Friday, February 8, 2013

SpellingCity.com Review of the educational online service

Product: SpellingCity Evaluation
URL: www.spellingcity.com

Review wrote by Mrs.Q at USA Schools

Strengths: Excellent review and study tool for Spelling and content vocabulary words, entertaining, engaging, and provides immediate feedback for students.  Multiple lists can be created and stored - teacher can open or close lists for students use as needed.  Many features are offered, even without a subscription.  Can be used anywhere there is internet access, and this is an educational alternative that can be used at home.  Parents are excited about the app, because now their children can study on a mobile device on the go.  Simple tutorial videos for teachers to explain how to use features.
Premium subscription allows teacher to track individual progress, keep a grade book, and create assignments.  There are no pop-ups, because these can be very confusing for young learners.  Students have access to more games and other features like writing and vocabulary.  Overall, quite user friendly.  First graders were able to access and use the programs without much training or pre-teaching.

Weakness:  Free Non-subscription: POP-UPS are very confusing and often redirect young students to other sites.  Students need to search for teacher's lists, and this takes a few steps.

Premium: I wish there was a calendar feature to set to post and close assignments automatically.  Sometimes, I forget to open new lists.  I would like to be able to have students practice dictation sentences and not just single words.  I would LOVE it if the site blocked other activities until assignments were completed, and make the waiting assignment indicator larger and more obvious.

Challenges: I would like to explore the other features more - vocabulary and writing.  I would like to create content vocabulary lists.  Teachers should incorporate time for students to use the program during school, because some students do not have access at home.

Opportunities:  Writing is a new feature.  I would like to explore this more.  It would be wonderful to have a way to electronically correct writing and give timely feedback.

Recommendation:

A. What grade levels: K - 4th, but lists can be customized for older students.  However, Spelling practice games may be a bit immature/less challenging for older students.

B. To Purchase or not to Purchase it
If a teacher is committed to creating and posting lists, it is a useful tool.  Subscription is highly recommended for younger students, because of ease of navigation and no pop-ups that look like games.  Also, a subscription is needed if a teacher wants to track student progress or use for grading.  Lists can be saved without a subscriptions.  Personally, I would ask that teachers create lists prior to purchase to increase the likelihood the site will be utilized.

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I am the Director of Technology at a K-12 School system.