Sunday, July 8, 2012

Teaching the Secrets of the Dictionary (Plus a Freebie!)

With the Internet Age, the use of "dead-tree dictionaries" is becoming less and less every year..... why carry around a dusty tome, when most of that information is just a few keystrokes away?
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?"  :-)
Since we are ALWAYS learning new vocabulary and sharing neat words we've found, teaching some dictionary skills is usually one of my first lessons in September. (A little time up front saves a load of time later!) Since I had to tune up my packet to align it with the Houghton-Mifflin Student Dictionary I'll be using in 5th grade, I thought I'd add some color to the packet, include a fun Scavenger Hunt and Dictionary Race, and share it with you. (Just click on the image to download yours-totally free!)

(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?

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

12 comments:

  1. I'm so glad to see that someone else on the planet thinks the same way I do! I think some skills still need to be taught to good old fashioned way! Thanks for the two facts too, my kids will LOVE that!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! My students always get a kick out of the insane guy story - and are more likely to remember everything else I say that day!

      Corrina

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  2. I didn't know that bits of trivia! Thanks for sharing Corrina!
    Erika
    2B Honey Bunch
    Honey Bunch Blog Design

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Erika!

      Corrina

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  3. Interesting dictionary facts! I can't wait to casually drop them into conversation with a friend of mine who is a total word guru! I think dictionary skills are important too, especially for so many kids that don't have computers and my ESL kiddos. Thanks for the freebie.

    Amanda
    The Teaching Thief

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  4. Thank you SO much. I love teaching dictionary skills!

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    1. You're welcome, Kimmie! Thanks for stopping by!
      Corrina

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  5. Thanks so much for the awesome dictionary freebie! My kids struggle with this skill every year....and yes...I teach it every year. I think basic skills are a must! Stop by my blog! I would love to collaborate!

    Teri
    5th Grade Tomfoolery

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  6. Thanks for teaching me some trivia! Your dictionary freebie is great~I can't wait to use it with my kids!!!
    Darleen
    Third Grade Love

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  7. Another important fact has been mentioned here and it will be good for the students and professionals to try here under. online punctuation checker

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  8. The only time rewriting articles becomes a violation of copyright infringement is if the person has copied the article verbatim. visit the site

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to read your comments and usually reply through e-mail, so check your settings to make sure you have that option available. :-)
~Corrina~