Ugh! That is my immediate reaction when faced with assigning a writing assignment to my kids. I don't enjoy formal writing and I sure don't enjoy grading it! In fact when I received this review I was dreading it. I felt my back against the essay wall.
To be honest my older girls (who were my testers) were not that thrilled either.
My Access Home Edition from Vantage Learning however changed a few of our minds. My Access is an online writing program. The program is $129.95 for up to 6 students per year. They also have an option for up to 3 students for $99.95. For this fee you get access to the online writing center. My Access! has writing prompts offered for up to three age groups, 8-10, 11-14, 15-18. The parent has an account and each kid has their own login and password as well. In the parent center you set up the child's account. Also in this area you can choose to have progress reports emailed to you each week and set point goals for your child. There is a huge list of writing prompts available for the student to choose from, but the parent can also create a topic. I implemented this program in our homeschool by having my girls sit down with the program for about 30 minutes twice a week.
My 14 year old is not so keen on writing. She went through the self-paced pre-writing exercises begrudgingly. As she went through the pre-writing exercises though there was a writing guide she could print out and refer to. The pre-writing used a nice interface of a journalist gathering info. It kept her somewhat motivated to get through the initial exercises.
My 12 year old daughter enjoyed the program. Well I should rephrase that... she tolerated the program until her final submission of her first essay. I walked in the door one evening after she had drafted, submitted, corrected and then resubmitted her paper and she was beaming from the top of the stairs. I asked what was up and she proclaimed that she was "advanced proficient" in all five of the areas the program scores in. That made her day. Here is a screen shot of her progress
What I like most about this program was the step by step approach it took to introducing writing. It didn't just assign a topic and leave you with a blank page. It "held your hand" helping you build the essay. What I loved about this program was it's grading process. It took my daughter's essay and highlighted every grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax error. It then allowed her to hover over the highlighted error for corrections listing what was wrong with the particular phrase or section of the paper.
I'm hoping to incorporate My Access! Home Edition into more of our writing lessons. I feel it has valuable resources in the writing guide as well as in the correction phase of the writing. The cost for three students is reasonable.
See what other crew members had to say about My Access! here.
Disclaimer: I received this product for free as a member of the TOS Crew for review purposes.