Sunday, May 31, 2009

The SpellQuizzer Spelling Program

Now, I must admit, I usually don’t spend too much time teaching or reviewing spelling in our home. A lot of spelling gets done naturally through DS’ own choice methods, either dictation (the kiddo prefers it to copywork) or by playing games like Scrabble or UpWords or the occasional crossword puzzle that catches his eye.

The spelling software SpellQuizzer however, has got me excited because of its slight similarity to a reading program my hubby created for DS back in 2003.

SpellQuizzer is pretty straightforward. You create spelling lists for your student, recording a suitable (and if you want to pump up the fun factor, amusing) audio prompt for each word. To quiz the child, the recordings get played over the computer’s speakers. Your child types in what he/ she thinks is the correct spelling. He/ she then gets immediate feedback and of course, the opportunity to correct mistakes.

OK, say you have serious "recording block" and don't know what to say when you're making the lists. All you have to do is type in a reminder phrase on the list creation interface and SpellQuizzer will use that instead as a word prompt.

Downloading the software (I have a high-speed connection) and creating a sample list of about 10 words with short recordings took me barely 20 minutes. The interface is pretty easy to master and you should be able to create lists in less time once you get used to it. But if you're too pressed for time or would rather not create lists for the time being, there are also pre-made spelling lists you can download for free from the SpellQuizzer website. I personally like the one with the Greek Mythology theme :)

Once you've downloaded SpellQuizzer, you’ll see from this screenshot that you have the option to share spelling lists with others (an export function through an email attachment, for example) or even import lists from them. This should be great for schools and co-ops. There's also a helpful, optional Tip of the Day function that gives you a heads up on features you may not have noticed. To me, these features make SpellQuizzer more tempting to use than my other favorite spelling tool, Spelling City.
After playing with it for a while, these are the advantages that strike me most about SpellQuizzer:

The ability to create automated, customized spelling lists – you can create spelling lists for any age or grade level and play them over and over again.

Convenience for both visual and auditory learners
– parents may make quirky/ humorous recordings to prompt the child. DS snickered quite a bit when he heard my voice but hey, the ability to have fun while learning has always been important to us :)
Flexibility – use it on its own or with any other spelling curriculum or program! Like I've mentioned, in our home, we don't (not yet, anyway) sweat the spelling stuff but DS likes using this like he would any other computer game so I find it really quite versatile for both parent and student.

Cost – SpellQuizzer is free to use for 30 days. To buy, it's $29.95 for a single PC license. Yes, it's not completely free like Spelling City. But if you want the bells and whistles and use it on its own without investing in any other spelling curriculum, it is relatively affordable for a multi-grade-level spelling software.

Other pluses:
A built-in spell checker for both US and UK spellings! And depending on the kind of PC you use, you may not need a dedicated microphone to make your recordings. My average-quality built-in mike worked really well! If you do need a mike, your neighborhood WalMart, Staples or Best Buy will probably have a decent one for under $10.

These are the hitches I've noticed so far:

If you already have MS Word files of spelling lists you’ve created, and the words are not on SpellQuizzer’s existing database or in the database of lists you’ve imported, you might find it tedious to copy and paste each word individually.

Also, SpellQuizzer currently only runs on PCs (Windows Vista, XP, 2000, ME or 98).

Visit this page for homeschoolers for a more detailed description of the software. You may also view helpful video demonstrations on the website or try the software’s Help section (press F1 once you’ve downloaded and launched SpellQuizzer) if you get stuck.

June 1 Update: I had earlier mentioned that the creator of SpellQuizzer is a homeschooling Dad. He has kindly informed me that he isn't homeschooling his kids. I also wanted to add that I am not affiliated with SpellQuizzer and do not receive any commission from anyone selling this software.

1 comment:

  1. We don't use a "spelling program" as such, like you, but this one looks really cool.


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