Teaching English Vocabulary With Greek Morphemes: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

So one area that I always know Charles needs work in is vocabulary. He enjoyed a vocabulary program that we used last year where we examined Latin and Greek roots and the English derivatives that we get from them. Because this worked well for him, I was very excited to get the Greek Morphemes Lessons (It’s Not Greek to Me!) book from Ready to Teach.

We received the paperback, consumable student workbook, an instructor’s manual (teacher’s guide), a CD with power point lessons, and a flash drive to preview the way that the power points are going to work soon. The Greek Morphemes Lessons curriculum is intended to be used with secondary level students, and it teaches students the meanings of Greek prefixes, suffixes, and roots (called morphemes) so that they can learn how to use those word parts to decode new vocabulary words. The lessons are meant to be used with some teacher interaction. The teacher presents the new roots, suffixes, and prefixes at the beginning of each lesson and then the student completes assignments in the student book and practices with flashcards before testing at the end of each lesson.

When I first opened up the instructor’s manual, I was happy to see a “How To Use These Materials” section. That’s always extremely helpful when I open up a new curriculum, especially one with multiple parts. The manual does an excellent job of laying out what each day’s lesson should look like. Here are some of the features of the manual:

1. A lesson plan guide that helps you to know which part of the lesson the student should complete each day

2. Transparency masters if you’d rather print the power point sheets on overhead transparencies for use for a classroom setting (I’ll talk about the power points in a moment.)

3. Answer keys for all of the exercises

After I felt as if I had a grasp on how the lessons were going to flow, I started in with Charles. Each lesson takes a week with four assignments, A-D, and a test. The lessons each week start with a power point demonstration. The power point slides can also be used later in the week for review. Currently the curriculum comes with a CD that contains the power point lessons. The company is moving towards using a flash drive, and we were able to try that out. Soon they are going to begin to phase into using primarily flash drives because some PCs now do not come with CD-Rom drives. Here are some features of the power point:

1. For each lesson there are slides that present the roots, prefixes, and suffixes for the week.

2. Using colorful graphics and text, the slides walk the student through understanding the Greek morphemes and relating them to English derivatives.

3. Also featured on the power point CD (or flashdrive) are review power points. These feature a review game that the students can use to review the Greek morphemes for the week.

4. The student looks at the Greek morpheme in the top box of each column, then chooses the correct answer from the column. He gets immediate feedback and can then return to the slide card to continue answering.

Transparency masters are available in the teacher’s guide or on the CD. So if you were teaching the material in a classroom setting, you could use an overhead if you didn’t have the software for power point at your disposal.

As I showed the slides, Charles wrote down the meanings of the Greek morphemes in his student book. He then used the student book to do four different sets of assignments each week. At the end of each week he photocopied the test for the week (in the back of the teacher’s guide) and took the test. Here is a look at the student book.

1. As we go through the power point slides on Monday of the week, Charles takes notes for the meaning of each word part. We also look at the words that he will “work” for the lesson. There are 16-20 words for each lesson. These are English derivatives that are formed from the Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
2. After the notes are written, Charles completes Assignment A which is to work the first half of the words. Each word is in a box with multiple lines. On each line he is to write a Greek morpheme that he sees and the meaning. After he has broken the word into as many parts as he can he is supposed to write down his own definition based on the Greek meanings. The book calls this part M.D. (My Definition) Then he looks the word up in the dictionary and writes the D.D. (Dictionary Definition) on the next line.
3. On Tuesday Charles will complete Assignment B which is to work the second half of the words. He also checks Assignment A.
4. On Wednesday he uses eight words from the lesson in a sentence that uses context clues to make the meaning of the word clear. He also uses morphemes from the lesson or from previous lessons to make two words of his own creation. He then works the words by listing out the parts and ending with the M.D. (My Definition) He will also check Assignment B.
5. On Thursday Charles completes Assignment D which involves two parts. The first part involves a list of a set of made up words. He analyzes each by breaking it into morphemes and writing what the morpheme means above each. He then writes a meaning for the word.
6. On the second part, there is a list of definitions that could go with the previous made up words. Working with the definitions he came up with, he matches the made up words to the definitions given.
7. On Thursday he is also supposed to make flashcards to study the morphemes for each lesson. The teacher’s guide has a set of flashcards that are to be for the teacher’s use, and the student is to make their own and keep them handy for looking over the morphemes regularly.
8. On Friday, Charles takes the test. He photocopies it out of the instructor’s manual. The manual has the answer keys which tell exactly how much to count each part of the definitions and analysis.
After lessons one and two, there is a cumulative review test. I had him take this on the same day as test two. After lesson six, there is a review over lessons one through six. It’s a longer review, and I let him use the whole week for review and taking the test. After the final lesson- twelve- there is a review over seven through twelve, and I intend to work it the same way with a whole week for review. There are plenty of ways to practice. His book has pages for the review, and he can also practice with the power point game.
So what do we think? I love it. I know from my years of teaching- both in traditional school and through homeschooling that knowledge of Greek and Latin is very beneficial for building English vocabulary. Having the opportunity to study these morphemes helps the student be able to use that knowledge to break down and understand unfamiliar words later on.
I think Greek Morphemes Lessons does an excellent job presenting the information. There isn’t too much on any one day- a big deal for my highly active son who can’t sit still for long lessons. It also jumps in right away making the knowledge practical. He can see from lesson one that knowing these morphemes can help him come up with a definition for unfamiliar words- even made up ones. Knowing that what he learns has practical value is also very important for Charles because he doesn’t appreciate learning material that doesn’t seem to be relevant.
Probably my favorite thing about using this was that I had plenty of information about how the lessons worked best. It’s always frustrating to open a brand new curriculum and have to spend hours on the setup figuring out how to use it. I like that the front of the Instructor’s Manual breaks it all down into what should be covered each day.
I can definitely say that Charles will continue to complete the remainder of the lessons, and I’ll be saving the Instructor’s manual and purchasing student manuals for later kids to use this as well.
The Facts:
Age Recommendation: Secondary level
Price-$69.95 for the set (student books can be purchased separately)

Crew Disclaimer

Other Schoolhouse Reviewers had a chance to try Greek Morphemes Lessons (It’s Not Greek To Me!), so be sure to check the other reviews to see what they thought.

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