Breaking Down Words to Build Meaning: Morphology, Vocabulary, and Reading Comprehension in the Urban Classroom and Multitext Study vocabulary activities for “The Capture”


article link:

Multitext Study:


This article addressed the importance of students understanding morphology (the structure of words) in order to successfully comprehend texts. The article explained that if students are able to break down words into morphemes, the smallest individual units of meaning, then they will be able to derive meaning from vocabulary words that they do not know — An understanding of word structure can be a powerful tool for students faced with the daunting task of acquiring academic vocabulary. A large number of the unfamiliar words that students encounter in printed school English could be understandable if students knew the more common root word and could break the complex word down (137). The article made an argument for instruction based around morphology in order to promote stronger vocabulary and reading comprehension in the classroom. The study that was documented in the article found that knowledge of morphemes was a greater indicator of reading comprehension than vocabulary knowledge. This was true for ELLs and native English speakers. I really liked that the article gave a step-by-step process to implement morphology instruction into the classroom through (1) teaching morphology through vocab instruction (2) teaching the use of cognitive strategies to use morphology to derive the meaning of words (3) teaching the necessary knowledge of language necessary to use morphology (4) teaching ELLs to recognize and use cognates – words with similar spelling and meanings in English and another language. I was able to connect this article to the vocabulary activities that I completed for The Capture Part I. The “Word Wizard” activities promote the study of key vocabulary words within the text. The student must first identify the vocabulary word and where it can be found in the text. They then provide a definition for the word and are encouraged to use context clues in order to help them derive a definition (the article mentioned at the end that it is important to teach children how to derive meaning of a word from the surrounding text.) Next the student must list synonyms for the vocab word, write any associations or connections that they have with the word, and then create an illustration of the word. Below is an example of a vocab word that I completed the activity for:

Word: sublime pg. 36, par. 1

Definition: something very inspiring or uplifting

Synonyms: inspirational, moving, magnificant

Connection: When I drive down 421 to go home, the view from the top of the mountain after I cross under the bridge is simply sublime.

Illustration: sketch of the view from the top of the mountain

After completing this activity, I saw the  value in this type of word study. Students are required to dig deeply into the word to extract its meaning. An additional part of the word wizard activity is a making choices activity that requires the student to decide if the vocabulary words that they researched apply to certain scenarios. This is a useful activity because it places the vocabulary in situations that students can relate to; students can then use their knowledge of their new vocab to determine if it is appropriate for the given situation. The vocab activities extend further into a synonyms and antonyms chart and a “Forms of a Word” chart where students must write vocab words as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs if possible. This helps sharpen and understanding of derivational morphemes that change a word’s part of speech. Derivational morphemes where discussed in the article and connect to word structure which is a powerful
tool for students faced with the daunting task of acquiring academic vocabulary (137).


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