Austin Elementary Students to Benefit from New Classroom Resources in More Ways Than One


"Sure, it's easy to look up stuff on the computer. But with a book, you must touch it and search through other words and illustrations as you look for the word."

Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas Harmony School of Innovation science and STEM teacher Mr. Larry McKenzie has something in his fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms that most of us had in college -- a worn-out copy of The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. While in the age of Chromebooks, it is important to prepare students with technological knowledge, McKenzie believes that using an actual dictionary is also a life skill to teach and a great way for students to learn. Only in this case, he had several different editions with inconsistent and more advanced definitions. 

As a surprise for her colleague and friend, Dr. Lisa Wyatt, Harmony Public School science and social studies coach, gathered support to supply McKenzie's classroom with enough hard-back copies of Merriam-Webster Elementary Dictionaries for each student. Along with Victoria Mancha, public relations director, Wyatt presented her gift to McKenzie in his classroom on August 22, 2023.

"I have to explain to my students what definitions mean because the other copies are college level," explains McKenzie. "Now, they will be able to be more independent in looking up words and work better collaboratively since the definitions will be the same for everyone."

McKenzie says he prefers giving his students as much tactile experience as possible. And, the beauty of a paper dictionary is that students discover other words while searching for the definition of a term for a lesson. In addition, they learn to alphabetize without even realizing it. The process of doing so sparks their interest to learn more. He also states that the hard-back copies will last much longer.

"Sure, it's easy to look up stuff on the computer. But with a book, you must touch it and search through other words and illustrations as you look for the word. Many of my students didn't realize that dictionaries were in alphabetical order." McKenzie says. "I can't wait for my students to crack them open!"

About Harmony Public Schools
Harmony Public Schools are 62 high-performing PreK-12 college preparatory charter schools throughout Texas. Harmony blends the highest standards and expectations, with rigorous math- and science-centered curriculum and dedicated and engaged teachers and families to cultivate excellence and prepare students to succeed in college, careers, and life. At Harmony Public Schools, we believe every child can succeed, and we are committed to helping them realize their full potential. To learn more about Harmony Public Schools and our 62 campuses across Texas, please visit www.harmonytx.org.
 
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