This post has been updated from its original.img_0924


Is anybody missing weekly spelling lists?

We don’t do spelling.  We are orthographers, word scientists.  We study the writing system:  we ask questions, make discoveries, explore and learn concepts, test hypotheses.  And we teach as you will see from the work below.

  • img_0857One of the first concepts we learned was that all words have a base.  In many words, this base can be built upon with suffixes and prefixes.  Here you can see a matrix that Seohyeon, Sitara and Wed worked on around the base element <heal>.  Check out all the concepts touched upon in this on investigation–homophones, shifts in pronunciation, and so on.
  • img_1039img_1036Later, we discovered that some bases are free (can stand as a word on their own) but other bases are bound (can only exist in words with affixes).  At right is a matrix that Kyle and Nate were beginning to work on with the bound base <pose> which they have discovered comes from Latin ponere meaning “put or place”.  Interestingly, they are proposing that in the word <position> there is an <-ite> suffix.  This was interesting for Abbu to hear, as she had been wondering about whether there was an <-ity> suffix.  (Sometimes scientists doing parallel investigations draw conclusions that help one another).

Our guiding questions for investigating words:

  • What does it mean?
  • How is it built?
  • What are its relatives?

Recently, we came across the concept of twin bases and so we investigated several of these.  I have assured them that many of these concepts are as new to you, their parents and public, as they were to me not very long ago.  Here are the results, a chance for “experts” to share their understanding, for your elucidation.   Both the investigating and the film-making are new processes, as unpolished as one would expect.  But I hope the learning is as evident to you as it was to me.  I trust there is learning here for you also!



Reflecting upon these videos, I can see there are some things worth reviewing and emphasizing.  For instance, I can see that spelling out affixes (because they aren’t words) and bases (because their pronunciation shifts) has not been embraced by everyone.  It took me a long time to do so as well; students will do it when they fully understand why to do it.  Also, it became clear through the process of making these that students were focussed on the structure of their words but had not really focussed on the meaning of the related words.  Towards the end of the last video, Abdul demonstrates how understanding the meaning of <vert> can show us how <advertise> literally means getting someone to “turn toward something”.   This is the point of this work!  So the good news is that we have work ahead.

Update:  Please see this post with an additional video on twin bases that I totally missed doing this original post!

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