This short blog series is about understanding word parts – prefixes, suffixes, and root words. While these concepts are often taught in both language and reading foundations, there are some key differences in how they are approached and understood.
Understanding the intricacies of word parts is crucial for achieving success in language and reading comprehension. By breaking down words into their component parts, students can more easily decode and comprehend what they’re reading. But when it comes to teaching these concepts in language versus reading foundations, there are important distinctions that educators and learners alike should be aware of.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into the differences between understanding word parts in language versus reading foundations. There will be tips and tricks for best practice. Whether you’re a classroom teacher or a reading specialist, this series will be a helpful tool for this fundamental concept.
Word Parts: What are the Standards?
To begin, we are going to take a look at the RF and Language standards that address word parts, prefixes, suffixes, and root words.
Reading: Foundational Skills- Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
- RF.2.3.d Decode words with common prefixes and suffixes.
- RF.3.3a Identify and know the meaning of the most common prefixes and derivational suffixes.
- RF.3.3.b Decode words with common Latin suffixes.
- RF.4.3a Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.
- RF.5.3a Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.
Language- Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
- L.1.4.b Use frequently occurring affixes as a clue to the meaning of a word.
- L.1.4.c Identify frequently occurring root words (e.g., look) and their inflectional forms (e.g., looks, looked, looking).
- L.2.4.b Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known prefix is added to a known word (e.g., happy/unhappy, tell/retell).
- L.2.4.c Use a known root word as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word with the same root (e.g., addition, additional).
- L.3.4.b Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known affix is added to a known word (e.g., agreeable/disagreeable, comfortable/uncomfortable, care/careless, heat/preheat).
- L.3.4.c Use a known root word as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word with the same root (e.g., company, companion).
- L.4.4.b Use common, grade-appropriate Greek and Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., telegraph, photograph, autograph).
- L.5.4.b Use common, grade-appropriate Greek and Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., photograph, photosynthesis).
Word Parts: Focus on Foundations
As you can see, with the RF standards, the function is to be able to decode and read words. These standards focus on the ability of students to decode and understand words with common prefixes, suffixes, and Greek/Latin roots. Students are expected to recognize common prefixes and suffixes and to decode words that contain them. Additionally, students are expected to use their knowledge of letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology to read multisyllabic words accurately in and out of context. Mastery of these skills will enable students to improve their reading comprehension and fluency.
Activities & Skill Application
When teaching word parts with an RF focus, your activities and skill application should be directed toward word attack, recognition, and recall. Students will need to learn about common prefixes and suffixes. Plus, they need to be able to quickly identify them so that they can build their reading fluency and accuracy. Some of my recommendations for RF Word Parts lessons and activities can include:
- identifying-prefix/suffix/root word
- sorting-prefix/suffix/root word
- matching-prefix/suffix/root word
- word building-prefix/suffix/root word
- quick recall-prefix/suffix/root word
- fluency lists-prefix/suffix/root word
Each of the activities in the list above can be applied in whole-group & small-group lessons, centers, and independent practice. Additionally, they can all be applied with prefixes, suffixes, base words, and root words. Furthermore, the more opportunities for word parts recognition and recall, the more students reading foundational skills will improve!
*Activities in photos are from RF.2.3.d, RF.3.3.a&b, and RF.4.3.a units- linked at the bottom of page.
Word Parts: Focus on Language
On the other hand, Language standards focus on the ability of students to use affixes (prefixes and suffixes) and roots to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words. Students are expected to recognize and use frequently occurring affixes and root words to identify and understand new words. Additionally, students are expected to determine the meaning of words that are formed when a known affix or prefix is added to a known word. Mastery of these skills will enable students to expand their vocabulary and improve their reading comprehension. The later standards introduce the use of Greek and Latin affixes and roots as more complex clues to derive word meaning.
Activities & Skill Application
When teaching word parts with a Language focus, your activities and skill application should be directed toward determining meaning. When learning about common prefixes, suffixes, and root words, students will focus more on the meaning of those word parts and how that impacts the overall meaning of a word. As with RF focus, quick recognition will greatly improve students reading accuracy, but more importantly with language, it will increase their comprehension and understanding. Some of my recommendations for Language Word Parts lessons and activities can include:
- sorting-prefix/suffix/root word
- matching- prefix/suffix/root word to meaning/definition
- word building- with a focus on how meaning changes with new word parts
- break apart- breaking apart words that have additional parts
- missing words & word parts- filling in the blanks of words that need a prefix/suffix/root word to correctly fit in the context
- word part chains- building a list of words from a singular word part (words with the same prefix, suffix, or root word)
Just like with RF activities, each of these can be applied in whole-group & small-group lessons, centers, and independent practice. In these activities, though, the focus is on meaning. So, your sorting and matching will be with definitions or examples; word building will be with a focus on how adding affixes or root words affect the meaning of the word.
*Activities in photos are from L.3.4.c & L.4.4.b units- linked at the bottom of page.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about the differences in these standards! Now, that we understand the function of each focus, we can look into how to teach these skills. Check back in for the next post on Anchor Charts for Word Parts! Until then, happy teaching!
Resources That Are Ready to Go!
If you’re in search of resources that are ready to go, I have RF and L units with everything you need. From assessments to lesson plans, centers, and graphic organizers. Take a look at the standards you need teach below:
These RF units are complete and will help you teach prefixes, suffixes, and root words. Your students will be able to master the word attack and decoding skills they need to improve their reading fluency and accuracy.
Here are the Language units with a focus on Word Parts! These lessons and activities will offer opportunities for your students to improve their vocabulary skills and overall comprehension.