Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It's NOT Greek to Me! {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

After ten years of homeschooling, I'm learning to appreciate the differences in the way my children learn. Addison picked up a large vocabulary (and scored well on the vocabulary portions of college-entrance exams) simply by reading everything she could get her hands on. Brennan, however, needs a more direct approach to vocabulary instruction.

The Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's NOT Greek to Me!) program from Ready to Teach helped build Brennan's vocabulary by teaching small word parts (morphemes) and then showing how those parts combine to make bigger, more complex words.

The phrase Greek morphemes is simply a fancy way of saying word parts such as roots, prefixes, and suffixes. It's NOT Greek to Me! teaches these word parts both as a way to help students learn new vocabulary words and as a way to provide thinking skills practice. Each lesson introduces approximately 20 new Greek morphemes and their meanings. We found that it took at least a week to complete each of the twelve lessons in this book.


Each lesson has an instructional PowerPoint presentation to introduce the new morphemes. Originally the PowerPoint files were provided on a CD, but it is now being shipped as a small USB flash drive.

Sometimes I went through the PowerPoint with Brennan and other times I let him work through the slides independently. The slides load so that only a small portion of the material is shown at a time. When I worked with Brennan, this allowed me to stop at certain points so that he could figure out the word meanings or make notes.

The slides were all clear and easy to read. Throughout the presentation, graphics were included to help give the student clues to the word meanings.

When appropriate, the author includes memory tricks that might make the new morpheme easier to remember.


Each lesson has four practice assignments in the student book. The first two assignments have the student break new words down into morphemes and then write both the student's definition (based on combining the morphemes) and the dictionary definition. The third assignment requires the student to use the previously studied words in context clue sentences. I found the fourth assignment to be the most fun of all. The student analyzes created words (words that don't actually exist) based on the morphemes it contains. For instance,  "microarchegynophobiac" could mean a person who has a fear of little old ladies.

In addition to written assignments, the student should also create flash cards for each week's morphemes. If practicing with flash cards is not enough practice or if you'd just like a different way of practicing, a PowerPoint practice activity is also included for each lesson.


Each lesson has a test that requires the student to break down a word into its morphemes, define each of those morphemes, and then define the word. The test masters are included in the Instructor's Manual and must be photocopied. (I'd be thrilled if newer editions of the materials included the tests in a password protected file on the flash drive so they could be printed instead of copied.) At several points in the materials, there is an additional test that covers all the lessons up until that point. The Student Book has an extra practice page to help the student study for the cumulative tests.

I was most impressed with this program because it required my teenager to think. Memorizing new morphemes for each lesson was not enough. The program required him to apply that knowledge to new words (both real words and make-believe words). It's NOT Greek to Me! is more than just a vocabulary program; it is a thinking program!

Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's NOT Greek to Me!) costs $69.95 for a package that includes one Instructor's manual, one consumable Student Book, and one copy of the digital files on a flash drive. Ready to Teach recommends using this product with secondary students (junior high or high school aged). I'd recommend using it no later than the first two years of high school so that students can benefit from knowing more vocabulary words on college entrance exams.

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