Ten Tips for Teachers (and Parents)


The Latin and Greek Roots Challenge was designed to be implemented school-wide to reach all students of all abilities and to foster community building and collaboration.  All students work on the same roots each week (the youngest students work only on the “blue roots”).  You will find that the younger students are excited to be learning the same roots as the older students.  Likewise, older students will help younger students and are great role models.  Even in a single classroom or homeschool environment, students should be encouraged to work as a team.


An essential element of the program is the brainstorming that occurs on the Visual Root Worksheets.  Students are asked to think of as many English words as they can that contain the weekly roots.  Encourage both individual and collaborative brainstorming among your students.  It is empowering for them to identify words that contain the roots for the week, rather than just being told what the words for the week will be.  Students can consult with parents, siblings, dictionaries, and on-line resources to identify Constructed Words. 


The primary goal of the Roots Challenge is to introduce students to roots and root meanings.  Latin and Greek roots are the building blocks of over 60% of the English language (and close to 90% of the vocabularies of medicine, law, theology, and the sciences).  If students have a command of roots and root meanings, they have the tools to deconstruct vocabulary words and discover their meanings.  Always look for opportunities to reinforce root meanings.  


The Roots Challenge uses a unique format in developing Constructed Word definitions.  The Instructions that are found on the inside front cover of the Constructed Word Lists (Pad II) and also on page 6 of the Teacher’s Program Guide will help you understand this format.  In every Constructed Word definition, the root meanings are underlined and followed by the roots in parentheses.  For example:  telescope – “an instrument to view (-scope) distant (tele-) objects”.  Again, this approach is intended to reinforce the meaning of the roots, rather than the definition of the Constructed Words.  This format is also used in many of the challenge exercises. 

#5  -  THE PUZZLE:  

We have tried to accurately account for all roots in each Constructed Word.  More often than not, by combining these roots students can piece the word together.  Combining the root meanings of a Constructed Word will help them determine the word’s definition.  This is essentially a puzzle that the students can solve by putting the puzzle pieces together.  For example: 
     teleconference    =     tele-     +      con-      +      -fer       +    -ence
                                   distance   +   together   +   bringing   +  the act of 

     teleconference    =   the act of (-ence) bringing (-fer) people together (con-) over a distance (tele-) 


“Look within the word to find its meaning!”  The Roots Challenge is designed to introduce “decoding skills” to the students.  Help remind students this by asking, “What is the secret of Latin and Greek roots?”  They should answer, “Look within the word to find its meaning!”

#7  -  REVIEW!  REVIEW!!  REVIEW!!!     

OK, can you tell that we think this is important?  Just as practicing math, sports, or music is important for mastery, reinforcing the students’ knowledge of roots and their meanings is also important.  Every week take a few minutes to recall all previous weeks’ roots, by calling out the root and having the students respond individually or together as a group (depending how loud it gets).  This will help reinforce the roots learned to date and help students retain the meaning of each individual root.

  1. Begin by saying, “OK, let’s go … what does tele- mean?”  Students reply, “Far away, distant!”  “What does micro- mean?”  Students reply, “Small!”  “-scope?”  “Watch, view, examine!”  … and so on.
  2. Ask students to give you at least two words that contain that root.  By doing this, it not only reinforces sourced words, but also will help a student remember the meaning of a root.  It encourages students to thinking logically and break down the word into its root parts.
  3. For a change of pace, give students root meanings and have them respond with the correct root with that meaning.


Because of the wide range of learning styles and abilities among students, the Roots Challenge program provides materials developed for different ages and abilities.  While a certain grade may be assigned a given level Challenge Exercise Workbook or Early Elementary Root Poster kit, there may be occasions where material from another level is appropriate to meet the needs of individual students who need an extra challenge or perhaps a more visual or different approach.  Sometimes material from a different level can be used for an entire class that is ready for a challenge or just a change of pace.  Look for opportunities where differentiating the materials for a student or class would be helpful.

#9  -  MAKE IT YOUR OWN:  

Teachers are dynamic and will always bring their own ideas and energy to any subject.  You will undoubtedly have your own approach to introducing students to roots and presenting these materials.  We would love to hear your ideas for presenting this material and strengthening this program.  

#10  -  HAVE FUN!  

We hope you will find that the Latin and Greek Roots Challenge instills in your students  a love of the magic of the English language.  See Section IV of the Teacher’s Program Guide for suggested fun games, activities, and exercises that students should enjoy while strengthening their understanding and command of roots … a tool that will last them a lifetime.