The Internet has made one’s ability to reference much easier. Instead of pulling a large book off of the shelf at your local library, you can now access rich, interactive websites quickly and freely online. Since they are so much more accessible, our students are more likely to use them. These materials can help them verify word choice, find a definition, and better understand what they are reading. With these tools being so conveniently accessible, they are also more likely to be used in context. This is always desirable, as it connects a skill to an authentic application.
Again, this is not a comprehensive list, but it will give you a good start in generating your own, personal reference collection. You may want to encourage your students to develop their own “virtual reference shelf,” too. Links to these resources can be conveniently collected and organized within your browser’s bookmarks.
- American Sign Language (ASL) Dictionary: With this resource from Handspeak, you can search or browse for a word, and then view a video of an interpreter signing the word. There are also links to a reverse search tool and an ASL dictionary for children.
- Cambridge Dictionary: This site offers a dictionary, a thesaurus, translation and grammar help, and more.
- Dictionary.com: Here, you will find an online dictionary, a thesaurus, word games, and more.
- TheFreeDictionary.com: This site claims to be “the world’s most comprehensive online database of reference information.” It features a dictionary, a thesaurus, specialized dictionaries (medical, legal, financial), acronym and idiom tools, and more.
- Lexipedia: Search a word and see a webbed representation of other related words and parts of speech.
- Merriam-Webster: This classic resource offers a dictionary, a thesaurus, games, and more.
- Poetry Foundation: This site offers free poetry resources. Find poems, poets, collections, and audio.
- Visuwords: This site offers a visual dictionary and thesaurus with word analysis. Type a word and see it visualized in a mind map that is color coded.
- Wiktionary: This offshoot of Wikipedia offers a free, user-moderated dictionary in many different languages. It also includes a thesaurus, a rhyme guide, phrase books, and more.