Tuesday, May 29, 2012

TOS Review Crew?!? To be, or not to be!

I applied this weekend to join the TOS (This Old Schoolhouse) Homeschool Review Crew!  Woot!  I'm excited at the possibilities.  I really hope it works out.  I was asked today to write a sample product review, so here's what I came up with this afternoon and sent in for consideration.  I feel really good about it!  Let me know what you think.  :)  My husband read it and said he thought it was really good and seemed very helpful.  We shall see!


-By Kelly Burgess

Wordly Wise 3000 is a vocabulary building workbook series available for grades K-12, brought to you by Educators Publishing Service.

The vendor recommends the use of the Teacher’s Resource Books in order to fully implement the lessons for levels K-1, but levels 2-12 can reliably be used as stand-alone vocabulary workbooks without the use of the teacher’s guides. 

The latest release is the new 3rd edition.  Having used both 2nd and 3rd edition workbooks, I can say that the content is essentially the same, but the visual appearance of the 3rd edition is definitely more appealing with the use of more color on the pages.

From the vendor’s website, here are the key features of Wordly Wise 3000:

Skills & Strategies

·                                 Vocabulary development

·                                 Reading comprehension

·                                 Critical thinking

·                                 Using a dictionary and pronunciation key

·                                 Word usage

·                                 Test taking/assessment

·                                 Context clues

·                                 Synonyms and antonyms

·                                 Multiple-meaning words

·                                 Using word parts to determine meaning:

·                               prefixes

·                               suffixes

·                               Greek and Latin roots

·                                 Homophones

·                                 Picture clues and captions

·                                 Analogies

·                                 Word origins

·                                 Repeated exposure in many contexts

There are 15-20 units in each workbook, each focusing on a specific new word list.  I’m going to focus on book 4 for the purposes of this review.  The words are introduced in dictionary-style format with definitions, pronunciation guide, and sample sentences using the word in context.  This is followed by a series of 5 workbook activities:

  • Finding Meanings - the student matches two phrases that make a true sentence about one of the words and then rewrites the completed sentence

  • Just the Right Word – the student replaces a bolded phrase in the given sentence with the vocabulary word it defines 

  • Applying Meanings – the student is given a question that gives application of the vocabulary word and then must choose one or more of the multiple choice answers that correctly answer the question

  • Word Study – the content of this exercise varies with such topics as synonyms, antonyms, word origins, prefixes, suffixes, etc.

  • Passage – the student reads a passage on a non-fictional cross-curricular topic such as history, science, literature, etc. and then answers comprehension questions that in some way use the vocabulary words from that unit

After every four lessons, there is a review activity in the form of a crossword puzzle.  Words from the previous four word lists are used to answer the clues.

Word lists are repeated in the margin on most pages of the workbook to keep the student from wasting time flipping back to the initial word list for each given unit.

My children have thoroughly enjoyed using these workbooks, and I’ve seen a definite advancement in their range and accurate implementation of vocabulary.  I love that this is a product I can use throughout their homeschool experience, even through the high school years.  The predictable format makes the lessons very user-friendly so the student can progress without much, if any, guidance from the parent.

Answer keys are available for purchase with solutions to all of the workbook activities to enable quick grading of your student’s work if you so desire.  In addition, if you wish to test your students for comprehension, you can purchase an optional test book with quizzes for each unit in a multiple choice format.  The answers are included in the back of the test booklet.

In addition, you get free access to their website to enhance the student’s learning.  This is one of my kids’ favorite features of the product.  At www.wordlywise3000.com, you can click on the “student” area and access audiovisual files that “teach” each of the word lists, complete with self-check activities that give immediate feedback.  The audio files can also be downloaded for learning on the go.  Students can also play a variety of games, such as hangman and battleship, which aid the student in checking their understanding of the words.  My kids really enjoy those, and it’s a great way to get them to keep practicing application of their words!

It’s easy to adjust the program to each student’s skill level by simply reviewing the word lists on the interactive website I mentioned above to see where you feel your child’s level of understanding best fits into the program.  It doesn’t necessarily have to correspond with their “grade” level.  With the predictable number of activities, I have found it easy to schedule out the book over the course of a school year, or you can simply let your child progress at their own pace.  It’s up to you!

At a cost of $11.50-$13.20 per workbook, Wordly Wise 3000 provides a good return for a minimal investment.  I really like that I don’t have to buy a lot of frills to go with it, and it includes enough material to fill up the school year with a solid foundation of vocabulary expansion. 

I think the main positives of this program are the overall value, ease of use, effectiveness of the activities to reinforce the learning, and a predictable format that is easy for the student to follow and easy for the parent to plan into the school year.  A potential negative is that with it being a workbook format, it wouldn’t be a good fit for a child who dislikes that type of learning.  Also, because the format is predictable with the same types of activities in every unit, the repetitive nature could become boring for the student if he/she dislikes any of the specific activities.  My oldest son, for example, really dislikes doing reading comprehension questions, so the “Passage” activity is the one he really dreads doing.  But overall, I highly recommend this series for kids aged 5-18.

Read more about Wordly Wise 3000 on the TOS Homeschool Crew Review Blog http://homeschoolcrew.com/?s=wordly+wise (there wasn’t a specific link about Wordly Wise on the TOS blog, so I put this link in merely as a filler for the purposes of the review sample).

Educators Publishing Services provided this product to me free of charge for reviewing purposes, but I was in no way influenced as to my impressions of the product.  My opinions of Wordly Wise 3000 are entirely my own.  (Obviously, that’s not the case, but I inserted this disclaimer for the purpose of following the format for the sample review.  I actually bought the products myself and have been using them for the last 8 years!)