Annual dictionary project

The goal of the Dictionary Project is to help all students in completing the school year as good writers, active readers and creative thinkers. It is a community effort on the part of the Madison Rotary Club designed to improve student literacy by providing third-grade students with a gift of their own PERSONAL DICTIONARIES to use in school and at home for years to come.

Educators see the third grade as the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn. The Madison Rotary Club has participated in this project for more than six years now following a pattern each year in October of providing every third grader in the Madison Public Schools and St. Vincent Martyr School with their own personalized copy of A Student’s Dictionary, which is a 524-page resource. Approximately 320 students in ten third-grade classes received this publication this year.

A Student’s Dictionary, however, is more than a dictionary; it is also a Gazetteer! It includes over 150 pages of supplemental information including the Constitution of the U.S., the Declaration of Independence, brief biographies of all U. S. presidents, maps of the seven continents, and information about all 50 states and more than 175 countries in the world as well information on the planets in the solar system and lots more. Always fascinating to the students is the last page in the book which contains the longest word in the English language containing 1,909 letters; this word is a term for a formula of Tryptophan synthetase A protein.

The parents and teachers of the third graders recognize that “The limits of your language are the limits of your world” (Ludwig Wittgenstein). Teachers indicate that they typically integrate the use of the dictionary/gazetteer into the classroom activities in writing, reading, communication and research assignments. We are proud to announce that once the books are in the students’ possession, we receive thank-you notes from the students, their parents, and their teachers. Third graders are also vocal about being pleased to receive a copy of the dictionary, as an older sibling already has a copy of the book and they are happy to have their own personal one.

The Dictionary Project is now an international project as well. Last year, sixteen clubs in a coordinated activity by our 7470 Rotary District donated 1,500 dictionaries that were distributed in Sierra Leone, Kenya, Haiti, Peru and the Dominican Republic. This year the project is expanding to other countries and reflecting the broadening scope, the project is now entitled “Children of the World Dictionary Project.” The Madison Rotary Club participated last year by donating two boxes of dictionaries; this year we will be donating three boxes of books.

Thank you to our Club members who participated in this year’s efforts involving preparing the personalized bookplates for each student, arranging/coordinating a visitation schedule, going into the third-grade classrooms to share information about our Rotary Club and previewing the uses of the dictionary: Carlotta Budd, Bob Conley, Bob Pearlman, Joe Smith and Rosemarie McCauley, Coordinator.