Friday, March 25, 2016

Student Dictionaries

As an ESL, ELL, ENL, LEP Emerging Bilingual teacher I teach a variety of students at a variety of grade levels in a variety of classroom situations.  I like to say that I'm flexible as long as you aren't asking me to touch my toes!  I have students in grades k-6, which I see in a mix of push-in and pull-out situations.  However one thing that I focus on with all of my students is vocabulary development. Given, though, that I have all these different groups and no space a traditional word wall is out of the question!  Which is where my dictionaries come in!

Both of these items can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store
In kindergarten and first grade I use the editable version of my picture dictionary. I teach thematically, from a pre-determined vocabulary list.  (It was something we developed as a team a few years ago).  Once the list is tweaked each summer I input all of the year's vocabulary words into the editable document.  As the year goes we spend a week working on the 6-8 vocabulary words within our theme and then on Fridays they are able to glue the vocabulary picture into their dictionaries.  Their picture dictionaries are pre-made with the words in them.  They have to find the word and glue the picture into the correct box.  This helps my students practice letter and word recognition along with dictionary skills.  In first grade I challenge them to put their words in ABC order first, then they do the rest!  They love it!  Then they have a book of all the words we've studied to take home with them at the end of the year.

I bind these picture dictionaries with the GBC ProClick Desktop Binding Machine. However you can use a coil binding machine or have it coiled at staples.  You can also choose to put it in a binder! Whatever system works best for you.

In second and third grade our vocabulary comes from the books that we are reading, which changes from year to year depending on the students.  This is where I move to the lined version of my picture dictionary.  I will teach any essential vocabulary prior to reading.  This is anywhere from 5-10 words for the week.  These words they write into the dictionary and draw their own picture.  I have moved this dictionary into a binder since these photos were taken, so that pages can be added as needed (you never know how many words you might have for each letter).  

In fourth through sixth grade the students will mark unknown words on their first read of a text.  From those I will create their vocabulary list.  They will write the word on the list page of their dictionary and then complete the word page.  If students are looking up the definitions on their own I like to use Word Central from Merriam-Webster.  Sometimes I'll present the words and definitions as a matching activity.  There are also times when we go through the text and use context clues to discuss and determine the definition as a group.  This is another of my dictionaries that I put into a binder so that pages can be added as needed. 

Both my students and I love that at the end of the year they have a record of their learning for the year.  Our dictionaries are a celebration of all that we have accomplished.  My teaching has gotten so much better because of them, and they are more engaged with their learning.  

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  1. I love this idea! I've always had a hard time figuring out how to use personal dictionaries well- this is a great idea! Thanks!

    The Cozy Learning Cottage

    1. You're welcome! They are mine and my students' favorite part of the week!