program is used to help teach spelling, it can be tailored
to help the needs of all age groups.
Windows '95 + '98
Windows 3.1 + 3.11 NT or better with sound card 256 colours
The more main memory and the faster the processor speed,
the fewer delays there will be while Starspell 2001 is
finding words and lists.
-Marriott Sofware, 58 Victoria Road, Woodbridge, Suffolk,
IP12 1EL England.
for network licence. Available from Edtech, Discovery
and other Educational Software suppliers.
Starspell 2001 is a
multimedia CD-Rom. The major part of the Starspell program
deals with the main Starspell lists. These lists were specially
developed by Margaret Hughes (co-author of "The Development
of Independent Reading", the OU Press, 1999). The lists work
on the principle of a 'route map' through the spelling of
the English language, tracing a progressive and comprehensive
path from the simplest spellings onwards. There is an extensive
section for the main subject areas (especially those in the
English national curriculum). Starspell concentrates on words
in frequent use in each area, which present potential spelling
problems. There is also a set if further explorations.
The British government
introduced the National Literacy Strategy in England in 1998.
Starspell has specially designed sets of word lists to support
the whoe-class work of the 'Literacy Hour', term by term.
They follow closely the spelling work which is specified at
Starspell can also be
tailored to the needs of the student by adding your own set
of words and sentences. It can be used for Gaelige and other
languages, but the teacher needs to input all these words.
Overview of Teaching with this Title
I used this title with
students who were between 13 and 15 years of age and who have
literacy problems and an average reading age of 7/8 years
of age. The package works on a see, hear, say, cover and spell
theory. Starspell 2001 was used in a networked room and each
student worked on essential spellings and further on in the
year worked on spellings tailored for them. Each student worked
with the package on an individual basis.
The software lets the
student see the word, then the software speaks the word. If
the student wishes the word or sentence containing the word
can be repeated. The students is them required to spell the
word. If the word is spelt correctly the software will point
out immediately to the students which letters are in the corrrect
position and which are not. The student then gets another
chance to type the word. This software will be best used by
individual students either on a standalone computer or through
a network as they can be working on their own and at their
Tailoring the package
for individual students needs is very time consuming particularly
if you are doing so a number of times on standalone computers.
This title is an excellent piece of software used on a networked
The main strength of
this program is that it will record when each student
uses the package, what word lists the student has attempted,
whether the student was successful or not and
what the students attempts at each word were. Therefore,
the teacher will be able to see clearly from the pupil record
printout where the student is having problems and whether
s/he is progressing.
The picture representations
of the words in the word lists can be turned off so that the
software does not appear too childish.
The content of this
piece of software is very good, it works on main Starspell
lists starting with the simplest of spellings moving on to
a list of spellings which include a main subject area, further
explorations and a literacy hour support the whole class term
by term. As the software can be tailored for the needs of
the students it gives the teacher great scope to cover any
spelling area in any subject.
A teacher can also use
this software to teach Gaelige and other languages. However,
the teacher would have to set up all the word lists, sentences
and sounds themselves.
There are three different
ways of learning the spelling, the first way "see, hear,
second way is by playing the Starpick game, which means the
learner has to click on each letter to spell the word (these
are scattered randomly on the screen). The third way is by
playing the Starguess game, which requires the learner to
spell the missing word in a cloze exercise.
A paper worksheet can
be printed out from any word list. The worksheet will contain
preset sentences from the word list, with the spelling words
removed (as a cloze test). The whole word list is printed
at the bottom of the sheet.
A multisensory approach
is taken by Starspell 2001 in that aural, visual and lingustic
approaches are used.
Design and Navigation
On screen help is available
at all times and offers clear instructions for using Starspell
2001 and the various indices contained within the program.
Words are seen and then spoken and the student then spells
the word. The time can be adjusted for the length of time
you see the word and can also be repeated by clicking on an
I have not tried to use
this software with special needs students who use switches.
Therefore, I do not know if it can accommodate them. There
is no mention of the use of adaptive or assistive technologies
in the help menu or the documentation.
There is no introductory
sequence. The previous users name automatically appears on
the opening screen as well as an option for different users
to find their own names.
The feedback for the
learner is immediate and they are shown immediately how they
spelt the word incorrectly. The screen is uncluttered with
just two icons for the student to click and space for their
spelling to appear.
Installation and use
The CD will load automatically
onto a standalone PC.
However, to load onto
a network will take a little more time the details of which
are outlined in the booklet. I was not experienced at installing
software on the network and found the instructions to be vague.
(Click here for information on
how I loaded it onto the network.)
The documentation does
show you how to set up new word lists on a standalone basis.
It does not indicate how to do this when the software is run
over a network. It can be done but some extra steps need to
be taken. (Click here for information
on how to do this.)
The booklet does give
clear instructions on how to use this program, to customise
word-lists and to create new ones for a standalone system.
There was no supporting
documentation to use with the students.