Homeschool Posts

Thursday, December 13, 2012

SchoolhouseTeachers.com, a review

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age range:  pk - grade 12+

$5.95/month or $64.26/year

$1 for the 1st Month

Special pricing:  Get a 1 year subscription to SchoolhouseTeachers.com by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

for only $49 + a free tote bag + 2013 Annual Print Book

 

Have the winter doldrums got you?  Are you shuffling your resources and trying to figure out how to get out of a mid-year muddle?

It seems that December always involves a bit of a shake-up for me.  There are those things that ended up being a bad fit.  Or that composer study that got shelved.  Or that skill that really needs to be addressed that just seems to have cropped up out of the blue. 

But it’s the middle of the year and, well, I just don’t have the funds or the patience to shop for something new.  Do you?

The latest endeavor by the creators of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine might be just the thing.  It’s call SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

So, what is SchoohouseTeachers.com?

SchoolhouseTeachers.com provides on-demand access to dozens of courses for your homeschool, many of them written by experts in their field, including Kim Kautzer (writing), attorney Deborah Burton (mock trial), Dr. Alex McFarland (worldviews), Terri Johnson (geography), Janice Campbell (classics-based writing), and many more. 

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You’ll find courses for the whole family, including:

  • guitar
  • voice
  • classical history
  • logic
  • writing
  • chemistry
  • economics
  • film-making
  • elementary math
  • high school math…

You’ll also find:

  • daily practice in grammar, math, spelling, and copywork
  • pre-K activities
  • Everyday Astronomy, Everyday Explorers…

Plus, there are lots of subscriber extras, including:

  • digital back issues of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
  • Schoolhouse Planners (after 7 months of continuous subscription or purchase of a year)
  • free ebook downloads
  • monthly menu plan…

Since the courses and worksheets are all written by different authors, format varies.  Here’s a quick look at some of the materials we have used, from left to right:  Elementary Math, Logic, Grammar Dailies, and Writing.

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What SchoolhouseTeachers.com isn’t:

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is not an interactive website or a live class.  It is not designed to teach directly to the student. 

It is designed to be a flexible resource for you, the teacher.  Most courses provide full plans, including daily or weekly lessons that you can either download and print (pdfs) or read off of your computer or mobile device.  Some have resource links to videos to go with the material.

I wouldn’t call SchoolhouseTeachers.com a full curriculum replacement.  Some of the courses could be full courses, but others are better used as supplements (more on that in a bit).

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is not static.  This website is constantly expanding, with new material being added every month.  There is also some turnover---material is not guaranteed to be archived for more than 3 months, so if you see something you want to use later, download it!  It may not be there next year.

How we’re using it:

 
We’ve only been using SchoolhouseTeachers.com for a couple of weeks, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.  I decided to have each of my “school age” kiddos use at least one of the resources.
 
David (age 12, 7th grade) is using the course on Logic and Kim Kautzer’s Writing lessons.
 
Mary (age 8, 3rd grade) is using the Grammar Dailies.
 
Peter (age 7, 2nd grade) is using the Elementary Math.
 
We are all using the Voice lessons.
 
These lessons are not replacing any of our regular curricula, we simply added them to what we’re already doing.
 
David
 
David is using Kim Kautzer’s writing lessons.  For the past couple of weeks, he has been learning about describing a place and he just finished up this set of lessons today.  Would you like to read his finished paragraph?
 
The Cave
The cavern was cold and dark.  Small splashes echoed in the distance as blind fish struggled to survive.  A bare skull leered from a small alcove.  It reeked of rotten flesh and death.  Bat wings whispered through the heavy stillness.  The walls sloped steeply upwards, reminding me of the inside of a mausoleum.
I love his use of strong verbs, can you feel it?  He’s normally very resistant about “creative writing” lessons, but I think that Kim’s approach has been just right for him.  This is a win!
 
