Reflection: Adjustments to Practice "Thank You, M'am" Vocabulary Research - Section 1: Shrinking Dictionary Definitions


Dearest Dictionary,

How I love you and how I hate you.

You contain the meaning of so many words.  So much knowledge to give me.

You take so long to look up a word.  Sometimes I'm lazy and I don't want to flip through five thousand pages four times when I forget how the alphabet works. Seriously, letters g through j, why do you mess with my mind?

It's just easier to ask, unless some adult just tells me to look it up.

I think it's time to be honest. 

I've been cheating on you.  Even worse, it's been on the Internet. See, there are websites where I can just type in the word, and it tells me.  This one website, Wordnik, it gathers definitions from multiple sources, has examples, and sometimes even has origins. It takes seconds!

I feel guilty, Dictionary. I really do.  You will always be my first love, though, and you will become an enduring symbol of the love of words.




Seriously. This is how I feel about dictionaries.  How my students feel about dictionaries?  They're antiquated.  They're Betamaxes.  My family had one.  I watched music videos of Japanese pop musicians from the '70s.  I don't use a Betamax anymore, though.  I have these newfangled thing called a DVD player.  It has a VCR in it, but I don't use the VCR part much.  I recently got a Blue-Ray player.  DID YOU KNOW THAT THING CAN CONNECT TO THE INTERNET?  THERE'S ACTUALLY A BUTTON ON THE REMOTE TO CONNECT TO THE INTERNET?  IT'S MAGICAL, I TELL YOU. 

The world is changing, and as a teacher, I am so conflicted.  Don't students need to know how dictionaries work?  Yes, sort of. In the same way children need to know how to dial a rotary phone. In the same way children need to know how to read cursive.

But really? I think it's time to change how I use dictionaries in the classroom.  Especially for students with learning disabilities.  The technology is there.  We have the technology.  Why are we stuck in the past, elevating the dictionary to sainthood status when all the meanings of the words are right there, at the touch of a button?

Because the idea of dictionaries are romantic. Because humans tend to stay stuck in the past. But online dictionaries are here, they're here to stay, and we'd better get used to them.

And really? The argument that students need to know how to use dictionaries in case of the zombie apocalypse?  How many kids are going to be looking words up in a dictionary when they're running away from the living dead?  I mean, really.

  Oh Dictionary, Oh Dictionary
  Adjustments to Practice: Oh Dictionary, Oh Dictionary
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"Thank You, M'am" Vocabulary Research

Unit 3: Analyzing Literature and Writing Business Letters with Langston Hughes’ Thank You, M’am”
Lesson 2 of 10

Objective: Students will be able to determine and clarify the meaning of unfamiliar words by using Internet resources to research word meanings.

Big Idea: Marzano, technology, and words collide for a collaborative, interactive research project.

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