The Sojourner

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Access! by Vantage Learning Review

My Access! Home Edition is an online writing program by Vantage Learning. I have to admit I was very skeptical at first, especially not wanting to add more writing to my teen's already full academic schedule. However, I cannot adequately express how impressed I have been with this program. But more than that, my daughter is LOVING it! I have to tell her to "stop writing" and do something else. Let me try to explain what this program does and why it is so wonderful.

First of all, when you purchase My Access!, you can go online and set up your accounts - one for you, the parent, and one for each of your children. Then you can select writing assignments in different age groups for each of your children. And they have very interesting topics like "Adopting a Zoo Animal" as a Persuasive Essay in the 8-10 year old group or "What If You Never Slept?" as an Informative Essay in the 22-14 year old group. There's also the thought-provoking "The Value of Sacrifice" as a Narrative Essay in the 15-18 year old group. But not only do they give you a large number of essay ideas to start with, you can create any other topics/assignments that you wish to go along with whatever you are studying in other subjects.

Now, not only can you assign different topics to each student, but you can set goals and rewards for when they reach those goals. Just to start out, I decided to reward my kids with a ticket to a movie when they reached a certain number of points. But the possibilities for rewards are as many as you can possibly imagine!

When your child logs on to My Access! website to being the writing process, they can take a Guided Tour which shows them all the aspects of the program. They will have a Writing Dashboard which gives them a quick view of their overall writing progress, or they can view a Progress page which shows them each writing assignment and it's progress. On the Writing Topics page, they can start a new assignment, resume an assignment in progress, or start a revision of an essay previously submitted.

When they begin a new assignment, they will get a few paragraphs that describe exactly what the assignment entails. Then they can take a interactive Writing Course which walks them step-by-step through the process of writing this particular type of essay. It is set up like a job at a newspaper, where they are training to become a reporter. It is very detailed and takes the student through all the steps to effective writing, including planning, organizing, writing first draft, revising, editing and publishing. It helps them learn how this program works, how to effectively write, edit and revise their writing and how to evaluate the work they have done.

My Access! will take their work when they submit it and evaluate it, grading it according to the rubrics that apply. They then have the opportunity to improve their work and increase their points, by resubmitting the assignment after more revision and editing.

I am sure, like me, you are wondering just how a computer can effectively evaluate writing, which is such a subjective thing. Well, here is how they explain it at Vantage Learning:

At the center of MY Access!® is IntelliMetric™, an artificial intelligence scoring tool. This tool instantly evaluates student writing against a standard rubric and provides students with suggestions to improve their writing. All of its feedback is aligned to the core traits of writing: Focus, Organization, Content Development, Language Use, and Grammar.

Around this intelligent core, MY Access!® incorporates instructional courses for each genre at each age range, an in-depth writing manual, organizational resources, and a host of word-processing tools.

Although I thought the price rather steep at first, after using the program and seeing how much my daughter enjoys writing using My Access!, I have changed my mind! $99.95 for this program that can support up to 6 different students is a bargain! And it does almost all the work for YOU, the teacher! Think how much easier your job would be if someone else would evaluate and grade your child's writing! And the stress that comes from having to go over your child's work with them and point out things that need worked on or changed is now not a burden for you. The program objectively evaluates their work and gives them feedback on how to improve it.

Vantage Learning has some other products that might interest you, too.  They have a College Edition of My Access! that will help your college students with their writing assignments for $89.95, as well as some Add-On Packs to go with your My Access! Home Edition.  These include an SAT Prep Pack for $49.95, a Picture Prompt Pack for $29.95, a Faith and Values Writing Prompt Pack for $29.95 and a Business Writing Prep Pack for $49.95.

If you would like to read more reviews about this product, check out the TOS Review Crew's reviews HERE.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of My Access! Home Edition.

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