Morgan Dynamic Phonics


About Morgan Dynamic Phonics


Humorous Reading Text

Scope and Sequence

Scientific Underpinnings

Teacher Training


Correctional Institutions

Phonemic Awareness Strategies

Comprehension, Vocabulary and Fluency Strategies

High School and Adult Programs

Higher Level Reading -- Morphology

Word Origin of the Week

What's New -- New Teaching Ideas

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Dynamic Roots: For Teaching Higher Level Reading And Vocabulary Skills

I want to thank Marcia Henry for being my primary inspiration for this program and a supporter of my efforts in creating educational products.

"I think it's brilliant and absolutely wonderful! What a feat! It is the most complete and thorough program of its kind that I have seen. It really is just terrific! "
--  Diana Hanbury King: Orton Fellow, Author, founder of the Kildonan School for Dyslexic Students in New York, winner of the Samuel T. Orton Award in 1990, Teacher, Teacher Trainer.

"I think you've done a great job. Especially nice are the homework sheets focusing on meaning to supplement the lessons...Dynamic Roots presents the important Latin and Greek word roots necessary for content area reading and writing in upper elementary, middle school and high school texts. Students become familiar with the word parts found in many thousands of words and enhance their decoding, spelling and vocabulary ability. "
--  Marcia K. Henry, Ph.D. , Author, Teacher, Teacher Trainer, former President of the International Dyslexia Association, Orton Fellow, winner of the Margaret Rawson Award in 2000.

"I received the two books ("Dynamic Roots") and they are out of this world, and it makes it so clear and so teacher friendly. I am ecstatic! I thank you over and over again for your work. I absolutely love these two books and I want to thank you from thebottom of my heart. I am so thrilled with the progress and clarity of my students using your program."
--  Judy Schechterman - Orton-Gillingham trained teacher - Namalapan, New Jersey.

"We are using the Dynamic Roots program to supplement Orton-Gillingham instruction at the Ravinia Reading Center. This is the best of all of the roots programs I have reviewed. It's ease of use is due in part to the wonderful word definitions that are provided. This is the only program I know of that provides definitions that clarify the senses of the word parts involved...our students are no longer kept in the dark. The Dynamic Roots program is incredibly thorough! The author's passion for words shows on every page. He literally leave no stone unturned. As long as I stick to your program, I feel confident that our students will learn every important prefix, suffix, root, and word parts and will learn them well. Finally, this program is fun and meaningful for students and teachers alike. It is so important that we as professionals incorporate instruction in morphological awareness into our work with struggling readers. Solid knowledge of word parts helps children develop decoding, encoding, vocabulary, and fluency skills. I am pleased to be using your program.
--  Holly A. Shapiro, Ph.D., CCC-SLP. Orton Fellow, AOGPE. Director of the Ravinia Reading Center, L.L.C.

Download a sample set of actual worksheets and other pages in the program (.pdf)

This program teaches higher level reading and vocabulary skills through the study of root words, prefixes, suffixes and Latin and Greek word origins in English. This type of training has shown great success both for students with reading disabilities and for normal readers (Scientific Underpinnings of Dynamic Roots).

The program can be used after the Morgan Dynamic Phonics programs have been completed or it can be used independently. It can be used with students from 4th grade to adulthood. Students must have a strong 4th grade reading ability to start this program.

This program can be used in a classroom situation or in a tutor situation. Home schoolers have shown a lot of interest in it.

The Dynamic Roots Kit costs $99. This kit includes the Teacher's Manual, the Student Reading Book (reproducible) and the three worksheets (reproducible) for each of the 55 lessons.

  1. The Teacher's Manual (240 pages) includes the accurate word origin definitions of over 2,000 words arranged into 62 Latin roots and 6 chapters of words from Greek origin, plus an additional 1,100 word and phrase origins arranged into topics like: word about men and women, words about politics and social class, words from mythology, words about sports, etc. It also in prefix, suffix, and Greek combining form definition lists and an alphabetized list of words included.
  2. The Student Reading book contains the words from each lesson and many sentences with these words in them, plus the prefix, suffix and Greek combining form definition lists.
  3. The worksheets (in loose leaf three hole punched form) include:
    • yes/no question worksheet – easy.
    • fill-in-the-blank worksheet – medium hard.
    • word-definition matching worksheet – challenging.

This program is a must for 4th and 5th grade classes as well as English classes in middle and high school, special education classes, college remedial reading courses, and ESL classes. The materials can also be adapted for working orally with younger children.

Components bought separately are: Teacher's Manual $45; Student Reader reproducible $40; Student Reader non reproducible $27; worksheets - $15 each or $40 for all three; section of the Teacher's Manual which contains the extra 1,100 word origins arranged by topic $20.

