Thanks to Words

'Tis the season to clear up a GREAT spelling confusion and be GRATEful for word study resources! helps us make spelling as sticky as grated cheese. Consider this:

grate (n.) - grill for cooking; free base word from Medieval Latin grata meaning "a grating, lattice" from Latin cratis meaning "wickerwork, hurdle"

grate/ + ite/ + ude (n.) - thankfulness; bound base word from Latin gratus meaning "pleasing"; PIE gwere "to favor"

grate/ + ed (v.) - to scrape, rub; free base word from Old French grater meaning "scrape, scratch"

In context we have: While cooking my burger on the grate, I couldn't help but express my gratitude for the grated cheese on top!

Notice the function of the word grated in our example sentence. It isn't until we use the word in context that we can identify its function as a describer, an adjective telling us more about the cheese, rather than an action verb.

Now, let's contrast with these words:

great (adj.) - excellent, wonderful; free base word from Old English great meaning "big, tall, thick, stout, massive"

great (adj.) - grand; word forming element denoting kinship one degree further removed, based on French grand

And then consider:
This Thanksgiving, we will have a great time with great-grandma!

Whether you think words are GREAT or spelling GRATES on your nerves, say GRACIAS, or perhaps GRAZIE, to our spelling resources!

To learn more about word study and how to incorporate it into your literacy instruction, check out our instructional materials, Word Study Packet and Alien Bugs Word Study, as well as our educator training class, Foundations for Teaching, Reading, Writing & Spelling!

A Word About Functional Word Study

At Rooted in Language, we believe in functional teaching. And what is functional for each student may differ depending on their learning level. In word study, this may mean creating a word sum that identifies most of the affixes, but not all. Likewise, you may analyze some derivatives in a word family rather than all.

Your student may be at a level where you choose to analyze a word to a certain extent without drilling all the way down to the base word (also referred to as the base element). This can be especially true with bound base words, which aren't as readily identifiable and may not be functionally appropriate for your student . . . yet.

For example, if you are studying the word different and its word family, you may drill down to the bound base <fer> from Latin ferre meaning “to bear, carry.” This may be the time you introduce assimilated prefixes and notice how often double letters toward the beginning of a word represent a prefix assimilating to the sound and spelling of the first letter in the base word. But drilling down to that level may not currently be very functional for your student. Instead, you may choose to create a word sum that holds <differ> together for the time being, adding various other affixes to this word to create derivatives such as:

differs, differed, differing, different, differently, indifferent, indifferently, difference, differences, indifference, differential, differentials, differentiate, differentiated, differentiates, differentiating, differentiation.

Your student’s learning level may also dictate which and how many of these derivatives you analyze. Is it time to introduce suffixes -ion and -ial? Is this the lesson where you’ll spend time noticing how suffixing can change pronunciation? Maybe. Maybe not. Let your goals guide you. You don’t have to “do it all” to create wonderful and valid word study lessons and learning opportunities. To whatever extent you do dive into word study, be sure to practice it in reading, writing, and spelling for the deepest, most meaningful learning.

At Rooted in Language, we believe in teaching to a level of success, across all ages and stages. What constitutes functional teaching for one student may be <differ + ent> OR <dif + fer + ent> for another. What constitutes functional teaching for your student today will likely be different when they’re further down their path to literacy. You’ll get there, even if you take shorter steps as you go.
OR for another. What constitutes functional teaching for your student today will likely be different when they're further down their path to literacy. You'll get there, even if you take shorter steps as you go.


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