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Thursday, October 17 • 10:10am - 11:20am
A New Approach to Humanities in the Lower and Middle Schools, Part 2: Humanities and Philosophy through Structured Word Inquiry, Room A-122

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A Morning of Humanities
This morning will introduce aspects of a new approach to Language Arts and the Humanities in the elementary and middle school. Matt Berman and Pete Bowers collaborate on three sessions about Language Arts, Humanities, Word Study, and how they all interact and work together in the classroom. In this way participants get to see the how structured word inquiry (Bowers & Kirby, 2010) can be integrated in any subject area with brief organic investigations that will come up in sessions on History, Philosophy, Grammar, Vocabulary, etc.; and how explicit SWI lessons make such learning possible.

PART 2: Humanities and Philosophy through Structured Word Inquiry
In this session, Dr. Peter Bowers leads structured word inquiry (SWI) lessons targeting key words and concepts that drive Sessions 1 and 3. The Nueva School is at the forefront of schools around the world using SWI (Bowers & Kirby, 2010). SWI applies scientific inquiry to understand how English spelling marks connections of meaning between present-day English words through morphology via the historical sources of those words (etymology). Within this meaningful context, grapheme-phoneme correspondences (phonology) can be understood that otherwise seem random. Consider the pronunciation of the <t> grapheme in the words innate, nature, nation, and native. These words all share an English base that goes back to a Latin root nasci, natus for “come into being, born.” These connections explain why the word nation is not spelled *<nashun> or nature *<nachur>. More importantly for the science or humanities teacher, collecting these words via their common historical root enriches discussion of the meaning of all of these words. Interest in SWI usually begins as a form of spelling/reading instruction. But as schools like Nueva dive into this instruction, it becomes apparent that it is equally valuable as a means of deepening understanding of terms and concepts in any area. Combining this session with classes on humanities and philosophy provides a way to model this process.

Wednesday & Thursday Slate
avatar for Matt Berman

Matt Berman

Teacher Emeritus / Founding Director of the Nueva Center for the Humanities, The Nueva School
Recipient of the NEH Teacher-Scholar Award, Matt has been an elementary school teacher for more than 40 years, with certification in gifted education and degrees in education and philosophy for children. A nationally recognized expert in children’s literature, Matt has written four... Read More →
avatar for Peter Bowers

Peter Bowers

Founder, WordWorks Literacy Centre
Pete Bowers, PhD, is a teacher, researcher, author, and founder of WordWorks Literacy Centre. His research on morphological instruction and "Structured Word Inquiry" and his practical work with schools are transforming how researchers, teachers, tutors, and students around the world... Read More →


Thursday October 17, 2019 10:10am - 11:20am
Nueva Hillsborough Campus 6565 Skyline Boulevard, Hillsborough, CA 94010