Last week I made note of the fact that it’s been awhile since I simply explored a website or some online tool/game. As I get closer to the MACUL Conference, prehaps I’m leaning too heavily on the theories of ed tech, so I decided to dedicate this week to the simple, yet wonderfully addicting tools and features found on online reference sites, one of my most frequented type of websites thanks to my incorrigable spelling habits and addiction to instant information (who has time to go pick up a copy of Merriam-Webster’s or World Book?).
There are many “Word of the Day” features on reference sites, but while many of them just provide the definition and a brief history of the word, Dictionary.com provides both an English and Spanish word of the day, including links to have both words of the day e-mailed directly to you each morning. There’s also an RSS feed for both words, so if you’re tech-savvy enough you could arrange to have the word of the day appear in Bloglines or other RSS aggregator. Quite useful for elementary classes that are exploring the Spanish language, or for secondary Spanish classes looking for a new word to add to their vocabulary each day.
Most of my online reference experience is with Dictionary.com, so I was completely unaware of Merriam-Webster’s completely awesome Word of the Day Podcast. Yes, Merriam-Webster offers an RSS feed for their word of the day (for those techies again), but it also has a daily podcast of each word, with a very nice audio recording of the word, it’s definition, an example sentence using the word, and the complete paragraph giving the history of the word entitled “Did you know?”. Quite the handy resource for secondary teachers of grammar, english, or literature looking to help connect words and their meanings with a historical perspective (so reading the Scarlet Letter makes a little more sense). The best part is, the podcasts are simple mp3 files, so you don’t need any fancy equipment of digital music players; just click on the link, and listen via your computer’s speakers. A great resource for children with hearing disabilities
This site is by far the most education oriented of the three sites mentioned here. While the other two are more general reference, Superkids is specifically geared towards education. Which means the SuperKids Word of the Day isn’t just a simple word; it’s three words, aimed at different age and ability levels. Along with a word of the day for Upper Elementary (4th through 6th), there’s also a word of the day for Junior High School Vocabulary AND the always popular SAT Prep word of the day. Beyond the obvious help that this site could give for those preparing to take the PSAT or SAT, I would have loved to use this site with my 6th graders last year in their Spelling & Grammar notebooks as bell work or an anchor activity once the current assignment was finished.