Friday, May 20, 2011

TOS Review: Wordy Qwerty

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Earlier this year, The Old Schoolhouse Crew reviewed Read, Write & Type, a beginning reading program produced by Talking Fingers. The beginning program teaches phonics rules so that a student can type any word that they can say. (If you are interested, the crew reviews are located here.)

Talking Fingers also has a program for older students -- Wordy Qwerty. Wordy Qwerty picks up where Read, Write & Type leaves off. It teaches spelling rules and English language patterns so that students can learn to spell words correctly. These lessons are designed for 2nd through 4th graders, roughly 7 to 10 years old. I used this program with Brennan (10 years old).

Wordy Qwerty consists of 20 lessons, each of which contains variations of the same 6 activities. Two of the activities introduce a new spelling rule, one offers practice with word families, one asks the student to quickly identify words that don't necessarily follow spelling rules, one gives the student a sentence to type, and the last one is a fill-in-the-blank story.

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We found all of the activities to be both colorful and fun. Brennan sometimes complained that they took a few minutes to load, but he (like his mother) is known for being an impatient internet user.

I noticed that the program allows a student to move through the levels without demonstrating mastery of a concept. Also, some of the game activities do not necessarily have a penalty for submitting the wrong answer; it merely tells the student how to answer correctly. After a while, Brennan just started to coast through the activities without giving it his full attention. I found this to be particularly evident in the story reading activity. Brennan could correctly choose the correct word to fill the blank in the sentence by only reading that particular sentence. After watching him read 4-6 pages of text, I asked him what the story was about. He had no clue; he was merely picking words that made sense and wasn't even reading the sentences that didn't require a response.

We did find one part of the program that I really liked. I really liked the way that the program would give an entire line of dictation and ask Brennan to type it. I've often used dictation as part of our composition lessons, but I've always done it with paper and pencil. His handwriting skills have sometimes limited the  length and complexity of the sentences that I've chosen for that dictation. It was an "a-ha" sort of moment when I saw him typing dictation sentences on the computer for Wordy Qwerty.

As online subscription to Wordy Qwerty costs $25 for one user and $40 for two users. (The complete price list, including options for more users, is available here.) Wordy Qwerty is also available on CD for $35.

As always, many other homeschool families have been using Wordy Qwerty over the past few months. Their reviews can be found on The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog.

I received a free student license for Wordy Qwerty as a member of the 2010 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


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