Roots of improvements

March 05, 2002

Deirdre Newman

Around Ensign Intermediate School teacher Rosemary Hines' neck is a

gold heart, a gold cross and a pink badge attached with a string.

The badge has the root "nom" and several words that include this root,

including "nominate" and "nomenclature."

Hines' root necklace illustrates the lengths that the staff at the

Newport Beach school are going to in order to emphasize the importance of



While the efforts are mainly geared toward the upcoming Stanford 9

test in May, Hines says learning the roots of words has a much broader


"It's important to build vocabulary not just for a test, but for

reading and writing as well," Hines said. "I tell the kids even if they

don't know the whole word, if they know a part, it will help."

Students in Hines' seventh-grade class have been studying the roots of

words for the past two weeks. They learn the roots during the week, and

then on Fridays get to test their knowledge with a lively game of

Pictionary. Students must draw the root first and then the entire word

for the rest of their team to guess.

Hector Hernandez, 13, said he enjoys studying vocabulary in such an

entertaining manner.

"It's fun because you learn a lot of words, and it's not like at home,

where you study them alone," he said.

Student teacher Misty Stutes, who has been working with Hines'

students on vocabulary, said the drawing game helps reinforce what the

students learn in class.

"In order for them to draw a picture, they need to know what the word

means," Stutes said. "Repetition also instills vocabulary."

And that's why most of the staff is wearing the root necklaces -- to

provide a constant opportunity for students to get acquainted and

reacquainted with roots. Hines said almost everyone on campus is wearing

the necklaces, including janitors and librarians.

"It sends a message that we're all part of the educational process,

we're all pulling together," Hines said.

Even Principal Mike McGuire has been seen with a pink badge around his


"I think it's going to be extremely valuable because we have buy-in

with the teachers and administrators," McGuire said. "We're looking for

marked improvement in not only the ability to demonstrate the good

mechanics of spelling, but also improvement on the [Stanford 9] scores."

* IN THE CLASSROOM is a weekly feature in which Daily Pilot education

writer Deirdre Newman visits a campus in the Newport-Mesa area and writes

about her experience.

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