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Interactive Spelling & Vocabulary CD-ROM

from Calvert School

Reviewed by Martha Robinson

Purchase details: Interactive Spelling & Vocabulary CD-ROM. Available for grades three through eight. Requirements: Windows 95 or higher, Pentium processor with 16 MB RAM, 45 MB free hard disk space, sound card. This disk is not compatible with Vista, XP, or 2000. Available only from Calvert School.

Calvert School has brought classroom spelling to the personal computer with the Interactive Spelling & Vocabulary CD. Available for third to eighth grades, this program provides thirty-two weeks of practice in spelling. The sixth grade program, reviewed here, includes spelling, vocabulary, and grammar.

The spelling section of the program shows a teacher standing at a blackboard. She reads ten words and corresponding sentences, and the student types in the word. If the student would like the word repeated, he may push a button next to the line for the word. When the student is done typing and looking over the words, he clicks "check." The computer then makes a loud ding and green check marks next to each correct word and a negative noise and red "x" marks next to incorrect words. Another screen appears to show the student the correct way to spell the word and a place where he must type it correctly. Then the student must enter the "lab" for practice. A computer voice welcomes him to the lab where missed words are shown on a computer screen graphic. The student must do one activity successfully per missed word in order to leave the lab. Activities are "write" in which the student must fill in missing letters in the word, "look" which is a word circle puzzle, and "touch" in which the students moves tiles that are out of order to a line in the correct order to spell the word. After lab, there is a "post test" on the missed words. If the student does not miss any words on the pre-test or the post test, he may move on to the next lesson when he does the program again. Missing words on the post test will give the student another trip to the lab.

The spelling part of the program has several places to reinforce learning. A "weekly review" section tests twenty words from the week using the same sentences. If the student misses, he goes back to the lab. Two types of "study lists" are also available. The first is a "review list" in which all of the misspelled words are stored for further words. The second is a "personal word list" in which the student or parent may enter words that were misspelled in the students other work. These words can be worked with in the lab. A test is given every twenty lessons.

The vocabulary section of the disk offers word study for four days and review on the fifth day. The graphic in this section is a bulletin board in the hallway outside a classroom. The words for the day are shown, and after clicking on a word, the student may choose from three definitions. If correct, one of a couple of cute congratulatory graphics appear. Then the correct definition with a picture is shown. If the student gets the word wrong, the correct definition is shown right away. The "Exercise" section for the fifth day has the student fill in letters to complete the word in the context of a sentence.

The grammar game section, with its carnival motif, is "designed to reinforce the current week's spelling words." The narrator reads a sentence appearing on the screen with a highlighted word. The student clicks to "pop" the balloon that has the correct part of speech on it. A hint button causes the definitions of the parts of speech to appear if needed. The review section uses a baseball carnival game to reinforce study of parts of speech.

Recommendation: Calvert's Interactive Spelling & Vocabulary offers an automated version of traditional spelling class. This inexpensive program is bound to help reluctant spellers who enjoy working on the computer. The "teacher" has endless patience in helping the student to master words that he finds difficult. resources related to this review:'s Language Arts Resources Section for tons of ideas, links, and more!
Review of Phonetic Zoo spelling program
Review of Sequential Spelling
Review of Spelling Workout
Review of Calvert's Vocabulary for Life

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