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The Bridge of Vocabulary

By Charles G. Doe - Posted May 1, 2007
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Overall Rating:4 Stars
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Pearson Assessments/NCS Pearson, Inc., P.O. Box 1416, Minneapolis, MN 55440. Phone: (800) 627-7271; Internet:

Price: $49.99, single copy.

Audience: Teachers of a variety of populations, including Pre-K through adult ELL students, individuals with language and learning disabilities, students with complex communication disabilities, and general elementary and secondary students.

Format: Book and CD-ROM.

Minimum System Requirements: For the CD-ROM component of this package, a computer (Windows or Macintosh system) with a CD-ROM drive and Adobe Acrobat reader (to read the PDF files) is needed. A printer helps to take full advantage of the files on the CD-ROM.

Description: The Bridge of Vocabulary program consists of a 136-page book with about 100 activities and a companion CD-ROM with more than 300 additional activities as PDF files. The CD-based activities include picture cards, word cards, student sheets, and other material. The program's author is Judy K. Montgomery, Ph.D., a speech-language pathologist and special education professor.

Reviewer Comments: Installation/Access: No real installation is required, as long as Adobe Reader is present. If this program is not installed, a free download is available at Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: I love the thinking behind this excellent resource on several levels. In the first place, The Bridge of Vocabulary is an outstanding collection of vocabulary activities and support material, with more than 400 pages of activities between the book and the CD-ROM. The activities are formatted to be easy to print and share with other teachers, or to use directly with students. The purchase price includes a license to print as needed.

Many of the activities are oral, especially at the earlier levels. Activities for older students tend to be more complex and are more likely to require a printed sheet from the CD-ROM and/or pencil and paper. All include complete directions, word lists if needed, and questions for leading the activity with students. The activities are organized by level and by topic to make them easier to find using the table of contents. Many can be modified for use with a different grade level.

The activities are built around a variety of topics including antonyms and synonyms, classification and categorization, compound words, meaning and usage, word parts, action and position words, and so on. More complex and fun activities include storytelling, adjective bingo, letter scrambles, and more.

The activities are well designed; each has a variety of extras that support and improve its use. All include objectives and statements of the evidence base supporting the activity. For example, activity LE (Lower Elementary) 3.1, a guided practice activity, is titled People, Animals, and Plants. The objective is for students to say words that can fit into one of three categories. The evidence base is that asking students to name words in a category or to find words in a category increases their concept knowledge.

At the bottom of every activity page is a standards link that provides examples of ways to connect to many curriculum frameworks. For example, the People, Animals, and Plants activity is linked to the Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework.

Each activity also includes indications of time required, most appropriate group size, needed materials, and pointers to related activities. A disc icon appears near lessons that include materials available on the CD-ROM.

The book's Appendix B provides a matrix with the name of the English-language arts standards and related documents for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The information includes standards material for several U.S. territories, as well as some national language arts resources.

On the surface, The Bridge of Vocabulary may appear to be an "old school" resource, even though it is well done. This primarily print-based program, however, is touched by current computer technology in two ways—which brings me to the next things I love about the program.

First, the book plus CD-ROM format makes excellent use of CD technology by providing more than 300 activities as well as support material. I've seen CD-ROMs used with college texts and some popular nonfiction material, but those usually only reproduce material contained in the book. In this case, the CD-ROM greatly expands the content of the book, in a tree-saving format. When material can be presented on a CD in a way that is easily viewed and reproduced, what need is there for a bigger book?

In addition, the book contains some excellent Web links in the third appendix. These provide even more vocabulary and other support material.

The author provides an interesting book introduction that discusses the role of vocabulary and vocabulary instruction. Part of her intent in writing the book was to create a resource that general and special educators can use in collaboration while working with students. All in all, this is an excellent resource for collaborative vocabulary instruction. Content Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: The Bridge of Vocabulary is very easy to use. Student questions appear in one color; directions appear in another color. The edge of each grade-level activity is color-coded, which simplifies activity planning. Overall, this is a very user-friendly book and CD-ROM package Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Pearson Assessments offers excellent product support, but it really won't be needed for this product. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: I highly recommend The Bridge of Vocabulary to any teacher working with language and vocabulary at any level, whether with general students, ESL students, or students with learning problems. This is an outstanding resource. Highly Recommended.

Reviewer: Charles Doe, Elementary Media Specialist, Hastings Area Schools, Central Elementary School, Hastings, MI.

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