Skip to main content

Digital Interactive Dictionaries

I have often read how we learn the meaning of words when reading though context, and that is a great thing. But often the new word's context can not even be understood or I often feel that language drift has cause the speaking and writing patterns to change over time that the words used and their meanings may have changed. Yes, of course we should look things up in the dictionary to find out what that new word means, but perhaps we are right in the middle of an exciting passage and we just don't want to stop right now, or we don't have a dictionary with us (or there just isn't a dictionary around right now - if you look in the modern office you will most likely not find one). I feel that a big part of the regular dictionary use is the actual process that occurs in the room while reading: you read the new word, now you have to stop reading, remember the word, walk across the room, look up the word, read the defined word, remember all the definitions, go back to the desk, find where reading stopped, look again at the sentence, remember the definitions, figure out which meaning was used, continue reading [and don't forget about all the other distractions in a classroom that can attract attention during this process] - all that takes a lot of time [so short term memory can have issues with remembering all that]. Instead with the ebook, all you have to do is select the word, then choose the option for the definition, see the definitions, all quickly and without leaving your desk. Even in my own ebook use I have noticed that I will often look up words in the novel that I'm reading, while in a paper copy I just don't and move on, yes I can usually determine the context from the content, but with an interactive dictionary I do more, sometime even when I can understand it, I'll still look it up, having fun exploring the language for a moment.

The ebook or e-reader here can help so much with such language exercises. For this school I would expect that the language that Washington Irving used would be difficult for such children to relate to, because of the language drift over time, and that while there may be a number of words that they know they may be used in a different way that they students are used to. Having the ebook with the interactive dictionary (and more) then just gives the students easier and quicker tools, and if something is easy enough and doesn't take much time, they may be that much more likely to use it. I know that I have seen this same effect occurring with the students that I have taught.

Grade school touts benefits of Kindle e-readers
An Illinois grade school is using Kindle e-readers to help encourage students of all levels to get excited about reading. The devices' dictionary feature has allowed students in fifth and sixth grade to better understand Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle," and the highlighting feature is being used to help kindergarten students sound out new words. Each device can hold up to 3,500 titles, a feature that educators say helps make up for their school's lack of sufficient library space. News-Tribune (La Salle, Ill.) (3/5/2011)


Popular posts from this blog

Ebooks as Textbooks - Part 2 - Highlighting

Highlighting can be a very effective tool in reading and learning no matter the kind of text being read: from novels to textbooks.

Most textbooks or other forms of information text will usually used text features along with graphics to help organize information presented in the text.  These elements are done to help focus attention on important or key concepts and provide additional information. The text organization itself can include structural elements such as heading, subheading, index, glossary, paragraph spacing, bulleted or numbered lists, sidebars or side boxes, italics, underlines or bold for words or even sections. Graphic content can include the use of symbols, colors, illustrations, pictures, diagrams, charts, and graphs.
The act of highlighting is less time consuming and much easier than note-taking (to be discussed in an upcoming posting). To be effective in highlighting it should be a kind of metacognitive approach of sifting or filtering to identify the important content…

Google Maps

An exciting time today, as I was riding my bike to work, I saw the Google Maps Car driving by. You may be wondering what the Google Maps car has to do with ebooks, but often books have maps and Google Books has lots of books with Google Maps developed from extracting the locations from the text. This kind of mapping got me so excited that myself and Jerome Burg wrote a book on using digital mapping with books. But the car reminded me that these maps are out there just waiting for you to start using them. For example if you go to Google Books, and you are reading Vern's Around the World in 80 Days, look in the About this Book section, and then scroll down to see if the book has a Places mentioned in this book... component.

In one class I copied the map from Google Books and then we put it on the wall, so that as we read the book, we tracked where we were in the story on the wall map. One warning though, for some reason the books with maps in Google Books seems to randomly change fr…

Ebooks as Textbooks Part 6 - Taking Note

The process of taking notes, makes reading that much more of an active process and will aid in comprehension and retention. The addition of your own personal notes are usually easier to understand and remember than textbook material. As a student reads the textbook, he or she may not remember all of that they read when they have finished - this is especially true of very dense texts. But, if a student reads the information and also writes down notes about what he or she is reading at the same time, then that extra step reinforces that information and improves retention. So one of the best ways to retain information you are reading it is to take notes while you are actually reading it, for print books these notes were usually written in the margins of the text and so were called margin notes. 

The taking of margin notes is a strategy that focuses your attention on important information from the textbook, novels, or articles that you are reading. Because it involves tagging key words or …