Tuesday, November 25, 2014



If you want to have fun with Word Study, just ask students to find the history of words they are interested in.

Today we used Online Etymology at Komensky in grades 4 and 5 to focus on Thanksgiving words.

We did research on the following words and found the following interesting facts.  The information led to a wonderful discussion about Thanksgiving.

Pilgrim -c.1200, pilegrim, from Old French pelerinperegrin "pilgrim, crusader; foreigner, stranger";from Late Latin pelegrinus, dissimilated from Latin peregrinus "foreigner".  

We wondered if Pilgrims referred to themselves as Pilgrims or instead Colonists or English.

Indian-"inhabit of India or South Asia," c.1300 (noun and adjective); applied to the native inhabitants of the Americas from at least 1553, on the mistaken notion that America was the eastern end of Asia. 

For this word, we wondered why the word has never been changed once it was realized that a mistake had been made.  One student suggested that the correction was Native American.

Harvest-Old English hærfest "autumn, period between August and November," from Proto-Germanic *harbitas ;Greek karpos "fruit," karpizomai "make harvest of;" Latin carpere "to cut, divide, pluck.

The students discussed what plants and animals the Pilgrims and Indians would have cut, divided and plucked.

Voyage -c.1300, from Old French voiage "travel, journey, movement, course, errand, mission, crusade" (12c., Modern French voyage), from Late Latin viaticum"a journey" (in classical Latin "provisions for a journey"), noun use of neuter of viaticus "of or for a journey," from via "road, journey, travel" (see via).  

One student made a wonderful connection to "viaje" in Spanish meaning voyage.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

4th Grade UPDATE.

Do you know what these images are?  We do.!

They are images of ribosomes.  We found out using Online Etymology that <ribosome> is ribo + somes which means ribo(nucleic acid) + -some "body."  We were glad to learn that it was discovered by U.S. Microbiologist in 1958.

After we determined what it meant, we went to find it on iCell.  We looked for a while in both plant and animal cells and were not able to locate it.  We were stumped!!

Out of nowhere a student yells - "oh it has to be in the nucleus because it is nucleic acid and Mrs. Layden always reminds us that English is logical."

The Orthographic angels were floating around 4th grade Friday afternoon.

Oh the power of etymology and morphology!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Plant and Animal Cells

In 4th grade we have been word detectives looking into the origin of words to increase our understanding of Science words.  We have been researching using Online Etymology Dictionary and iCell.  iCell gives students, teachers, and anyone interested in biology a 3D view inside cells, inlcuding: animal, plant, and bacteria.


We have researched the following words and determined them to have the following meaning to us in 4th grade:

cell - a small room, from Latin - "cover"

nucleus - a small nut, from Latin -"kernel"


membrane- thin layer of skin - Latin -membrana


mitochondria- mito + chondria; <mito> is from Greek for thread + <chondria> is from Greek for little granule


organelle- a small organ, from Latin organella


chloroplast- chloro + plast; <chloro-> is a word forming element  originally Greek, then Latin and is used in Chemistry to represent the presence of Chlorine and <-plast> is also a word forming element implying "formed", "molded"

NOTE:  Spanish speaking students made a direct connection to the word "chloro" that their mothers use to clean.  Chloro is spanish is the brand name Clorox - bleach -- CHLORINE.


cytoplasm - cyto + plasm; <cyto>- cyt before a vowel from Greek then into Latin means a hollow basket and <-plasm> is another word forming element meaning growth, development or created.

photosynthesis -  A loan word from German, photo + synthesis; <photo> meaning light and <synthesis> is further broken down to syn +  tithenai from middle English  meaning to put together.

Together we researched, looked at and drew our own representations of a cell.  In class students will continue to focus on making a cell model and working with their new understanding of the technical words of science.