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vocabulary software /
Words Rock! is an expansive vocabulary/spelling/grammar drill and test program, cloaked in a 'find the hidden slug' game similar to the classic game of battleship. Except that in this version, the user must answer a question for every two turns at slug hunting.
The educational components of Words Rock! cover a broad expanse of learning. The trick is to get to them, without dying of frustration while playing Slug Hunt. Thankfully, the program offers a couple of ways to speed things up. For those users who like the game, but just mind waiting for their turn, a few clicks of the space bar will step the program past the computer players' turns. Or for those who wish to dispense with Slug Hunt entirely, the main menu offers the option to do just questions instead of interspersing them between turns at the game.
Questions are tied to the user's age and previous demonstrations of knowledge. For example, a young reader may be asked to identify the first letter in three words (e.g., cow, car, cat), or match a word to a picture, or find the rhyming word. More advanced students may be asked to identify transitive vs. intransitive verbs, find split infinitives, or correct dangling modifiers. Advanced vocabulary lessons include words like Anno Domini, halcyon, antediluvian, and malevolent. Correct answers are acknowledged with a green checkmark and the word 'correct', while errors are denoted by a red X and the notation, 'incorrect'. SuperKids' reviewers were impressed by the breadth and depth of the questions in Words Rock!.
Words Rock! can easily be used in a classroom or lab environment. The program will track the progress and results for up to 64 users, and includes a password protected administrator area.
Words Rock! has two design centers: the main design is based on the idea of using progress through the Slug Hunt game as a reward for successfully answering questions; the alternative design is focused on the questions themselves. Our reviewers generally preffered the second approach, to the game based approach. Why? Because even the young 'gamers' among our reviewers found the Slug Hunt game to be slow-paced and unexciting, compared to what they like to play. In fact, they tended to respond better to the pure question approach, because it was more challenging than finding slugs!
Words Rock! installed quickly and easily on our test PC. We simply inserted the hybrid Windows/MacOS cd, accepted the click-through user license and default directory, and we were rewarded with a program launch icon on our desktop.
Launching the program brought us to the main menu screen, where we were prompted to login, or create a new user. The new user set-up process asks for the person's age, as well as name. This allows the program to select a starting point that should be approximately appropriate for that person's educational level. For example, stating a user age of four years old causes the program to start at Level 1, while an age of 18 results in starting at the significantly more advanced Level 12.
At this point, the program set-up starts asking for more information than a first-time user can intelligently answer. For example, do you want to play the Basic or the Advanced Game? What computer level would you prefer, Beginner, Normal, Advanced, or Expert? How many players would you like to play with, 1-4? Most of our reviewers felt there were too many choices, with no obvious answers.
Another challenge we encountered, was the requirement that the user be able to read the on-screen instructions to use the program. Not a problem for older students, but a real obstacle for a non- or beginning reader.
Words Rock! is a strong drill and test vocabulary/spelling/grammar program, hidden in a modest search game. The educational component will be attractive to parents and teachers, as well as to those students who want to learn or challenge themselves.
PC: Win98SE or later, 233 MHz or faster cpu, 48 MB RAM, 800x600 display, CD-ROM drive, sound card .return to top of page
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