One reason that students like the program is because it makes learning new words easier and because of the many interesting stories behind the meaning of words. Here are a few examples:

opportunity - op port une ity - from "portus" meaning port or harbor - orig. wind blowing to the harbor - makes opportunity because of new goods and people coming by ship.

universe - uni vers - everything turning as one, originally - when we thought the universe revolved around the earth

auspicious - au spic ous - looking at birds, telling the future, showing signs that promise success, originally - people used to foretell the future by watching the flight of birds

improvisation - im pro vis ation - that which is not seen in advance

television - tele vis ion - that which is seen from afar

educate - e duc ate - to lead out of (childhood or ignorance), bring up

emancipate - e manu cip ate - originally - to take out of hand (take out of the hands of the parents, free from parental control), to take out of (slavery or the hands of slave holders)

instruct - in struct - to build in, prepare, teach, pack the information in - reflects thinking about teaching children, (contrast educate - which means to lead out, lesson 19)

intelligent - inter lig ent - to choose among or between, discriminate

ambivalent - ambi val ent - both ways being valid or true, torn between two strong paths.

epidemic - epi demic - disease descending upon the people

hypochondria - hypo chondria - literally: under the cartilage of the breastbone, it was thought that this area was the seat of depression and melancholy without a real cause, belief in being ill

dyslexia - dys lexia - difficulty with words

philosophy - philo sophy - love of wisdom or knowledge

disaster - dis aster - without stars - because an unfavorable position of the stars was thought to cause calamities

See our new web section called: Word or Phrase Origin of the Week.

The teacher and student(s) work with lists or prefixes and suffixes and their meanings to discover why words mean what they do from their individual word histories.

Scientific Underpinnings of Dynamic Roots

English is a morphophonemic language. The structure of our language is based on both sound-symbol correspondences and on the use of meaningful parts (morphemes) whose structure is directly tied to their meaning. Most reading experts and researchers agree that good readers use phonological awareness, phonics and morphology to figure out the meaning and the sound of new words.

Morphology is the study of meaningful word parts (morphemes) and how they are assembled in words to create meaning. Root words and their derivatives make up word families and knowledge of the relationships of the words in these families facilitates the reading and understanding of these words. These words are connected to each other by structure and meanings. "When one word in the family is accessed, the other words in the family are activated for possible retrieval."... "Related words are activated in memory when that have meaningful connections and when they share structural elements at the morpheme level."... "Networks of semantically related morphemes are established in the memories of literate adults and children." (Moats, 1992. pp. 313)

"By knowing meanings for a new word's root, and approximate meanings for the affixes, the new word can be semantically (meaningfully) decoded." (Moats 1992. pp. 314) "In contrast, adults (and children) who read poorly have a cumulative deficit in their word store, as well as less ability to organize and access those words using morphological relationships." (Moats, 1992. pp. 315) These individuals need to be directly taught Morphology in order to become better readers. This is what we do in the Dynamic Roots program.

Morphological awareness training helps students understand the meanings of words through their spellings. Balmuth noted that, "It can be helpful to readers when the same spelling is kept for the same morpheme, despite variations in pronunciation. Such spellings supply clues to the meanings of words, clues that would be lost if the words were spelled phonemically, as for example, if know and knowledge were spelled noe and nollij in a hypothetical phonemic system. (1992, pp. 207) "Because Latin-based words are longer, many students expect them to be more complex. Yet, in most cases the words follow simple letter-sound correspondences," (Henry, 2003, pp. 39). "Longer words of Latin or Greek origin (the majority of words in the English language) are often easier to spell than short words because the longer words contain recognizable word parts that are used in thousands of words," (Henry, 2003, p. 41). Morphological Awareness involves using morphemes (meaningful word parts such as base roots, prefixes and suffixes) to unlock the meaning of new words, (Baumann 2002).

Marcia Henry, who has written extensively on Morphological Awareness training and is my inspiration for this program, states, "The fluent reader first looks for familiar morphemes in unknown words, then makes decisions based on syllable division, and only when these strategies have been applied, falls back on letter-sound association. Beginning or poor readers, on the other hand, appear to use only one strategy; they 'sound out' the word by letter-sound correspondences. While this may be reliable for short, regular words, it furnishes little help for longer words," (Henry 1988B pp. 267). "As with decoding, students use letter sound correspondences to spell only after attempting to use the morpheme and syllable strategies," (Henry 2003, p. 53). Expert readers process morphological information while reading (Cole 1997; Feldman 1995)

Several studies have shown that scores on morphological tasks are strongly correlated with reading skill (Mahony 1994, Fowler & Liberman 1995), and that morphological skills become increasingly important as students reach 4th and 5th grade. Mann & Singson (2003) found that word reading skill was predicted best by phonological awareness in the first years of school, but by 5th grade, Morphology was a better predictor. Singson et. al. (2000) found a correlation of .58 between Morphological Awareness and word identification.

