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We are continuing with our new podcast series, Strategies You Can Use! I’ve been sharing different evidence-based strategies to help target specific skills.

Today I’ll discuss different strategies on how to target affixes! We will focus on an article by Zoski, J.L. et al., 2018. It is all about using morphological strategies to help students decode, spell and comprehend big words.

🤓 Let’s nerd out as we dive into the strategies we can use to target affixes in therapy.

3 Strategies to Target Affixes

Zoski, J. L., Nellenbach, K. M., & Erickson, K. A. (2018). Using Morphological Strategies to Help Adolescents Decode, Spell, and Comprehend Big Words in Science. Communication Disorders Quarterly.

1. Teach in the context of rich vocabulary instruction (for learning and generalization).

2. Provide purposeful, authentic, and repeated opportunities.

3. Deliver instruction in a systematic and explicit manner.

This is the structure on how to implement these strategies:

🍎 Introduction/Purpose

“Today we are going to learn about a strategy to help you read and understand new and complex big words…”

🍎 Introduce Words

Write them on the board. Brainstorm strategies.

🍎 Affix and Root Dissection Activity

Compares and contrasts two-word study strategies: syllabification and morphological problem solving

Most big words have clues in them that will help you read them. Let’s look at the word, myocardial

Break apart this word into syllables
✓ Learn the meaning of the prefixes, suffixes, and root (morphemes)
✓ Share other words that have the same parts and add it to a vocabulary journal

🍎 Wrap Up

“We learned some strategies to power up your vocabulary. Knowing how to use the suffixes we learned will help you understand the words we talked about–and so many more. There are more than 400 words that end with -al!”

Need goal ideas for Affixes?

🎯  Check out SLP Now Goal-bank for some inspiration

Additional Links

Zoski, J. L., Nellenbach, K. M., & Erickson, K. A. (2018). Using Morphological Strategies to Help Adolescents Decode, Spell, and Comprehend Big Words in Science. Communication Disorders Quarterly.

Free 14 day SLP Now Trial Your first 5 downloads are on us!

SLP Now Affixes Bundle which is included in SLP Now Membership

Next Up in this Pod Series

7/5/22 Strategies You Can Use: Following Directions
7/12/22 Strategies You Can Use: Grammar
7/19/22 Strategies You Can Use: Syntax
8/2/22 Strategies You Can Use: Basic Concepts
8/9/22 Strategies You Can Use: Basic Concepts
8/16/22 Strategies You Can Use: Affixes
8/23/22 Strategies You Can Use: Narratives
8/30/22 Strategies You Can Use: Summarizing

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Thanks so much!


Marisha: Hello there. And welcome to the SLP Now Podcast, where we share practical therapy tips and ideas for busy speech, language pathologists. Grab your favorite beverage and sit back as we dive into this week's episode.

Marisha: Hey, there it's Marisha and welcome to the SLP Now Podcast. This summer, we are doing a series called strategies you can use, and we picked different goal areas. And we're going to do a blitz of three evidence back strategies that you can use when targeting those specific skills. So these are mostly strategies that have come from the literature, and we're just pulling out the ones that are most practical that might help you if you're feeling stuck or just wanting to try some new strategies when targeting some of our most common goals. So without further ado, let's dive right in.

Marisha: Okay. So now let's dive into some strategies on how to target affixes in therapy. Today's podcast episode is inspired by an article by Zoski at all in 2018. And it's all about using morphological strategies to help adolescents decode, spell, and comprehend big words and there are focuses in science. But we're going to take some strategies and use that to give us some things to try when targeting affixes with our students. And if you're curious about this article, I will share a citation and a link in the show notes. You can grab that at I'll link any other resources that we share in the show notes as well. But for our three strategies, some of the takeaways that I had for targeting affixes is where one, teaching in the context of rich vocabulary instruction. This is really important for learning and generalization. So we want to provide like meaningful instruction, have rich vocabulary instruction.

Marisha: Like we're going to pull all of these strategies together and talk about what that could look like. But that's one thing that we want to think about, teaching in the context of rich vocabulary instruction. Then the second strategy is to provide purposeful, authentic, and repeated opportunities. If you listen to the episode last week, we talked about multiple meaningful exposures. This also applies when we're working on affixes. And then the third strategy is to deliver instruction in a systematic and explicit manner. And like this episode is structured a little differently. So I give you the three strategies right off the top, but I want to talk about what this could look like when we are targeting affixes specifically. So here we go. And then again, this is from the Zoski at all article and I love articles that are practical and relevant and give us lots of tips. And this one, it did the trick perfectly.

