Words fascinate me. E has always been fascinated with words as well. Since she could talk, she has always played with words, creating new ones, putting sounds together differently, seeing what all she could do with words. So getting the opportunity to review Dynamic Literacy, a program that focuses on the HOW of putting words together, was right up our alley.
WordBuild: Elements, Level 1 Set (Includes WordBuild the Game) is a fantastic set that has three pieces to it that all work together to help the student learn how to build words. Truly, it is that simple. And that complicated. The pieces of the set include
- a 336 page teacher’s guide
- a 156 page student workbook; and
- WordBuild The Game disc for the computer.
The concept behind Dynamic Literacy is amazingly simple.
prefix + root + suffix = word
This concept drives the curriculum and the activities. This concept thrives on the exponential learning capacity of knowing and understanding each of the parts. Learning and knowing each of the pieces of the word, the morphemes, helps you decipher the meaning, thus making it possible for you to decipher words you have never seen or heard. There are 25 roots covered in Elements Level 1. There is a prefix and suffix appendix to help students who may need to learn or review these affixes prior to starting with the root word studies.
The program has a five day approach, with the activity for each of those days staying the same. The root changes each rotation.
- Day 1 – Root Squares activity (putting the pieces of words together from given morphemes)
- Day 2 – Magic Squares (deciphering the meaning of words based on the prefix + root + suffix)
- Day 3 – Stair Steps (coming up with the word based on a definition)
- Day 4 – Comprehension Boosters (using the words in context)
- Day 5 – Check-up for the root (mini-test with multiple choice questions)
There is also a “word wall” for each root. It is suggested that the student write down each new word with that root that they come across as they work the activities during the week.
It is suggested that only 15 minutes a day is needed for these activities, which are geared towards 6th – 10th grades (or perhaps 7th-12th for remediation). You will find the activities to be completed in the student workbook. The teacher’s guide has copies of the activities, the answers, and various teaching suggestions. If you are a classroom teacher, the teacher’s guide also has teaching objectives for each activities, along with differentiated instruction helps and cross-curricular examples.
Using the Program:
When we began Dynamic Literacy, we stepped back and did each of the lessons on the prefixes and suffixes that were needed before beginning the root word studies, as is suggested if you haven’t completed the Foundations levels. We felt like that would give us the best start. I am glad we did because the definition used for some of the affixes was just enough different from my understanding or E’s understanding of it that we struggled with some of the activities and definitions. I had to pull out the answers for things more than once, and not just for grading.
E and I enjoyed the activities in WordBuild and it was fun working together. We will set this aside for the summer but when we jump back in with a full load in the fall, I think this will be in E’s box.
WordBuild the Game:
WordBuild the Game focuses on the same concept as the workbooks: prefix + root + suffix = word. It is an interactive program where the student places the morphemes together to try to make as many words as possible. It can be timed or not. If the student puts together pieces that don’t make a word, the program gently tells them that the word is not in the dictionary. You will need to check the Dynamic Literacy website to see the system requirements for this program.
The game was not terribly intuitive but once I got the hang of it, I was able to teach the girls pretty easily what to do. E had tried to figure it out by herself but couldn’t. We had both E, age 11, and L, age 9, working with the game. It wasn’t a hit but they enjoyed it well enough that there were no complaints about using it.
I think this is a unique approach to learning vocabulary and how to approach words that makes sense. It is how I have always thought about words so I felt right at home with this curriculum. E enjoyed the variation in activity from day to day, even though the weekly pattern was in place. Her absolute favorite activity was Magic Squares. She looked forward to it each week so much that she would ask to double up the day’s work if it meant she could do Magic Squares. There is also an online version of WordBuild that I am excited to read the Crew Reviews about. All in all – a hit.
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