Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rooting out the Meanings

spelling practice with a twist
I continue to teach spelling to both EM and JT, even though JT is no longer required, according to PA homeschooling regs, to include spelling instruction in his portfolio.  JT is a master of words.  He has always had an extensive vocabulary and he is not afraid to use it.  Often.  As in, no stop to the talking.  All day.  In fact, you could call him loquacious or verbose.  Both being recent words on his spelling lists.

But that is not exactly the point of this particular post.

I decided from the very beginning of our homeschooling adventure to focus on learning new spelling words based on the roots of the word rather than learning spelling patterns.  We also spend much more time looking at the meanings of words rather than just how to spell them.  For the first two years, I created our spelling lists using the English from the Roots Up flash cards.  I would make a new list each week, usually using two or three roots to make up a list of 15 words.  I would give JT a pretest on Monday, have him study definitions on Tuesday, write sentences on Wednesday, review on Thursday, and have a final test on Friday.  This worked well for a while, but he grew tired of writing sentences and definitions.  I needed to find something with more variety.

That's when I discovered the Vocabulary from Classical Roots series.  These books have been the perfect fit for JT.  There are three or four exercises per lesson.  Typically I have him do exercises A, B, and C each week.  We also have our pretest on Monday and our final test on Friday.  Today we worked on our review for the test.  JT usually will write each word on the white board as I call it out.  Any words he misses, we go back over again until he knows the spelling.  Today he decided to add illustrations to his words.  The great thing about this new idea was that I could really see that he understood the meanings of the words he has been studying.  When we came to the word sycophant, his initial drawing did not include bags in the hands of the man to the right.  We talked about how sycophant doesn't just mean someone who flatters someone else. Instead, it is someone who flatters for favors or gain.  JT quickly added the money bags to the man on the right.

You are SO handsome!
I see evidence that his early study of word roots has really helped him to discover the meanings of unfamiliar words.  I am hoping this skill will help him do well on tests like the SAT and ACT in the future.  In the present, it helps him when we study science and even in his leisure reading. 

JT is currently working in book D of the series.  EM will be starting in book 4 in January.  Up until now, EM has been using the Harcourt spelling series our local school district uses.  He works closer to grade level in spelling, so they were a good fit.  Now that he's getting more proficient in his language skills, I'm ready to move him into this series.  The book levels are 4, 5, 6, A, B, C, D, and E.  The first three lining up to their numeric grade levels, the letters running from 7th to 11th grade starting with letter A.  That means next year JT will be in his last book.  I'm hoping to find something along the same lines at a more advanced level when we reach that point.  I'm thinking there are bound to be good SAT prep materials that focus on vocabulary through etymology.

No dear, that is not correct.
One more thing about the word sycophant.  I'm glad my son could see the difference between the root syco and psyche, so we didn't end up with a picture like this one of the psychophant, drawn by my husband.

I'd hate to meet one of those in a dark alley!

1 comment:

Jo in OKC said...

You might want to look at Michael Clay Thompsons materials (Word within the Word) to see if you think there's anything there he might like and hasn't covered. MCT's books are aimed at gifted kids. We also liked his poetry and his grammar books.