It’s no secret that my class is turned on to noticing words through the amazing skills acquired through RealSpelling and Wordworks system of guided word inquiry. More than just worksheets, we live and breathe investigations about the English spelling system daily and we are now at the stage where some of us can’t HELP but notice the structure of words wherever we look…!! More and momre, Smartians are noticing their spelling and thinking about HOW a word might be constructed to get the correct spelling. In the middle of our Unit of Inquiry research, a student yells out with glee about a word detective discovery he had made. “I’ve found a new suffix for our board!!” The more building blocks these children discover, the more words they will unlock to expand their vocabulary. It is NOT about memorising the spellings of thousands and thousands of words – it is about seeing how the English spelling sytem is in fact logical, ordered and systematic ONCE you being to see the structures (prefixes, bases, suffixes, rules and conventions of how these building blocks are put together etc). (http://www.wordworkskingston.com for more insights)

Today’s discovery came up innocently enough from a vocabulary word we were using for our Survival manual: precautionary. See if you can follow along with the children’s logical reasoning for this word… The children very easily recognised the suffix <ion> from before, so they knew that <caut-> must be a bound base (you need to fix on a suffix in order for it to be a word). We know that to prove something, you have to go looking for “family members with meaning connections”, which led them to say <cautious>. They were very familiar with <-ous> as a suffix from our bulletin board, so this then allowed me to teach them about a new discovery… CONNECTOR VOWELS. These are another type of affixes that specifically connect bases to suffixes. I then asked them to go through their personal Brain Dictionary to see if they could think of any words that might have connector vowels. Here is what some students came up with (do you feel that this will enrich and expand EVERYONE’S vocabulary through exposure?!! Of course!!)