Friday, June 12, 2015

Dynamic Literacy: WordBuildOnline Review

JazzEdge  Review
I will admit, I had no idea what to expect when I was chosen for this review. All I knew was that my son said "It catches my attention," and that's saying a lot. So, I get my log in information for the review, and proceeded to be wow'ed! Dynamic Literacy nailed it with WordBuildOnline! WordBuildOnline is an online based literacy program that focuses on the meanings of the individual parts of the words, rather than phonics. There are daily activities to do each day, and as your child progresses through them they develop a solid understanding of the information presented. And it's fun, too! For this review, we received 1 WordBuildOnline account.

How it works:

JazzEdge  Review


There is a short video that introduces the weekly lesson, and explains the meanings of the suffix/prefix. Your child is given a 15 minute timer for each daily activity, and if they do not finish the activity within that 15 minutes, the program automatically shuts off so that your child doesn't spend too much time on one thing. You CAN do more than one activity each day (especially for older kids who may just need a little extra practice or a refresher) but it is best to wait as long as possible between activities so that the program can adjust to your child's ability the way it is designed. You have a parent login that you can use to view your child's progress. In addition to that, you can also choose to review what they have done, or reset that activity. If you reset, it deletes the progress made on that activity and allows them to do it again.  You will receive an email to the email account you used to set up your account each time your child completes a lesson. Also, it is important to note that the parent or teacher also has a video that goes into more detail about each lesson. 


Screen snip of the parent dashboard showing my son's progress report. 


Rating Key that explains what the numbers mean. As you can see, Mr. B is scoring all 4's, which means he is answering all questions correct and in a lot less time than is allotted for each activity. 


How we used this:

We use this as our primary vocabulary program. Mr. B enjoys it so much that he will do many activities in one day. You are supposed to wait as long as possible between multiple activities, but he doesn't. I'm sure that probably skews the program's ability to adjust to his level, but we are ok with that. He has learned a great deal in just six weeks, and has a greater understanding of how prefixes and suffixes work together with root words in order to build new words. The "ed" week was fantastic. He had consistently been spelling "walked" as "walkt, " as well as other past tense verbs with a
"t" instead of an "ed." When he learned "ed" means in the past, it instantly clicked with him and his spelling ability progressed immensely. 
JazzEdge  Review
What about autism?
As for autism, this is a FANTASTIC program to use to build a greater vocabulary. As parents of ASDers know, ASDers often need things broken down into parts, then explained in terms of "why" for them to "get it." This program does exactly that. It breaks down words into their parts so that your ASDer will understand WHY it is "ed" and not "t" or why the word "in" can be put in front of another word to make a completely new word. It will help them understand opposites "Inflow vs. Outflow," for example. Then of course there's the vocabulary building.; WordBuildOnline gives your child numerous tools to place in their vocabulary "word bag" so they have a greater number of words from which to pull. But not only that, your ASD child will be given the tools and ability to build their OWN words! Once they get an understanding of how prefixes and suffixes work in relation to root words, they will begin trying to make their own. And that is the beauty of this program! It focuses on the meanings and how one part of the whole can be changed to create a completely different meaning!
JazzEdge  Review
There are a couple of changes I'd like to see made that would perhaps make this a little more user friendly, especially for those with autism. If you look at the above graphic, the idea is to match the meaning with the word. A really great and fun way to reinforce the meanings of the words! My only issue with this is that I'd like to see the meanings either get crossed out when they are chosen correctly, or perhaps highlighted or some other visual means to distinguish them from those that have yet to be chosen. That would be a real benefit for those who are even more visual to be able to not get overwhelmed or frustrated if they happen to choose the same number twice. The graphic just above this one is the same way. Once you choose the option correct, it is crossed off, but I would like to see the word chosen highlighted once it is clicked so that the child knows they clicked on the word of their choice. Or even have it a drag and drop option. Something to let them know their click was successful. I say this because I would find Mr. B clicking multiple times because he wasn't sure if the word he wanted to choose had been clicked on. And the last thing I would change is the log in screen. I would flip flop the "Log In" button and the "Create a New Account" button. I accidentally clicked on the create a new account button the first time I logged in,  and had to have my account reset because of my mistake (I had filled in the information as if I was creating a new account.) I have found myself often nearly clicking on the left button instead of the right. That is something to think about when you go to log in: Make sure you pay attention to which option you are clicking on.
These are minor pet peeves, that to me would make an already great program even better!
JazzEdge  Review
Overall:

