Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Creating a Student-Chosen Vocabulary List - Section 4: Vocabulary Definitions


I was the kid who hated being told to look a word up when I came across a word I didn't know while reading.  I was reading.  I was enjoying a good story.  It made no sense to me that someone wouldn't just tell me what it meant so I could continue enjoying my story.

I got very good at figuring words out from context instead.

When I got a Kindle, my dream came true.  I could read, tap on a word, read the definition, and then go back to reading.  It was beautiful.  I cried a bit.

That's how our students feel. 

And with as easy as it is to look a word up on an online dictionary, they feel even more strongly about it.

Yes, people do need to know how to use dictionaries.  If we enter the zombie apocalypse and lose all electricity, we will need to know how to look up words by hand. But if that does occur, I'm betting that we'll have bigger worries than what the word ensued means. I could be wrong, but we'll probably be more worried about survival. Maybe.

I recently spent way more minutes than I want to admit working with a student to look up a word. While I was working with him, I seriously wondered if he knew the order of letters in the alphabet.  He certainly didn't know how to use guide words until I showed him.  In the time it took other kids to look up four words, he had looked up one. Everyone was frustrated, including the flies on the wall.

What if we could avoid that?  What if we could avoid that by using technology?  Digital dictionaries.  They'd still have to spell the word correctly (OMG so many tears).  What is it about turning pages that makes a dictionary superior?  Perhaps I'm just lazy, but I'd rather look a word up on my phone than pull out a dictionary, even now. 

Digital dictionaries are also cheaper.  If you have access to a phone or iPad, you have access. 

Digital dictionaries, in my experience, have easier definitions than the ones in my classroom that were originally bought when my school was a high school.

It's faster.

It's relevant.

It's the twenty-first century.

Please welcome me to it.

  Dictionaries in the 21st Century
  Adjustments to Practice: Dictionaries in the 21st Century
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Creating a Student-Chosen Vocabulary List

Unit 10: Analyzing Literature with Act 1 of Rod Serling’s “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”
Lesson 1 of 10

Objective: Students will be able to clarify the meaning of unfamiliar words by creating a class list, shrinking dictionary definitions, and presenting the definitions to the class.

Big Idea: Students create their own vocabulary list to help understand an author's motivation for writing.

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