Friday, May 20, 2011

Crew Review: Wordy Qwerty

Wordy Qwerty is the second product from Talking Fingers that we've had the pleasure to review this school year.  Talking Fingers produces researched-based instructional materials to faciliate learning in school and home environments. You can read about the company, their philosophy, and company history at their website.

A brief introduction about Wordy Qwerty from the website:

Wordy Qwerty"The long-awaited sequel to the Read, Write & Type Learning System, Wordy Qwerty – Foundations for Reading and Writing Fluency, takes 7-9 year olds through the next steps of reading and writing fluency, and picks up where our award-winning software, the Read, Write & Type Learning System leaves off.
After successfully completing Read, Write & Type!, most 6-7 year olds are able to write any word they can say. But they may not spell them all correctly, because they need to know a bit more about spelling conventions and about how words are constructed in English. This is where Wordy Qwerty comes in. In 20 consecutive lessons, woven together with fun-to-play games and delightful songs that will stay in their heads..."

You can view the online Wordy Qwerty's price structure; one user license is $25.00 with discounted license fees for more than one user.  All online products have licenses good for 5 years. CD versions are $35.00. However, the CDs are not compatible with Windows 7 and Mac 10.6 operating systems.

How it Works.  The premise is that Midi, a keyboard, needs to make musical instruments and needs spheres to play music.  Guess who collects spheres?  Yes, your child.  To collect spheres, you child will complete 20 lessons emphasizing a different spelling rule in each lesson:

  1. Silent E
  2. Sounds of C
  3. Sounds of G
  4. J or DGE
  5. W or WH
  6. C or K
  7. CK or K
  8. CKS or X
  9. CH or TCH
  10. LL, SS, FF, ZZ
  11. OI or OY
  12. VE Words
  1. Open Syllables
  2. Double Consonants
  3. Doubling rule
  4. ER, IR, OR, UR, EAR
  5. I Before E
  6. Plurals: Add ES
  7. Plurals: Y to IES
  8. Plurals: F to VES

So, when you first start the program, you'll be working on #1, Silent E rule.  Your child will progress through each of six steps before having a spelling test on the words which demonstrate the rule.  The steps are:
  1. Patterns (sorting words based on the spelling rule)
  2. Karaoke (a song which emphasizes the spelling rule)
  3. Recycler (working with homophones like "meet" vs. "meat" that are not necessarily related to the spelling rule)
  4. Pop-a-Word (with sight-word emphasis on common words like "their")
  5. Write Stories (typing a sentence to dictation)
  6. Read Stories (choosing a key word that makes contextual sense in a story)
If you click over to the product tour, the developers have explained each of these 6 steps clearly.

The final step is a spelling test.  This is actually the only part of the program that is graded for accuracy.   If you child does not meet the pass criteria (it is set for 70%, but you can adjust it), he is asked to try again.  The first time your child doesn't pass, he is automatically sent back to take the test again.  After that, though, the characters just suggest that they try again. [Now, I totally understand not wanting to frustrate a child because he's being forced to repeat something s/he is not good at.  But, then, really, what is the point of setting the passing level?  I did contact a company representative about this feature, and she explained how it works, but it still doesn't make much sense.]

After each set of 5 spelliing rules, your child gets a mini-reward of seeing how the music machine is coming along.  It is pretty cool.  However, after you've completed all the lessons (not necessarily that you've met your passing score) you get to see the WHOLE machine and hear the hole piece.  All my boys (and I) were spellbound.  It was very, very cool.

Our Experience. I wouldn't consider this an entire spelling program, but rather a supplement to enhance your spelling program.  My ds has had a lot of trouble with the "C says /s/ before e, i and y" rule, and I can tell that he is understanding the rule more in his reading aloud to me.  Instead of just reading the C as a hard /k/ sound, he is pausing, thinking, and then correctly pronouncing the C as either /s/ or /k/ -- depending on the vowel.  Yipee!

Another part of the program that I believe has helped my son is the Pop-a-word game. It has helped with his sight-word reading (I'm not a fan of sight-words, but at some point, you gotta do what is best for your child and Lukie needs some sight-words to help him along). This activity has really helped him speed up his reading, and what is cool is that he is realizing it.  "Hey, mom," he said to me yesterday, "I got eleven balloons [rewards] today!"  The last I watched him, he was averaging only 3 or 4.

I've been very pleased with how Wordy Qwerty has helped my son make progress.  He's still working on bringing a couple of his scores up to the 80% criteria, so he's not done with it yet.  But I've seen some marked improvement in his reading, which for right now, means this program has been worth its weight in gold.

Please visit the TOS Crew Review to see others' experience with Wordy Qwerty.

Thank you SO much to Talking Fingers for a one-year subscription to Wordy Qwerty online.  In exchange, I agreed to share our experience with the program.

No comments: