Here’s the dictionary dilemma, teachers! We want our students to increase their knowledge of vocabulary in all subjects, but too often our go-to assignment has students looking up the words in a dictionary and copy the meaning into a notebook. For myself, even I used to shudder at the idea of looking up unknown words in the dictionary!
Engage students are learning students and the best is when they don’t even realize they are learning!!! I was racking my brain for a new way to introduce the vocabulary in a novel I wanted the class to read. It came to me like a flash!!!! I find that most students get very competitive in a game situation and that is what led to, TA DAH!!! DICTIONARY DASH!! Even better, the game is free AND easy to implement!!!
Here’s how it works in my room. I have my students get themselves into groups of three. Each group gets a dictionary. Because my students are so competitive, I have the students put their hands on the closed dictionary BEFORE I write the word to be looked up on the board. On the board I have drawn a chart. Word/Part of Speech/Definition. After the word is written on the whiteboard, they can’t start their search until I say “Go!”
The first group to find the word yells “We got it!’ and they send one of the students to the board. The chosen student writes the part of speech and the definition on the whiteboard. I will check the student’s choice of definition to make sure it is the one needed for the day’s reading.
The other students are reading the meaning of the word as it is written on the board. After that, the groups put their hands on the closed dictionary and the game continues until all vocabulary words needed for that day have been defined.
That being said, let me add a few pointers about the game:
- DO NOT use this game every day in all subjects! Anything done a lot gets boring and that’s what you’re trying to avoid!!!
- DO NOT use this game to look up EVERY vocabulary word in the lesson. Why? See #1!
- DO use it in subjects other than just Reading. Students need to see the need for increased vocabulary in all subjects.
I have the students put the vocabulary words and meanings into their subject journal and glossary. We then jump into the lesson.
That’s it…that’s all it took to get my kids excited about using the dictionary!! What’s the worst? You lose a bit of time…What’s the best? A new game that takes little to no prep and excites students!
If you try the game, let me know how it worked. If you have some fun ideas for vocabulary, share those too!!!! Thanks!