Friday, March 8, 2013

Switched-On Schoolhouse, Our Experience Pt 2

Yesterday I shared what led up to us choosing Switched-On Schoolhouse for Math and English and a little bit about cost and usage. Today I'm sharing how it works for US!
For Math, the student will often write down and work the problems on separate paper. The parent can do this for them especially if handwriting is an issue- I do this for some of Faith's problems. I always make her write some out for herself for the practice, but she can move quicker along if she isn't having to stop and think about which direction her 7 goes! My other two don't require this extra help and either figure out the problems in their head or write down their own problems. Most of the time the answer is in multiple choice, though there are times where fill in the blank is required. Sometimes though, the fill in the blank has multiple options for the student to consider and choose the right one. Another problem included is matching the left column with the right column.
Language Arts covers spelling lessons so that's one less thing for you to worry about. Parts of speech, literature genres, essays... it's all there for you! Like with Math, there are many multiple choices, but since they focus on spelling and language skills there is definitely more blank fill in the blanks- no choosing options!
Worried about the child just guessing to come up with the right answer? SOS has this covered. You, the teacher, can set each student's individual setting so that they are only allowed 1 "guess" per problem, or perhaps you allow a little more slack and they can try 3 times to "get" the answer. You are also able to check their work and see how many tries it took them to get the right answer. My kids know this and I've made it clear that if I see too many "guesses" that I will change the settings to more strict. I haven't had any issues though. The daily lessons are set to include up to 3 tries to get the right answer before marking the problem wrong. My kids love seeing that they got 100% on a project that usually after the 2nd try they'll call me in to help them. Tests and quizzes are set up differently- one wrong answer only. It allows me to really monitor their learning.
SOS has been a true answered prayer with my struggling student. She had NEVER enjoyed school. After day 1 using Switched-On Schoolhouse she was BEGGING to do more! She is actually DOING 3rd grade math (her actual grade) with little to no help from me. Most of the help she gets from me is, like I said, writing down the problems for her or just keeping her brain focused on what she had previously said. It gets tricky when she has to remember a sequence that she orally said to finding it on the computer. Her brain has little twitches like that. The real encouraging factor for her is seeing the Assignment Complete popup with her grade of 100%. We don't do tests and quizzes until 4th grade so she only has to do her daily assignments. Since she gets three tries, even if she misses one (and she does at times), she can go back and retry. Those mistakes are often quickly discovered on her own and by the end of the lesson is all forgotten! Seriously.... the daily 100% popping up and she seeing it has been a HUGE blessing! She's getting CONFIDENT! She knows she CAN do something well!

Vocabulary words are listed on EACH lesson. Since we only currently use Math and English I can only speak for them, but I would guess that they would be on the other subjects as well. To review vocabulary words there are several games available during the lesson time. Some of these are for quick learners- the speed of the game is a little fast for my youngers- but some of them aren't timed and allow for everyone to play. The above picture is of the Spelling Bee. It's been a great, unhurried practice for my children to go over their vocab words. They can sound them out and then, if needed, get help from mom or dad to finish spelling them. The favorite part? It comes at the end when the game is over... all the bees are shown dancing and of course my kiddos have to join in! Talk about encouraging and making learning FUN!
Switched-On Schoolhouse is VERY user friendly. Unconfident readers can still work independently by wearing headphones and highlighting text to be read by the computer. It's very easy for them (my youngest is 7) to maneuver the mouse to click answers, too. SOS includes Tiny Tutors in some of their lessons to give added "teaching" than just text reading. There are also videos and mini power points to watch during lesson time.
Parents can still take an active role in teaching by standing nearby for any questions, reading the text to them instead of the computer, and by utilizing the teacher's section.
Customer service rocks, too! Just saying!
Do you use SOS?

Be sure to check out my current giveaway from Princess Modest Swimwear!

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