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Education World's Great Sites for Teaching About ... page highlights Web sites to help educators work timely themes into their lessons. Internet educator Walter McKenzie selected the ten sites listed here, which are among the best on the Web for teaching about words and word meanings!

  1. Acronym Finder
    The Acronym Finder is a searchable database containing common acronyms, abbreviations, and initials relating to many topics, including computers, technology, telecommunications, and the military. There are more than 150,000 terms and their meanings. Users can search by acronym or keyword or use advanced search features for hard-to-find terms.

  2. Anagram Genius Server
    The Anagram Genius Server (AGS) allows visitors to type in any name, phrase, or sentence and receive a slew of anagrams in return! Users can generate anagrams by gender, topic area, and type of English. They can filter out offensive words and indicate whether they want flattering and/or satirical anagrams included. The results are a fascinating exercise in word play delivered straight to e-mail inboxes. I got a response to my query for the term Education World in 20 minutes. Among the dozens of anagrams made from the letters in Education World were "our candid towel" and "nice word to dual." The AGS is not very intuitive, though, so be sure to screen the results thoroughly before sharing them with your class!

  3. Behind the Name
    Behind the Name offers an introduction to the etymology of first names. Wayne, for example, comes from the Old English waegn, which was the term for wagon. A wayne was a "wagon maker." Other features of this site include languages, elements in first names, and the most popular names. A discussion group and a mailing list were recently added to the site. Users will find many other resources that might make interesting possibilities for word study!

  4. Common Errors in English
    This site includes a lengthy list of commonly misspelled words and misquoted phrases. The clickable words are listed alphabetically with little fanfare, which makes it a great quick reference guide for young writers. This site is very handy, quick loading, and fun to learn from.

  5. Decoding Nazi Secrets
    NOVA presents this fascinating look at methods of deciphering code during World War II. A Simple Cipher teaches about strategies for breaking code; Crack the Ciphers challenges visitors to the site to break codes used during the war; How the Enigma Works shows the possibilities for encoding and decoding; and Send a Coded Message affords readers the opportunity to create coded e-mail and send it to a friend! If all this isn't enough to keep you interested, the Are Web Transactions Safe? section extends the topic to current-day Internet security and the encoding techniques we use online.

  6. Fake Out
    Fake Out is an interactive game that challenges students to correctly guess definitions. The game changes every week. Simply select one of the three words offered in your category (choose K-2, 3-5, or 6+) and review the possible definitions for the word. Make your best guess and then "submit" to find out if you are right. These are no easy words. Examples: woad (grades K-2), fanion (3-5), and cabotage (6+). For real word fanatics, there are archives of past challenges! This site provides great word fun for students!

  7. Grammar Safari
    Grammar Safari uses Web technologies to enable teachers or students to search for particular words in books -- including many great works of literature that are available online through such initiatives as Project Gutenberg. Just use the site's search tools and the browser's "find" function to collect words in context!

  8. Linguistic Fun Page
    Linguistic Fun Page may be the answer if you are looking for a new twist! The site is a hoot! It offers lots of offbeat approaches and fun links, such as Color Related Idioms and The Book of Clichs, that make the study of words lively and meaningful. Consider Richard Lederer's Verbivore as a prime example: "Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words." Why does Lederer love our language so much? "Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and night falls but never breaks and day breaks but never falls."

  9. OneLook Dictionary
    OneLook Dictionary (OLD) uses more than 3 million words from more than 600 hundred dictionaries to help wordsmiths locate the most synonyms, antonyms, and spellings and the most obscure meanings of words. OLD includes entries from dictionaries in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. You'll want this site bookmarked and handy for your next Scrabble game!

  10. Plumb's Visual Thesaurus
    This is a truly dynamic tool that makes use of Internet technology at its best. The learner actually watches terms being spun into webs of meaning. Just type in your term, then move your cursor to different places on the JAVA applet window and watch new terms dynamically emerge, interact, and evolve into related meanings. The more you manipulate the cursor, the further you can explore related meanings. Click on a synonym tond look for word relationships in new directions. find a whole new web of words. Return to your original place on the window to backtrack and look for word relationships in new directions.

  11. Vocabulary.com
    Join Sam Mantics and Cinny Nym at the home of Vocabulary University, a great place for games and puzzles that promote word power. The site includes thematic word puzzles on a range of topics. Separate word puzzle booklets can be purchased if you want to delve further into the activities, but everything you need is right online. Be sure to check out such recent additions as the Sacagawea One Dollar Coin puzzles, Top SAT-Type Word puzzles, and Election 2000 Vocabulary Words. Context sessions are set up by grade level to be truly classroom friendly.

Walter McKenzie
Education World®
Copyright © 2000 Education World

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