Rarely does the name of a program so appropriately describe it. This one does. WordBuild teaches students how to build words by first thoroughly covering prefixes and suffixes in the Elements portion and then comprehensively examining the common root words in the Foundations portion. Add in a strong aspect of instructive interaction coupled with games, grids, and squares and it's easy to see why this particular program is getting the attention it is. The vocabulary program of choice for Analytical Grammar, it has also received favorable reviews by Cathy Duffy, Janice Campbell and others.
Personally, I think the key is the instructive interaction. Vocabulary has often been in the hand-them-a-book-have-them-do-a-lesson-each-week category. This program requires more from the teacher but it gives you all the tools to be effective in your task. The Teacher Editions are a study in user-friendliness. Clearly laid out with ready-to-go, daily, detailed lessons that provide what to teach, when to interact with the Student Activity Book, when/what to discuss, and what to demonstrate with the answers right in the lessons where they're most useful. There's a bit of "differentiating instruction" (i.e. teaching to different learning abilities; struggling and accelerated learners) and "objectives" just so you'll know you're looking at a "real" teacher edition but not enough that it confuses. Daily lessons only take about 15 minutes, but the key is they are daily, which allows for built in review and reinforcement. Additional review and reinforcement comes from the continual use of previous roots, prefixes, and suffixes with new roots. The TE includes weekly Check-Ups (Assessments), a Mid-Term and a Final Assessment, all with answer keys.
To give you an idea, let's take a look at the lesson on the root FAC found in Foundations, Book 1. Starting with defining the root (to make or do) and identifying "allomorphs" (variant forms) like FICE or FECT, sample words are identified - manufacture; affect. Word Fun Facts include facile means easy to do or fiction is "made" up, but fact is something actually done. Day 1 covers the Root Square which is an activity that gives the student the opportunity to make as many words as possible from a nine-square group of word parts. Teaching extensions includes discussion and dialogue. Day 2 uses Magic Square as a tool for taking words apart and sorting out definitions with a mini-lesson on the suffix "ant." Stair Steps - the activity for Day 3 - is a unique method for showing the relationship between a number of words using the root and various affixes. It becomes a type of graphic organizer that's part crossword puzzle. Again, the TE gives suggestions for extending the learning. Day 4 is a more typical fill-in-the-blank comprehension activity with Day 5 for assessment. The squares, stair steps, and comprehension questions are all in the Student Book but the TE is necessary to maximize the learning - and to have access to the answers, which becomes increasingly important at higher grade levels.
The Foundations courses cover prefixes and suffixes. The first part of Foundations 1 is a short mini-course (having its own small, color Student Activity Book) on compound words. Then the course moves into the regular SAB which is black and white (like the rest of the program materials). The Elements courses cover all aspects of root words including variants. I have to say that the coverage of these three courses is amazingly thorough - not to mention getting just a bit challenging by the third course. This program can be used at different grade levels with a variety of students. "On-grade" students would use Foundations in grades 3-5 and Elements in grades 5-10. Each course is considered a one-year course with 36 units. These courses also work well for remedial or ELL students but would be used at different grade levels - Foundations (grades 5-9) and Elements (grades 7-12).
When we first looked at these courses, we liked what we saw but felt they were a bit pricey. We've come to realize that the quality and effectiveness of the program - as witnessed by its supporters - means that it's still a good value. We sell the TE and SAB together as a Combo and the Student book individually for additional students. Student books are 220 pgs, pb. Teacher books are 440 pgs, pb ~ Janice