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Saturday, March 7, 2009

SpellQuizzer Review

You have to love any product that offers a free one month trial! Why? Because there is no better way to know if something works for you than by trying it, and there's no better way for homeschoolers to try things out than free trials since every penny counts!
SpellQuizzer is downloadable spelling program. But before you dismiss it thinking I already have a spelling program I am happy with, let me say this program functions like no other I've seen. With SpellQuizzer, you can use it AS your spelling curriculum, or to augment any existing curriculum you use. How is that? Well, because in it's simplest form, SpellQuizzer is a program that allows you to generate your own spelling lists. These lists can be as long or short as you like. But unlike traditional spelling lists, these lists quiz your student on the computer!

Now you may be thinking, how exactly can a spelling test given on the computer work? I mean, if it says, "spell 'thought'" on the screen, how challenging is it for the student to type "thought"? But that's just it. SpellQuizzer offers you two different options, but neither involve the student seeing the word.

First, you can use an inexpensive microphone to record you saying the word, or even the student saying the word, directly into SpellQuizzer. You can include a brief definition also, so their vocabulary is enhanced with their spelling skills. The other option, if you don't have a mic, can't afford one, or like me wouldn't know where to plug it in even if you DID have one, you can enter a typed definition of the word and then the student spells the whose definition they see. There is a video demo available on their site (along with the free trial), so you can see how it works.
There are several pros to this program. I love that once the list is set up, your involvement as a parent is over, and your child can now do spelling as a self directed activity. With four kids needing my attention, any chance to remove me from the process makes my life a little less crazy! I think it's great that you can record the word and definition. You can make it fun, or downright funny. And you can even teach your kids to do it, so then it really is entirely self directed. There's even a bonus to SpellQuizzer in that they have several free downloadable pre-generated lists such as Dolche lists, commonly misspelled words, religious words, and holiday words, all separated by grade level.
There are a few cons also. When student misspell a word, they are shown a error message that says something like, "The correct spelling of that word is "thought". You spelled it "thoght". That's great, but there is no way for the parent to get a report of what words they missed. In fact, there are no parent reports at all, so you really have to trust that your child is indeed getting it right, or quiz them separately on paper, which defeats the purpose to me. The other con is that I am NOT tech savvy, and I could not get the downloadable lists to import into SpellQuizzer. It's handy that I am married to a computer whiz, but not everyone has that luxury, so you if you aren't really computer smart, you may need help.
The bottom line to me is that if spelling is one of the subjects your students work on regularly, and you'd like them to have a fun way to practice, this might just be it. Or, if you've avoided those packaged spelling curriculums, but want SOMETHING to give you some structure and flexibility at the same time, this is just the thing for you. But it's $29.95, so it's not something I'd buy just to have if you aren't sure you'd use it. And that's why I'd really recommend checking out the free trial HERE.
To see what other TOS Crew mates have said, go HERE.
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