Word Analysis Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

This lesson plan for elementary students focuses on determining the meanings of new words, with special attention to word structure analysis. Your students will construct, deconstruct, and change words based on roots and affixes.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify and employ multiple strategies in determining the meanings of new words
  • Explain how words are constructed and how this can be used to determine word meaning
  • Construct and change words based on their prefixes, roots, and suffixes


90-120 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.


Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 4 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.


Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.


  • Copies of the lesson quiz
  • List of complex vocabulary words (these words should all contain a clear prefix, suffix, and root word)
  • Lists of common prefixes, root words, and suffixes, with the meanings of each
  • Packets of the above prefixes, root words, and suffixes written onto index card-sized ''puzzle pieces''


  • Start by writing the word ''discernible'' on the board. Ask students to raise their hands if they know the meaning of this word, but don't have them define it out loud yet.
  • Start the video lesson Constructing Meaning with Context Clues, Prior Knowledge & Word Structure. Pause the video at 3:22 and discuss this information.
    • How does prior knowledge help you understand the meaning of something that you're reading?
    • How can it help you understand the meaning of a word?
    • How do context clues help you understand the meaning of something you're reading or a new word?
  • Write the following sentences on the board. Ask students to use these sentences to find context clues about the meaning of the word ''discernible''. Give students a minute to read over these sentences and write down a definition for ''discernible'' on their own paper, but don't have them share their definitions with the class yet.
    • The rebellion had failed but there was no discernible impact on the people's lives.
    • The light was too dim for any details to be discernible.
    • The influence of hip-hop is easily discernible in popular culture today.
  • Resume and complete the video. Talk about this information.
    • How is using word structure to determine the meaning of a word different from using prior knowledge or context clues?
    • How is it similar?
  • Below ''cern'' in the word ''discernible'' on the board, write ''separate, distinguish''. Below ''Dis'' write ''apart''. Below ''ible'' write ''able to''. Then spell it out with the class: something is discernible if you are able to distinguish it apart from other things. Ask students if this is similar to the definitions they came up with, and show them how this fits into the three sentences on the board. Ask students if they can think of any synonyms for discernible (examples could include noticeable, distinguishable, observable, recognizable, visible, or identifiable).
  • You may test student understanding with the lesson quiz.

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