Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reveiw of 'My Access Writing'

Having a new high schooler in our home, writing is an important subject for our family to really start putting emphasis on.  I earned straight A's all through high school and graduated as Valedictorian of my high school class. 

However, I received a huge slap of reality when I entered my first college English class and had to write a paper about the influence the media has on our culture.  Easy peasy.  Or so I thought.  Imagine my surprise when my paper was handed back to me with a big, fat, red 'D' on it!  Um, obviously I had no idea how to properly write a paper and even more obvious was that this professor obviously had not read the reports that said using red ink to grade student's papers makes the student feel intimidated and unintelligent!  That 'D' was a hard reality for me.  (I'm sure I would have felt better about it had it been a big, fat PURPLE 'D'.) I thought, "Now what?  This professor isn't going to teach me how to write, I'm supposed to already know!"  How was I going to learn all there was to know about proper writing with no teacher and in enough time to not fail my class?!  The Internet, a.k.a. where you can learn anything(!), was not available then.  Why hadn't we been taught this in high school.  Wasn't that why we were there?

I don't know how I did it, but I did pass that class.  Although I don't believe I came out of it with an 'A'. 

I want better for my children.  I want them to leave their high school years knowing, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they can confidentially write any kind of paper that may be required of them whether it be a college paper, something required at their job, or just a simple thank you note.  I still struggle every new school year when it comes time to send in our Letter of Intent to our local public school superintendent.  Don't want them thinking this homeschool mom is a total ditz because she doesn't even know how to type up a simple letter!

Yet, even with the best of writing curriculums, here's the kicker.  How does one actually 'grade' a student's writing, especially when the one doing the grading may not have the best eye for spotting writing errors?  This is one area where it's really more subjective grading than actual right and wrong.  Sure, spelling and punctuation errors are easy to recognize, but other areas, such as language use, content, and mechanics are much harder to 'grade'.

As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew I had the opportunity to review My Access! (home edition) and I must say, I am super excited about it!  This is going to make writing more fun for my children and much more easy on me!

My Access! Writing is a complete on-line writing application that works perfectly with any curriculum.  Purchasing a subscription to My Access! is like getting your very own personal writing instructor who not only teaches your student the proper writing process but who also scores and gives instant feedback on what they write.  Don't get me wrong, this isn't a complete writing curriculum but rather a tool to help evaluate your student's writing and give feedback on where they might need some work.  (You can see how this is done here.)

How does it work?  In a nutshell, you set up accounts for each of your students ages 8-18.  There are 96 pre-loaded writing topics for the three different age levels (8-10, 11-14, and 15-18) or, you as the teacher may input your own topic you would like your student to write about.  You assign what topic(s) the student is to work on.  (You can also set up goals and reward incentives if you like as well as view, print out, or even email the student's progress reports weekly or monthly to whomever you would like.)

The student types in their assignment and it is instantly reviewed and scored while helpful feedback is given to help improve their writing.  At any time you can instantly look and see the student's overall progress with their writing.  They will either be listed as proficient, below proficient, or adv. proficient.

I truly am impressed with My Access! Writing by Vantage Learning and plan on using it throughout this school year, possibly longer, to help make sure Baby Girl is progressing in her writing.  Writing has always been hard for me to critique and grade, but not any more!  But instead of using the pre-listed writing topics I plan on putting in and assigning my own topics based on the things she is required to write for her English lessons.  I love that I can do this and it will still critique her work!

If you are interested in My Access! you can learn more about it here.  A 12-month subscription is $99.95, which I was put off by at first but the more I think about it and the more I use it the more I believe it might just be worth it if it frees me up to do other teaching while also subjectively critiquing my children's writing.  I'm sure I have spent at least that much over the years on different writing curriculum, not having found anything yet that can do what My Access! can do for me.

Find out what other Crew members think of My Access!

 *As a member of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew I received this product free of charge in exchange for my review and honest opinion of it.  As a believer and follower of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I promise you that all my reviews are honest and contain only my own true opinions...'cause He told me to not lie!


jlsgrant said...

Great job on your review!

Vickie said...

Visiting from the crew. Great post! I loved the life experience you began with. Gives the review more emphasis.

God's Blessings