The Word Roots series teaches vocabulary based on Latin and Greek roots in a manner somewhat similar to Vocabulary from Classical Roots from EPS/School Specialty. The series is being revised and expanded. New editions are available for three levels: Beginning, Level 1 and Level 2. Levels B1 and B2 are still in the first edition. Software versions of the original Levels A1, A2, and B1 will run on either Windows or Mac systems.
Both print and software versions allow students to work independently through the lessons. Lessons in the new editions will take a little more time to complete. Each of the books includes a pre-test, post-test, and answer key along with the lessons.
The Beginning level for grades 3 and 4 introduces six new words in each week’s lesson with the exception of three weeks that are dedicated to review. Each lesson has four-parts. In the first activity students identify roots, prefixes, and suffixes, and then match up each word with its correct definition. In the next two activities, students select the correct word to complete a sentence. The fourth activity requires students to write their own sentences using each of the new words.
Levels 1 and 2, both for grades five through twelve, have been expanded from the original versions with four activities per week and review lessons after every two weeks of lessons. Each of the regular lessons introduces ten new vocabulary words and about ten word parts—prefixes, roots, and suffixes. The four activities in the regular lesson are matching words with their definitions, selecting one of three words to fill in the blank with the word used in context, writing definitions of words (choosing from definitions supplied in a box), and writing complete sentences for each word to show the meaning of the word by the context of the sentence. Each activity is on a separate page.
Review lessons also have four parts: matching word parts to their definitions, matching words and definitions, unscrambling vocabulary words to write the correct word with each definition, and selecting the correct word (from three options) to complete a sentence. Since students work with twice as many words in review lesson activities, they are not required to write complete sentences for the reviews.
For both lesson and reviews, students work with the same definitions and word parts repeatedly. Constructing their own sentences is the most challenging activity in terms of critical thinking. The unscrambling activity in the reviews will probably be challenging—maybe frustratingly so for some students, but students can flip back to previous lessons to figure out what word they are looking for then look for an assemblage of letters that makes that word.
The original Levels B1 and B2 are for students in grade seven through twelve. There are three activities per lesson: learning word parts by either dividing or assembling words from roots, prefixes, and suffixes; matching words to their definitions by recognizing the meaning of the word elements; and using words in context. All three parts of each lesson are on a single page.
While Level 1 teaches words based entirely upon Latin, all other levels teach word parts and words from both Latin and Greek and, occasionally, from Old English. All of the books and software have glossaries with definitions of word parts. However, one important feature is missing from the glossaries and the lessons—identification of which language is the source for each word part or word. While this information isn't needed to complete the lessons, I think it would be helpful in the long run.
The original Word Roots software programs are installed on your computer and track students work. Parents or students can print out scores for record keeping. Students win points that help them “rebuild” an ancient town at an archaeological dig. For all activities students click and move words or word parts with a mouse, so completing the exercises feels very much like a game. The look and feel are definitely more appealing than the workbooks.
Two grading options are available within the software. The “non-auto-grading mode” requires students to check their answers to score points. They can check each answer once for free then it costs points for each answer checked again. Hints are available but they lose points each time they use one. “Auto-grading mode” checks answers automatically with no second tries available. Incorrect answers deduct points from the score and use of hints also deducts points. Students cannot go back once they have completed a section.
New Word Roots Flashcards software programs can be used on their own or in conjunction with one of the book-based courses. Programs are available for Beginning, Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. These are relatively simple programs that offer both study games and practice games. Players match up parts of words and their definitions, combine word parts to make words in response to a definition, and simply combine word parts to make words. While these are useful, they don’t challenge students as much as do the workbooks or original software programs, so, personally, I would use them to supplement the books.
You can view sample pages or view demos of the software programs on the publisher’s website.