1. What exactly is PuzzleWise™?
PuzzleWise™ is a program of supplemental books designed to help students develop their grade-level skills in a fun and creative way. We have four programs: math, science, vocabulary, and PE/Health.
Children learn best through play, and these playful lessons feature both academic crossword puzzles, and exercises for year-long practice on state test-like questions. Lessons focus on the precise grade-level skills necessary to attain success in class and on the state assessments. Each book is aligned with national standards and includes resource pages, word banks, and answer keys so home school parents and teachers may become effective guides.
The flexible format of the PuzzleWise™ program provides optimal work conditions for students, home school parents, and teachers. Through differentiation, students work independently at their level, whether regular, remedial, ELL, Title I, or gifted. Home school parents can advance their children as rapidly as their children wish. Teachers may use the books as a center in a multi-grouped classroom, as a whole-class learning tool, or as a home-study practice option.
2. What is the PuzzleWise™ Program?
It’s a very simple step-by-step learning program that tells you exactly how to:
This program is initiated with adult guidance; thereafter, the learning may proceed individually. Home school parents can have children practice daily, weekly, or at will. Teachers can choose to make the program a
- Introduce the crossword puzzle genre as a learning tool
- Model learning techniques and problem-solving
- Monitor progress
- Continually spiral, or repeat, required skills until fully absorbed
home-study practice with only weekly check-in and monthly assessments at school. This allows teachers to maintain their existing program while supplementing it with the rich auxiliary material of the PuzzleWise Program.
3. How does PuzzleWise™ help increase standardized test scores?
Our math pilot research study showed a 22% greater mean growth in mathematics achievement in classes that used the PuzzleWise™ math program. Several features of the PuzzleWise™ program help make this achievement happen. First, students work with all the required grade-level skills all year long, giving students steady practice with the required curriculum. Second, because PuzzleWise™ lessons model test-like questions on the state assessments, students are comfortable when they take the state test. Finally, PuzzleWise™ gives home school parents and teachers the opportunity to conduct a broad skill-range assessment each month to monitor progress. This quick diagnosis allows teachers to pinpoint focus areas for individual students, thus individualizing for academic success.
We did not conduct research studies in our other content categories, but we did achieve overwhelming success with our science program, too. Dan Schlotfeldt, principal of Fall City Elementary School, claims our program contributed to his school scoring at the top of all schools in Washington State. Please click to read his testimonial letter.
Our other programs, vocabulary and PE/Health, have also not been the subject of a research study … but we know what would happen if they were! This is not unjustified hubris. A lot of work has gone into these programs, and we have repeatedly heard positive comments from parents and teachers using our programs.
4. How does the PuzzleWise™ program address the needs of ELL, Title I, and Special Education students?
Students in support programs are very successful with PuzzleWise™ books because of the variety of levels and the word banks that accompany books at each grade level. These features give parents and teachers controls over the amount of assistance special needs students are offered.
5. How is PuzzleWise™ good for gifted students?
Gifted students can use the books as rapidly as they wish, assuming retention and application. It is usually a good practice to let motivated learners go as far as they wish, as rapidly as they choose. We believe in letting eager learners run, and gifted students will benefit as much as every other learner, just faster.
6. Do the skills exercised in the books meet the grade level requirements of my state?
Yes. To ensure that students around the United States receive the skills required at their grade level, we researched the grade-level requirements of each state and the recommended standards advocated by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM); the National Science Education Association (NSEA); the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the International Reading Association (IRA); and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPRD). We then worked with a team of expert math, science, literacy, and physical education/health teachers to ensure our programs addressed the needs of students in each state.
7. What do you mean when you claim “students practice their grade-level skill requirements all year?”
The PuzzleWise™ series has been designed so every required strand of the students' grade level expectations is represented at least once in each puzzle. This means that every puzzle contains the full year’s range of skill expectations. For example, some curriculums might not introduce fractions until March; or life science until December. PuzzleWise™ students are exposed to fractions, or to all three sciences, in every math or science puzzle; basic skills are established and expanded in September, and more advanced concepts steadily introduced as the year progresses.
8. How do students become life-long learners with the PuzzleWise™ Program?
Once a student achieves success doing our playful and educational crossword puzzles, the activity becomes a pleasurable habit. Students then make the choice of doing a crossword instead of watching TV or playing video games. Yes, they will! Also, the pleasure of doing one type of intellectual activity often transfers to other academic interests such as reading, writing, and learning. That’s why we say that PuzzleWise™ learners become life-long learners; the pleasure of being successful at learning sponsors the pleasure of doing other academic activities, all of it self-motivated, which is the most meaningful way of learning.
9. Why does parental involvement increase?
The vast majority of parents don’t get seriously involved in their child’s education, and we all know the reasons why… However, with PuzzleWise™, the material lends itself easily toward being a very pleasurable way for parents to work and play with their children. Because most parents would like to help their children, but don’t know how, they simply don’t. With PuzzleWise™, parents can play and learn with their children. Parental engagement enhances academic growth, and builds stronger relationships.
10. What can you tell me about the authors of the various programs?
Dr. Michael Naylor is an outstanding math educator, international presenter, and national columnist. Dr. Naylor has taught mathematics to students of all ages since 1994, and has been the author of the “Teaching Math” column for Teaching K-8 Magazine from 2000 until it ceased publication a few years ago. Dr. Naylor is also an associate professor of Mathematics and Mathematics Education specializing in K-8 math education. He is also the author of numerous publications in popular mathematics and education journals. Dr. Mike is currently advancing mathematics programs in Norway.
The authors of the science program, Mary Moore, Georgi Delgado, Stewart Anderson, and Brian Teppner, are all exceptional science teachers, and wrote the state science test assessment questions for the Washington Department of Education (OSPI). These authors are also science education consultants, and Mary is the recipient of a Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Science.
The author of the vocabulary program is Roxann Rose, a recipient of an American Teacher Award. Roxann is currently the president of her local chapter’s International Reading Association’s (IRA) affiliate, is a published author on education issues, and is highlighted in the Harvard Project Zero’s Creative Teaching video series. Roxann is now the principal of her own private school.
The author of the PE/Health program is Dan Persse, a National Board Certified Teacher in Physical Education - Early Childhood, and an elementary physical education teacher in Blaine, WA. Dan received the 2008 AAHPERD Northwest District Teacher of the Year Award, served as a member of the Washington State Grade Level Expectations Committee which developed the state’s standards in health and fitness, and also helped revise the Washington Classroom Based Assessments (CBA). Dan is also a certified Athletic Trainer, a certified Strength Coach, and certified Personal Trainer.
11. I’m interested in trying this program. What kind of support can I expect?
That’s the easiest question of all. The PuzzleWise™ company is owned and operated by Dr. Daniel Levine. Daniel is a doctor of education and a former school district superintendent. Daniel enjoyed eight years as a classroom teacher, and twice that as a principal and superintendent. Should you ever need to contact us with any question … any question … you will find Daniel’s response immediate and supportive. Daniel was the editor, and in some cases, the author of various elements of these programs, and he knows them thoroughly. Daniel’s staff is also well-versed in these learning programs, so the guidance you seek will receive a substantial reply. This is our guarantee!
Puzzlewise Frequently Asked Questions