Morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies word structures.  At GRACEPOINT, teachers incorporate morphology into the curriculum throughout the day for all students. Once a student has completed the scope and sequence of Orton-Gillingham, their next step is a dedicated morphology class.


… the hidden gem of GRACEPOINT School



Angie Strack, Director of Morphology and Middle School Department Chair, but more importantly, known as GRACEPOINT’s infamous Word Scientist has been the influential backbone in incorporating morphology into the curriculum. The students are so tuned in and accepting of this method because she knows how to make learning fun. She literally transforms into the school’s word scientist with quirky costumes and interesting accents. Nothing about GRACEPOINT is boring- they know how to engage students.


So, maybe you are wondering what exactly morphology means. Morphology breaks down words into morphemes, or, the smallest units of meaning. In other words, it is the study of word parts for the purpose of interpreting meaning. Morphology helps us understand these morphemes as related to other words. Here is an example:


               morpheme/morpheme         morpheme/morpheme                morpheme/morpheme

                            ê         ê     ê      ê       ê           ê

       democracy                  autocracy                      theocracy

       people/rule                  self/rule                        God/rule


Breaking down words to their roots, suffixes and prefixes makes understanding easier. The student no longer views a large foreign word, but instead, lots of small parts that make sense when worked out individually. Understanding a morpheme’s meaning enables the student to comprehend many words made from combinations of these elements, thus expanding vocabulary.


If a student has strong morphological awareness skills, he or she can problem solve what these words might mean by thinking about each of the individual morphemes, then blend those meanings together to determine the word’s meaning. This skill is not only helpful in determining what a word means, but extremely useful on such things as standardized testing such as college acceptance tests like the ACT and SAT among others.


I asked GRACEPOINT’s Word Scientist a few questions about this method of teaching.


How have you seen morphology work in Dyslexic kids?

Strack, in her ever-so-clever scientific voice responded, “Yes!  Studying morphological structure helps our students with word meaning and improves their vocabulary which leads to stronger reading comprehension.


Do the kids easily catch on to this approach and do they like it?

“Finding patterns is a strength for many Dyslexics; by teaching the patterns we can utilize this strength to remediate weakness in spelling.” She added, “Studying morphology is a journey that gives the students the opportunity, not only to learn how words are spelled, but why they are spelled that way. It develops a deeper understanding of word meaning and empowers the students to attack vocabulary in text, as well as utilizing words in their written expression. Our students truly love studying morphology and they have become true word sleuths. They have the power to investigate words and their history, which allows vocabulary to make sense. It is exciting to see the students take words in their passive vocabulary and move them into their active vocabulary.”


GRACEPOINT incorporates Morphology into all curriculum areas during the school day for all students. Once students reach middle school, they receive more intense instruction with a full class period dedicated to Morphology.   It is a teaching skill that makes this school unique and proves to be a component that is preparing these students for success long after they’ve moved on.  


-Article by Paige Spooner