Instructional Design Project - Dictionary Skills


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I created this mini-unit with third grade students in mind. Students will learn how to use the dictionary in the school library.

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Instructional Design Project - Dictionary Skills

  1. 1. Natalie Sapkarov LIS 458LE December 4, 2008 Instructional Design Project: Third Grade Dictionary Skills Type of Library: Elementary school (K-5) Audience: Each of the four third grade classes, consisting of 22-25 students each, visit the library weekly during their Specials (Library, Art, Music, Physical Education) time. Although teachers are encouraged to stay with their classes during this time, most teachers drop their students off at the library and pick them up 45 minutes later. General Topic: Beginning in third grade, students learn about reference resources, which generally includes a brief introduction to dictionaries, thesauri, encyclopedias, and atlases. This lesson is meant to follow the introduction to the reference collection of the previous week and will focus specifically on dictionaries. Instructional Setting: The lesson will take place in the library, where a classroom set of dictionaries is available. The library consists of a classroom-like environment, with six round tables of four to five chairs each. Although there is not a chalkboard, a portable projection screen and overhead projector is available for use when appropriate. The reference collection is located in one section of the library, with each type of resource clearly labeled. Learning Outcomes: 1. Students will be able to identify the purpose of using a dictionary in order to aid them in selecting the appropriate reference source to meet their needs. 2. Students will be able to recognize patterns in the dictionary’s pages in order to make sense of the information on the page. 3. Students will be able to understand the function of guide words in a dictionary in order to look up words effectively. 4. Students will be able to use the dictionary in order to find words and their meanings. Session Outline 1. Preparation and Exercise a. Classes line up outside the library when it’s their Specials day, so when I pick up the class to walk them into the library, I will first tell them that we will be learning to use dictionaries today. Last week, we learned where the dictionaries are located in the library. b. On their way to their tables, students should each go to the dictionary shelf and bring a dictionary back with them to their seats. Even if some students do not remember where the dictionaries are, they will be able to figure it out once they see where their classmates go. (2 minutes)
  2. 2. 2. Purpose of a dictionary (L.O. 1) a. After students have found their dictionaries and their seats, I will ask if anyone remembers what a dictionary is used for. When or why would someone use a dictionary? [Answer: To look up definitions of a word.] After students respond, describe the importance of learning to use a dictionary. (3 minutes) 3. Organization of the dictionary (L.O. 2) a. Ask students to open up their dictionaries to somewhere near the middle. Every student will be on a different page. b. Then, ask students to look at their pages and think about the way the text is placed on the page. Is there some kind of organization? How can you tell what’s on the page? c. After giving students a moment to investigate, direct them to pass their open dictionaries to the person on their right. Tell them to look at this new page and see if they notice any similarities or differences. Repeat once more. Students may note their observations to their table mates during this exercise. d. Ask for volunteers to share what their groups found. If students seem stumped, scaffold by asking leading questions. Are there bold words on the page? How are the bold words organized? Are there columns? Is the page number always in the same place? Are there other things that stay in the same place? (10 minutes) 4. Guide words (L.O. 3) a. After discussing the layout of a dictionary page, ask students to turn to page 99. b. In preparation for class, I have made a transparency of this page. The overhead projector and projection screen will have been set up prior to the start of class as well. Turn on the overhead and tell students that they should all be looking at the same page in their dictionaries that’s on the screen. c. Students should have pointed out in the previous exercise that there are always two words at the top of the dictionary page, one on the left and one on the right. Explain that these are called guide words, which tell you what words you will find on the page. Because the dictionary is in alphabetical order (another observation made in the previous exercise), the word on the left is the first word on the page, and the word on the right is the last word on the page. You can easily flip through the dictionary to see if the word you are looking for fits in between these two guide words. While explaining guide words, circle them on the overheard for visual emphasis. d. Ask for a volunteer to name a dictionary entry word on the page and to write the word in between the two guide words on the overhead. e. Then, show students how this word falls into place alphabetically by underlying the first letters of each word first; since all three letters are the same, we move on the each second letter. (Example: Devious diagram dictionary) The E in devious comes before the I in diagram. But diagram and dictionary both have the same second letter, so we move on to the third letter. The A in diagram comes before the C in dictionary, so this word is in correct ABC order. f. Check for understanding and ask for questions along the way. Do another example if necessary, asking a student to explain. (10 minutes) 5. Practice using the dictionary (L.O. 4)
