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Look-up strategies are strategies that rely upon external resources for remembering spelling information, such as dictionaries, word lists, spell-checkers, and the like. To the extent that children learn effective look-up strategies, they can learn to extend their own knowledge of spelling and pronunciation independently. The hypothesized development of these skills is presented in Development Table 42.


This type of ability is an important element in Language Standards 4, 5, and 6 from the Common Core State Standards.

Literature Note - Look-Up

Development Table 42. Hypothesized Development of Look-Up Skills

Level
Interpretation
Deliberation
Expression
Preliminary
(oral)
Decodes unknown words by explicitly breaking them into graphemes and labeling each grapheme to identify the correct pronunciation.
Consults flash-cards, charts and graphic organizers to remember sound/spelling correspondences.
Can guess the correct spelling of a word by writing it out phonetically and then considering alternate spellings.
Foundational
(syllable)
Decodes unknown words by remembering the pronunciation of a similarly spelled word and pronouncing the new word analogously.
Consults tables and other organizers to remember groups of words with similar spellings, such as groups of rhyming words.
Reinforces spelling knowledge by annotating a text, providing a parallel word with similar spelling/pronunciation patterns.
Basic
(word)
Interrupts reading to look up the pronunciations or meaning of a word in a dictionary.
Understands how to look words up in a dictionary using alphabetical order.
Understands how to use a glossary or dictionary to find the meaning of an unknown or unfamiliar word.
Interrupts writing to check whether the spelling one has in mind is used in the dictionary.
Intermediate
(Latinate words)
Interrupts reading to determine the structure or precise meaning in context of an unknown word.
Consults complex dictionary entries to identify the component roots, prefixes, and suffixes in an unknown word.
Consults complex dictionary entries to identify alternate meanings for a word
Interrupts writing to confirm one’s assumptions about the component elements in a word.
Advanced
(borrowed words)
Interrupts reading to determine the source language of an unknown word.
Consults complex dictionary entries to determine the etymology of a word.
Interrupts writing to confirm one’s assumptions about the source language of a word one needs to spell.




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