My Grading Epiphany

 

Perfect Grade and Sticker on HomeworkDear Homeschool Mom,
Please read this post, especially if you have not been a fan of regular grading in your homeschool. Keep an open mind?
If you’ve followed our homeschool path recently, you know we switched to Monarch online by Alpha Omega Publications. We are nearly a month into it now. I think we’ve finally found our homeschooling “sweet spot”! 

What I Didn’t Expect

The Monarch program gives the kids assessments after every lesson Their comprehension is tested every day, to make sure they are engaged. They have regular quizzes and tests as well. You decide what your grading scale will be, as well as whether a particular assignment will be “open page” or “open book” or not. If there is a question in an assessment that you feel is redundant, unclear, or unnecessary, you can alter it in the teacher settings.
 
I honestly didn’t know how the kids would feel about all the grading. For myself, being more regular in “formal” evaluations has not only given me a more accurate, visual idea of how they are doing (and where we need to spend more time), but I really didn’t realize how much it would help them to thrive by actually seeing their grades. It has given them a more positive outlook toward schooling, and it shows:

What I Learned

I wasn’t much of a formal grader up until now. The kids did the papers and lessons, and I checked them. The kids would get a verbal assessment, but not much on paper to actually see for themselves. I would step up their work where I saw they needed more practice, according to what I observed each day. The grades went on our transcripts, but the kids rarely saw anything in the way of a letter grade or percentage on a regular basis. With this program, they have evaluations after every lesson, and they get immediate feedback. They know exactly where they stand. And surprisingly, they love it!
 
This program has also helped my husband to see the progress the kids are making. It is his hard-earned money which purchases our materials, so it is good for him to see he’s getting some bang for his buck. 🙂 Because he’s not involved necessarily in a hands-on way with our schooling (he’s my moral support!), this gives him validation for what is happening educationally in our home. I like that a lot. 
 
I understand those who prefer not to grade, for whatever reason…but this was sort of an epiphany for me and our kids. They don’t have a classroom of kids to “compete” with (you know what I mean, I hope), and I’ve never really done stickers/rewards for school work…so this gives them a way to compete with themselves (which is the best type of competition IMO when it comes to education). 

If You Want to Look Into Monarch

Monarch automatically grades about 85% of student work. The remaining items are in the form of projects and written assignments the teacher needs to grade, and then enter by hand. I’ve found this program to be challenging for our kids, as well as thorough. The program keeps your records for you, and will print reports as well. Our 10th grader, who has some reading disability, can follow along as the text is read to him. You can choose the “voice” you listen to, and text is highlighted a sentence at a time, and within that each word is highlighted as it is read. That has been a very helpful feature for us, and it aids in his comprehension level. It has allowed him to do his work completely independently, which has been a huge boost for his confidence.
So, I guess this is not only a bit of a promo for Monarch (which you can get for 10% off here…and you can try free for 30 days here), but also for tangible grading for your students. I never thought I’d say that. But here I am.
For the Love of Learning,
Diane

"Homeschool Planet" Review

planet97I’m a homeschooler, and creator of the Facebook group, “Schoolin’ Swag”. This past Monday, we hosted a huge giveaway event called the “Planner Palooza”, featuring over 25 prizes. It was a great event!

Well, I’ve been investigating planners for at least 3 years, and in preparation for the Palooza, I did research all over the web, looking for the best products I could find to offer. I thought I’d seen it all.  Then I got an email from the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op and my life took a new turn!

The Co-Op offers “Homeschool Planet” (click <– that link to see a video!) exclusively. Right now there is an offer to check it out for free for 30 days. It looked interesting, and was totally non-risk (they didn’t even ask for a credit card), so I thought I’d take a peek. I’m sure glad I did!

Now, prepare yourself…because I took a lot of screen shots so you can see what this looks like instead of just reading my descriptions. Ready? Click the images to enlarge:

I love all of these features (and there is SO much more)! I’ve only been using “Homeschool Planet” for a short time. I was going to wait a few weeks to do a review, assuming I’d need to figure things out first.  There was very, very little “break in” time for me, so I decided to do the review now so folks could see it in July, before the planning crunch hits!  I’ve decided it is definitely a keeper for me!

This planner is pretty much a no-brainer…extremely easy to use and navigate. I do like the fact that there are pretty theme options…if I’m going to look at something as much as I do a planner, I love for it to have visual appeal!

The widgets and different organizational options help me to have my “whole life” in one place…I can schedule classes, appointments, reminders, as well as a to-do list, shopping lists, search options and more via the optional widgets.

I really like that my students can access this via their own logins, and I can choose what they are able to view, and also what they are allowed to edit. They can check off assignments as they complete them, and attendance will be kept.

The data you enter can be shared with smart phones and tablets, using the mobile version.

I especially like that you get *real* people, and prompt replies when you have questions. I saw another blog post in which the writer sent these folks a message about something she wished to see as a practical feature…an improvement…and within a day or so it had been added!

I encourage you to check out this planner while the 30-day free trial is still available! Run! Better yet, grab a friend or two or twenty to come along!

Note:  I received a free 1-year subscription to Homeschool Planet in exchange for an honest review of the software. All opinions expressed above are my own.