Products: Spelling Power manual and Spelling Power Activity Task Cards
Levels Used: A through J and five students, including one remedial student whom I tutored for some time.
Dates Used: Since 1999
Likes: I paid $50 for this program over nine years ago and have seen it turn even the burst-into-tears-at-the-sight-of-a-spelling-list child into a better speller. It motivated my children and the remedial child I tutored. It continues to motivate my children! I get reminded to give them (currently children in 7th, 6th and 3rd grades) their tests if I forget!
My oldest, who is in the 10th grade, hasn't even needed Spelling Power for four years because it improved his spelling so much that I decided he no longer needed a program! Oh, I should mention that he was one of my burst-into-tears cildren. ;) If I wanted, though, I have spelling lists through to the 12th grade! What could be better than a product that motivates all types of children saves you money in the process?
Well, every objective on the task cards is printed in the back of my Spelling Power manual and I avoided buying the cards for years. I found them at a yard sale a few years back and am now a believer, though. I use them more when they are in card form like the old SRS cards we used in public school. I did not assign the fun ideas very much when they were in the back of the book. Now the kids see them and assign their own work for "fun"!
The cards are color-coded for varied ages, making finding the right one quickly an easier endeavor. The cards are also divided into topics that overlap into language arts and make my job even easier (I am all about streamlined teaching). The topics are: drill activities, skill builders, writing, dictionary skills, plus one called homonyms and more. It even includes a teacher's manual with information on what colors cover what levels, the answers to the cards, and a list of consumables and non consumables you can have on hand beside the cards to create a language center in your home. She even gives tips on how to make a wipe-off cover for the cards, how to select activities by modality and which cards match which groups or word lists and how to make them them apply to any group (the author is type A, if you could not tell). ;) Seriously, you will not feel that a question is left unanswered if you use this program.
Dislikes: Well, I bought the program years before the company offered a DVD to show you how the program works. I borrowed a friend's child to show me instead. Unless you are pitifully type A (time to explain this review was written by a type B), you should get the DVD and skip the huge why-I-wrote-this and product explanation sections by the author. The program has improved since I bought it, so that may not apply, but I still hear people saying the manual can seem overwhelming.
It also may be hard to keep the manual looking nice for all the years that you use it (mine is pretty beat up after so much use). I wish I had used a 3-hole punch when I first endeavored to put the manual into a 3-ring binder. The pages might then have been more uniform and less likely to tear. I should also have used page reinforcements. Actually, it would have been pricey, but if I was thinking, I would have put every last page in a page protector. I wonder if the author made that as a suggestion in the huge how-to section. I just couldn't stand to read the whole thing! So maybe the downside is that the cost is more than just the Manual, but maybe it is just that you have to feel like you are reading War and Peace to get through her written explanations. It depends on your perspective.
All in all, if you do it right, the program will cost you the regular price PLUS the extra price of a 3-hole punch, a 3-ring notebook to house your program, and page reinforcements or page protectors for all the many pages in the soft-cover manual.