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Wordly Wise 3000 Book 12 Set, 4th Edition Review by Jennifer HarrisonKenneth Hodkinson, Erika Hodkinson, Sandra Adam
EPS - School Specialty
800 225 5750
625 Mt Auburn St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Reading comprehension is a struggle for many students. Vocabulary and reading comprehension levels are closely related. Studies show that students with strong vocabularies in elementary school are better able to comprehend the books they encounter when they get to high school. It’s a bit of a catch-22. Reading good books helps strengthen students’ ability to improve vocabulary. A strong vocabulary helps students to read good books. While reading good books is an excellent way to expand vocabulary, it is not always guaranteed that students will absorb the full meaning of the words they read. This is where a vocabulary program can be especially useful.
I had a reluctant reader who struggled until we used a vocabulary program to help build her word bank, thereby eliminating her fear of not keeping up with what she read. Though raised in a reading home, listening to classics from birth onward, she did not absorb vocabulary like her siblings did. Using Wordly Wise to improve her vocabulary was the key to unlocking her love of reading.Intentional vocabulary study increases students’ ability to read better books, thereby improving their vocabulary even more. With a strong vocabulary, students are equipped to confidently read complex texts, preparing them for college and careers, and a lifetime of enjoying the great books.
Wordly Wise has been around for a good twenty years and has earned an excellent reputation. I used it with my children when they were in elementary school and they loved it. I found that it was a fun and easy way to develop their vocabulary, making it easier for them to tackle higher-level reading without intimidation. Until recently, I didn’t know that their books not only go beyond elementary school levels, but all the way up to twelfth grade!
Discovering the high school level books late in the game, we jumped in with Book 12. This book begins with the same format as the Wordly Wise books we remember from elementary school. Chapter by chapter, Wordly Wise introduces a set of interesting words to students and then helps them grasp the full meaning of the words through various activities in a workbook.
With Wordly Wise, students encounter their new words multiple times, in several different ways, helping them recognize the words more readily in different scenarios. When students run across a new word in their regular reading, they do not necessarily realize how it’s meaning can shift depending on context and they are not as likely to recognize the word when encountering it in different readings. Wordly Wise helps students fully understand word meanings and it helps them make connections.
There are twenty lessons in Book 12, and each lesson introduces fifteen words. Students begin with a hand-out copied from the teacher’s guide, entitled Rate Your Word Knowledge. This is new to the series and helps students recognize their progress through self-assessment. After this, students read through the list of new words and their definitions. Suggestions for “Turn-and-Talk Activities” are provided. These encourage students to discuss words with their peers but can be completed just fine by conversing with a parent or teacher.
The next day, students read through the list again and then work through the practice activities. There are quite a few activities included in the book, and the lessons vary somewhat. Each lesson includes four activities for the second day. These activities have students recognize whether a word is used correctly in a sentence, identify a paraphrased vocabulary sentence, choose the best sentence to include a vocabulary word, pair up new words with more familiar related words, and they study the word through identifying antonyms, synonyms, parts of speech, root words, and more. The activities vary between lessons, but lesson includes four different activities of this sort.
On the third day of lessons, students read from a passage that includes all the lesson’s vocabulary words. Students then answer comprehension questions about the text. For students in need of extra support in this area, the Teacher’s Guide includes other options which are a bit easier.
Day four is for Vocabulary Extension exercises. Students are given a word that might need some extra attention and are given discussion and writing prompts. Day five is for testing. A test for each lesson is provided in the Teacher’s Guide, not the student workbook.
After every fourth lesson, there is an extra activity puzzle that reviews the previous chapters’ words. This helps keep words fresh throughout the book, which includes final tests over all words at the end of the year. Wordly Wise has also paired up with Quizlet to offer some fun online review activities.
The Wordly Wise Book 12 set includes a Teacher’s Manual. It is suggested that students receive direct vocabulary instruction each week, though the program can still be useful without teacher interaction. The guide offers three schedule recommendations to fit the different classroom needs. These include a schedule of thirty minutes once per week, of fifteen minutes three times per week, and of ten minutes five times per week.
We found that it takes about half an hour to do each day’s assignments. Because my family does the vocabulary lessons year-round, we stretched this out to a week and a half per chapter and only worked on one activity per day, which takes around ten minutes.
The Teacher’s Guide is necessary for the program, due to the need for the answer key. It does have other benefits as well. The guide has a Vocabulary Extensions section that provides instruction for one word in each chapter. It also includes reproducible master pages such as Rate Your Word Knowledge, alternative Vocabulary in Context lessons, alternative Review Exercises, and Tests. There is a test for each chapter, plus four final tests. The answer key for all lessons and tests is in the Teacher’s Guide.
It is generally recommended that you choose the book number that corresponds to their grade level. The guide does provide a chart with suggestions though for those wanting to match the book to students’ Lexile reading level. Book 12 is ideal for students in the Lexile Range of 1185L-1385L and includes options to help students who are in the range of 1080L-1335L.
I have a confession to make. When I first ran across Wordly Wise, I avoided because I thought it was called “Worldly Wise.” Overwhelmed by the many vendor tables at conventions, I never paused to see that it was NOT a program geared toward programming my children with a secular worldview. No, ironically, it is a program designed to teach students about words. In my defense, I was tired back then. Thankfully, I had friends who knew how to read, and they shared this gem of a company with me. I’m glad they insisted I pay more attention.
-Product review by Jennifer Harrison, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2019