Monday, May 18, 2009

SpellQuizzer

How do you spell the word for "finding time each day to drill as many different sets of spelling words as you have children"?

F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-I-N-G

How do you spell the word for "spending the few free moments of the evening not filled with sports or extra-curricular activities drilling spelling words for tomorrow's test"?

E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G

How do spell the word for "coaching your reluctant speller toward success"?

E-X-A-S-P-E-R-A-T-I-N-G

How do you spell the word for "every parent's solution to these dilemmas"?

S-P-E-L-L-Q-U-I-Z-Z-E-R

SpellQuizzer is a new downloadable software that acts as the teacher's assistant in the area of spelling. It allows its users to create custom spelling lists, or select from a variety of free downloadable lists, and does the spelling-drill work for them. It was not designed with any one spelling curriculum in mind and can be used in conjunction with any spelling program. It also gives users a lot of freedom and flexibility. My sons are on opposite ends of the spelling spectrum. One is a natural speller, and the other is a reluctant one. I used SpellQuizzer with both boys and had great results each time.

For my reluctant speller, I created custom lists to match the spelling curriculum he is completing. Creating each list was really simple to do. It was a matter of pointing and clicking while reading the words and a defining sentence into a PC microphone. I used a headphone-microphone set that I purchased for $10, and the sound quality of my recordings was very good. I was able to save my lists and choose whether the words would be presented to my children sequentially or randomly.

SpellQuizzer was so easy to navigate that my son, 8-years-old, was able to open it and start his quiz sessions without assistance. I even felt comfortable allowing him to record one of his spelling lists independently since the program alerts its user if the word is misspelled before allowing it to be saved to a list. This saved me even more time and gave him complete ownership of his learning which further motivated him.

As each recorded word was played for him, a line appeared on the screen and prompted him to type the given spelling word. He was provided as much time as he needed to type the word and was not rushed to navigate the keyboard. To submit the word, he simply had to press the "enter" key. There was also a button to click to replay the word if he did not hear clearly the first time. After submitting his spelling, he received immediate feedback and was rewarded with applause for correct words or heard "oh no" for misspellings. The program also kept track of the words he misspelled and provided an opportunity to spell those words again.

Spelling drill with this son was always one of the worst times of day for him and me. If I called the words for him, it seemed to take forever to get through the list. He was restless and had trouble focusing. I also had to keep track of his progress. If he studied alone, he never accomplished enough. With SpellQuizzer, he was no longer reluctant, and his focus improved. He asked daily to be allowed to practice spelling, even outside of our regular school hours. He enjoyed working on the computer, hearing the sound effects, and even hearing my voice through the headphones. When he missed words, instead of feeling discouraged, he felt as though he was being challenged and wanted to try again until he got it right. Most importantly, it was obvious that he was engaged in learning.

SpellQuizzer also met the needs of my natural speller. He is not completing a traditional spelling class; however, I have tried to help him study for the National Spelling Bee for two years and have never found a study system that works. I don't have time to drill him on the number of words he needs to know in order to be competitive in the Bee. With SpellQuizzer, I was able to record a list of 65 words for him in about 15 minutes. This was enough to keep him productive for several hours, and it provided accountability and feedback, something he would not have received otherwise.

SpellQuizzer users are not limited to creating lists solely from their spelling curricula. Words can be pulled from Social Studies, Science, or any other subjects from across the curriculum. Another really great feature is the option to import and export spelling lists. Once a custom list is saved, it can be exported which allows other SpellQuizzer users to access and use it. Likewise, you can import lists created by fellow SpellQuizzer users. This creates the potential to link with others who use the same curriculum and share the responsibility of creating the custom lists with them. Since SpellQuizzer costs $29.95 with no shipping, you can feel good about recommending it to friends you would like to partner with.

SpellQuizzer recognizes US and UK English spellings. It is easy to download, install, and use; however, it comes with a thorough help menu if further assistance is needed. The four video demonstrations on their website are an excellent tutorial and were all the information I needed to use the program successfully. There is also a page specifically for homeschoolers with links to free downloadable word lists, including Dolch sight words. However, SpellQuizzer is not intended solely for homeschoolers and would benefit public and private school children as well.

To get started with SpellQuizzer, click here to access their free 30-day trial. You will be G-L-A-D you did!

3 comments:

argsmommy said...

Thanks for this review. Just a couple of weeks ago I found something that sounds similar (http://www.spellingcity.com/) and was intrigued, but now I will have to check out SellQuizzer.

Kellie

Homeschool Dawn said...

That's great, Kellie. I hope you like it. I have used spellingcity in the past and prefer SpellQuizzer. They are very similar. I like, however, that SpellQuizzer is downloadable so that we don't have to go online to use it. I feel like I have to watch my children more carefully when using online programs. Also, SpellQuizzer lets you choose sound effects and my kids liked hearing my voice instead of the pre-recorded voice of spellingcity... the spellingcity voices and one sound effect (that is played constantly) kind of annoyed them, but they thought it was hilarious hearing me or themselves through their headphones. Also, I would not have allowed my boys to record their weekly lists themselves on spellingcity which I have with SpellQuizzer. Just wanted to give you that extra info for consideration.

Jessica S. said...

I loved SpellQuizzer too!! Thanks for the review! :)