Students probably won’t carry a heavy dictionary around with them, but they will likely have an Internet-enabled phone, Chromebook, or tablet with them. With these devices, they can quickly access and search hundreds of online reference materials with a click or tap. The integration of audio, video, and web links makes the online experience engaging, meaningful, and accessible.
The lists below offer a sampling of online reference resources to get you started. There are hundreds more available online to meet the unique needs of you and your students. Search the Web and discover an even larger treasure of digital reference materials.
Dictionaries and Thesauri
- Cambridge Dictionary: Dictionary, thesaurus, and translation and grammar help
- Collins Online Dictionary: Multilingual dictionary, thesaurus, and translation tool
- Dictionary.com: Dictionary, thesaurus, and word games
- TheFreeDictionary.com: Dictionary, thesaurus, specialized dictionaries (medical, legal, financial), and acronym and idiom tools
- Lexipedia: Ability to view a webbed representation of related words and parts of speech
- Merriam-Webster: Dictionary, thesaurus, and games
- Visuwords: A color-coded, visual dictionary and thesaurus with word analysis
- Wiktionary: A user-moderated dictionary, thesaurus, rhyme guide, and phrase book in many different languages
Other Reference Sites to Explore
- Encyclopedia.com: Over 200 individual encyclopedias and reference books that can be searched
- Encyclopedia of Life: Learnings about life on earth
- Library of Congress’ Research and Reference Services: Reference collections curated and stored in the U.S. Library of Congress
- National Geographic’s MapMaker: A wide variety of maps that can be viewed, built, and annotated
- Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): Writing tools, research tools, and citation guidance
- Wikipedia: An encyclopedia that can jumpstart the research process and provide an overview of nearly any topic in any language (though it’s important to note that entries are crowdsourced and user-generated, so they should be cross-referenced for accuracy)
- Wolfram MathWorld: Math-related resources
- The World Factbook: Information about people, places, cultures, histories, and geography from all around the world
To make these resources easy and convenient for your students to use, consider posting a list of them at the top of your learning management system (LMS) or website. Then, encourage your students to use these reference tools as they write, research, create, and complete class assignments. Students can build their own personal “new words” list. They can also use reference sites to find basic information at the start of a larger research project to provide a better understanding of core concepts that will ground them and provide direction. Students can even do some research on their own and help you develop a reference material collection for your classroom.
How Can I Learn More?
While searching online for the tool that you need is priceless, these subject-specific collections from AVID Open Access can provide a great starting point by offering curated lists of some of the best online resources available: