories of words, etc. — it lasts about 15 minutes (NOTE: sound begins 15 seconds into it).
Both videos/lessons are not perfection — what lesson ever is? I would change things if I had time for editing and software to do it. For example, in the 7 minute video, I totally transpose the letters <i> and <y> in one section, and I used ‘happy’ in a sentence and called it a noun, but it is an adjective (She is happy.); but I think the overall understandings can be gleaned from the videos and that the information serves its purpose. At some point, I will remake them but would rather explain errors at this point and move forward with investigating more about this base.
We have plans to take this learning even deeper by further analyzing the word ‘happy’ and looking for more relatives — watch for that video soon!
Go out and spread some happiness! It’s contagious!
These past few days my groups have been learning about the structures of words that we use often in the middle of February….. love and Valentine. We learned the origins of each of these words. <love> comes from Old English and is a free base (can be a word on its own without any affixes). We learned that <valentine> comes from Latin and has a bound base of<vale> (a bound base is an element that must have an affix attached to surface as a word in English). Bound bases are very useful and can be hidden in many other words but only those that share the etymon (the denotation of the root word) are related.
We finished analyzing words to see which elements each was made from, looking for connections of meaning and structure along the way. Some of the words we analyzed:
loving –> love + ing (spelling convention: replace single, silent, final <e>)
loved –> love + ed
lovely–> love+ ly
loveliness–> love + ly + ness (spelling convention change y to i)
lovebugs –> love + bug + s (compound word: no spelling convention)
lovable –> love + able (hmm…2 acceptable ways to spell this one!)
unloved –> un + love + ed (prefix: no spelling convention; suffix — yes)
beloved –> be + love + ed (hint — we’ll talk about this one later)
Along with these wonderfully, lovely word sums, we also discussed the parts of speech each of these words can be — may depend on how it is used in context — grammar, grammar, everywhere!
He loves pizza. (verb)
Oh, pizza and steak, my two favorite loves! (noun)
The girl has a beloved dog. (adj.)
That dog is her beloved. (noun)
We also learned that some words have more than one way to pronounce them, like ‘beloved’ which can be /bəlʌvd/ or /bəlʌvɪd/ — the suffix <-ed> has an allophone — more than one way to pronounce this grapheme. We analyzed and organized our list of affixes into a matrix. We made a rough draft before making a final copy to display in the hallway.
One of the last things this lovely group of 3rd graders did, was to learn about other words that may or may not have a direct relationship with <love>. We did not find any relatives that share the same etymon even with a different spelling so we did not have any words to place in the oval (words that share etymon AND structure, spelling of the base, go in the matrix; words that share an etymon but not the same spelling of the base go in the oval).
We did have a few words that are often synonymous with ‘love’ or used to show our love for our friends such as: caring, kind, and friend. We placed those words outside of the oval on our white papers.
We found a word that shares the same letters and sounds as our word, it was <glove>. But, we quickly determined that their was no meaningful relationship to <love>. In this 30 second video, you’ll see the kids practicing this learning…..it takes a lot of thinking to see letters with our eyes and hear phonemes with our ears and STILL understand that they are in no way related. There are only 26 letters in the alphabet, you know, so there are bound to be repeated letters and sounds but without a meaningful connection, those are just random things to remember. We have proven, through the progress and confidence the students are gaining with studying the structures and meanings of words, that the letters and sounds just are not as important to our learning as the meaning and structure connections.
The fifth grade group tackled the bound base element <vale> which denotes strength, worth, power, health” and is part of the word ‘valentine’ –we were surprised to learn it did not mean love but we can see how its denotations are meaningful. When we give a valentine to our friends or loved ones, we are showing them the strength of our affection or friendship with them.
Some of the words we were surprised to find connected with this base element whose origin is the same Latin etymon of valere, are ‘convalescent’ and ‘convalesce’.
con + vale/ + esce/ + ent –> convalescent
con + vale/ + esce –> convalesce
What most of us thought of as ‘an old folks home’ is actually a place to live while one regains strength and health. Clearly, this is a related word and provides a much deeper connection to both valentine and these two words. We also learned that the pronunciation shifts on the suffix <-esce> from a short /e/ to a long /e/ (IPA /ɛ/ to /i:/).
Studying bound bases of Latin origin often generates much longer lists of related words, both inside the matrix as well as inside the oval, so this group needs a bit more time to complete their work. They are working in pairs or trios and have had many days with one or both partners is absent (we may need to study viruses next!), however, one group was lucky enough to have less interruptions and has displayed their work.
Our first graders were in on the action too — creating a valuable [vale/ + u + able –> ] resource for their learning as well!
We hope you have a lovelyValentine‘s Day with your loved ones and we hope your love is [equ +i + vale + ent –>] equivalent to that of an ocean!