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A Review of WordBuild: Foundations Level 1

JazzEdge  Review

WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 is designed to teach students the meanings of the most important prefixes and suffixes in the English language the Dynamic Literacy way of exponential learning.

My 4th grader has completed his reading program and while he can decode at a high school level, he may not understand all the words he is reading. So I was very interested in a program to teach him a lot of words!

Foundations Level 1 Components:

  • Two Student Activity Books: weekly units with a years worth of activities focusing on prefixes and suffixes.
  • Teacher's Edition: lesson plans, tips, assessments, answer keys, and more.

Section One of the program is a 20 page workbook with color divided into two main sections.

The first half of the section one book is all about playing with compound words - putting words together, breaking them down, making new words, mixing and matching words, finding compound words in a word-search, and playing games with word parts to build compound words. These activities are all designed to give students an understanding that compound words are made up of meaningful parts.

The second half of the section one book focuses on the concept of prefixes and suffixes as a meaningful part of the word - an introduction to what will be covered in more detail in section 2.

Section Two is an 182 page black and white book that consists of 30 lessons that are each 6 pages long. Each lesson covers a different affix and their meaning. For example, the first lesson is "over" and it means "above or too much."

Each lesson has a variety of activities to teach and reinforce what they are learning over a 5 day period:

  • Day 1: Prefix Square - student starts in the middle of the square with a prefix and combines this prefix with the words in the other squares to build new words. Then they write the word and the definition in the space below. 

  • Day 2: Affix Adder - student affixes the prefix to another word, writes the meaning, and then uses the new word in a sentence. 
  • Day 3: "Magic Square" - student matches the words to their correct definition, places the number of the definition in the box so that all the numbers add up to one "magic number." 
  • Day 4: Word Search - designed to expose students to more words, the student finds the words and circles them. 
  • Day 5: Comprehension Booster - student practices using the affix in sentence contexts. Boosters are like a review and each one has a fun title that relates to that lesson's word. This is an easy way to assess the student's understanding of the affix being studied. 
View a sample lesson to see each component of a lesson in more detail.

 The Teacher's Edition includes a 5 day lesson overview of each prefix or suffix. Lessons follow a
"teach, complete, discuss" method (I do, you do, we do) that is geared for use in a classroom setting. Each lesson offers step-by-step procedures for teaching activities, assessments and tests, a word list for every unit, and more. The layout consists of text boxes for the method along with a sample of the student work page.

How we used Foundations Level 1 and our thoughts on the program:

I used the program with Malachi as intended completing one lesson over a 5 day period.

We first worked through and completed Section One. The activity pages were colorful, fun, and easy to do. Designed for grades 3-5 (or 5th-9th for remedial work), it seemed simple for Malachi who is in the 4th grade. He worked through the first 12 pages of the book and then I did the last 8 pages orally to speed things up and use the lessons as a quick review, as suggested in the Teacher's Edition.

We worked through the lessons in Section Two as intended, as well. Malachi completed one lesson over a 5 day period. At first Malachi liked the variety of activities. His favorites were the Magic Square and the Word Search. My favorite was the Comprehension Booster because it tested him on his understanding, which by now should be down pat with all of the practice!

In fact, as the review period wound down, I began to feel that some of the activities were overkill. We will set this aside for the rest of the summer and if/when we pick it up again this fall, I will have Malachi move through this at a much quicker pace and choose only a few activities to practice before doing the Comprehension Booster at the end of the lesson. Working at double pace, this would be a semester long course with assessments every three weeks, instead of every 6 weeks.

Foundations 1 is great for building vocabulary; however, the repetition made some of the activities feel like busy work at times. I didn't mind some of it, especially the activities that require my student to use the words in context. But, I think choosing a few activities will enable us to still get the benefits of this program, move at a quicker pace, and save time and energy for reading stories and books to build vocabulary.

  • Plenty of concept reinforcement and review
  • Systematic, easy to teach, and takes less than 15 minutes per day
  • Teaches meanings of key elements of words by teaching the most frequently used roots, prefixes, and suffixes
  • Improves vocabulary and reading comprehension
  • Can help increase standardized test scores 
  • Activities are varied and encourage active learning

  • Repetitive practice feels like busy work
  • Designed for classroom use

WordBuild's tagline is "A Better Way to Teach Vocabulary" and I agree - WordBuild is a better way to teach vocabulary than having a student memorize a list of words. The activities are engaging and require the student to actively process what they are learning, apply that knowledge, and then understand it in context. That's definitely better than memorizing a list of words, but I've also been taught that reading lots of books will naturally build vocabulary. 

While we may or may not use this in the future, I think it's a great concept and think this would be most suited for students who love a workbook approach and a variety of activities to reinforce what they are learning.  

Read more Crew reviews to learn more about WordBuild: Foundations Level 1, Level 2, and also WordBuild Online! 

Crew Disclaimer
Interested in WordBuild? Dynamic Literacy is offering a 10% discount for the online version at wordbuildonline.com and 25% off the book version at dynamichomeschool.com with the code delightful

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