How the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary Helps Students Achieve the Common Core State Standards
The Common Core State Standards require that students learn how to use reference materials such as dictionaries. The Scholastic Children’s Dictionary contains features to help students fully understand words through definitions, sample sentences, and the Thesaurus, and also helps students to learn standard English through the Punctuation Guide, Grammar Guide, and Idiom Guide. These features of the dictionary will help students to learn new words and recognize them when they read and also use them when they speak and write.
To help your students learn new words and become better readers, teach them to use context clues to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words, and then check the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary to see if they are correct. Encourage students to read all parts of the word entry in the dictionary. If there is more than one meaning of the word, tell students to carefully choose the correct meaning, check the part of speech, and read the example sentence. Also teach students to check the spelling of the word and the pronunciation if they are unsure how to say it. Deep understanding and repeated exposure to words helps students add these words to their vocabularies.
As with most tools, students need to learn how to use them correctly. Teach students how to use the features of the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary to help them independently monitor and check their word comprehension. Learning to use the dictionary independently will ensure that they understand complex text, academic discussions, and all conversations to help them become college and career ready.
Teaching Students the Features
Make sure students know how to independently use the dictionary to:
- Look up unfamiliar words alphabetically and decide which definition is appropriate, if there is more than one meaning.
- Read the “About this letter” feature, which introduces each letter through a Spelling Hint or other useful information about the letter.
- Use the phonetic spelling to pronounce the word.
- Learn the part of speech that matches the definition.
- Understand the word and its definition by seeing it in action through a sample sentence.
- Refer to the photographs, paying close attention to the labels, for more clarity.
- Read the Word History boxes to find out the origins of the word.
- Read the Prefix and Suffix boxes to learn the meaning of the affix and how it changes the meaning of the root word.
- Refer to the Synonym boxes and the Thesaurus section to learn words with similar meanings for further clarification.
- Learn about the parts of a word, parts of speech, and other information about a word by reading the Language Note boxes.
- Refer to the Grammar Guide to find information about the parts of speech, the four kinds of sentences, and common grammar terms.
- Use the Punctuation Guide to try out new types of punctuation or understand why an author chooses to punctuate in certain ways.
- Use the Pronunciation Guide to learn which letters represent each sound.
- Familiarize themselves with the Idiom Guide to understand and recognize figurative language in conversations and in complex text.
- Look up and learn new words about technology.
How to Use This Dictionary
A dictionary is a reference book that provides all kinds of information about words. This dictionary is your students’ guidebook to the English language. Teach students to reference it to find out what a word means, check its spelling or pronunciation, or figure out how to use it in a sentence. Synonym boxes suggest similar words to help students add variety to their writing and their speech.
“About this letter” boxes appear on the opening page of each new letter. In each one, students will find a fact about that letter or a spelling tip for words containing that letter’s sound.
Tabs help students quickly locate the section of the alphabet that they are looking for.
Entries are listed in alphabetical order. Many words have several different meanings and uses that are listed under different numbers within the entry. Some entries have illustrations or photographs.
Language tips appear throughout the dictionary. Word History boxes describe the interesting origins of the word highlighted in the boxes. Prefix, Suffix, Synonym, and Language Note boxes provide extra information about the usage of a word or word part.
Main entry words are set in red type and jut out from the meanings so it is easy to locate words.
Dictionary Entries Close Up
Numbers appear at the beginning of each meaning when a word has more than one meaning. The most frequently used meanings generally appear first.
Pronunciations, located in parentheses, let students know how to pronounce words. Direct students to use the Pronunciation Guide on page 9 to learn more about which letters represent each sound. Note that if the pronunciation of a word changes depending on its meaning, the appropriate pronunciation appears with the appropriate meaning.
Part of speech labels usually appear on the first lines of entries. Note that if the word’s part of speech changes with the meaning, then the part of speech label starts each new meaning. When a meaning shows the word as a part of a common phrase, which is known as an idiom, no part of speech is given.
Usage labels tell students if a meaning of a word is informal or slang. Informal words are used in everyday speech but not usually in formal speech or in writing. Many slang terms or meanings are very popular for a short period of time. Like informal words, they are not appropriate in formal writing such as term papers and essays.
Homophones, words that sound alike but have different spelling and meanings, are listed at or near the end of a definition.
Cross-references tell students where to turn in the dictionary for more information about the main entry word.
Definitions tell the meanings of words. When the main entry word is used within the definition, it is printed in boldface.
Sample sentences appear in italics after some of the meanings. These sentences illustrate how a word is used by showing it in context.
Syllable breaks are indicated by small dots. Entries made up of two separate words or two words and a hyphen are not broken into syllables. To find their syllables, guide students to look up each part of the term separately. For example, to find the syllable breaks for solar energy, look up solar and energy.
