Do Students in Lee County Schools Need Dictionaries?

6:00 AM, Oct 02, 2018


Gabriel Castaneda

It’s been a while since many got their hands on an old fashion dictionary. I'm sure that if you need to check the spelling or definition of a word you, “Google it," or just look it up on your smartphone.

Is Teaching Your Kids to Use the Dictionary Still Relevant?

In an ever-evolving digital world, physical dictionaries are becoming less relevant in schools, as teachers are being instructed by their school districts to focus on strategies to find the same information online.

Jill Zuman, a school teacher at Skyline Elementary in Cape Coral, said that a majority of students don't use a physical dictionary anymore. She is an exceptional student education, or ESE, teacher. She instructs children from the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade who either have disabilities or who are in the gifted program.

“A lot of times they do defer the children to the computers," Zuman said. "Most times they are teaching them to find their sources and their research and their references and their vocabulary online."

The Rotary Club of Fort Myers disagrees. The club believes the dictionary, in a physical form, should still be distributed so students know how to use them.

“We think it's important that kids get a good education, "Jim Applegate said, project chairman of the Rotary Club Fort Myers South, "and a dictionary is a critical tool."

That is why each year the members of the Rotary Club distributed dictionaries to all third graders in Lee County Schools on Dictionary Day. This year dictionaries will be handed out is on Friday, Oct. 12.

“Frankly, a lot of kids don’t have dictionaries at home," Applegate said, “We think about, you know, you have the internet and you can always go to Wikipedia or something like that and look it up. But not everyone has internet access.”

Applegate adds that for some kids, it’s more than just a way to look up words.

“Some of the students we have given to, this is the first book they’ve ever owned." Applegate said. "That is really kind of sad but its true.”

The Rotary Club project chairman believes kids can use dictionaries as a tool to help further their education.

“It starts in those early formative years, so we think its a worthwhile contribution to their education,” Applegate said.

In addition to regular dictionaries, the Fort Myers club will give out bilingual dictionaries for Spanish speaking students and their families.

“You get a really warm fuzzy feeling when you see the kids and how happy they are that they get their own dictionary to take home,” said Applegate.

Nevertheless, some schools are already implementing digital textbooks.

“It’s sad to see that books are going to be obsolete”, Jill Zuman said. “They are even telling us that textbooks at some point will be obsolete. There won’t be any physical textbooks — they’re all going to be online.”