Word Voyage Blog
Written by Whit Symmes Monday, 28 May 2012
Word Voyage for the iPad is now available! No download of installation required. Simply bring up Word Voyage on your iPad and continue with your lesson. You can go back and forth between the iPad and a computer whenever you choose. Android tablet? No problem! Word Voyage works on that too!
Written by Whit Symmes Wednesday, 21 March 2012
- Building Strong Readers- Students often skip over unfamiliar words. Word Voyage teaches them to slow down, poke around inside words, look for familiar roots, and associate these root-meaning clues with the context outside the word. This is what good readers do. This is how comprehension is improved. Each student receives individualized, Web-based lessons that build academic vocabulary. Most important, Word Voyage meets students at their level, and works with them from there.
- Saving Teachers Time- Word Voyage provides a streamlined platform that is simple to learn and manage, allowing teachers to deliver comprehensive vocabulary instruction in a fraction of the time required by conventional methods.
- Comprehensive Program for Grades 4-12- Word Voyage teaches students to take ownership of vocabulary from all subject areas. Custom vocabulary lists are provided to support course readings. Personal Vocabulary/Writing Journals follow the students through the grades, highlighting areas that need growth. Scope of instruction: Vocabulary, Latin and Greek Roots, Parts of Speech, Word Usage, Sentence Mechanics, Grammar, Spelling, Pronunciation, Syllabication, Languages of Origin, English History, Dictionary Skills, Attention to High-Frequency Errors, and Proofreading. Supports Common Core Standards and SAT.
- Differentiated Instruction - Word Voyage meets each student where he or she is with English fundamentals. Lesson content/structure can be adjusted at any time to keep progress on track. Performance data and personal Vocabulary/Writing Journals follow the students through the grades, highlighting areas that need growth.
- Raising Student Ownership of the Learning Process- Word Voyage lessons are personalized, level appropriate, and meet the students in their world: the Web. Students work at their own pace and receive continuous feedback and support.
- Strong Value Proposition for Schools- Word Voyage delivers differentiated instruction that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive. The program works on all computers and tablets. There is no download or installation required, and students can log in from home, reducing demands on school computers and IT staff. And of course, there is no paper and no printing required.
Written by Abigail Konopasky, Ph.D. Thursday, 12 May 2011
Up until 4th grade a student’s central literacy job is to memorize; she must read a relatively large number of words by ‘sight’ and then be able to reproduce the spelling of those words in her writing. While this is certainly a daunting task (for student and teacher alike), it is made easier by the fact that most of the tricky spelling is supported by not-so-tricky meaning. The opaque spellings of laugh and whisper are easier to swallow because sentences like, “What are they laughing and whispering about?” simply roll off a 4th grader’s tongue.
As students head toward middle school, however, the texts start getting more complicated: they have longer sentences, the words have more syllables, and word meanings are more abstract. This set of changes alone is challenging to the 12-year-old brain that spends much of its time simplifying and solidifying language through Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and text entries like “c u l8r”. But at about this same time, many of the new words being introduced are actually in a new language.
Let me explain what I mean by this: the vast majority of monosyllabic (one-syllable) English words and quite a few disyllabic (two-syllable) English words are from the Germanic language family (via the Anglo-Saxons). These are words that describe our everyday, concrete activities, words that show up in elementary school readers: baby, loving, mother, go, horse. Meanwhile, the majority of multisyllabic (many-syllable) English words are from the Romance language family (mainly via French, Italian, Spanish and Latin). These are the fancier words that show up in the fancier texts. Just look at the upgrade that an elementary school reader gets when Germanic words ‘go Romance’:
baby > infant
loving > amorous
mother > maternal
go > depart
horse > equine
It is no small wonder that adolescence is the time when our children start to fall behind. If they do not receive intensive support and instruction through the adolescent years, they end up lost amid Romance vocabulary, eventually losing the confidence and motivation their early elementary school teachers worked so hard to build.
Fortunately the characteristic that makes Romance vocabulary so different from Germanic vocabulary also makes it teachable: its root structure. All of these multisyllabic Romance words can be broken down into parts; they can be analyzed. And this is what Word Voyage teaches students to do: to analyze words into their constituent parts. The Word Voyage student, like any other student, may not know what benevolent means, but she has the tools to take that word apart. She has seen bene- in the word benefit and knows that it has something to do with good or well. Additionally, she remembers -vol- from the word volunteer and knows that it means to wish, want. She puts that all together with the context and she has an extremely educated guess that serves her well as she faces whatever reading assessment may be heading her way.
Even more importantly, the Word Voyage student has the confidence, the curiosity, and the comfort to forge through these newly complex texts. Unlike the student wading through Romance vocabulary with only Germanic tools to light her way, the Word Voyage student has had repeated rounds of practice at her level to ready her for the task at hand. Starting with syllables and working through prefixes, roots, and suffixes, she has critically analyzed hundreds of words. Meanwhile, her teacher and the structure of the Word Voyage program conspired to help her see the similarities among all these word parts so that she could use them in novel reading and writing situations. As she became more advanced, her teacher also had her investigate the etymologies of words, so that she could understand the stories behind the words, developing a lasting connection to the subject. Finally, she not only wrote sentences using the words she learned, she wrote them at her level. Her teacher started her out with short, simple sentences and progressed finally to complex sentences with a minimum of 12 words and the use of specified subordinating conjunctions.
The Word Voyage student encounters the same increase in textual complexity during adolescence that other students do. Like them, she notices the change from good, old-fashioned Germanic roots to high-falutin’ Romance roots. Like them, she fights with her mother about texting during dinner and oversimplifying family arguments. But the consistent and careful root-word analysis, etymological storytelling, and challenging sentence-writing her teacher designs for her make all the difference. They give her that taste of success that is so critical for literacy motivation. Her romance with language is just beginning.
Written by Whit Symmes Thursday, 28 April 2011
Word Voyage teaches students to actively engage vocabulary from 3 angles:
1. Break It Down!
Students learn to look inside words and "unpack" the roots. This time-tested skill allows them to discover meaning clues to associate with the surrounding context. The result: Better comprehension. Word Voyage teaches the high-frequency Greek and Latin roots that are the building blocks of thousands of words. As students practice over and over breaking down words, a new habit takes hold: instead of skipping unfamiliar words, they become roots detectives. They know how to unlock the meaning!
2. Find the Story
What's the best way to remember something? Connect it with a story! Word Voyage asks students to discover the story that goes with every word. But not just any story- the BACK STORY: The word's etymology. How old is the word? What languages did it pass through on its way to English? What is its ethnicity? Does it share characteristics with other words? When confronted with an unfamiliar word, Word Voyage students learn to stop and ask these questions!
3. Study Words You Are Reading Now!
Word Voyage teachers can input vocabulary from across the curriculum. Lessons can easily be staged so that students study specific vocabulary prior to reading it in assignments. The results: Greater ownership of words, raised confidence, better comprehension, and improved overall academic performance. Word Voyage provides a highly-efficient, Web-based platform for students to build word-level literacy skills.