June 15, 2015

Dynamic Literacy~ Promoting Exponential Learning {Curriculum Review}

When it comes to teaching English, I love products that follow the "K.I.S.S." rule of thumb: Keep It Short and Simple. We have found a few over the last year that worked great--and I'm always on the look out for more. When I discovered that I was going to review WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 from Dynamic Literacy, I was encouraged that my initial glance showed it was going to be something that met my requirements, and hoped that using it would prove it to be so.
Dynamic Literacy~ WorldBuild: Foundations, Level 1 Product Review

Product Summary

Dynamic Literacy
WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 from Dynamic Literacy is the first in a series of vocabulary products created for students from third grade to adult education. Once the phonics have been learned, Foundations is the next step to increase vocabulary usage and comprehension. The Foundations program helps students "mean out" words, the way that they "sounded out" phonics! The principle behind the program is that once your student learns basic words, they should move on to learning prefixes, suffixes, and compound words to exponentially increase their vocabulary very quickly and thus enhance their comprehension of vocabulary at the same time.

WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 is ideally for students in the 3rd to 5th grade level, but could also be used for remedial 5th-9th grade work OR for ESL students.
The Foundations, Level 1 program is available as a combo pack and retails for $82.99. It contains everything needed for a teacher and one student:
*Teacher Edition (non-consumable)
*Basics Student Activity Book (consumable)
*Student Activity Book (consumable)

Dynamic Literacy also has in their catalog the WordBuild: Elements, Level 1 set (geared for middle school/high school), and an online program called WordBuildOnLine
We were given the WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 to review with Little Britches.

How Did We Use the Product?

WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 came as three books. Two of them were consumable student workbooks (Foundations Level 1 Basics Student Activity Book, and the Student Activity Book) and one was the teacher manual. As always, I started by looking through the first few pages of the teacher manual to get an idea about how the program worked.  There is a 5 day lesson overview of each root being learned, the lessons each follow a “teach, complete, and discuss” method, there are step-by-step procedures to help with the teaching activities, all the coordinating page numbers in the student book are clearly noted, and there is a “road map for a typical weekly unit” showing you how to use each unit over 5 days. It was really easy to see that each lesson was meant to be short and could easily be worked in at any time during the day. Because of this, I decided to start using it the very next day. 

We began with the Basics Student Activity Book as a kick off point for our studies. It wasn’t very difficult, and the teacher manual says that it can be skipped if it’s too simple. It was all relating to talking about prefix and suffix use, which while we have touched on these, haven’t really covered them in depth, hence the reason I decided to move forward with using the Basic workbook first. I noticed really quickly that the program is actually set up to be used with more than one student—a class even—but I can use the same material and same included dialogue for just my one student. 

One of the first things we needed to do was make a prefix and suffix chart. I didn’t have a large piece of paper on hand, but I just put together two half sheets of poster board to make our poster. I labeled it and section it out as I was directed in the teacher manual.
Once this was full, I just attached a second sheet at the bottom
As we worked through the lessons in the Basics book, we filled in the information for any new prefix or suffix that we learned. 
Learning prefix and suffix with common words
Practicing compound words
More compound work
Because this went up on our board, Little Britches was able to reference it as he continued in the lessons and it helped him work independently in completing his worksheets.
I laugh at the "ing" examples. They so show that I am a mom of farmboys. LOL
Once we completed the Basics book, we started in with the larger student activity book. 
The book picks right up continuing in the prefix studies, but this time goes with words that are more of the compound style like “over, under, out , etc”. The units for each are definitely 4-5 day lessons, but you could combine a few of the activities if your child is needing to be a bit more challenged.
As of this week, we are on page 14 in the larger workbook. We completed 1-2 pages with every lesson, doing 3-4 lessons a week.

What Are Our Thoughts on This Program?

Little Britches:
“It was okay. Not my favorite subject. But it wasn’t hard. I liked the word searches and the prefix pages the best. I like that it’s short and easy.”

I like that this program was very much an open and go one. I liked that it could go with just about any English and/or Grammar program you are already using and that the lessons were short and easy to complete. The teacher manual was very teacher friendly and contained everything you needed to know or use for the curriculum. If there were extra things needed, the manual clearly explained how to do them or make them (like the prefix/suffix poster). There was dialogue there for anyone who needed it, but it was easy to do on your own. I really liked how when a new unit was introduced, I could quickly look over the unit to see what was going to be done for each day. I loved the extra little notation that “each activity should take approximately 15 minutes.” That fits into my recommendation that it is easy to add into any program without taking up extra time.

The only thing I didn’t really like was that the pages of the teacher guide were perforated. I found that I had pages trying to jump out of my book when I didn’t want them too. I would offer up the suggestion that the book either be hole punched so it can go into a binder, or add a spiral binding to it. I think this would be greatly appreciated.

So will we be continuing to use this program?
Yes! Though we are taking a break from our extras right now over the summer, I will be putting this into our school day when we start back full time this fall. I think it’s a great program and blends in well with what we are already doing, as our current studies are not heavy into what is being covered by the WordBuild program.

Would I Recommend This Product?

Yes, I would (with one exception). I think it’s a great program and very easy to integrate into what you are already doing. It is a good catch up for anyone who needs a bit of remedial work done on it, but it’s also very much geared towards the 3rd-5th grade level it is recommended for. I think you could also use it for second grade. I would have been comfortable with it at that level.

The program is easy to teach to a group, and since it covers a broader grade level, I could see you using it for more than one student in your home which makes it that much more beneficial. It’s a very solid grammar program.

My one exception...price. The price of the combo set (the teacher book and two student books) is $82.99. The student books are consumable, and I know that since this isn't a complete grammar program, rather more driven towards expanding vocabulary comprehension (and boy does it ever!), that cost may be too high for some families. What I can recommend in regards to that, is once you own the teacher edition, any other student activity books you need for future students will only cost $16.99. So though the initial cost is there, if you are going to use this with other children the future cost is low.

If I hadn't of reviewed this program, would I have purchased it? To be honest with you, the initial cost would have been just too great for our meager homeschool budget. I do not have the $82.99 for just one aspect of grammar education, no matter how awesome it is...and this is an excellent program.

BUT--if you are definitely interested in Dynamic Literacy, I can help you out! I can get you 25% off the books at www.dynamichomeschool.com using the code farmfresh! You can use the same code at www.wordbuildonline.com for 10% off!  Don't you love discount codes?

Want to Know More?

My family reviewed WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 ($82.99) and think it's a great program! There were two other products reviewed by our Schoolhouse Review Crew including an online program. I hope you will visit and see what the other families thought of their products!
Dynamic Literacy Review
Want to stay in touch with Dynamic Literacy? You can find them on these social media outlets!

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I am so happy that this program proved to be just what I was hoping for, and I am definitely going to be adding it to our lineup for this fall when we return to our full curriculum.
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