WE LOVE WordBuildOnline! WordBuildOnline a great, fun interactive vocabulary program that makes learning fun! It fantastic for autism and ADHD due to the visual learning nature, the way each word is broken down into its parts and the meanings of those parts (morphology), and the short duration of each lesson. It helps students develop a large vocabulary, and gives them the tools they need to build words on their own. I highly recommend WordBuildOnline!
Does Word Build Online pass my 4 Ingredient Test?



1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

The program adapts to your child's ability. The program adjusts the level of difficulty based on your child's performance. That's about as customized as one can get with an online program. You can set your own schedule to a point. It is designed to go an entire year, with one activity each day. That means lesson one would take 1 week, lesson 2 would take one week, etc. You can choose to do more if you like, but that will reduce the time spent. You can take breaks, and there is an option to skip activities, though I wouldn't suggest doing that. 

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

Once you pay your fee, that's it. Your child has as long as he/she needs to complete the course. It does cover multiple grade ranges, but you will need to purchase additional student accounts for more than one student. The cost is very inexpensive (at only $30.00) and right now, my blog readers will enjoy a discount with the coupon code OpenWin  (more details about that are found at the bottom.) There really isn't a specific grade level, but more ability level of the student. There are NO hidden fees.

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

It is definitely NOT boring! It is engaging, and the short lessons are PERFECT for autism and ADHD, where attention span may be fleeting at best. It is varied to a degree, but structured with a specific routinized order that will provide that comfort that comes from knowing what to expect.


4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

YES! Vocabulary is a part of life! This will help your child in all aspects of academia due to the nature of the skills. It can help increase reading comprehension, spelling, writing, and social communication.


Some may wonder about the pros and cons of such a program with regards to autism. I'll try to list a few here:

Pros:

~ WordBuildOnline is a segmented approach that breaks down the WHY of a word into smaller parts. Using the same "walked" example, WordBuildOnline says WHY walked is spelled with an "ed" and not a "t." For those on the spectrum, understanding the WHY is extremely important. They need to know why something is the way it is, WordBuildOnline does this for vocabulary.

~ It is visually engaging. You see the word. You hear the word. You get to type in your own meaning for the word. The word becomes your own. That simple.

~ There is a definite start and end, and your child can SEE this. They can see the timer counting down. They know that no matter what, after 15 minutes it is over. There is no need for a transitional period, or anything like that. The timer is the transition. They will have the power to pace themselves within that timer. The timer is awesome! So often our kids get stressed and it is because they have a need to know how long something will last. They have to know what is going to happen in the immediate future. The timer gives them that little glimpse because they will know that at the end of the 15 minutes, no matter what, they are finished.

~ Instant rewards. At the end of each activity they will earn a paw print for the day. That is a powerful motivator!

Cons:
~It's not available for really young kids. I would like to see something similar for the preK-2nd range. I understand it couldn't be the SAME thing as this particular version, but something tailored to them would be great. For example, matching the number words with the number, or color words with colors, things like that that would take an abstract and pair it with a concrete.

~ The ability to read is sort of a must. If they can't read, they can't do this on their own, and it won't make much sense to them.

~ The things I mentioned above about the lack of highlighting or crossing out. A more user friendly interface of sorts would be great. Highlight what has been clicked when clicked, or perhaps make it a drag and drop feature instead. Something along those lines and this con wouldn't even be a thought!



If you want to try WordBuildOnline for yourself, I have a special savings code for you! Just enter OpenWin to save 10% off WordBuildOnline, or 20% off the books, also offered by Dynamic Literacy (such as WordBuild Foundations or Elements.) 


To read more reviews about WordBuildOnline, or to check out the reviews on WordBuild Foundations or WordBuild Elements, please click the banner below to check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew where you can find more reviews on this product, and so much more! 

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