One way to explore words using “Structured Word Inquiry” is to ask students to brainstorm possible relatives of a word to be investigated. For example, after reading “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen, students may be interested in investigating the word <hatchet.>

Before the investigation, students could be asked to brainstorm a list of words related to <hatchet> and give a meaningful reason why they think that <hatchet> and the word they volunteered, (say <hatch>) are related.  Any meaningful connection is accepted and put on our

                            “Brainstormed List of Words Related to <hatchet>”

                            Hatched, hatch, “down the hatch”, hatched

Then, because we are word scientists, we test this hypothesis through Structured Word Inquiry.  After our investigation, we would find out that hatchet (an axe) is in the same family as hatch (the verb that means “draw cut lines on your paper” and “hash browns” but not related to the family of hatch(as in a ship’s opening) or hatch (as in emerge from an egg, This family contains the related <hatchback>).

I would recommend investigating one word family per day.  Here is a sample of some possible results:

Our <Hatchet> Structured Word Investigations

    Hatchet (Noun) an axe; a tool that cuts.         Hatch (Noun)As in opening, as in a ship’s deck.       Hatch (Verb)Emerge from an egg     Hashish (Noun)Extract of the cannabis plant
 
From Old French hachete (small pick-axe) From Old Englishhaec (fence, gating, grate) From Old English heccan (come forth from an egg or cause to come forth from an egg) From Arabic hashish (powdered hemp)
Related Words Related Words Related Words Related Words
Hatchet
Hatch (Verb)-sense of cutting lines
Hash-sense of cut up hash-browned potatoes“Hash it out” -sense of talking something out.
Hatch“Down the hatch”-drink something down Hatch,hatched,hatching,hatchery,
Hatchback; Type of trunk opening
assassin,
assassinate(same root as hashish but evolved as a nickname for a group in the Middle Ages during the Crusades)

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