How I Use It
Word Reference is a very simple site that can be up and running immediately using just the technology in a classroom. There are also apps available for Android, iPhones, and other devices if further learning is desired. Personally, I love the word of the day feature; this would be a perfect bell-ringer activity for students in a high school or middle school English or social studies class. The other aspects of the site that are interesting are the various translation dictionaries (many different languages), verb conjugator tools, and the ability for teachers to create lists of words for use in the classroom. As students get older, word work becomes more difficult to weave into daily instruction; a site like this sparks the natural curiosity that all students have for words. This site would also be really helpful for students who are ELL or are acquiring a new language. It's a quick help for questions or translations that they aren't able to recall while completing homework. I would make all of our ELL support teachers aware of this site and connected apps so that they can encourage its use with students.
On the surface, this is a useful site with lots of optional app add-ons. The extensive options make it very versatile and able to be used in a number of different ways in many different types of classrooms. However, the sheer volume of possibility might also be overwhelming to a student or teacher. It would be a teacher's job to figure out how to use the site effectively, choose some strategies to model with students, and create a focused approach or context within which to use the information on the site. Some teachers might not have time or see the value of doing that because there are many other sites and apps that make word work planning a lot easier. If students are shown the site, however, there are many of them who are likely to use it as a support or simply to satisfy their curiosity of words. I cannot see this type of site being very effective with struggling readers or spellers but I can see it's use with ELL students as I've said. As a teacher, it's great to have such an extensive tool at my fingertips.