Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Top 5: SpellQuizzer...Giveaway!!

No matter what spelling curriculum you use there are those dreaded moments in your daily school schedule when you must quiz your eager student on his or her spelling list. Your student rolls his or her beautiful, innocent blue/green/brown eyes. "Do I have to?" he or she whines. It's not a pleasant part of the school day.

This is where SpellQuizzer comes in. SpellQuizzer is a spelling software program that helps kids learn their spelling and vocabulary words. The program is a quick learn even for someone like me. Every week when I'm getting prepared for the upcoming academia, I take the kids' spelling books and record a little quiz right on to the program. Takes about 15 minutes for the 3 olders. AND the 3 olders are using two different spelling curriculum. Doesn't matter. SpellQuizzer is a perfect complement to any spelling program. OR, if you don't use a spelling curriculum, SpellQuizzer has pre-made downloadable spelling lists already available. PLUS, you can export and import SpellQuizzer spelling lists to share with other SpellQuizzer users.

Anyway, once our new week of academia gets going, the kids each take turns at the computer listening to my voice prompts and typing out the words. If they get a word wrong, the program knows it--even if you live in England or Australia!--and will prompt the child with the correct spelling. At the end of the list, the child will be asked to go back and try the missed words again.

I was a little skeptical at first, but as I used the program, something quickly emerged:

The Top 5 Reasons You Should Use SpellQuizzer in Your Homeschool/After School/At School:

Reason #5:
I consider myself to be fairly technologically aware; however, just because I'm aware doesn't mean I know how to employ the things of which I am aware. I have never done anything with recording sound on the computer, so I was a little intimidated. But SpellQuizzer is so easy to use!

I went to Wally World and bought a cheap microphone headset and started up the program. All self-explanatory. You type in a spelling word, press "Start", record yourself saying the word and a sentence, press "Stop", press "Add Word", and you're done! Simple. I love simple. PLUS I am only saying the word and sentence once, not everyday! Beautiful!

Also, let's say Alex misses the word mountain on this week's test. I always re-test them the following week on missed words. All I have to do when setting up the SpellQuizzer list for that next week is select mountain from the word database that grows as our word lists grow. I don't even have to re-record it!

Reason #4:
You can let your inner child flow right out when you record the words. Have fun! You can make up silly sentences or recite them with dramatic flair or in a funny voice. Or a funny accent. Try a British accent, which actually might help your speller! Take the word British, for example. If I say it in my honky American accent, my kid might spell it B-r-i-d-i-s-h. But if I take her to London for a spot of tea, she's sure to get it right!

Whatever quirkiness you decide to use on the spelling lists, that quirkiness makes the words much more memorable for your spellers, and guess what? Making learning memorable cements those words in their brains for longer than the five minutes it takes to pass the spelling test.

Reason #3:
Silliness aside, presenting spelling lists to your kids this way allows you to remind them daily of important rules to keep in mind when spelling. For example, let's say the spelling word is receive. You could prompt with something like, "The next word is receive. Don't forget the rhyme about i and e when spelling this word. Receive."

Or you could help them actually learn what the word means and not just how to spell it. For example, if the word is enthusiasm, you might prompt with, "Next is enthusiasm. Go ahead. Show your enthusiasm for these spelling words by doing a little jig right by the computer. Go ahead! Oh, and don't forget to spell your word! Enthusiasm."

Reason #2:
Kids. Enjoy. It. That's right. They actually enjoy doing their spelling words. I don't get any whining now or eyerolls. This morning, after he had finished SpellQuizzer, Jacob proudly told me, "I got them ALL right, Mom! I didn't have to re-do any of them!"

And the #1 Reason You Should Use SpellQuizzer in Your Homeschool/After School/At School:
IT WORKS! Since we began using SpellQuizzer, all 3 of them have hugely improved their spelling scores. It's no secret that, even with my oldest, we've struggled a bit on the Spelling Front 'round here, but they all did very well on their last test. Judging from Jacob's comments, I'm expecting some perfect scores this week. And of course, these improved scores mean a huge confidence boost to my spellers. Added bonus.

