How I Use It
I'm currently using Vocabulary Spelling City to supplement spelling and phonics instruction. I use the full version of the program, which allows teachers to add a full class list of students. I can easily import existing spelling lists from our reading program as well as create custom lists to accompany a unit and/or phonics pattern. I also use it to differentiate based on individual student needs. After the initial spelling/phonics lesson, I allow students to access the VSCity app on their iPads. They begin with the "Teach Me" activity, which clearly dictates the word, as well as a sentence using the word, then spells the word visually for the students. I then allow students to spend approximately ten minutes engaging in a practice activity of their choosing. I encourage them to stick with one or two activities during each session (there are several to choose from in the full version), and the program allows me to monitor student engagement and time on task from my teacher dashboard. I can then touch base with students who may not have been on task. Throughout the week, students use the app for the individual practice portion of the daily spelling/phonics lesson. On Thursdays, students take a practice test in the "Test Me" portion of the program. This could easily be used as a baseline or pretest at the beginning of the week as well. On Friday, students take their final spelling test on the "Test Me" portion. Earbuds or headphones are necessary for students to be able to hear the dictated word and sentence. The results are immediately available on the teacher dashboard. I use this data both for both formative(for teaching) and summative(of teaching). I still periodically give written spelling assessments, but find the real-time data and ease of grading (as in, the computer does it for me) both convenient and useful.
Overall, I would recommend this product as an effective practice tool. I would clarify that it DOES NOT replace authentic teaching of key spelling and phonics concepts. However, the engagement factor has helped certain students improve their spelling by virtue of more consistent practice and the real-time data and differentiation options have helped me to refine the way that I meet the needs of individual students.