Marisha: So in terms of what this could all look like, they shared exactly how they structured the intervention. So first we kind of want to dive into the introduction and the purpose. So how they introduced this was today we are going to learn about a strategy to help you read and understand new and complex big words. And so they dove into the instruction about actually teaching the skill. Then two, they introduced the target words. They wrote them on the board, they started brainstorming strategies. Like how can we figure out what these words mean?

Marisha: Then they dove into an affix and root dissection activity. So they talked about using syllabication, so breaking the word into syllables, as well as kind of morphological problem solving. And they talked about that words have clues in them that will help us read them. And so one of the examples that they gave was looking at the word myocardial, and so we could break it into syllable. So they can count the syllables, which there's five in myocardial. That helps us read the word and put the parts together, but that doesn't really help us figure out what it means necessarily.

Marisha: So we can try it a different way. Instead of looking at syllables, we can look at the prefix, the suffix, and the root. Each of these have, they're called morphemes and they have meaning. And so then we talk about, okay, so the prefix is at the beginning of the word. What's the prefix in myocardial? So that we know that myo is the prefix. We know that cardi is the root word. And then al at the end of the word is the suffix. So we can talk about if we know what myo or cardi or the al at the end means. And sometimes like the students will have that knowledge because we've talked about those word parts before, or those morphemes before, or they know other words that have that in it. And maybe they know that a cardiac arrest or cardiology, or maybe they know that that is related to the heart.

Marisha: And so they can use that knowledge to break down the word. And as we work on this in therapy, they'll get more and more familiar with the different parts of the word. So then in the rest of the instruction, they give multiple words that have some of the same parts. So like if we're looking at myo cardio, we can look at cardiology, cardiograph, all of those different words. They can use a vocabulary notebook to kind of document the words that they're learning and the different parts, and really help them build that strategy. And it's cool too because in the article they gave like specific numbers of how many words have the certain prefix or suffix. And so they ended the lesson talking about how there are more than 400 words that end with AL so that can really empower students like, okay, so you've learned what myo means.

Marisha: There is this many words that have that as a prefix. They can use that to figure out the meaning of that many hundreds of words. I don't actually know how many words start with myo, but that is such a powerful strategy. So if we can teach the students to like break down the words and learn the meaning of the prefix, the root word or the suffix and, or they can learn to use that strategy to break down words in the future, like especially in science, like that's huge. If they can get a good foundation with some prefixes, suffixes, and root words, can make a huge difference. So I just really liked how this article laid out their instruction and definitely check out the actual paper for more of the details. But I just thought it was like really cool overview. And like, if you're feeling stuck with how to start teaching affixes, this can be a fabulous resource.

Marisha: So then just to recap the strategies we want to teach in the context of rich vocabulary instruction. So for me, this looks like teaching the words, like pulling some of their science texts, or their social studies text, or whatever book they're reading in the classroom and identifying words from there and breaking them down and giving that meaningful context, especially for older students. For younger students, I might have it be a little bit more play based, but just teaching in meaningful context and then providing repeated opportunities, giving multiple exposures to the word as we're reading and as we are practicing. I love literacy based therapy because it gives us like multiple opportunities to target the words in a variety of activities. So that's a really good one. And then we want to deliver instruction in a systematic and explicit manner. And I think the article shared a really nice way of doing that.

Marisha: They had explicit instruction of like the skill as a whole. They gave them really structured practice in breaking down words. And then they put that into context. And I love the idea of adding to a vocabulary journal for the different prefixes, suffixes, and root words so that they can continue to build on that. And yeah, like such cool stuff. So many little things that we can implement. And as always, it doesn't have to be a massive revamp of everything that you're doing. Like, can you use one of the strategies that we shared to help students start to navigate affixes and stepping up what we're doing when we're targeting that as a goal. So yeah, that is a wrap. Join us next week. We're going to be talking all about narrative intervention, one of my absolute favorites. So yeah. Hope you have a fabulous week and we'll see you soon. Thanks for listening to the SLP Now Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please share with your SLP friends and don't forget to subscribe to the podcast to get the latest episode sent directly to you. See you next time.


Hi there! I'm Marisha. I am a school-based SLP who is all about working smarter, not harder. I created the SLP Now Membership and love sharing tips and tricks to help you save time so you can focus on what matters most--your students AND yourself.

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