Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2013
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Cultiwords

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Memorize, review, and acquire 40 SAT-caliber words

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
7-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: High interest anecdotes make learning words easy and meaningful.

Cons: No user accounts for multiple students; no auditory word pronounciations.

Bottom Line: Excellent method for learning vocab teaches good study technique, too.

Cultiwords is great for individual daily vocabulary practice. In a 1:1 or bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environment, teachers could have kids memorize a new word daily and work through their review words as a warm-up, daily activity, or homework. Teacher could also introduce a word-a-day using Cultiwords on screen with the whole class working through the memorization and review together.

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Cultiwords uses repetition and memory techniques to help students learn and remember 40 SAT-caliber vocabulary words. Extension packs of word collections can be added for $.99 each. Students start by attempting to identify the word, then reviewing the definition, which includes phonetic pronunciation, etymology, definition, and anecdotes about the word. At that point, they can choose to forget the word (and learn it at another time), add it to their dictionary, or share it on Facebook. Once the word is added to the dictionary, kids review the word, along with others in the dictionary, until they have identified it correctly three times. Then the word is "acquired" and moved to the acquired list in the dictionary. The dictionary shows the list of words "in process of acquisition" and words "acquired." Students can only review the words once per day, and are reminded with push notification.

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With just a few minutes a day, students can dramatically improve their vocabularies using the process of memorization and review. The definitions go beyond the meaning of the wordby giving a colorful narrative of the word's origin and meaning, making it more likely to be remembered. Phonetic information is included in the definitions, but there's no option to hear the words pronounced, which would be a nice feature. The words included in the base set are: austerity, avuncular, back judge, cajole, caustic, colloquial, deplorable, eloquent, eros, gorgon, grouse, hiatus, irate, julienne, kismet, largess, meticulous, officious, paragon, phoneme, phytochemical, plaudit, precocious, quisling, quixotic, repugnant, salubrious, spurious, sultry, ubiquitous, and unctuous.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

Interesting anecdotes about the words engage kids, and the overall design of short quizzes, interesting definitions and anecdotes, and the utilization of memorization and review motivate kids to learn.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Interesting information about each word gives a depth of understanding. Learning is baked in through repeated exposure to the words.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

There are no user accounts, so only one person can track progress at a time. The dictionary shows all words "in process of acquisition" and all words "acquired."


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

3
(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Stephanie T. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Detroit Country Day School
Beverly Hills, MI
3
An easy-to-use vocabulary builder with solid review tools, but users will need to buy more packs of words.

My take is that there are better apps for building vocabulary that are free or won't cost as much money. This app is a little sneaky in the fact that it seems like you'd get more for buying it then you do, as there are multiple in-app purchases that will need to be made once your student gets through the first 40 words offered by the initial cost of $0.99. I really think it should be stated on the app store that users will need to purchase additional words if they are going to seriously use this app for building vocabulary. I do wish there were some features for students to practice using the vocabulary words in their own writing, but this would have to be a teacher-driven exercise, as the app does not allow for that.
On a plus side, I enjoyed the fact that once users learned a word they could then review all of the words they learned previously in a quiz format or they could review them in their own personal dictionary. Also, the app has a setting where it reminds students with a daily notification to review their words. This would be helpful if this is the go-to vocabulary instruction in one's classroom, so that students could get a reminder on their phone or iPad to review.

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