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Spell-A-Word

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Spell-A Word is an app that is designed to aid early spelling skills for children and young people with additional learning needs. It can be used as an early academic program  for beginning to advanced letter users. Totally customisable, it uses an errorless  learning method. Spell-A-Word works on identification, spelling, & word recognition (for reading). Scaffolding (as much help as needed but as little as possible) is embedded so as to help those with significant cognitive challenges. 

Teacher Review

Spell-A-Word is an application that seeks to support spelling for children and young people with additional needs, although it may also be used with children without additional learning needs. Upon opening the app, you are presented with a yellow home screen which allows you to set up for a particular user. On first impressions the screen seems a little busy, not ideal for users with visual discrimination difficulties. I understand that this is intentional in the fact that it is for teachers, teaching assistants or parents to use the settings before a session. However, I feel that it would be useful if a simple profile screen was available at the first point of entry, whereby a child could access immediately, promoting greater independence in learning.

In the main screen you can choose a learner, define a chosen word list, choose the feedback character avatar/image, set volume, decide on font and choose which keyboard setting is appropriate for the user. In the lesson font section, you can choose from 11 user friendly fonts which is a useful feature, although fonts recommended by the British Dyslexia Association such as; Comic sans, Tahoma and Arial are notable absentees. 

The lesson keyboards are excellent features which clearly show the developers background and understanding in assistive technology. Five options are available;iPad, Spell-A-Word (Showing one line at a time), Coloured rows (All keys), Coloured rows (Essentials) and an external keyboard option which works well.

Once you have decided upon your settings you can enter game mode by pressing the green ‘Start lesson for (Student name)’ button. Depending on the students ability level you have chosen, you will be presented with an image and word or just the image from your preset word list. the task is to spell the word correctly. Once the user has spelled the word they are prompted to say the word.

The app also has a useful data trying feature that allows you to measure progress and plan for next steps in learning. Probably, Spell-A-Word’s greatest feature aside from the keyboard settings, is it’s ability to be fully customised to particular students. The app enables you to personalise images, record voices to match images and create your own word lists.

Overall, Spell-A-Word is a good application, which when fully customised can be a great learning aid for young people with additional learning needs. I would recommend reducing the price tag, it seems a bit steep when compared to apps of a similar nature that also allow full customisation at a fraction of the price. One of the developer’s website does not specifically relate to the application itself but to assistive technology (hardware) products for sale by the developer, this website was accessed direct from the support option in itunes. With further exploring, a more in depth website about Spell-A-Word was found that was full of useful information and probably more suited as a link from the itunes page. 

Finally, I felt that the graphics and general appearance of the application are a little dated and are in need of an update. The most recent update took place in 2013. Despite these issues, Spell-A Word is a good application and with some further updates it could be great.

Screenshots

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From the Developer

This large-print, early academic program is for beginning to advanced letter users. It uses an errorless learning method. Spell-A-Word works on identification, spelling, & word recognition (for reading).

WORKS WITH EXTERNAL KEYBOARD, such as our Colored-Rows BigKeys, or any Bluetooth keyboard (or *any* USB keyboard)! Or choose from the regular iOS keyboard, or Spell-A-Word's own 1-row-at-a-time one).

Scaffolding (as much help as needed but as little as possible) is embedded so as to help those with significant cognitive challenges.

This program is designed for you to easily enter lists of spelling words/phrases for the learner to practice and be tested on.

WordLists consisting of hundreds of words/sounds/pictures are available from the developer's website at no charge.

Spell-A-Word even has special feedback for blind learners.

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