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Word Analysis

In "word analysis" or "word study," students break words down into morphemes, their smallest units of meaning. Each morpheme has a meaning that contributes to the whole word. Students’ knowledge of morphemes helps them to identify the meaning of words and builds their vocabulary. Being able to analyze words is not only a critical foundational reading skill, it also is essential for vocabulary development. UDL principles can help you differentiate instruction to meet the wide range of student variability.


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Teach with Tech


As you create your plan for teaching word analysis strategies, think about the kinds of tools and methods that can support student understanding and provide practice. How will you differentiate instruction and take advantage of technology tools to engage the diverse students in your classroom?


Steps:


Step 1: Provide Clear Explanations


  1. Explain that morphemes are the smallest meaningful parts of a word and make sure that students understand the difference between morphemes and syllables.
  2. Define the terms “root word,” “prefix,” and “suffix.” Talk about their origins and give students many examples of words that have roots, prefixes, and suffixes. (For tips on supporting recognition of critical features and relationships, see UDL Guideline 3: Provide options for comprehension.)
    Example of how to break words into their sub-parts


    • Dis-order includes the prefix dis
    • The root word is order
    • The prefix dis, from the Latin, means lack of or not

  3. Introduce online and offline tools—a dictionary and a thesaurus—and point out the relevant information these tools provide about root words, prefixes, and suffixes.
View evidence behind this recommendation


IES Recommendations


Provide explicit vocabulary instruction


Evidence:
Strong


Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices


Provide direct and explicit comprehension strategy instruction


Evidence:
Strong


Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices


Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies


Evidence:
Strong


Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade


Step 2: Give Students Strategies and Models


  1. Model how to analyze a new word by breaking it down into its sub-parts, studying each part separately, and then combining the parts to understand the whole word (see UDL Checkpoint 3.3: Guide information processing, visualization, and manipulation).
  2. Demonstrate how, when studying the vocabulary in a specific content area (e.g., science), you can find patterns in the prefixes that will help you understand the words.
    Examples of patterns of prefixes by content area


    • Science: biology, biodegradable, biome, biosphere
    • Math: quadruple, quadrant, quadrilateral, quadratic
    • Geography: disassemble, disarmament, disband, disadvantage

  3. Use offline and online visual diagrams, worksheets, and graphic organizers to help students view the relationship between words.
View evidence behind this recommendation


IES Recommendations


Teach students to identify and use the text’s organizational structure to comprehend, learn, and remember content.


Evidence:
Moderate


Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade


Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies


Evidence:
Strong


Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices


Step 3: Provide Opportunities for Practice


  1. Engage students individually, in pairs, or in small groups in a variety of games and activities, based on their abilities and needs.
    Games and activities to practice word analysis


    • Play the mix-and-match game using roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
    • Conduct a word search in social studies, science, and math texts to find words with prefixes and suffixes.
    • Use tiles from common word games (Scrabble, Boggle) to form and re-form words.
    • Use movement activities where students hold up cards with root words, prefixes, and suffixes and reorder themselves to make words.
    • Have students create and define nonsense words with prefixes and suffixes.

  2. Build word study into your classroom reading routine by including pre-teaching or introducing new vocabulary words, identifying new words every week, and reviewing new words.
  3. Motivate students to practice using their word analysis skills by having them create glossaries of words with prefixes and suffixes from self-selected, high-interest texts. (Options are key motivators for students; see UDL Guideline 8: Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence.)
View evidence behind this recommendation


IES Recommendations


Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies


Evidence:
Moderate


Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices


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