Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 9 / FEBRUARY 1981 / PAGE 60

PET Spelling Lessons Your Students Can Prepare

Tory Esbensen
Minneapolis, MN

This article presents and explains the format for a spelling program that requires only the addition of some data lines in order to become fully operational. The needed data lines are so easy to create that even elementary school students (grades four and up) should be able to do the job.

My own experience as a professional educator indicates that drill and practice spelling tapes for microcomputers are among those programs most frequently requested by classroom teachers. In some instances, the need is for programs that run "on all fours" with a particular set of spelling workbooks. In other cases, teachers would like to have programs that focus on certain groups of words identified as Spelling Demons. Sometimes, there is a desire to shape word lists that will meet the needs of individual students.

The program listed in this article is called GUESS THAT WORD. It is offered to the readers of COMPUTE as one way of developing a flexible response to the demand on the part of teachers for microcomputer spelling exercises that can be tailor-made to fit individual learning objectives.

Figure 1 is the program listing of GUESS THAT WORD. Lines 7000-7999 are for entering spelling words as data. Multiple spelling lists can be entered. Each list should be preceded by a number identifying the list. An arrow pointing up concludes each list. Lines 7000-7010 are the data lines for the first spelling list. Note that all data entries are separated by commas.

Typing data line entries is the only thing that needs to be done in order to complete the GUESS THAT WORD program. Once students are provided with the word lists to be entered, typing them as data line entries should be a relatively simple task. Following this, the data lines should be checked to spot any typographical errors, and the entire program should be run to identify any operational errors. These are the final steps in the process. When this has been accomplished, the program is complete.

Briefly, here is how GUESS THAT WORD works when the program is run:

  1. As requested by the computer, the student types in the number of the desired word list.
  2. The computer randomly selects a word from this list and, near the top of the screen, prints a row of gray boxes equivalent in length to the length of the chosen word.
  3. The student now has three choices. He/she can (a) try to guess the entire word, (b) guess a single letter, or (c) ask the computer to reveal a letter of the word.
  4. If the student tries to guess the word, 100 points are won if the guess is right, and 5 points are lost if the guess is wrong.
  5. If the student tries to guess a letter, the cost of the guess (regardless of its accuracy) is 1 point. If the student guesses correctly, all such letters in the word are revealed. If the student's guess is wrong, no letters are revealed.
  6. If the student asks the computer to show a letter, only one letter is revealed even though more than one such letter may be in the word. The cost of this option is always 2 points.
  7. When the student finally guesses the word, the computer summarizes the results on an ongoing basis. This includes the average score per word, plus a list of the specific words presented by the computer.

The program listing in Figure 1 shows 5 lists of words sometimes identified as Spelling Demons. These lists can be changed simply by changing the data line entries.

Readers who wish to copy this program listing are invited to do so. Readers who do not want to bother with this may purchase the program tape itself for $7.95 from MICRO-ED, Inc., P.O. Box 24156, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55424.

The author would be glad to respond to questions and comments from interested readers.