He’s also been learning about informal logical fallacies.  David has been a little dismissive of this coursework, he thinks it’s too easy and obvious for him.  He might be right.  It’s written at a level that is accessible to him, which I like, but examples of fallacies given are maybe a little too obvious.  Perhaps it will get more difficult for him as he gets further into it.
 
Mary
 
Mary is doing the Grammar Dailies.  So far, she has practiced all the different spelling rules for plurals (like turning “y” into “ies”), contractions, synonyms, and antonyms.  She will be learning all the capitalization rules next.
 
Technically, I don’t consider these topics to be “grammar.”  To me grammar is about the mechanics of how parts of sentences and paragraphs work together, whereas things like spelling plurals and contractions would be, well, spelling. 
 
But, these were actually areas that Mary needed help in, so I was very pleased to find an easy way to work on them a little each day.  She gives the Grammar Dailies a “thumbs up.”  They do get into more “grammatical” topics later.
 
Peter
 
Peter is using the “Let’s Go” elementary math worksheets.  There are teaching videos on SchoolhouseTeachers.com to go with these, but they are intended to show you how to teach the strategies to your child, which is how I am using them. 
 
The elementary math course is not a full program.  Each week of the month, a topic is presented for a different grade.  So, week one would be a topic for 1st grade, week two for 2nd grade, and so on.  There are 1-2 weeks worth of worksheets provided for each topic (assuming you do a worksheet a day).  We are ignoring the grade designation and concentrating on those topics he needs to work on.
 
Judging by what I’ve seen so far, this course concentrates on arithmetic strategies, rather than actual teaching of concepts.  So, it would best be used as a supplement to your chosen math program, and that’s how we’re using it.
 
It’s a quick practice, but Peter finds the worksheets to be too repetitious.  Oral or game practice is more his speed.  I need to check out the Everyday Games.
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Everyone
 
We aren’t too far into the voice lessons, yet, but have been enjoying the video links and suggestions for discussing what we are hearing and learning to appreciate the human voice.  I’m looking forward to continuing with this.
 
What could be improved overall:
 
I think a little more work could be done in the website development at SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  Most of the lessons are not terribly fiddly to access, but the Grammar Dailies, for instance, are a bit of a bear.  Since the lessons are posted each day with only so many on a page, I have to click through several screens to get to the lessons originally posted months back (which are the ones we are working on right now).  This will be a perpetual issue as more and more lessons are added.  A well designed archive page for each of the “Dailies” would be welcome. 
 

What I Like about SchoolhouseTeachers.com:

 
I like the clear drop down menus on the site.  I love being able to download and print most every lesson  ahead of time or put it onto my Android tablet as a pdf (if you’ve ever lost your power or internet connection at an inopportune time, you know how valuable that is).
 
I’m impressed by the variety of materials available and the general quality---since there are various authors the quality does vary, but, for the most part, the lessons are dead on in terms of difficulty for the level they are each intended for and they are well written.
 
The interesting variety of lessons makes this a site a winner.  Things like film-making and mock trial, for instance, are things that I might not normally seek out, but are welcome additions for rounding out my homeschool.
 
The price is definitely a good value, and it won’t break the bank, even if you are purchasing it as “mid-year add-in.”  The monthly subscription option gives you the ability to cancel at any time.
 

I recommend you take a look at SchoolhouseTeachers.com

 
At less than $6/month, it’s a good value, even as a supplement, and you won’t feel pressed to use every cranny to get your  money’s worth. 
 
If you tried the site when it first went live back in the spring, I strongly suggest trying it again.  I wasn’t crazy about it back then either.  It has changed SO MUCH.  So much has been added and the drop down menus have been changed for easy navigation.  Check out the SchoolHouseTeachers.com sample page to see what you’re missing.
 
 
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Disclosure:  I received a free subscription to this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew to facilitate my review.  I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions expressed here are my own or those of my family.  This post does contain affiliate links.  I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.

2 comments:

  1. just stopping in from the TOS review crew. I'm intrigued by the variety in the reviews offered.

    ReplyDelete

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