Literacy 7-12

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Literacy 7-12 > Strategies > Dictionary & Thesaurus

Dictionary & Thesaurus


Dictionaries and thesauruses can serve as resources for students to expand their Vocabulary knowledge, as they provide easy access to definitions and similar words to help students remember words and meanings more readily. Using these resources is particularly helpful in increasing Disciplinary Literacy when students access content-specific texts with high-level Vocabulary. Students can also enrich their Composition pieces when they use a dictionary or thesaurus.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how this high school teacher uses a visual thesaurus to help students understand puns. At 10:24, one of the students presents their pun and explains their Vocabulary process to the class, using information found in the thesaurus. The second student presentation shows how the group problem solved when they did not understand a key vocabulary word in their pun.

  • Incorporating web dictionaries and thesaurus into a Vocabulary lesson allows learners to quickly search and understand unfamiliar words. When learners look up challenging words while they read, they monitor their comprehension and activate cognitive processes that support increased recall and consolidation to Long-term Memory. Teachers can also play word games using dictionaries and thesauruses, challenging students to solve puzzles and riddles using synonyms.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    Learn how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary app allows learners to conveniently search for and define unfamiliar words. By offering voice search and audio pronunciation functions, this product supports learners who prefer audio over text. The embedded quizzes also allow for continued Vocabulary building and practice.

  • Developers can include dictionary and thesaurus applications in collaborative and online writing spaces where students can enrich their writing with higher level word choices. Dictionary and thesaurus applications could also include puzzles and other word games for students to build their Vocabulary. These games can be discipline-specific and help students enrich their understanding of content through words.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy