Greek & Latin Word Parts Instruction: Strategy Instruction, Not Memorization


Engage students in “navigating” Greek & Latin Word Parts with this Anchor Chart!

How do you teach students to effectively use context clues while reading literature and
informational texts? Students struggle with context clues because they are amorphous; there is no clear-cut set of steps to define unknown words, phrases, or paragraphs. Students who effectively make use of context clue strategies to define words don’t have more content knowledge than other students, but they more effectively monitor comprehension and know when to rely on different strategies.

Every teacher has their own spin on how and when to teach context clue strategies. I believe that because context clues are foundational to success on every other reading and comprehension related standard, context clue strategies must be diverse to meet the needs of every student and pervasive so the use of these strategies become innate.

My go-to context clue strategies include:

  • PlusUsing Word Parts
    • Method: Explicitly teach Greek and Latin morphemes including the most common prefixes, roots, and suffixes
      • Notes: I also place an emphasis on morphemes that appear in scientific and historical texts to align with the domain-specific vocabulary our students have to navigate in the era of Common Core
  • SupportGrammar with Purpose 
    • Method: When students really get grammar, they know more than the rule. Instead, they understand how the words in the sentence modify or describe one another. Appositives, which add more detail to nouns, are one example of a grammar skill that can be used as a context clue strategy to deduce the meaning of words.
  • PencilAnnotating for Main Idea & Central Idea
    • Method: Students circle 3-5 key words and write a main idea “gist” next to each paragraph, which is a short, incomplete sentence summing up the author’s key argument in that paragraph. When analyzing an unknown word in that paragraph, students use the main idea annotations from the surrounding paragraphs to confirm/deny their inference.

Which Strategy Pays Off?

Paper-MoneyIn my classroom, Greek & Latin word parts have been the great equalizer amongst students. Teaching students to strategically use and identify prefixes, roots, and suffixes to determine the meaning and parts of speech enables deeper comprehension and understanding, even for your most struggling readers.

Why, you ask?

  1. More than Memorization: All students can be successful in memorizing word parts if teachers put in the extra effort to make them sticky during explicitly instruction & meaningfully integrate throughout all lessons.
  2. Meet Students Where they Are: Your students are at diversely different reading levels; word parts are initially skills-based lessons that students need to keep top-of-mind while reading.
  3. Motivate Reluctant Readers: Students who are struggling readers often don’t like reading because it’s hard, and it’s hard to motivate someone operating in that mindset to keep trying. Using word parts unlocks meaning; when struggling readers start making the connection between word part meanings and the texts they are reading thereby improving comprehension.

Implement Greek & Latin Word Part Strategies in Context Clue Instruction Today!

Most students have had some exposure to word parts. This quick reference isn’t about memorization, it’s about utilizing the strategy of defining word parts to make meaning of a text.

This anchor chart can be hung in your room, and the PDF can be printed immediately and handed out to students as a year-long tool.

By comparing the process of defining word parts to navigating the ocean via boat, students make connections to activate prior knowledge and make this skill sticky. Featuring 60 word parts + definitions, an engaging analogy, and strategy tips, this is an essential tool to improve reading comprehension and analysis as you prepare for TNReady & Common Core assessments.

Get the Navigating Common Greek and Latin Word Parts Quick Reference on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store HERE for only $2!

Preview Greek and Latin Roots Chart.jpeg



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