  3. 3. a. Now that we know how the dictionary is organized, we can look up words to find what they mean. Ask students to look up the word “dictionary.” They should notice that it’s on this page because it’s the guide word on the right. b. Draw a box around the definition on the overhead so that students can find it on their pages too. Explain that each definition entry will be printed in bold, and its definition will be indented so that you can easily skim the dictionary to look up words. c. Tell students that the word is written with dots separating it into syllables -- Clap to the word dictionary. Demonstrate, and then ask the class to repeat. d. Briefly describe the rest of the parts of a dictionary entry, highlighting the definition. Tell students that some words may have more than one definition and that a word’s definition depends on how that word is used in a sentence. We’ll talk more about definitions next week. e. To practice looking up words, give each table a piece of paper with a different word on it (these will come from their spelling words for the week). Ask students to look up their table’s word on their own; they can ask their neighbors for help. While students are looking up their words, circulate around the room to observe and answer any questions. f. After a couple minutes, ask for a volunteer at each table to identify the page number and guide words on the page where their word is located. This will be a general check for understanding and a way for students to help each other if they are having trouble. Ask if there are any questions about anything they learned today. (7 minutes) 6. Homework (L.O. 3, L.O. 4) a. At each table is a stack of handouts. Ask students to close their dictionaries and push them to the center of the table, each taking a handout. The first page of the handout is what we learned in class today and the second page is what students will do for homework. b. Tell students that after they have picked out their free choice reading book (which will follow), they will use it to complete this short assignment. While they are reading during free reading time in class or at home, they should be on the lookout for a word they might not understand. Once they find a word, they can use it to complete this assignment. c. Briefly go over the rest of the directions. (See handout.) Ask for questions. (3 minutes) 7. Choosing and checking out books a. Allow students to browse, choose, and check out books. Move around the room to aid in selection and answer any questions. When students are leaving, remind them to not only bring their books back next week but also their homework! (10 minutes) Assessment Plan based on Learning Outcomes 1. Students will be able to identify the purpose of using a dictionary in order to aid them in selecting the appropriate reference source to meet their needs. Informal assessment will be used during discussion (S.O. 2a.). I will mentally take note of students who answer questions correctly and look for puzzled or confused expressions on students’ faces. As not all students will participate in discussion, formal assessment may be
  4. 4. necessary once the reference unit comes to a close. This initial assessment will allow me to survey the class as a whole to see if I have conveyed this concept. 2. Students will be able to recognize patterns in the dictionary’s pages in order to make sense of the information on the page. Informal assessment will also be used for this learning outcome. As students are passing their dictionaries around in groups (S.O. 3c.), I will be walking around the room and stopping to observe and talk to each table. Although this does not assess students individually, it does help me gauge if the class, in its parts, understands the material. If I get the sense that the groups are having trouble coming up with patterns that they see in the dictionary, I can bring the class back and scaffold with leading questions that may help them. This informal assessment allows me to be flexible with my teaching. 3. Students will be able to understand the function of guide words in a dictionary in order to look up words effectively. Both informal and formal assessment will be used for this learning outcome. I am always informally assessing students by checking their facial expressions, noticing how many students raise their hands to answer questions, and seeing how many students are paying attention. These are all cues which can help me gauge whether or not the material is over their heads or if it’s making sense to most of them. By asking for a volunteer to write on the overhead (S.O. 4d.), I will be reaching students who may not normally raise their hands to answer a question but will do so for a chance to perform this activity. In this way, I am able to get a better representation of the amount of students who are following along and understanding the material by appealing to multiple learning styles. Formal assessment will be used on the homework assignment. Students are asked to identify the guide words on the page of their chosen word in the dictionary. Although they are not required to use a school dictionary, I will be able to tell if they can identify guide words because their chosen word should fall alphabetically in between their guide words. 4. Students will be able to use the dictionary in order to find words and their meanings. Informal assessment, as described previously, will be used while students are looking up words at their tables (S.O. 5e.). Formal assessment will also be used in the homework assignment, as students are asked to use the dictionary in order to find their words, identify the guide words on the page, and copy the definition of their words. While the homework will not necessarily have a letter or number grade, I will check to make sure that it is complete and correct, asking students to correct their mistakes for the next week. This will allow me to see whether or not students understood the content and what particular areas I may need to work on if they did not. Information Literacy Skills Addressed: • AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner o 1.1.1 Follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the real-world connection for using this process in own life. o 1.1.4 Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions.