Related words and word forms appear at the end of an entry or at the end of a meaning. This dictionary also lists irregular plural forms for noun entries, -er and -est forms for adjectives, and irregular, -ed, and -ing forms for verbs.
Conventions of Standard English
Teach students to use the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary to practice standard English grammar when they speak and write.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
As you listen to students speak and review their writing, take note of ways they can communicate more clearly by learning about standard grammar such as the correct parts of speech and types of sentences. Help students recognize correct and incorrect usage of parts of speech by reading their writing aloud and by paying attention when they speak. Guide students to self-correct by referring to the Grammar Guide whenever necessary. For example, if you notice that students are frequently shifting verb tense, teach a mini-lesson on verb tense, and show students how to refer to the Grammar Guide independently to see examples.
Experimenting with Punctuation
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
As students read books independently, ask them to look for various uses of punctuation. Teach them to notice the punctuation at the end of sentences as well as other types of punctuation, including dashes, parentheses, ellipses, and quotation marks. Ask students to choose a piece of writing they have already written. Then ask them to refer to the Punctuation Guide in the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary to help them choose new types of punctuation to add to their writing. Have students work with a partner or small group to discuss which piece of writing is more interesting. Remind students to refer to the Punctuation Guide whenever they are writing to make their writing more interesting through punctuation choice.
Learning to Spell Correctly
Encourage students to attempt to spell any word they can think of—even if they are not sure how to correctly spell it. Guide students to try to spell the word phonetically and then look it up in the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary to check the correct spelling. Also, guide students to the Pronunciation Guide to help them learn how to read the phonetic spelling written in parenthesis in the word entry correctly.
Choosing Frequently Confused Words
Choosing the right words when students write can be challenging, but it is especially hard when students are choosing the correct homophone. Until these words become automatic, teach students to look up one of homophones in the dictionary and check the meaning. If the word they look up does not match the meaning they are looking for, guide them to refer to the homophone list at the end of the entry. Then tell students to look up the homophone until they find the word that matches the meaning.
Knowledge of Language
Focusing on Word Choice
Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
Encourage students to get excited about trying new words. Help them to choose the perfect word to express the exact meaning they want to convey. Guide students to brainstorm words that convey their ideas precisely, regardless of their ability to spell the word. Then guide them to look up the word in the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary and find the correct spelling. If students have difficulty thinking of the perfect word, guide them to use the Thesaurus section to find other words that are similar in meaning. If students need further assistance finding the right word, have them use the Thesaurus to narrow down their selections and then present their choices to a small group of students. Have students take turns reading their piece of writing aloud using their possible word choices and ask the group to help them decide which word most clearly conveys the meaning.
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
As students are exposed to words through explicit instruction, reading, writing and conversations they will acquire words that they will use in daily life.
Checking the Meaning of New Words
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade level reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
An important goal of reading is learning to pause at unfamiliar words, figuring out the word using context clues, and then confirming the word in the dictionary. Help students look for context clues by teaching the strategies appropriate for their grade level, such as sentence level context, definitions, examples, restatements in text, cause/ effect relationships, comparisons, overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph, or a word’s position or function in the sentence. Emphasize to students the importance of using the dictionary to check that the meaning derived from using context clues is correct.
Finding Meaning from Affixes
Learning common prefixes and suffixes helps students read unfamiliar words and figure out their meaning independently. Encourage students to read the Prefix and Suffix boxes found throughout the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary. By learning more about the meaning of affixes, students will be prepared to conquer unknown words in complex text instead of feeling frustrated.
Learning About Idioms
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Students need to develop a clear understanding of figurative language to help them move beyond basic word level reading. When reading complex text, idioms can be confusing if students don’t understand that the meanings of the phrases are not literal. Teach students to refer to the idioms in the Idiom Guide of the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary. Ask students to work with a partner to read some of the idioms from the list (4-6 items). Ask partners to discuss the literal form of the phrase and then the figurative form of the phrase. As students come across idioms when reading, guide them to refer to the Idiom Guide to check the meaning. Also, encourage students to refer to the Idiom Guide to add interesting phrases to their writing.
Acquiring Academic Vocabulary
As students read complex text, they will encounter many academic words that may be challenging to pronounce and understand. To increase comprehension and help students automatically read these words, teach the academic words found in text explicitly with the whole group or small group. Also, have students become familiar with these words by using the dictionary to look at part of speech, pronunciation, and sample sentences. When students come across one of these words when reading independently, ask them to refer to the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary on their own to check the meaning.
Students need to learn to comprehend information in the text as well as visual information like maps.
Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Help students familiarize themselves with the parts of the country and the world mentioned in the complex text they are reading. Teach students to use the Geography section of the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary to find the location of the place where their book is taking place on the map. Have students explain how far the place is from their home and discuss the states or countries around it. When reading a book that takes place in a different country, guide students to read the Countries of the World section to find out more information.