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Personal Dictionaries Inspired by Freak the Mighty
Content Topic:
Use of dictionary, word selection, vocabulary
6th grade students will create their own personal dictionaries based on the dictionary created by a character in the novel they are reading in English class, Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick.
Collaboration Potential:
English teacher
Total Estimated Time:
3.5 hours
Suggested Number Of Sessions:
  • Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, dictionaries
  • Handout on dictionary entries (SM1_PersonalDictionary) Q
  • Quiz on dictionary entries (SM2_PersonalDictionary).
  • SmartBoard or overhead projector
  • Computer with projector, whiteboard, flip-chart board to
  • record brainstormed ideas and class dictionary.


Reading and Writing Workshop: Freak the Mighty from Read, Write, Think

Instruction / Activities:

Day 1
Direct Instruction:

The TL welcomes students into the library. She asks them how hey enjoyed Freak the Mighty and lets them know the project they will be working on was included in the book. The TL asks students to flip to the back of their books and browse through Freak’s dictionary. She leads a short discussion about how the dictionary may have helped students as they read. Then, she points out the dictionaries in the library’s collection and informs students that these dictionaries can be helpful as students read any book.

Modeling and Guided Practice:

TL uses a SmartBoard or projector to show students the image of a dictionary entry. She asks students to point out the common elements for each entry- word, pronunciation, part of speech, definition.

Independent Practice:

After some practice, students take a short quiz on the parts of an entry. (SM2_PersonalDictionary)


Sharing and Reflecting:

TL goes over Freak’s dictionary with students again and asks: “How is it different from a traditional dictionary?” “Is it better or worse?” “What types of words work in personal dictionaries?” Once students have come up with some good ideas, the TL passes out the Dictionary Entries Worksheet

(SM1_PersonalDictionary). She reviews the requirements and goes over the example. To make sure everyone is on board, students volunteer potential words and create a few entries as a class.

Days 2 – 4
Independent Practice:

Students begin to work on their own entries. The TL and the ELA teacher circulate while students work to assist with any problems and answer questions. Students will have 3 class periods to complete their entries.

Day 5
Sharing and Reflecting:

The TL explains to class that they will be working together to create a “best of” dictionary as a class. The TL leads a brainstorming session and students voice their ideas for creating a single dictionary. Issues addressed should include: number of entries, how to choose entries, format of dictionary,
etc. After coming to a consensus about how to create the class dictionary, students work together to complete the task.

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Presented By: Jenifer Arnold
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