Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dynamic Literacy Review

I have fond memories of learning morphemes with my dad. We'd sit around the table making up our own words by combining prefixes, suffixes, and roots. One of us would say a "word" and the other would figure out the definition by breaking down the morphemes (the smallest part with meaning of a word). It was practical teaching. Throughout the years, he taught me that I could have a basic understanding of almost any word (and could even understand many foreign words), as long as I had a grasp of the individual parts. So, imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to review a curriculum that focuses on teaching affixes.

WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 is the first of a series of vocabulary products offered by Dynamic Literacy.  It's perfect for 3th-5th graders (or 5th-9th graders needing remedial work) as it moves past the learning of phonics and on to comprehension of words. The curriculum builds on students' prior knowledge by adding prefixes and suffixes to words they know. Once they are familiar with the process, they will be able to break down more difficult words and infer the definition. I love the way Dynamic Literacy describes the importance and potential of learning this way:
Learn 3 roots . . . and you know 3 words.
                                              Learn 3 suffixes . . . and you know 12 words.
                                              Learn 3 prefixes . . . and you know 48 words.       

Foundations has 3 parts: Basics Student Activity Book, Student Activity Book, and Teacher Edition.

The Basics Student Activity Book is a 20-page booklet that is used as a gentle introduction to prefixes and suffixes. The cute, colorful graphics throughout the book are used to help students form compound words and understand how the same portions of words are used and combined to make new words.

The Student Activity Book is the meat of the curriculum. This workbook (184 pages) teaches 30 prefixes, suffixes, and combinations. There are 5 types of exercises for each affix: affix square (combining an affix with a root and determining the definition), affix adder (combing an affix with more roots and writing both the definition and  sentence), magic square (matching words and definitions), word search, and fill in the blanks

The Teacher Edition contains all the solutions for the activity book, but it is so much more than an answer key. It includes more information about the topic, ideas for further study, discussion questions, review pages, and an in-depth teaching guide.

I focused on Jake (4th grade) for this set, since he fits the prime age and skill range. While he was the one to complete the assignments, I found my younger children joining in on the verbal lessons. What can we add to house to make new words? Doghouse. Birdhouse. Treehouse. Clubhouse. Dollhouse. Schoolhouse. Even the little ones enjoyed thinking of words. The Basics Student Activity Book was fun to complete. The lessons seemed more like games than work to my son, since they were like word puzzles that he had to decipher. Though the Student Activity Book was more challenging, he is liking it, as well. Since it is written for a 5-day schedule and we school 4 days a week, we combine 2 exercises one day so we can study 1 affix every week.

I like that the book is making him process the information to break down and combine the different parts of words. The only downfall I have with the program is the lack of review in the Student Activity Book itself. There are review pages in the Teacher Edition after every 5th affix, but I would like to see more review in the student's book. People retain information better with repetition. I am trying to point out the prefixes we've learned thus far as we use them and try to incorporate them more in our daily conversations.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful program that I expect will help my children understand how to decipher the meaning of unknown words and give them a good foundation for language.

You can connect with Dynamic Literacy on the following social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you'd like to read more reviews of this product or one of the other products offered by Dynamic Literacy, please head to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. 

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