Lesson plan

Root Words: PORT & STRUCT

Teaching root words is a great way to strengthen your students' vocabulary and comprehension. Use this lesson to introduce the root words PORT and STRUCT.
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Students will be able to determine the meaning of words that use the roots PORT and STRUCT.

(5 minutes)
  • Explain that today we will be looking closely at two root words, PORT and STRUCT.
  • Review what a root word is: A root word is a linguistic unit, which is the simplest form of a word. Root words are not always words by themselves, but we can add prefixes, suffixes, or even other roots to make words. Many of the root words we see in the English language come from other languages, primarily Greek and Latin.
  • Tell students that both PORT and STRUCT come from Latin.
  • Display two pieces of chart paper and write PORT at the top of one and STRUCT at the top of the other.
  • Explain: PORT means ‘to carry;’ STRUCT means ‘to build.’
  • Write the meaning of each root on the corresponding chart paper.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students: as a class, we are going to come up with a list of some words that use these two roots.
  • Write "important" on the chart paper labeled PORT and explain, that the prefix im- means in, so important means carried in. Write the meaning of important next to the word.
  • Repeat with the words transport (carry across) and reporter (carries back).
  • Ask students to think about words that contain the root PORT. Add student generated words to the list (without meanings) (e.g. import, portfolio, portrait, portray, sports).
  • Write "instructor" on the chart paper labeled STRUCT and explain, the suffix -or means someone who does something, so instructor means someone who builds in. Write the meaning of instructor next to the word.
  • Repeat with the words construction (build together) and obstruct (build against).
  • Ask students to think about words that contain the root STRUCT. Add student-generated words to the list (e.g. destruction, restructure, infrastructure), without meanings.
  • Display the charts through the remainder of the lesson and add to them as desired.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the Word Matrix worksheet.
  • Working in pairs, have students construct as many words as they can using the prefixes and suffixes listed next to each root.
  • Review the worksheet with the class, checking that students have included only real words on their matrices.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the two Word Ladder worksheets (optional: copy double-sided).
  • Remind students to use the class-generated lists or the word matrix as a tool if needed.
  • Circulate the room as students work and offer support as needed.
  • Review the worksheet when students are finished.


  • Provide a copy of word ladders that have been partially completed or complete the first few steps of the ladder as a class.
  • Allow students to use a dictionary or computer as an additional tool during independent practice.


  • For an extra challenge, have students create their own made-up words by combining the roots PORT or STRUCT with other roots, prefixes, and suffixes they know. Encourage them to get creative and remind them to come up with definitions for their made-up words based on the meanings of the word parts.
(8 minutes)
  • Form pairs or small groups of students and assign half of the groups the root PORT and the other groups the root STRUCT. Then have students create a still or moving tableau that shows what the roots mean. Give students about three minutes to work with their group, then invite groups to share their tableaus (e.g. a group acting out the meaning of the word STRUCT might mime the action of building up a tower, with one student representing the tower and another "building"). This may be challenging for students to create (and their tableaus will vary) but it will provide an opportunity to assess their understanding of the concept and will also serve as a visual teaching tool for the other students who are watching. See the resources below for additional information about using tableau as assessment.
  • Use observations from guided and independent practice to identify students who will need additional support.
  • Collect and check finished worksheets to check for understanding.
(7 minutes)
  • Hand out the story (Root Words in Context). Read it aloud to students and have them underline the words they find that contain the roots PORT or STRUCT. Then give them a moment to record the words they found.
  • Review the words from the story and ask students to come up with meanings based on the context of the story and their knowledge of the root words.
  • Write student definitions next to the words on the chart paper that is displayed.

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