Well, although I'm generally an out-with-the-old kind of gal - I still think that helping students learn how to navigate through a paper dictionary is an important skill to obtain, for 4 main reasons:
- If students are comfortable using a dictionary, it can really jump start their vocabulary acquisition, spelling accuracy, and reading comprehension.
- The skills and terms I teach them using a real dictionary are easily transferred to online dictionary sites or apps.
- Not every student has internet access. I really feel that only teaching online ways to gather information puts many children at a disadvantage.
- It stops them from constantly asking, "Mrs. Allen, how do you spell this?" because they know I'll reply, "Where do you think you could look to find out?" :-)
(If you use a different dictionary, the examples may not be exact, but the terms will be the same, and the words I used are generally found in any dictionary for upper elementary/middle school.)
Two little known dictionary "secrets"1. Many dictionaries list the definitions with the oldest meanings shown first. It's really cool to see how a word evolved over time. My students loved this example and discovering how "bag" changed from meaning a purse, to a base, to a "slovenly unattractive women". Sheesh!
2. One of The Oxford English Dictionary's most invaluable contributors was William Chester Minor, a madman who sent his submissions from Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum in Berkshire, England. His story was the the basis of Simon Winchester's terrific book - The Professor and the Madman : A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Of course, if you're "new-fashioned" or just want a huge dictionary fix, check out the Oxford English Dictionary - now all online and free if you have a library card.
How do you help your students get familiar with a dictionary?