Sunday, December 02, 2007

Word Work

I'm always looking for fun, engaging, motivating ways for my fourth graders to build up their knowledge of the way words are built -- roots, prefixes, suffixes, and even the little parts that make rhymes, like -at, and -up that make cat and pup.

This week, I tried out this game, Eight Letters In Search of a Word, with my students. I was worried that they would get frustrated, and some did, but because they have grown up on Nintendo and Xbox and Game Boy, they had no problem with running out of time and trying again. They worked to beat their own high scores, they were realistic about low scores when they got a tough set of letters, and when one student figured out the "big word," a new standard was set for ALL of the students (a REAL standard set by the students, not by some governmental committee...but don't get me started). They got really good at finding every variation possible on a small word by substituting consonants, they were smart about using s to make every plural possible, and they worked -ed and -ing for all they were worth when they got those letter combinations. Because all the letters given can ultimately make up an 8-letter word, there was even a little vocabulary development thrown in. When you play this game, you might think it is too hard for 9 and 10 year olds. That is, however, precisely why they liked it so much. It was hard. They had to work for their success. They knew they earned it when they got a high score. And those times when they got the "big word?" Priceless.

Next week, we're going to see how much rice we can donate through the United Nations to help end world hunger by learning new vocabulary words. At Free Rice, you donate 20 grains of rice for every vocabulary word you get right. As you play, the game automatically levels the words you get -- if you get words right, you get harder words, if you miss words, you get easier words. I'm not sure how this will work with my students. Just like we did with 8 Letters, we will play together first, with my computer hooked up to the class TV. I think we can have some great conversations about root words and related words that can help us make a smart guess about the words. Stay tuned for a report on how this goes in my classroom. In the meantime, how much rice did you donate today?


  1. Too fun--it has kind of an addicting quality...

  2. Mary Lee,
    Thank you for the great website Eight Letters! It goes perfect with our Making Big Words we do each week and it gives me something to do in the computer lab this week. (We are in between topics for social studies)
    You will also be proud to know I am doing my first Presentation on Blogging at the SOITA (Southwestern Ohio Instructional Technology Association) conference. I am telling them everything you ever taught me. I AM SO NERVOUS! :O

  3. Megan,
    YOU GO GIRL! Let us know how your presentation goes! Also, I'm interested to hear how your students like Eight Letters.

  4. I will try to keep you abreast of everything, presentation and game! ;)


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