Through the years, the concept of a dictionary and thesaurus has changed dramatically. For years, students looked up the meaning, synonym and antonym for words by opening up a physical dictionary and looking up the words. Now, there are computer applications and tools like Artha
that students can use to look up words electronically.
Obviously, an electronic thesaurus or dictionary requires a computer, but these days there's usually at least one computer in every classroom. In some educational systems, students are even individually supplied with laptops. So, the idea of using an application like Artha is very relevant for today's classroom.
The beauty of Artha is in its simplicity and organization, and the fact that you can integrate it with the operating system itself, so that it can be opened using a simple hotkey combination. You can even enable taskbar pop-up notifications of word definitions.
Running in normal mode with the application open, students can simply type in a word query, click "Search", and the application will return all available definitions of that word.
Simple Word Lookup
More complicated words are also included in the pre-loaded dictionary database. Word definitions include multiple definitions as well as example sentences where students can see exactly how the word is used in context for each meaning.
Complex Word Lookup
In the bottom pane of the application, there are several other lookup tools that students can use to analyze words. Those tools include looking up synonyms, other derivatives of the word and similar words or phrases.
Other Word Information
In cases where it applies, the "Kinds" button will appear, where students can view other words or phrases that are "kinds of" the particular noun.
All of these tools are invaluable when students are writing essays and stories, and have a word in mind that they'd like to use but can't quite remember the term.
Kinds of Words
These tools can help students jog their memory, or better yet, grow their vocabulary with more descriptive words that make their writing clearer and more prolific.
The beauty of this application is that the "Relative" tools listed in the bottom pane are only those that apply to the term at hand. This makes using the application less complex for students.
Another useful feature of this utility is that it logs all previous word searches. This allows students to use the dropdown list to search through that log for previous word lookups. Or they can use the "Previous" and "Next" buttons in the menu to scroll through previously searched words.
Dropdown Search History List
Artha can also be made more appropriate for older students by clicking on the "Detailed" button in the menu bar. This feature enables much more detail in the "Relatives" pane. This detail will provide a drilldown list of terms when students look at "Kinds Of" or "Similar" words. This drilldown follows a logical path from one similar term to the next.
This is an excellent way to spark a creative use of words or similar words, particularly with poetry.
One of the nicer features of the application is the ability to integrate it into your operating system. The "Hotkey" button in the menu will let you define a hotkey sequence that will trigger Artha to provide you with a definition of whatever word you've placed on the system clipboard (by copying the word).
Using a Lookup Hotkey
This feature also works hand-in-hand with the "Notify" feature (also in the toolbar). When you enable the Notify button so that it turns green, Artha will work from the system toolbar. Whenever you use the hotkey sequence, rather than opening the application, Artha will show you the definition of the word with a convenient pop-up notification.
Artha Pop-up Notification
The great thing about this tool is that if teachers install it onto a classroom computer, it provides for a convenient way students can easily look up word definitions, synonyms and more. This allows students to perform quick word searches without distracting from the main task of completing an assignment or writing a paper.
It is also a great way to reinforce the practice of constantly expanding one's vocabulary and using an ever-expanding personal library of new and interesting words.
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