Playing with words makes hard work fun

24th October 2003 at 01:00
SPELLTRACK. CD-Rom and Workbook. Semerc with David Fulton. pound;39 single-user, pound;12 each additional user + VAT. pound;288 site licence, pound;12 for workbook

SpellTrack is a new spelling package which aims to improve tracking skills so children develop the ability to read from left to right without missing out letters. It will also improve word recognition and the ability to link sound to symbol.

There are 150 high frequency words, but the software allows teachers to add their own wordlists.

There are two key activities. First the child has to scan across a line of random letters and pick out the letters which make up the target word. In the book, they circle the letters. In the software they click on them. The word is spoken out loud, so the pupil links sound and letter.

Next the child hears and reads a sentence and has to fill in the missing word so they practise the spelling.

The software has some nice features. It is easy to change the colour combinations so the pupil could have yellow text on a blue background or vice versa if they find this easier to read than black on white.

The screen is bright and attractive with a graphic of a notepad for them to write on.

My only reservation about this useful spelling package is that some of the sentences are very English and a little old-fashioned. Will you get me a cup of tea please? How do you do?

In fact mum and tea appear very often. However the ideas are sound and thoroughly researched and SpellTrack will prove to be a popular classroom resource.

Sally McKeown is education officer for Becta. She writes in a personal capacity

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