Lesson: Using a Dictionary: Saying the Word

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Lesson Objective

Students will use a dictionary to learn the pronunciation of an unknown word.

Lesson Plan

Connection (3-5 mins): Yesterday, we learned to use the dictionary to find the meaning of an unknown word.  This is helpful for us to understand what we are reading.  However, just understanding the word meaning is not enough.  We also want to know how to say or pronounce the word in case we see the world again and are reading aloud.  We can also use the dictionary to figure out how to say a word we don’t know how to pronounce.


Teach (10-12 mins): Students should be seated on the carpet with a partner.  They will be expected to turn and talk to this partner throughout the lesson.  Readers, I know we normally focus on reading to understand and thinking deeply but that is not the only goal of reading.  We also want to improve our knowledge of words and our vocabulary.  To do this we must understand how to pronounce or say words that we are not familiar with.  We can use our knowledge of word parts to help pronounce a word or word families.  Sometimes, this knowledge doesn’t help us and we need to look at another resource to figure out how to say a word.  We can use our dictionaries for this.


Let me show you what I mean.  Teacher places a copy of a page from the dictionary on the overhead (Teacher can select any dictionary that will be used in the classroom by students).  What do you notice about this page?  Turn and tell your partner what you notice.  Teacher listens in to conversations and calls on students to share what they noticed. 


Okay, now that you are familiar with the dictionary page, we can look at an article to see if there are any words we need to look up in the dictionary because we do not know how to pronounce or say the word.  Once we find a word we can’t read, I will show you how the dictionary can help us with this problem.  Teacher places the article, “When Ants Go Marching.  They Count Their Steps” on the overhead.  As we read, when I come to a word I do not know, I will stop and show you how the dictionary helps.


Teacher reads aloud the first sentence under the heading, try that on stilts.  Teacher models struggling with saying the word cosmetic.  I am not really sure how to say this word so it is difficult for me to understand the meaning.  I need to look in the dictionary.  Teacher places dictionary page on overhead showing the word cosmetic.  When I look at this entry I notice many different things.


The first thing I notice is how the word is broken down, cos-met-ic.  This shows me how many syllables are in the word which helps me understand how to read the word.  Beside this is a strange word (koz-met-ik).  This shows me another way to help me sound out the word.  Teacher reads the word correctly.  Did you see how the dictionary can not only show me the meaning of a word but also help me say a word correctly? 


Now that I know how to say the word, I have heard it before.  My mom always shops for cosmetics, which is makeup she puts on.  I think cosmetic has something to do with the way you look.  If I still didn’t know the word after figuring out how to pronounce the word, I can keep reading the dictionary entry to figure out the meaning.  The dictionary can help us with so many things and it is a very useful tool.




Now I want you to turn with your partner and read the rest of the paragraph together.  Each time you don’t know how to say a word or your partner disagrees with how you said the word, stop and underline the word.  I will give you five minutes to complete this task.  Like our lessons before, when you finish we will make a list of words that we do not know how to pronounce. At the end of five minutes teacher has students share and charts a list of words that will be looked up later in the lesson.


Now we have a great list of words we do not know.  I purposefully picked an article to read that has a lot of difficult vocabulary so we would have more time to practice.  Let’s begin looking up each of these words.  Teacher gives each partnership a dictionary (if the class if bigger or not as many words were listed, students can work in groups of three or four).  Teacher assigns each group a word to look up in the dictionary.  Once you have found your assigned word, raise your hand and I will have you write how the word is pronounced on the class chart. We will try to read these words at the end of the lesson.


Teacher allows students time to search for words and calls on students who are ready to share to write on the chart.  After each student has found their assigned word, teacher calls the group back to attention.  Great job readers! Look at all the new words we have learned today by using the dictionary.  Who thinks they can correctly pronounce the word they looked up today?  Teacher allows time for each student to share their words and teacher corrects any mistakes in pronunciation.


When you return to your seats, you will practice this same skill with your own independent reading book.  A dictionary should already be at your table to share with your group mates.  Off you go readers.



Active Engagement (15-20 mins): Students should return to their seats to work independently.  Teacher should circulate to conference with individual students or pull a small group of students who need additional support.  As you read today, you will see words you may not know how to pronounce.  Each of you will be given a dictionary to look up these words.  Once you discover a word you don’t know how to say, write it down on your chart for the day, and write the pronunciation found in the dictionary just like I did during the lesson.  At the end of the lesson each of you will share out one word you learned.


Exit Slip/Share (3-5 mins): Each student should be given time to share out one word they learned to pronounce during the lessons.  Teacher can also informally assess by conferencing with students during the lesson.  The chart may also be collected as a more formal exit slip.  However, the chart only shows that students were able to locate the word and copy the pronunciation.  It does not demonstrate the students mastered how to pronounce the word.


Reflection: This lesson is limited in scope because it is difficult to teach students all the rules for pronunciation and symbols located in the dictionary.  However, I do believe it is important for students to know that the dictionary provides this information.  I have seen multiple times on standardized testing where a page from the dictionary is shown and students are required to understand the parts of the entry.  I was surprised to learn many of my students did not realize that dictionary also told the part of speech, word origin, and pronunciation of words.  This lesson is a broad overview of that skill and can be followed with more lessons in the future if necessary.

Lesson Resources

Pronunciation Worksheet.doc  


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