Friday, June 12, 2015

WordBuild Online (Schoolhouse Review)

JazzEdge  Review

One of the fastest ways to build vocabulary is to learn the Greek and Latin morphemes that make up many of our English words. A person who knows even a small group of morphemes is able to figure out the meanings to hundreds of words made from those morphemes. WordBuildOnline, a product published by Dynamic Literacy,  is an online program designed to teach morphemes to students.

WordBuildOnline ($30) offers four levels: Foundations Level 1 and Level 2 are for 2nd-5th grades and teach prefixes and suffixes. Elements Level 1 and Level 2 are for students who have completed the Foundations levels or who are beginning with the program at 6th grade or higher. Elements focuses on Latin and Greek word roots, but reviews prefixes and suffixes as well. Emily used the Elements 1 level.

The first unit of WordbuildOnline (Elements 1) teaches or reviews prefixes and suffixes. Each affix is defined, then the student is required to form and define a word made from the affix and a word root. Then the student chooses a sentence in which the word is used correctly. Every affix follows the same procedure. Although the student is required to type out a definition, it appeared that anything written would be marked as correct, so some honesty and attention to detail on the part of the student is important here.

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Once the first unit is completed, the student begins learning word roots-one root per unit. The units each include instruction on a few affixes and five activities to practice the word root. Lessons are timed at 10-15 minutes in order to keep students on task. Most can easily be completed in less than 10 minutes. Students may complete more than one activity a day, but are expected to spend only 15 minutes a day on the program.

A short video introduces the word root:

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Practice games include defining and creating words using magic squares and stair step puzzles.

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Each lesson ends with a quiz:

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The parent/teacher page allows the parent to see the results for each activity, including date completed, score, and time taken to complete. Additionally, the parent can choose to receive an email notification for each activity completed.

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What I liked:

The program is bright and colorful, making learning seem more like a game than a workbook exercise. Each activity uses the word roots in different ways, exposing the student to many different words derived from that particular root. Some activities are quite challenging, as the student is required to think of words using a root that have not yet been seen in the lesson. (I was stumped myself by a few.) The activities are short, making this program easy to fit into an already busy day.

What could be improved:

Despite the colorful interface, the activities were the same for each unit. The word root games were diverse and enjoyable, but the prefix and suffix activities became dull quite quickly—form a word, define a word, choose the correct sentence over and over again. I didn’t like that definitions were automatically marked as correct, encouraging a careless student to rush through too quickly.

I would love to see a list of units, or, better yet, a progress chart on the student page and the parent page. The student logs on daily and is presented with the next activity or two, but isn’t able to see an overview that shows how far he has progressed, his success rate, or what is coming next.

Although the parent page gives detailed grades for each lesson, the emails do not. They merely report that an activity has been “completed.”  If the student receives scores of zeros, the parent will assume that the activity has been mastered, which may not be the case. After completing an activity, the student goes onto the next activity unless the parent resets it from the parent page. I would like to see the program refuse to let the student move on until an activity has been mastered.

Some pages require hitting “enter” after an answer; others  require clicking, “go,” and others require clicking “I’m finished.”  I would like to see more consistency, especially since choosing “I’m finished,” will exit the activity instead of going to the next page, resulting in a lower score. I made that mistake myself a few times while trying the program out.

Despite these concerns with WordBuildOnline, I do think it is an enjoyable and efficient way to improve vocabulary and we will continue to use it in our homeschool. Would you like to try  WordBuildOnline? Use the coupon, “thecorner” at dynamichomeschool.com for 25% off the  Word Build books or at www.wordbuildonline.com for 10% off the software.

Dynamic Literacy Review

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

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