Anglin (1993) found that students use morphemic structure to understand the meanings of unfamiliar words. Nagy et. al. (1989) suggested that morphemes function as perceptual units in word recognition during reading for adults. Napps (1989) had similar findings. "Results indicate that recognition of common base morphemes in the derived words (in their studies) facilitated word reading," (Carlisle & Stone 2005). Tyler & Nagy (1990) found significant relationship between the ability to read morphologically derived words and general word reading skills. Others have found strong relationships between Morphological Awareness and literacy (Carlisle & Fleming 2003; Mahoney, et. al. 2000; and Singson, et. al. 2000). Verhoeven & Perfetti (2003) conclude that students need to have Morphological Awareness to be successful readers. There is a growing body of evidence that the recognition of roots words, affixes, (and knowledge of their meanings), helps students figure out new words in context.

Morphological awareness and knowledge in grade one has been shown to be a good predictor of word analysis and reading comprehension in grade two (Carlisle 1995). Carlisle (1995) concluded that morphological awareness in first grade might have more to do with reading comprehension than with decoding in second grade. Other studies found strong relationships between the reading of morphologically derived words and reading comprehension (Carlisle 2000 & 2003). Nagy, et. al. (2003) found a strong relationship between Morphology and the reading of at-risk 2nd grade readers and between Morphology and poor writers in the 4th grade. Green (2003) also found a strong relationship between Morphology and children's writing skills.

Elbro & Arnbak (1996) found that poor readers benefit from the morphemic structure of transparent words in reading.

In Norway, Lyster (1995) found that kindergarten students benefited as much from morphological awareness training as they did from phonological awareness training as far as progress in reading in the first grade. This is an indicator that we probably need to teach morphological awareness (in oral language) along with phonological awareness to at-risk readers in the lower grades and then expand this knowledge by working with written language later in the process (like in the Dynamic Roots program). Calalis and Louis-Alexandre (2000) surmise that morphological awareness may be important to teach as soon as children start learning to read.

Teaching morphological awareness and the ability to disassemble and reassemble the morphemes in words, helps students figure out unfamiliar words (Nagy 1988; Nagy 1993; Graves & Hammond 1980; White & Power 1989; White and Sowell 1998; Edwards 2004). Studies have demonstrated positive effects of direct morpheme instruction on vocabulary and reading comprehension in 5th grade (Baumann 2002, 2003), 4th grade (Tomesen 1998), and 3rd grade (White & Sowell 1998).

From a review of the research, there are both researchers and theorists who advocate instruction in morphology to increase vocabulary knowledge, spelling, word recognition, and reading comprehension (Elbro, C. and Arnbak 1996; Henry 1988A; Fowler & Liberman 1995; Carlisle 1988; Chomsky 1970; Elbro & Arnbak 1996; Baumann, et. al. 2002. Teaching morpheme patterns has been shown to improve decoding, spelling, and vocabulary development (Nagy et. at. 1991; Torneus 1987; Johnston & Baumann 1984).

Students given morphemic analysis instruction "were better able to generalize their knowledge of prefix meaning and their ability to disassemble and reassemble morphemically analyzable words to untaught morphemic transfer vocabulary (Baumann et. al. 2002. pp. 168). Other research has had similar findings (White & Sowell 1989; Wysocki & Jenkins 1987). "There is support for the traditional practice of teaching middle to upper elementary students to employ morphology (structural analysis) and context clues to infer word meaning," (Baumann et. al. 2002. pp. 171)

Reichle & Perfitti (2003) found that word identification is enhanced by Morphological Awareness which was dependent on exposure to morphemes in different words and contexts. "Context and morphology are the two major sources of information immediately available to a reader who comes across a new word," (Nagy and Scott 2000. pp. 225). They suggest that both of these categories of skills should be taught directly.

Henry (1988B) found that even good readers lacked good Morphological Awareness and would benefit from instruction in this area. Singson (2000) found that upper elementary school is the best time to start morphological awareness training in both written and oral language and that this training enhances word reading and spelling.

