WORDS AROUND ME
by Orah Raia
SUBJECT AREA: Functional Vocabulary Development
PUBLISHER: Edmark (800)362-2890
COST: $399 list (includes 2 copies), or $799 for a 10 copy lab pack
GRADE LEVEL: PreK to Adult
NOTABLE SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Mac only; minimum 68030 processor; 8MB highly recommended; minimum 2X CD-ROM drive. Optional: Printer to print student records and flash cards, TouchWindow or switch for alternate access.
EDUCATIONAL GOALS: To help students learn to identify 275 vocabulary words, plus plurals for a variety of categories related to daily living, which include Personal, Kitchen, Home, Outdoors, School, Community, Colors, Shapes, and Verbs. In addition, students develop memory, listening, categorization, comparison, and visual perception skills.
DESCRIPTION: The program is made up of the seven Word Collections identified above. Each Word Collection contains 40 words, in 10-word sets. Each 10 word set is presented through flash cards in 5 cycles: Word Identification, Plurals, Categorization, Sameness, and Difference. Once the Question and Answer period is over, there is a 10 Word Review, followed by a Review Game. Students can choose from an option of three different games which include: Hide and Seek, in which the association between the sound of a word and pictures representing the word is reinforced; Make A Match, for which students match pairs of pictures in a memory game; and Picture Puzzle, in which students build spatial awareness and visual closure skills. After the 40 Word Collection is completed, students play a cumulative 40 Word Review. An animated character (Greenie) is on the screen and provides reinforcement when the student gives the correct answer.
STRENGTHS: Greenie provides fun and entertainment to this program, and young children will get a charge out of the many different forms he takes on. The program includes an Adult Options Section which provides an opportunity to individualize the program according to students' abilities. Teachers can select from 3 difficulty levels, choose English or Spanish, turn off the text labels, turn off the animation character, and adjust the number of incorrect words before a "teacher alert" comes up on the screen. The program also includes capability for single switch input and touch screen. The ability to see student record cards and print them, and an option to print flash cards, which enables carryover for home instruction, are valuable features.
WEAKNESSES: This program is recommended for PreK to Adults, and is quite flexible, but it is missing one important option which would have extended its uses and made it an excellent program for older students. This is the capability to eliminate the pictures from the flash cards; such a feature would turn the program into an excellent tool to increase sight word recognition.
SUMMARY: This program is well-designed, motivating for students, and flexible, providing many customizing options for teachers. Its unusually high cost would be justified if the program were expanded to include the teaching of sight words.
Orah Raia is a graduate student in the Department of Special Education at The College of New Jersey.
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