Ultimate Spelling For Education

Ultimate Spelling EDU is the world's most advanced spelling learning system for schools. With Ultimate Spelling, you have your spelling teaching requirements completely under control.

Based on proven science, Ultimate Spelling EDU contains all the features of Ultimate Spelling plus:

It's absolutely essential your students graduate with their spelling educational requirements met. With Ultimate Spelling EDU these spelling requirements are more than met. Students also improve academic performance, are prepared for standardized tests, and improve their confidence.

The next step is to see Ultimate Spelling for yourself. Simply fill out the form and we'll send you a free no obligation trial of the full version of Ultimate Spelling EDU.

The Science

Ultimate Spelling is scientifically designed, and utilizes principles based on decades of research in learning, retention, and psychology. Here is a summary of the theory and research behind Ultimate Spelling's effectiveness.

Craik, F., and Tulving, E. "Depth of processing and the retention of words in episodic memory." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol 104(3) (1975): 268-294. Print and PDF. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0096-3445.104.3.268

In this seminal study performed at the University of Toronto, Canada, the authors performed a series of tests in which they gave the study participants a sequence of words to learn, with information related to each word as it appeared in order. They discovered that when the information provided stimulated the participant's brain to process the word on a more involved level (referred to as "deep encoding" or "degree of elaboration" in the study), that word was more effectively learned and remembered. With Ultimate Spelling, the user is given a wide range of additional information about each spelling word, including the word's definition - one of the key factors in enhanced memory, according to this study - as well as usage examples, synonyms, and antonyms.

Gelman, B.D., Gruber, M.J., and Ranganath, C. "States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit." Neuron, 22 October 2014, 84(2): 486-496. Web. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.060

Students who are eager to learn are more likely to remember what they have learned, something that the authors of this study demonstrate. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show real-time connections between a person's curiosity about a specific topic, and the production of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and the brain's reward system. The authors also concluded that a higher level of interest and curiosity in a topic or question leads to better memory and enhanced learning. Including exercises that stimulate curiosity, and providing reward mechanisms as part of the study process, also increases a person's ability to absorb and retain information, as the researchers found. Ultimate Spelling has a text import feature that allows each user to include and incorporate practice material that matches their interests, while learning the spelling of words in those texts. The system also uses several different reward systems to encourage users to continue working towards their defined goals.

Garcia, S.M., Tor, A., and Schiff, T.M. "The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective." Perspectives on Psychological Science, November 2013, 8(6):634-650. Print and web. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1745691613504114

Each person is influenced by a unique set of factors related to their own status and progress towards goals, but is also affected to a greater or lesser degree by the achievements and perceived standards of the people around them. This analysis of past and current studies looks at the way people view and are motivated by individual goals as well as societal achievement (competition). The authors conclude that effective use of motivational strategies must take both into account. This is something that Ultimate Spelling accomplishes by providing each user with the ability to set personal goals, earn reward points, and view their own progress tracking reports, and also to publish all of those results on public social media platforms.

Kivetz, R., Urminsky, O., and Zheng, Y. "The Goal-Gradient Hypothesis Resurrected: Purchase Acceleration, Illusionary Goal Progress, and Customer Retention." Journal of Marketing Research, February 2006, 43(1):39-58. Web. http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jmkr.43.1.39

In a study focusing on the influence of reward-scheme programs on behavior, the authors found that when people see visible progress towards their goals they are more likely to increase the activity required to reach those goals. The study also confirms that most people are also motivated by receiving rewards for completing specific activities, even if those rewards are not immediately transferable to actual material or monetary benefits. Status points, rewards, and real-time progress tracking are all methods used in Ultimate Spelling to encourage frequent spelling practice by awarding points for the completion of exercises and activities. Because the user can access their progress charts at any time, they will always be able to see how close they are to achieving their personal spelling goals.

