Flip-a-Chip: Examining Affixes and Roots to Build Vocabulary
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The Flip-a-Chip activity turns ordinary poker chips into a teaching tool, showing students how different affixes and roots can be joined to make words and then placed into a context-rich paragraph. Each set of chips contains two word roots and two affixes that can be combined into four different words. For example, the prefixes im- and sup- might be written on the two sides of one poker chip, and the roots pose and press on the other chip. The four possible words (impose, impress, suppose, suppress) are inserted into four blanks in a paragraph according to context clues. After practicing with both real and "virtual" chips (in the Flip-a-Chip online interactive), students work in pairs to create their own set of chips and corresponding paragraph. They exchange their packets to see whether the context clues are strong enough to enable classmates to fill in the blanks correctly.
Flip-a-Chip: This interactive allows students the opportunity to fill in the blanks of a story with words created through a virtual flip of the chip.
From Theory to Practice
- Familiarity with high-frequency affixes and roots promotes comprehension of numerous words in which they occur as meaningful chunks.
- Effective vocabulary instruction requires active and positive student participation, and personal engagement with a new word can lead to deep processing of the meaning.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- Computers with Internet access and printing capability
- General classroom supplies (paper, markers, pens)
- Indelible or dry-erase markers
- Overhead with transparency or chalkboard
- Plastic bags with closures
- White poker chips (or other hard chips suitable for flipping)
Prepare a sample Flip-a-Chip packet to introduce your students to the activity. On the first chip, print pro on the front and re on the back. On the second chip, print duce on the front and voke on the back. Flipping the chips can make four words: provoke, produce, revoke, and reduce. Prepare an overhead transparency or write the following paragraph on the chalkboard:
Ms. Jones was angry. She said, "My students _____ me when they are tardy. They _____ one excuse after another. I want to ____ the number of tardies, so I'll ____ the privileges of any student who is late.
- Examine the meanings of affixes and roots to build vocabulary
- Mix and match four meaningful word parts to make four words
- Write a paragraph leaving blanks for the four words and including context clues to help their classmates fill in the blanks
- Revise their paragraphs based on feedback from their peers
Instruction & Activities
Note: Depending on your students' grade level and abilities, you may need to conduct a preliminary lesson on affixes and roots as meaningful parts of words. However, most students in grades 6-8 have already encountered morphemic analysis in their reading, vocabulary, and spelling programs.
|1.||Introduce Flip-a-Chip to your students by saying, "Let me show you how you can start with four syllables and flip these chips to make four words." Start flipping the chips, and write each word you make on the board. Hand the chips to a student and say, "No matter how you flip these chips, you will make a word. Try it." Let students keep trying until they flip all four words: produce, provoke, reduce, and revoke.
|2.||Next, encourage students to talk about the meanings of the four words. Discuss the word elements as meaningful chunks. Ask students to think of other words that they know that have the same affix or root. What do these other words mean? Can words they know help them figure out the meanings of these new words? Students can also use Dictionary.com or a print copy of the dictionary to look up the definitions of the four words. [Note: Be sure students select the correct part of speech for a word like produce when they study the definition. In this case, produce is being used as a verb.]
|3.||Show students the fill-in-the-blanks paragraph, in which the built-in context clues can give students a conceptual network for the words. Tell students, "The words you flipped can fit in this paragraph. Figure out from the context where each word belongs."
Ms. Jones was angry. She said, "My students _____ me when they are tardy. They _____ one excuse after another. I want to ____ the number of tardies, so I'll ____ the privileges of any student who is late."
|4.||Have students read the paragraph aloud after placing the words in the right blanks. Also have them explain their thought process for placing the words in the paragraph. How does the context of the sentence (i.e., the semantic and syntactic cues) call for one word and not another?
Ms. Jones was angry. She said, "My students provoke me when they are tardy. They produce one excuse after another. I want to reduce the number of tardies, so I'll revoke the privileges of any student who is late."
|5.||Go through a few more examples together in class or have students work in pairs using the online version of Flip-a-Chip. Students will see how different affixes and roots can be combined to make words and then placed into a context-rich paragraph. They should print their work after each example to check whether they placed the words in the paragraph correctly.
|6.||Next, have students work in pairs to create their own Flip-a-Chip packets, to include a set of chips and a paragraph with fill-in-the-blanks. You might consider modeling the process for creating a Flip-a-Chip packet or having the class create one together before having students work on this activity in pairs.
|7.||Ask students to trade their packets with another pair of students to see if their classmates can figure out how the words fit in the paragraph.
|8.||Students can then meet with the pair of students that tried their Flip-a-Chip packet and revise their paragraph if additional context clues were needed to place the words correctly.
|9.||Keep the student-created Flip-a-Chip packets in an area of the classroom and encourage students to try some of the others when they have time. Students can share their feedback with the original authors of the packet or create a dueling paragraph to add to the packet (i.e., another paragraph that uses the same four words).
- Students can make additional Flip-a-Chip packets during subsequent lessons. You may want to suggest such combinations as verbs with inflectional endings (blast and pound with ed and ing), adjectives with suffixes (soft and rich with er and est), nouns with plural and possessive endings (boy and cat with s and 's) and prefixes and roots (im and sup with press and pose).
- Encourage students to access Common Word Roots to find word parts that they can use when developing their own Flip-a-Chip packets.
- Incorporate the Flip-a-Chip activity into other lessons throughout the school year by focusing on specific affixes and roots for study. Have students compile a list of all of the prefixes, roots, and suffixes that they learn. By the end of the year, students will have a comprehensive list of the various word parts and a good understanding of vocabulary words that include those word parts.
- For other engaging vocabulary puzzles (e.g., crosswords, matching, fill-in-the-blanks), have students access Vocabulary University.
- Another vocabulary website, Word Images: Index, presents students with pictures, definitions, and quizzes. For example, the word kleptomania is shown with a picture of a kleptomaniac in action, surreptitiously stuffing a pair of shoes into her pocketbook.
Student Assessment / Reflections
Assessment is built into the Flip-a-Chip activity. Students will need to be able to correctly put together four words, have a clear understanding of the words, and then be able to correctly use or place the words in a paragraph. Peer assessment is a powerful component in this lesson as students are compelled to revise their paragraphs to ensure that their peers can correctly place the four words in the blanks.
For an end-of-semester assessment, have students list all of the prefixes, roots, and suffixes used in their Flip-a-Chip packets. They can then match these word parts with their meanings. As students reflect on the meanings of the word parts, have them also reflect on how they were able to construct the meanings of new words by understanding the meanings of various affixes and roots.