Goal / Objective - With support from The Student Excellence Foundation, Kelly Woods and her colleagues at Lowell Elementary are now using newly purchased Longman Dictionary/Thesaurus resources to support 3rd grade English Language Arts instruction. These take the place of the none-too-student friendly reference resources that had otherwise been collecting dust on classroom shelves.
The goal was to improve students’ basic literacy skills, not just by having them learn new words, but by having them learn to navigate and use effectively basic reading and writing resources like a dictionary and thesaurus. With confidence in using such resources, students improve their self-efficacy as readers and as writers.
Impact - Students began by comparing the new dictionaries to older resources, and further investigated what information a dictionary and thesaurus might contain: not just definitions and spelling, but synonyms, antonyms, part of speech, and some entries included illustration. The class went on to create their own “autobiography dictionary” in which each student created an entry for him- or herself, complete with definition, synonym, antonym, and part of speech.
Woods reports that many students now, of their own initiative, use the dictionaries to expand their vocabularies, increase their reading level, and to check on spellings when necessary.
Perhaps even more valuable is that students have learned how a resource like a dictionary and thesaurus work, how to navigate them, and what information they contain.
“I like the newer dictionaries better because they have a lot of color and they are kid friendly. The old ones have huge words and too many. The new one has more pages of words that we use. You can understand the new ones more than the old ones. It is much easier to translate what the words actually mean. That is why I like the new one better.” -Addy
“I like the yellow dictionary better because it has more description so if I look up a word I will get the whole meaning. I also like the pictures because it shows examples of the word.” -Kaylee
“I like the new one because it has a thesaurus at the back and it highlights the word.” -Olivia
“I like the elementary dictionary better because it has little white letters with a blue background on the side so you can look at those instead of flipping each page so it was way easier.” -Mary
“I like the yellow dictionary better because the words are written bigger so they are easier to read.” -Emme