Approaches to the Common Core: ROOT OF THE WEEK*

We’ve established that in order to paraphrase, you need to unpack vocabulary.  And in order to unpack vocabulary, you need word-attack skills and knowledge of roots (e.g., Latin and Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes).  While some schools use “The Word of the Day” to try to boost vocabulary, those words tend to be arbitrarily selected and unrelated to one another.  Consequently, their meanings do not stick.  So I recommend the “Root of the Week” approach.  Think of it this way: If you learn a word, you only learn one word.  If you learn a root, you could be learning a DOZEN words that use the same root.

With “Root of the Week,” the idea is that the target root is repeated FIVE TIMES in five different words throughout the week.  The repetition reinforces the meaning of the root so that when students recognize it in different words, they are able to infer the meanings of words they haven’t seen before.  They build stronger root-attack and word-attack skills.  They start to notice roots in the same way that people who have just bought a new car suddenly notice everyone else driving the same model.  And they become more excited about words in general.

How can this work SCHOOLWIDE (such as, during Morning Announcements)?  On Monday, someone (ideally a student who has rehearsed with a teacher) introduces the “Root of the Week” and explains its meaning.  Example: “cred,” which means “believe.”  The presenter offers a word using that root, such as, “credit,” which means, loosely, “I believe I will pay you back.”  Then the presenter gives a user-friendly definition and synonyms, as well as a sentence using the word in context.  On Tuesday, students are reminded of the same root and given a new word that uses the root (such as, “incredible”).  Lather, rinse, repeat all week.  Next week: different root.  See the TLC “Root of the Week” page for a Sample Powerpoint for “cred.”

Another approach is to use “Root of the Week” IN YOUR INDIVIDUAL CLASSROOM.  For the sake of efficiency, you can introduce all five words at one time and have students infer the meaning of the root based on how the words are used in context.
See the TLC “Root of the Week” page for a Sample Root of the Week Hypothesis Sheet for “cede/ceed” and these Websites, which will make this idea easy to implement:

*This entry is adapted from a chapter in The Literacy Cookbook, which is available for pre-order HERE.


About theliteracycookbook

In addition to this blog, I am the creator of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK Website ( and ONLY GOOD BOOKS Blog (, and the author of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK: A Practical Guide to Effective Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Instruction (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and LITERACY AND THE COMMON CORE: Recipes for Action (Jossey-Bass, 2014). Check out my Website for more information about my consulting work.
This entry was posted in ELA Common Core Standards, Inference, Paraphrasing, Reading, Roots, The Literacy Cookbook BOOK, TLC Website Resources and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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