Many experts, as well as the author of this program, believe that oral experience in morphological awareness should start as early as possible (Moats 2000; Nilsen 2004; Biemiller 2004). Nilsen (2004) explains that for young children, even one common morpheme can "serve as the key that will unlock the meaning of an unfamiliar word" (p. 3). Kindergarten and 1st grade are not too early to start oral instruction in simple morphemes and how they affect meaning in common words (Mountain 2005). Morphological awareness becomes more and more important for word reading in upper elementary years, and morphological knowledge correlates to reading comprehension throughout the elementary years (Singson et. al. 2000). Morphological Awareness strongly correlates with vocabulary, and early deficits in vocabulary size in kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders strongly affect later reading success (Cunningham and Stanovich 1997).

The ability to analyze multi-syllabic words into morphemes has been seen as valuable in vocabulary development (White & Power 1989; Wysocki & Jenkins 1987).

Morphemes are the smallest unit of written language that carrying meaning, i.e. -ing, -s, a, port, etc. Students who have had a hard time learning to read and spell do not usually look for the morphemes first unless explicitly taught to do so. This is the premise of the Dynamic Roots program. There is evidence that this kind of instruction can improve the reading, spelling, and vocabulary of all students including poor readers and students learning English as a second language (Henry 1988A; Moats and Lyon 1996; Leong 1999; Ehri, 1998; Chall & Popp, 1996). Although all students can benefit from this kind of morphological awareness training, for reading disabled and dyslexic students, it is crucial (Elbro and Arnbak 1996; Henry 1988B; Henry 2003; also in personal communications from both Diana Hansbury King and Marcia Henry).

Poor readers make less morphological analysis while reading and writing than good readers (Leong & Parkinson 1995; Casalis 2004)). Studies suggest that poor readers and spellers "lack awareness of the presence of base forms within derived counterparts, and they lack specific knowledge about how to spell suffixes and how to attach suffixes to base words correctly," (Carlisle 1988, pp. 106-107).

Much of the variance in morphological awareness can be traced to phonological awareness skills, but not all of it (Carlisle 1988; Casalis 2001, Fowler & Liberman 1995). Morphological tasks do tap phonological abilities but also depend on morphological level processing (Carlisle 1995; Casalis 2001; Casalis 2004). Variance in morphological awareness has been shown to explain some of the variance in decoding skill. Some findings indicate that morphological awareness is less dependent on phonological processes in dyslexic learners in particular. This may be because dyslexics rely more on semantic information and less on phonological skills when doing morphological tasks because of their deficits in phonological awareness skills (Casalis 2004). Elbro & Arnbak (1996) concluded: "...that morphology is important to reading and spelling." (pp. 235), that "dyslexic adolescents use recognition of root morphemes as a compensatory strategy in reading both single words and coherent text: (1996, p. 209), and "that the teaching of morphology helped the dyslexics to make better, more strategic, use of whatever, generally poor, decoding skills they have." (pp. 237). Morphological awareness can develop somewhat independent of phonological processing in poor readers (Casalis 2004; Elbro 1996).

Two studies with dyslexic adolescents concluded that morpheme recognition and awareness might be compensatory strategies in word reading and comprehension. "The results suggest that written morpheme recognition may be one way that older dyslexics manage to compensate for their basic phonological difficulties while reading coherent text," (pp. 222, Elbro & Arnbak 1996). Other studies show similar findings (Casalis 2004).

Reading disabled students need direct instruction in morphological awareness in order to improve in reading and spelling (Champion 1997).

Elbro and Arnbak (1996; Arnbak & Elbro, 2000) found that training in morphological awareness significantly improved comprehension and spelling of morphologically complex words in dyslexic students in 4th and 5th grade.

Rubin (1991) believes that deficits in Morphological Awareness do not just disappear with exposure to print or maturation and that students with these deficits will benefit from direct instruction in Morphological Awareness. Bailet, L. (2004) suggests that children who do not easily intuit the structure of words (morphology being an important part of this structure) should have direct, systematic and long-term instruction in word structure analysis.

Carlisle (2005. pp. 445) "On the basis of their studies of morphological aspects of word reading and spelling, Trieman & Carsan (1996), Bryant, et. al. (2000) and Rubin et. al. (1991) strongly recommended that elementary school teachers provide explicit instruction in word reading and spelling that links phonological, orthographic, syntactic and morphemic elements."

We generally teach morphology after a strong phonics base has been laid, but Reid Lyon for the National Institute of Health says, "Morphological awareness training may allow older dyslexic students to more efficiently use phonological knowledge (phonics) they have acquired from training but have not been able to apply." - IDA conference 2001.

The author has noticed that sometimes a student who is very slow in developing phonological awareness and decoding skills, even with intensive instruction, can improve reading comprehension through the study of morphemes as presented in this program.


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Singson, M et. al. 2000. The relationship between reading ability and morphological skills: Evidence from derivational suffixes. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 12, 219-252.

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