Monday, October 17, 2016

Educeri (Homeschool Review)

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews

We have recently been supplementing our homeschool curricula with ready-to-use lessons from the Educeri Lesson Subscription Service. Educeri .......  Educeri a division of DataWORKS, is a source of online lessons for grades K-12. Over 1000 lessons cover topics in English, Math, History, Science, PE, Music, and more. Our focus was on the lessons available for high school students.

We primarily used the English lessons from the site and I found plenty of great material to keep Emily busy! Just the high school English category includes over 50 lessons with topics like “Analyze the Development of Theme,” “Determining the Figurative Meaning of Words and Phrases,” “Evaluate Influences on American Literature,” and “Analyze and Evaluate Multiple Interpretations of  a Literary Work.”  The lessons were meaty and very relevant. I really prefer that English courses, particularly at the high school level, consist primarily of reading and writing, rather than short lessons “about literature” or worksheets. I felt that most of the lessons gave Emily tools to interpret and write about literature, and to improve her writing skills in general. They never felt like busywork.

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What is an Educeri Lesson like?

While the lessons are designed for classroom use, they were just as easy to use with one student. Each lesson is tied to a Common Core ELA standard. (While I don’t care about following Common Core, the topics were relevant for us, and were ones that I wanted Emily to cover.)

First, an opening page provides an overview of lesson content, usually in chart form. This slide can be referred back to for reference at any time during the lesson.

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Subsequent slides provide practice in analyzing written material in regards to the topic. Typically, the student is asked to not only answer multiple choice or short answer questions, but to identify sections in the text that support his answer. Each click of the “next” button reveals another answer in red for checking answers as “the class” proceeds.

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Discussion questions are provided in the margins for teachers to use, ensuring that students understand the terminology and are applying the concepts.

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Each lesson took about an hour, but could be easily completed over two or more days if desired. The last three slides are designed for periodic review, although we’ve generally been completing the whole lesson, including the review slides at one time. A few of the slides referred students to longer works found online to use for analysis, but generally, the text was a paragraph from a longer work and was printed on the lesson page.

While a high school student could do a lesson independently (and Emily usually prefers to work independently), we did these together because I felt that discussion of the topics was an important part of the lessons. We found that most of the target literature selections were ones commonly assigned for high school reading, such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Walden, and Moby Dick, and other writings by Jonathon Edwards, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Edgar Allen Poe,  that Emily was already familiar with.

Other Subjects:

There were only six history lessons, covering the American Revolution, Principles of Democracy in Historical Documents, The Cold War, and Great Awakening.

The history lessons followed a similar format with passages to read, questions to answer, and identifying key phrases in each passage to support the student answer. There was also independent practice with application and compare contrast essay questions. We didn’t use any of these, but probably will when the lessons coordinate with what Emily is studying.

16 Science lessons cover a variety of lessons in earth science, biology, and chemistry. Over 60 lessons cover topics in algebra and geometry. If a student needed extra help on a particular topic, these could be useful. The teaching style is very much what a student might see as a teacher explains a topic and works out problems on a white board or smart board in a classroom.

What we thought:

The ELA lessons were very useful to us. Unless a homeschooling parent has an English degree, he or she may not be entirely comfortable teaching topics like development of character and theme, literary periods, structure and tone of a text, or figurative language. These lessons are a very nice resource that teaches concepts that can be applied to any literature.

Likewise, although the other subjects didn’t include content areas that were useful to us right now, they seem like a good supplement to other curriculum.

Other Homeschool Crew members used other subjects and levels of Educeri, so be sure to check out some of their reviews as well!

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