In all fairness, in reviewing a product I try to look for any cons of the program. Well, I certainly didn't find enough for an extra Top 5 [pause while you breathe a sigh of relief since--as you know--I tend to get a little wordy anyway]. I only found one downside. I wish there was a record-keeping system as part of the program. For example, after a child has completed his list, he is asked if he would like to go back and try the words he missed again. I have made it mandatory for my children to go back and re-spell; however, I would love a Gradebook of some sort which would tell me how many he missed and if he re-tried those tough words. NOT that I can ever imagine any of my angelic little children disobeying and not going back (ahem). I'm just sayin'.

(I have been told a Gradebook of some kind is coming in the near future. (The folks at SpellQuizzer are very responsive and helpful, by the way.))

That said, I am more than thrilled that SpellQuizzer is now a part of our daily schedule. It takes a dreaded task out of my lesson plan book and builds my children's confidence. I have a feeling I'm going to hear a lot less of this: "You want me to write a WHOLE paragraph? But I don't know how to spell ANY of the words!"

So...would you like your own SpellQuizzer? I thought you'd never ask. The kind folks at SpellQuizzer have authorized me to give away one free SpellQuizzer license. All you have to do is leave a comment to this post. Your comment will put your name in the proverbial hat (limit one entry). I will pull one lucky winner from that proverbial hat in 1 week, so you have until 5:00pm next Tuesday, April 13, to comment. In your comment, why don't you tell me how spelling goes in your house and how you think SpellQuizzer could help you out?


Lauren said...

At our house, spelling is one of the last vestiges of private talk between adults... And I guess SpellQuizzer would hasten its end!

sharon said...

Wh-eye wood ewe thenk eye wood ned a speL-Kizz'r?

N'oui dat eye lef mi koment ken U plse pek mEE 4 the frE pkage?

CrossView said...

Awesome giveaway! Spelling with my youngest is not a highlight of our schooling. *ahem* My oldest LOVED spelling. My youngest does not. It sounds like SpellQuizzer would incorporate all the things we do but with the benefit of letting her be in her own private world for it which would surely help keep my blood pressure down. ;O)

Sanna said...

Ahhh, spelling, such a happy thought but...... first we must learn to read and write then we can spell. However, learning to spell is in our future. :) Sign me up please!

mareseatoats said...

Great post! Quite a review- I loved it. We have been using Sequential Spelling here and love it. Since the lists build daily from a list of root words I think SQ would help cement the root words and I'd even throw in the other words too. I love the idea of being able to record the words and make it fun.

Julie said...

Spelling around here often gets "pushed aside", since it is just not enjoyable...with that said, I know there needs to be more focus on it, esp. with my reluctant speller. This sounds like a great way to take a little of the boredom out of the subject!=)

Arby said...

I'm glad to see that you've found something that works for spelling. Don't count this as an entry. I'll never use the product. GIve it to someone who will.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is learning to read. She loves to spell things when she is talking to me. She'll say "Well, M-O-M, this is going to be a good day." I think it is pretty cute. As for SpellQuizzer...you have sold me! It sounds like it is a great learning tool and I would love to try it! (Cherith--I don't have a Google account)

Amy said...

Hmmm...I wonder if this would be helpful for Caleb. We've been using Dianne Craft's spelling program, but this might be a good supplement.

India Baker said...

This program looks like something my kids would actually enjoy. Currently getting them to do spelling is like pulling teeth.

Becky U said...

I've never heard of this before. It looks great! I'd love to try it out here, too!

Becky U said...

Coming back to say, we us All About Spelling here, and they do great with that, but as soon as they turn around to write in their journals, the spelling (esp. for my 8 yo son) is atrocious!

dclouser said...

This program sounds great! I will recommend it to others. So glad you've found something that is working for the kiddos!

Linda said...

you have a "daily routine"?? wow. Ok, maybe spellquizzer can help give me a daily routine. That's it! I need spellquizzer for daily routineness. (next perhaps vocabulary quizzer?)

Kathleen said...

Routine, Linda? Of sorts! :-)

Actually SQ would make a great vocabulary quizzer. Just record a clue: What word means not really hot and not really cold? (warm). The only thing is they would have to know how to spell the word, so it would probably be better for older children.

CrossView said...

BAHAHA! You're going to actually have to post a new entry soon. The time your contest bought you is almost up. ;o)

@nnie said...

thanks for the great tip. I love your blog and am looking for some new posts! Maybe you sold your house or soemthing exciting like that!