I work in a neighborhood of Dallas effected by poverty where only 2.2% of the population has a college diploma and over 68% never completed high school. For the students in my room, 100% will graduate high school and 100% will have acceptance to a university when they receive their high school diploma.
From day 1 of entering our school, the question is not IF they will go to college but WHERE they will go!
It is the love of learning that begins this journey from a young age.
I have requested a thesaurus and a variety of dictionaries, from picture dictionaries to Spanish-English dictionaries. I have been teaching the importance of understanding unknown vocabulary and encouraging students to come grab the class dictionary to look up a definition during independent reading, and I have been SHOCKED by how excited they have been to feel successful and independent in this area.
The majority of my students speak Spanish at home and struggle with reading, specifically vocabulary, yet this one dictionary has created an atmosphere where we applaud curiosity and there is no shame in finding unknown words.
We add unknown (or newly discovered) words to our word wall. I allow the student who found the word to write it down and you'd be amazed at how special they feel as they write their word on the board.
I've created a vocabulary craze that I can hardly manage with 1 lonely dictionary.
Dictionaries of all kinds will empower students to step out in confidence in a content area where they have historically struggled and a thesaurus will expand the vocabulary knowledge they already possess!
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