  5. 5. o 2.1.5 Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make decisions, and solve problems. o 2.3.1 Connect understanding to the real world. While the AASL Standards should be the guide for information literacy skills in the elementary school, I feel that these standards are far too general for what we actually hope to accomplish. Teacher-librarians in Illinois have been using the Illinois State Board of Education’s Illinois Learning Standards to align their learning outcomes with standards in order to prove themselves to their administrators. The trouble with this is that there are no specific library standards, so we must peruse the content areas to justify what we teach. Much of what we find happens to fall into the English/Language Arts Standards: • Illinois Learning Standards for English/Language Arts o 1.A.2a Read and comprehend unfamiliar words using root words, synonyms, antonyms, word origins and derivations. o 1.A.2b Clarify word meaning using context clues and a variety of resources including glossaries, dictionaries and thesauruses. o 1.C.2c Compare and contrast the content and organization of selections. o 4.A.1b Ask questions and respond to questions from the teacher and from group members to improve comprehension. Critical Thinking: While much of this lesson focuses on acquiring the basic skills necessary to be able to use the dictionary, I have incorporated critical thinking into the discussion of the organization of the dictionary (S.O. 3). By asking students to look for patterns in the dictionary’s pages, they are reaching the analysis level of Bloom’s taxonomy, which requires higher-order thinking. Even if some scaffolding is necessary, this task is quite advanced for a third-grade student and will stretch their thinking capabilities. By allowing them to discuss their observations and findings with their tablemates, I am providing additional support for their exploration of patterns and ideas. Multiple Learning Styles: This lesson focuses greatly on the three basic learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Students begin by retrieving their own dictionaries, then passing them around the table as the lesson progresses, which is all very kinesthetic. Visual learners have their own dictionaries right in front of them, as well as being able to follow along as the page is projected on the screen. I make a point to highlight, circle, and write things on the overhead as well. Auditory learners have the pleasure of hearing me talk about the importance of dictionaries, the function of guide words, and the structure of a dictionary entry, while also engaging in discussions of their own with their peers. Overall, I try to balance these three styles by providing enough activity for each specific learner. I also dabble in Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, which overlap with these three styles but also add a few of his own. For the logical-mathematical students, I ask them to find patterns on the page, looking at the way the text on the physical page is organized, which also appeals to the spatial students. I also allow both the intra- and interpersonal students to think about the patterns
  6. 6. they see on their dictionary page by themselves as well as talking with their peers about these ideas. I even appeal to the musical students by clapping the syllables of the word dictionary! The only intelligence I have left out is the naturalistic one, which is a tough one to incorporate into a library lesson. The verbal-linguistic and bodily-kinesthetic intelligences have already been described in the previous paragraph. Overall, I have reached a surprising number of intelligences, more than I had anticipated, and am able to appeal to a variety of learning styles. I have also managed to balance the type of instruction used in this lesson, so that there is not only one mode being delivered. While there is some lecture time, students are also able to engage in group discussions and manipulate materials in order to increase their understanding. They are actively engaged in the learning process while seeking out patterns, looking at their dictionary pages, and finding their words in the dictionary. Their homework also allows them the freedom to not only choose a personal reading book but also the unfamiliar word which will dictate the rest of their assignment. Overall, this is a well-balanced instructional session.