UDL 2.1 UDL 5.2

A dictionary is a reference material that has words in alphabetical order. The dictionary entry for a word provides the definition of the word and/or multiple meanings of the word, pronunciation, parts of speech and etymology. There are many different types of specialized dictionaries available such as historical, geographical, character, biographical, visual, etc. These dictionaries have specific information available to the learner. For example, a translation dictionary may have the word in one language and provide an equivalent word in another language (e.g. Spanish – English Dictionary).

Implementation Tips

Online Dictionary and Alphabetizing
In order to be able to use a dictionary, students need to know how to alphabetize. This skill may be challenging for some students. An online dictionary might provide them with necessary support while they learn how to look words up in alphabetical order.
Explicit Instruction and Modeling
Have a dictionary readily available for students to use in the classroom. Model how to use the dictionary, especially when learning the meanings of new words. Help students understand the structure of the dictionary including word entries.
Embedded Dictionaries
Some electronic books and textbooks have dictionaries embedded in the readable text. This may be valuable for a student needing to learn the meaning of the words without having to spend additional time stopping the reading process to look up the word.
Student-created Dictionaries
Students can create their own classroom dictionary related to a literary subject (e.g. Math, LA, etc) or theme. This dictionary can serve as a reference for the entire class during a unit of study.


Language Arts Vocabulary
A teacher creates a vocabulary word list at the beginning of a language arts unit. Students pair up and use a dictionary to determine the meanings of the words, parts of speech and etymology. In a vocabulary notebook, students write definitions of the word, draw a picture of the word and create a sentence using the word.
Translation Dictionary
A student who is an English Language Learner may look up a Spanish word in the Spanish–English dictionary to determine the English counterpart. The student may practice using the word when speaking in front of the class.
Biographical Dictionary
When beginning a research project on Thomas Jefferson, the student refers to a biographical dictionary to learn more about the president. The student begins to write down additional questions that he can continue to research about the life of Thomas Jefferson.

Related Strategies