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Online Reference Materials

I need to translate a sentence from Spanish to English.

What's another word for happiness?  

Who was the fifth president of the United States? 

filesFinding the answers to these questions could be time consuming. Don't use Internet "search engines" for answers to simple reference questions. Instead, build an electronic library in your classroom. Reference materials can be right at your fingertips.

Use the following links on this page to explore educational web resources:

 
 
Online Reference Tools for Children

The following reference resources are the best for children.

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Reference Tool Starting Points & Portals

The following links are good starting points for locating reference materials on the web:

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Dictionaries

A dictionary is a reference tool that contains an alphabetical listing of words with information about each word. This information usually includes meaning, pronunciation, and etymology. Some dictionaries provide language translations or are subject specific.

A digital dictionary contains the same contents as a printed dictionary. In addition, users may be able to hear the word read aloud. Most online dictionaries have a search feature in addition to an alphabetical listing.

Google provides quick access to dictionaries. Do a dictionary search for the word frog using the word define: frog.

The following links go to dictionaries and subject specific dictionaries:

Dictionaries

Subject Dictionary

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Thesaurus & Specialty Dictionaries

A thesaurus is a reference tool that contains an alphabetical listing of words and their synonyms. Some thesaurus also include related and contrasting words and antonyms.

A digital thesaurus contains the same contents as a printed thesaurus. In addition, users may be able to hear the words read aloud. Some thesaurus also include definitions. A visual thesaurus connects related words using icons and lines.

The following links go to thesaurus and specialty dictionaries:

General Thesaurus

Many of the online thesaurus are interactive, graphic tools.

Subject Thesaurus

Acronyms

Rhyming Dictionary

Synonyms

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Encyclopedia

An encyclopedia is a reference tool that contains articles on a wide range of topics or in a specific subject area. These articles are generally organized in alphabetical order.

A digital encyclopedia contains the same contents as a printed encyclopedia. In addition, users may be able to hear the article read aloud, watch video clips and animations, and view visuals such as photographs, drawings, and diagrams. Most online encyclopedia have a search feature in addition to an alphabetical listing.

The following links go to general and subject specific encyclopedia:

Encyclopedia

Subject Area Encyclopedia

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Directories

A directory is a reference tool that contains an alphabetical listing of information such as names, addresses, or other data.

A digital directory contains the same contents as a printed directory. In addition, most online directories have a search feature in addition to an alphabetical listing.

The following links go to directories:

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Conversion and Translation Tools

A conversion and translation tool is a reference tool that converts data or words from one form into another.

The following links go to converters and translation tools:

Language Dictionaries and Translation Tools

Measurement Calculators and Conversion Tools

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Almanacs, Calendars, Records, and Others

An almanac is a reference tool published annually that contains timely information such as calendars, tide tables, weather forecasts, and astronomical information. It may also include other factual information in the form of lists, tables, and general interest information.

The following links go to almanacs, calendars, records books, and others:

Timelines

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Maps and Atlas

A map is a reference tool that is a representation of a location such as a town or country. It may also depict other physical things such as a moon, human face, or genetic makeup. An atlas is a reference tool that contains a collection of maps.

A digital atlas is a reference tool that allows users to search for the name or history of a place and locate maps and directions.

The following links go to maps, atlas, and directions:

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References in Your Classroom

Focus on one tool at a time. Design a simple activity using the web-based reference tool.

Sometimes reference tools are a better use of time than searching for websites on a particular topic. Can online references really help students answer questions? Or, will they just make students more frustrated? Think like a student and complete the following activity:

Create a list of three questions that might be asked at your grade level. Choose three different topics.

Use websites to answer the questions, then address the following questions:
Were you able to answer the questions?
What three words best describe your experience using online resources to answer specific questions?
What strategies could be used to make the experience more meaningful or successful?
What types of topics and questions would work best using these tools?


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