Thinking about Words: How First Grade Students Respond to Explicit Morphological Instruction with an Emphasis in Greek and Latin Roots
College of Liberal Arts
Integrated Elementary Teaching
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Morphology “is the conventional system by which the smallest units of meaning, called morphemes (roots, bases, prefixes, and suffixes), combine to form complex words” (Bowers, 2010, p. 144). Morphological awareness is often correlated with student success in reading, reading comprehension, and other central components of literacy. The study of morphology is also thought to be a predictor of reading achievement that can impact students’ long-term success over the course of their education (Carlisle, 1995). Morphology instruction typically makes an appearance in curriculum in the upper elementary years, 3rd grade and higher, and is thought of as developmentally inappropriate for younger children, especially kindergarteners and first graders who are just beginning to form explicit understanding of language and literacy (Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton, & Johnston, 2008; Carlisle, 1995). This thesis explores how first grade students respond to explicit morphological instruction through a qualitative collective case study of three students. The study examines how explicit morphological instruction contributes to first grade students’ thinking about words and word parts through metadiscussions and metalinguistic analyses with an emphasis on exposure to Greek and Latin roots. The results from the current study imply that first grade students are, in fact, ready for morphological instruction and can use morphological awareness to bolster word knowledge and word consciousness.