Common Sense Review
Updated April 2013

Word Dynamo

Word lists, games add fun and flexibility to dictionary experience
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 5
  • Kids start with the Word Dynamo Challenge for their schooling level (elementary, middle, high school, or college), completing a quiz defining ten words which gives them a word score that estimates how many words they probably know and creates a learning path for them.
  • Kids can review their recommended lists or browse all of the lists that are sorted by subject, grade level, test prep, and foreign language.
  • They can review the list of words and definitions.
  • They can do a Quick Study by reviewing flash cards. The cards can be customized to have term and definition or term first or definition first.
  • Kids or teachers can create custom word lists, too, and share them via email or social media.
Pros
Preexisting lists cover a broad range of vocabulary in levels appropriate for all ages of readers.
Cons
Searchable lists don't appear to be moderated, so kids can access lists that were likely created just to shock.
Bottom Line
Word Dynamo is an easy-to-use vocabulary-building app that works with a wide range of skill levels.
Amanda Bindel
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Thanks to the Word Dynamo Challenge that assesses kids' current vocabulary skill level, kids start off being challenged.

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

The format of word lists, flashcards, and quizzes is nothing too novel or exciting, but it is effective and thorough.

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

Accounts sync between Dictionary.com's site and the app. Kids can see an estimation of the total vocabulary with their word score.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers can create word lists to share via email or social media with their students, or kids can create lists in reading groups or individual lists. Each kid will need to create an account on Dictionary.com (which can be done within the app), but as long as each logs off and logs in, multiple users can use the same device at different times.

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What's It Like?

Kids start off with the Word Dynamo Challenge, which assesses vocabulary level (starting at elementary school, middle school, high school, or college level) and then gives lists and word studies to improve vocabulary, along with quizzes built into each of the 20 levels. Kids can also create their own lists of words or review the numerous existing lists or search for specific words. Within each list, kids can review the list of words and definitions, do a Quick Study with flashcards, or take matching quizzes on the words and definitions. Based on the Word Dynamo Challenge, kids get recommended lists -- or they can browse all the lists, which are sorted by subjects, grade levels, test prep, and foreign language. Some lists focus on Greek and Latin roots and prefixes and suffixes. 

Some moderation of the lists would be helpful to weed out lists that don't need to be publicly accessible, as some lists seem to have been created for joke or shock value (like "bad words" or "sex words"). This powerful tool is tied in to Dictionary.com, which is a powerful resource itself.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Since Word Dynamo starts with the challenge assessing kids' prior vocabulary knowledge, kids waste no time and get right down to learning challenging words and expanding their vocabularies. The list categories help kids find just the word lists they need and are organized by grade level, subject area, and test-specific preparation, and students can also search lists. After taking the Word Dynamo Challenge, kids will get recommended lists and be able to increase their word score and unlock higher levels by completing the quizzes.

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