Thursday, October 22, 2009

SpellQuizzer, reviewed.

I received an email from Dan, the creator of SpellQuizzer, asking me to give the program a try and review it on my blog. According to the website, SpellQuizzer is a spelling program that helps kids learn their spelling and vocabulary words. For the past several weeks, I'm implemented the program into my second-grader's daily Language Arts. I was a little hesitant because I didn't want to add more into our day than is already in place, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The program is simple to implement and can either work in conjunction with an existing spelling program by helping the child learn the assigned words for the week, or can act as a stand-alone depending on how a homeschooler "does spelling." First you download the program. Once installed, simply click on the icon and begin! (Side note: directions as well as demo videos on how to use the program can be found at the SpellQuizzer website.) At first I tried the program myself with one of the preloaded sample lists. You click on the Quiz Me on a List! icon and select a list. You then hear a word from the list and type it into the box and hit enter (or click on Check Spelling). If the word in entered correctly, you move on to the next word on the list. If it is incorrect, a box appears with the correct spelling. At the end of the session you are given your score and an opportunity to re-try incorrect words.

There are several ready-made lists available for free on the SpellQuizzer website that can be imported for free and used as spelling lists. You can also create your own lists, which is wonderful because you can customize the program to improve and work on your child's current spelling and vocabulary lists, or, as we do in our home, create a list based on words the child has misspelled in regular work throughout the week. Creating your own list is straightforward, even for the techno-challenged, like me. You simply need a microphone (most computers come with one, but they are less than $10 to buy if you don't have one). Click on the Create a Spelling List icon and follow the simple instructions. You type the word you're adding, add the audio, and check the playback. The set-up in simple and intuitive. Once you're happy with the sound simply click Add Word. I liked to use different voices and accents to keep my daughter on her toes! You can always go back and make changes by selecting the Edit a List icon. You can also export your list if you'd like to share. The website has a community forum where SpellQuizzer users can share ideas, tips and lists.

I gave ease of set-up and use an "A." But how would this program actually work with my second grader? I wondered if she would enjoy it or if she would prefer something with more "bells and whistles?" I had her work on her spelling list (one I created from her frequently misspelled words) once a day. On Friday I gave her a written quiz. Typically my daughter struggles with spelling. For the past two weeks she did not miss one word on the list! And she loved doing the program. She asked me if she could play SpellQuizzer quite frequently. I let her "play" with the lists I downloaded from the SpellQuizzer website. And I think the lack of "bells and whistles" is part of what makes the program work. It is simple and straightforward. My daughter enjoyed getting the words right, but when she got one wrong she simply looked at the correct spelling and tried again. No sirens went off, she didn't lose points, etc. I think the clean format made it easier for her to focus on learning to spell the words. It gets an "A" from the second-grade user for fun, and an "A" from mom on results.

I think this program has a lot of potential for future use in our homeschooling. Next, I would like to add my older daughter's Latin and Greek roots and vocabulary words to the program. There is not an age limit on the program and it could be used well into highschool and beyond. Younger students can benefit as well. I believe even my kindergartener could use it. And as an added bonus, children will get keyboarding practice while they type in their words.

The only thing missing for homeschool use, and something I would like to see included, would be an option to record the scores on quizzes and track progress. The program was designed to help practice for spelling tests given in a school setting, and in my opinion it clearly does that. And if you're a homeschooler implementing SpellQuizzer with another spelling program a tracking tool wouldn't be as important. But I think many homeschoolers would be interested in using this as a stand-alone product, and having the scores and progress tracked would be a beneficial tool for homeschool parents, especially if the software is used by older, more independent students.

Overall, I highly recommend checking out the SpellQuizzer website. You can download a free trial and if you like the program it is very reasonable to purchase ($29.95).

1 comment:

  1. Gavin loves this program. He actually asks to play with it too AND to take his spelling tests early now. LOL

    I definitely second the recommendation.