Buton, M., Winterbauer, N., and Todd, T. "Relapse processes after the extinction of instrumental learning: Renewal, resurgence, and reacquisition." Behavioural Processes, May 2012, 90(1): 130–141. Print and web. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2012.03.004

Instrumental learning, also called "operant conditioning," is a method by which behaviors are learned in connection with a stimulus, a reward, or both. In this research done at the University of Vermont, the authors studied the ways in which the information connected to a specific behavior is retained when the stimulus is removed, and how subsequent repetition or reward reinforces information recall and a resumption of previously learned behaviors. They conclude that there are two primary methods of reinforcing active memory and behavior: by creating a different way to test the subject's memory, and by providing the opportunity for intensive focused repetition of that stimulus-behavior response. These two methods are widely used in the Ultimate Spelling activities and games to create the link between instruction and memory that is so crucial in effective spelling learning on the student's part.

Xue, G., Mei, L., Chen, C., Lu, Z-L., Poldrack, R., Dong, Q. "Spaced Learning Enhances Subsequent Recognition Memory by Reducing Neural Repetition Suppression." Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 2011;23(7):1624-1633. Print and web. http://doi:10.1162/jocn.2010.21532

In this study comparing long-term and short-term memory, the study authors tested the neural activity of participants as they memorized a set of images. Half of the study participants used massed learning techniques, in which each new image was presented multiple times in a row; the other half were given the images in a spaced repetition mode, where the images were shown in alternating order. Although each participant saw each image the same number of times, the people in the spaced-repetition exercise were able to accurately remember more images, and for a longer period of time. Repetition is a key technique in learning spelling, and Ultimate Spelling incorporates spaced repetition in two ways. First, the system uses randomized selection of spelling words from the user's current list to populate the activities and exercises, ensuring an interval between word reviews. Second, the system's Word Discover feature provides pop-up instant review of the words on that list, again in random order. By providing users with multiple opportunities throughout the day to read and review their words, Ultimate Spelling provides all of the benefits of the spaced repetition methodology in its spelling instruction.

Blocki, J., Cranor, L., Datta, A., and Komanduri, S. "Spaced Repetition and Mnemonics Enable Recall of Multiple Strong Passwords." Cornell University Library, January 3, 2015. PDF. http://arxiv.org/abs/1410.1490v2

Spaced repetition is a memory training tool that relies on frequent and consistent review of information; mnemonics is a memory technique that involves multiple ways of looking at that information, such as the incorporation of images or story lines. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University focused on the combination of spaced repetition and mnemonics in evaluating how best to train people to remember specific pieces of information: computer passwords. They found that by combining the two methodologies, the results in both ease of learning and retention were increased. Ultimate Spelling uses each method separately and together to help users learn and remember new spelling words by using the same words in multiple exercises, presenting spelling words in a variety of formats, and encouraging users to add information related to each word to make a personal connection that helps them to remember that word and its correct spelling.


Dave Regan’s Word Games Help Spellers At www.ArmoredPenguin.com

Categories: Spelling Resources |

One of the best ways to learn is through playing games, and that’s particularly true when you’re learning new words. Whether you need help with matching definitions to words, or with learning how to recognize letter patterns to improve your spelling skills, games like crossword puzzles, word search puzzles, and scrambled word solvers will help you train your eyes and your brain to recognize and remember words and the way they’re spelled. At Dave Regan’s website, you can create your own puzzles to focus on words you’re currently learning or practicing.

US: When did you first get interested in word games?

DR: Mostly, I’ve used word games as a way to explore different things about programming, which I’ve been doing for 30 years. I wrote the program to build wordsearch puzzles as a weekend project a long time ago. As I had to learn what the web could do, I moved that program into the web and let other people use it. As other people have used the web site, I’ve added additional puzzles and improved the older puzzles.

US: Have you used word games like crossword puzzles to improve your own vocabulary or spelling skills?

