Suffix Challenge!

After Pete’s visit this week, a few teachers asked me, “How do I start?” Same question I asked for several years, and the same most teachers ask when they see Real Spelling or Structured Word Inquiry for the first time. The activity we did today, I think, would be a good starting point, the kind of generative provocation that can lead in numerous directions, result in numerous discoveries, and most importantly, inspire numerous questions.

Two teams with the same goal. Propose and prove as many suffixes as possible. Go!

My Movie 2 from ZIS Grade 5 on Vimeo.

I loved the debate about a proposed <-id> suffix. That group offered <avoid> as proof, but when questioned about *<avo> as a morpheme, they realized they didn’t have the necessary evidence. The same happened with the word <lid>. We eventually met as a group and discussed the word <horrid>, mostly because several kids are currently writing horror stories. Its word sum would be <hor> + <-id>. The <r> doubles because of suffixing conventions that we are slowly familiarizing ourselves with. While looking at Word Searcher together, Nida pointed out <morbid>. Well spotted, Nida! Thinking that <morbid> had some connection with words related to death, like mortal,¬†I asked our multilingual class for the words for death in other languages.

This picture does NOT do that conversation justice!


6 thoughts on “Suffix Challenge!

  1. Pete Bowers


    And I’m even now more determined to introduce you and your class to my new friend Graham in Lausanne, Switzerland who I know helped spark this multilingual etymological investigation. I will be sharing more about their investigation of MIGRATION and MIGRANT that yielded the bound base MIGR and which they found echoed in so many of the languages in their classroom.

    On on!

    1. Dan Post author

      Absolutely! I actually went to the Lausanne website in the hopes that I would find Graham’s class, or an email, or something. But I didn’t have his last name. No matter…I’m sure we’ll get to know him soon enough!

  2. Mary Beth Steven

    What a great activity! My students are only familiar with ‘ing’, ‘es’, ‘ed’ and ‘s’. This activity will be very valuable to them when writing word sum hypotheses! I also love the way it fostered an excitement and urgency to stay engaged. Team work at its finest!

  3. Dan Post author

    Yeah, I know scholarship isn’t meant to be competitive, but sometimes that added component engages students who wouldn’t be otherwise. We’ve done the “Suffixes We Know” thing the last couple of years, but it always kind of fizzles. Hope this team approach will help!
    Thanks for checking in, Mary Beth!

  4. Skot Caldwell

    Dan, this is a brilliant activity. So impressed by the scholarship that grows out of such a fun activity. And yes, I think the competitiveness is absolutely appropriate in this case. (It seems to me I can think of a variety of scholarly achievements that were fueled at least in part by competition).

    1. Dan Post author

      Thanks, Skot. We actually put those sheets away after the activity…just two more in an endless pile of chart paper. I will bring them out again soon, knowing the competitive spirit will take hold once again…many suffixes discovered since that activity!


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