Two years when our middle daughter was in second grade, she actually had to check out a dictionary from school to complete an assigned worksheet because it required students to write down the “guide words” at the top of different pages. We don’t currently keep a paper dictionary in our house, but we have multiple electronic dictionaries available via several laptops. While she does not appear to have suffered permanent psychological harm from this forced-use of an analog / paper dictionary, I think that assignment is quite archaic for today’s students.

Creative Commons License photo credit: andy.simmons

eBooks on devices like the iPod Touch offer the ability to immediately click on a word and look up its definition. Here is an example from Mark Twain’s wonderful book, “Life on the Mississippi,” which I’ve been reading the past few weeks.

Highlight word to look up

Dictionary Lookup on iPhone

How much time is wasted in classrooms still today, simply LOOKING UP words in inefficient, paper-based dictionaries instead of DISCUSSING the terms, concepts, and ideas which those words embody?

Probably too much.

Typing on the iPad with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard

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