DR: Not on purpose, but it happens by accident. When a person creates a puzzle on my website, they have the option of listing the puzzle for the public. How many puzzles of the list of presidents do you need? As people created puzzles and listed them for the public, I saved the best of the puzzles in a permanent archive. But that does require that I look to see that most of the words are spelled correctly. In addition, if the puzzle is in a language other than English, I have to look at the words to try and decide if the puzzle is appropriate for the category or not. I’ve learned quite a lot.

These puzzles are available for others to look at as well. The quality is not uniform as there are many different authors, with different skill levels. But it still makes for an interesting collection if you’re not in the mood to create an original puzzle right now.

US: The free word search puzzle generator you provide is a great way for students to have fun with lists of words they need to learn for an upcoming spelling test. What other ways have people used the games on your site for studying and school work?

DR: I have a number of different audiences, but clearly teachers and students are the core of audience.

1) The wordsearch, word match, and word scramble puzzles are great to help people recognize a set of words. This is used for spelling lists, and vocabulary words. This is commonly used for K-6 or so.

2) The crossword puzzle helps people match up a word with a definition or concept, and tends to get used by older students. I’ve seen crossword puzzles for middle school up through graduate classes as well as specialized groups (such as fire fighter review).

3) I’ve had many special requests.
a) Some teachers working with very young kids, or kids with developmental problems have trouble with wordsearch puzzles where the words go backwards. So there are options to control how simple the puzzles can be.
b) I had a person from Europe ask me to add a sign language font for helping teach sign language. Did you know that there are many different sign languages? It caught me by surprise, and taught me something new.
c) I had a person who wanted to use the wordsearch puzzle to do simple equations for doing tutoring in a prison system. It sounded sort of niche, but was able to do that for him.

4) I’ve set up a “quiz mode” with the crossword puzzles where students can work a crossword puzzle (without an answer key), and when they get done, the results are mailed to the instructor.

5) I have a web page to make simple arithmetic work sheets. This one came about because my son wanted to do additional math problems.

6) I’ve had adults chide me because I rearranged the web page, and they couldn’t find the new puzzles that people had listed for the public. They would print off a puzzle or two while they ate their morning breakfast.

7) I’ve had adults build simple puzzles, in a very large font, for their parents who are in assisted living situations. Playing with words never has to stop.

None of these applications are earth shattering, but people enjoy a simple challenge. If they accidentally learn something and have fun at the same time, then everyone wins.

US: Another useful and fun puzzle tool on your site is the Word Match puzzle, where users can type in lists of vocabulary words they’re learning along with their definitions, so that they can practice matching the word to the correct meaning. Rather than typing in words and definitions one at a time, can users upload files with the words and definitions to save time?

DR: All of the puzzles have a way where you can create a simple text file with words, and upload those into the program. Look for the “Text file name” entry to pull this file into web site.

In addition, if you have cookies enabled, you can use the computer you created the puzzle with, and go to “My Puzzles” on the left, and edit any of the puzzles you’ve made in the recent past. Further, if you save the web page containing your puzzle, you can feed that HTML file back into the program (using that same “text file name”) and it saves all of your words as well as all of the other settings for the puzzle.

US: What other games and puzzles do you plan on adding to the site?

DR: The most recent puzzle I’ve created is to create “Secret Codes” or ciphers. This really doesn’t fit in well with education, but is a way to make a simple to challenging puzzle.

If you take this seriously, you can teach yourself a lot about letter frequency, and (very) basic code breaking.

Right now I don’t have any particular word puzzles that I’m looking at. I do pay attention to my user’s suggestions, and occasionally look at the puzzle books at the store. But it’s clear that the things that best fit my model are puzzles where teachers and students are working on some list of vocabulary, concepts, etc. So I am open to suggestions.


I started this web site as a hobby to explore programming and the web. I seem to have hit a chord with an audience, as the web site is used to make millions of puzzles each year, and that’s great. It’s given me an opportunity to exchange email with people from around the world. Often the message is a simple “thank you”, but sometimes it is a question that makes me try to see how to make the programs fit an interesting situation.

Having a hobby that allows me to help people is quite wonderful.

(Visited 884 times, 1 visits today)