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Sunday, July 22, 2012

I (Heart) Wordnik

When teaching students new reading strategies I like to authentically highlight and model how I use these strategies as a reader myself.  A few years ago my father-in-law sent my husband a subscription to the Wall Street Journal for his birthday.  The financial section, among others, has been a gold mind for me when modeling comprehension strategies and using prior knowledge, context clues and dictionaries to figure out unknown vocabulary and make meaning of what I am reading.

Tonight I discovered a new "dictionary" tool, Wordnik.  Wordnik is an online dictionary focused on how words are used today.  

I love the platform.  Simple.  You type your unknown vocabulary word into the search box and then click on the (I LOVE this part) "I ALWAYS FEEL LUCKY" button.

I was lucky each time I entered a vocabulary word tonight.  I received a straight forward definition (or 2 or 3) and several examples of how the word is used.

While I read the paper tonight I had my laptop open and within reach.  When I came across a word that needed some clarification I typed it into Wordnik and in the span of a few nanoseconds learned that a Charlatan was a person who makes elaborate, fraudulent claims, occluded was an adjective meaning closed or obstructed (I almost had this one with prior knowledge and context clues!) and that efficacy was the power or capacity to produce a desired effect.

I can't wait to introduce this tool to my second graders this fall!  

What kinds of online dictionaries do you use in the classroom?