Introducing the Oxford English Dictionary Online: A Lesson Plan

Photo by  Syd Wachs  on  Unsplash

Photo by Syd Wachs on Unsplash

One of my favorite resources to teach others how to use the Oxford English Dictionary Online. If you or your students is doing research on words, literature, or history, the OED should be one of the resources consulted.

"The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words—past and present—from across the English-speaking world, tracing how they have changed over time. OED has its own, unique history as a living document." (OED Online)  

The lesson plan below introduces new users to the OED. I decided to create a website to house the lesson materials and discussion prompts using Google Sites (link below).This makes it really easy to send the link to students at the beginning of class and to ensure that students have all of the materials right away. And it saves paper!

This lesson plan:

  • Is hands-on

  • Uses cooperative learning strategies

  • Builds upon prior knowledge

  • Utilizes formative and summative assessment

  • Can be easily done in one hour

This lesson is designed for in-person, whole-class instruction, preferably in an area with computer and Internet access. Because it is so technology dependent, this lesson could be easily adapted for online teaching and learning! But no fear - if you must teach others to use the OED without technology available, this lesson could be easily adapted for that as well. Take screenshots of the various pages and print copies for your class to analyze.


Additionally, it might be important to note that this lesson plan draws on students’ prior knowledge by referencing Romeo and Juliet in the Partnered Practice section. I chose this text because almost all high school students in the United States read Romeo and Juliet. I’ve taught it for six years now to high school freshmen. The reference will be obvious enough that students feel comfortable but not so easy that students get out of critical thinking. Of course, adult learners who are much removed from their own reading of Romeo and Juliet might need extra context provided and English language learners may need additional support.

Feel free to use inspiration from my Google Site to create your own. Across the top of the site are tabs which lead students through the lesson.

  1. Step 1: Home Screen Page

  2. Step 2: Overview Page

  3. Step 3: Whole Class Practice Page

  4. Step 4: Partnered Practice and Assessment Page

  5. Step 5: Resources for further use Page

Take a look and let me know what you think! How have you introduced your students to the OED?