Our Family

Our Family

Monday, June 15, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Dynamic Literacy

Dynamic Literacy, which was established in 2002, is committed to improving reading comprehension, language, and vocabulary through a system using frequently used Latin and Greek roots.  Their WordBuild Vocabulary System teaches the meanings of words by learning what the different parts mean. They have 3 different products: WordBuildOnline, WordBuild Foundations, and WordBuild Elements.  Over the last several weeks we have had an opportunity to use and review the WordBuild: Elements Level 1 Set.

Elements is recommended for grades 5-10 or for remedial or ESL students in grades 7-12.  Students using Elements need to have a mastery of phonics and working knowledge of prefixes and suffixes. In Elements students will learn how words are built and how to determine the meaning of words by knowing the meanings of the parts that make up the words.  There are 3 different levels in Elements but it is recommended that you always start with level one regardless of the age of your child.

WordBuild: Elements Level One Set ($99.99) contains:

Teacher's Edition: A 336 page, paperback guide that has instruction for each exercise, fun facts about each root, word alerts showing words that appear to come from the same word family but do not, answer keys, review units for each prefix and suffix, mini dictionary of the 25 roots, mid assessments, and an online account for bonus content.

Student Activity Book: A 156 page, paperback,  consumable workbook that contains 4 activities for each of the 25 Latin and Greek root families.  It also has root bingo game boards and appendices with practice activities for prefixes and suffixes.

WordBuild the Game: Runs on both PC or Mac (Windows 98 or higher and Mac OS X.)  Students select a root and add prefixes and suffixes to it to make as many words as they can.  The game has over 200 roots  and 18,000 words and can support up to 99 players.  There are options to set a timer and turn music on or off.

I have been using Elements with my 13 year old, 7th grade son.  Since we had not used WordBuild Foundations and have not studied the meanings of prefixes and suffixes before, I had him begin with Appendix A learning the 14 affixes for the first word in the book, "form."  We worked on 2 of those per day and then moved on to the "form " unit.  There are 5 affixes that need to be learned before the "pon" unit and 4 before the "vers" unit.

Each of the lessons follow the same pattern.  There are 4 activities for each lesson:

Root Squares: Students combine two or more word parts to make as many words in that word family that they can.  They write the words and a definition for it at the bottom of the page.

Magic Squares: Students have a list of words that are lettered and a list of definitions that are numbered.  In the lettered squares at the bottom they have to out the number of the corresponding definition.  If all of the numbers add to the same number across and down they found the magic number.

Stair Steps: Students are given part of a word and a list of definitions.  They have to fill in the missing letters of each word by using the definition clues listed.

Comprehension Booster: Students read the sentences and choose a word from the word bank to complete it.

There is also a word wall page where students list words they have built or come across.  There is a place to list synonyms and antonyms for each word and to review the affixes that have been learned with that root.

One of the things that Nick and I both liked about Elements was that it did not take a lot of time to complete.  It took around 15 minutes a day to complete the lessons.  It does not require a lot of teacher prep time or additional supplies.  The Teacher's Guide gives you very specific instructions and shows the student page with the answers in each lesson.  The lessons were written for a classroom teacher, so they do need to be modified a bit to work with one student.  The activities are more game like than work and my student definitely appreciated that.  I think teaching the parts of words so the students can figure out the meaning is much more effective than requiring rote memorization of lists of words.

We also used WordBuild the Game along with the workbook exercises.  It was easy to install and get up and running on my computer.  I liked the different game options such as having the timer on or off, music on or off, different music choices.  In the game you drop and drag parts of words to form words.  One thing that I wish was different is that the game says things when you form a word that is correct and incorrect and I think it can be disheartening when you get a word incorrect.  It says things like, "What are you kidding me?" "That is like so wrong man." and others.  I really preferred when it simply said the answer was incorrect.

Overall I thought that WordBuild Elements is a simple, easy way to teach students how to figure out the meaning of many words.  To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on over to the Crew Blog. 

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