Monday, June 6, 2016

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs by Maxscholar ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

I am always looking for ways to improve reading comprehension for the kids. Edyn has severe ADD and Gavin just needs a little improvement. I was really looking forward to being able to review MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs by MaxScholar. Unfortunately, this program wasn't what I was hoping for.

MaxScholar is a comprehensive, multi-sensory, reading, and language based program. They have done research on different methods to help improve reading skills, language and performance scores. They are especially geared for kids who suffer from dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning disabilities. There are different programs available depending on the age of your child. We have been using the MaxGuru for our review.

What we received for this review:

MaxScholar was generous in giving us a one year license to use MaxGuru for 2 students and one teacher.

How we used this in our school:

When we first got our log in information, we also received an email with Powerpoint instructions on how this program worked. As the student logs on for the first time, they will automatically take a Pre-assessment test. This is to test the student's comprehension and vocabulary, and then the program will place them in the correct level based on the results.

So after logging on, we came to to a page that said MaxPhonics and MaxReading.

We decided to try out the MaxPhonics first, but it was just too easy for them. It would be perfect for the younger kids who do not understand phonics yet, but since they already know all of this, we just moved on to MaxReading. 

The MaxReading portion is a muli-step process where the student chooses something to read about, and then has different tasks to complete. Gavin wasn't interested in any of the topics, but started with reading the "Apps" lesson. He would read a paragraph, that was also highlighted with the vocabulary words for that paragraph, and then it would take him to the next step.

In the next step they are to highlight the topic, the main idea, and all of the important details. Neither Gavin or Edyn had any trouble with the topic or the main idea, but both would get extremely frustrated with the important details. If you didn't get them all, or got them wrong, it would take off of your "grade" for that. 

We skipped the next two lessons that were making an outline and a writing assignment. After that there were some multiple choice questions for them to answer. When they were done, it would give them a letter grade, and the options to play games, redo the chapter, or move on to the next chapter. 

One of the games that they both were really excited about was hangman. They both enjoy playing it, but this one frustrated them. It gives you 5 tries to get the word, but what they didn't like is that it would not tell you which "wrong" letters that you had already picked. It would only put an "X". They wanted it to list the letters that they had already chosen so that they wouldn't choose them again. We were using the Chrome browser as suggested.

All lessons in MaxReading will be saved so the parent can pull them up in their reports. I never could figure out how to do this...

If they finish for the day, MaxScholar does give them to the opportunity to start where they left off the next time they log on. 

Ok so lets talk about some of the other facets of MaxGuru. There are other parts to this program that are also there to help with reading comprehension.

MaxWords: The student is able to go to this part of MaxGuru and it will help them build words by learning roots, prefixes, suffixes, and syllabication rules. 

MaxVocab: This is where they can learn new words and expand their vocabulary. It lists the words from the passages they were reading in MaxReading, plus for all of the other levels. 

MaxPlaces: This is one that I really thought the kids would like. It takes you to a map, and you can click on different places to read about. Since we live close to Austin, Texas, we decided to start there. The writing for this passage was awful. It read like a small children's book. My kids could have done a better job. They were not impressed with it at all. We tried some different places, and some were better written than others. Unfortunately, they didn't care for this part.

This brings me to the last 2 parts of MaxGuru that I want to talk about, and the reason I had them stop using it. I was not happy with these at all, and I would NOT let my kids do these anymore simply because I did not like the content. 

MaxBios: This states that the children will learn about "influential people who made a difference." If you look at the picture below, you can see the different categories that the children can pick from. 

 Now granted, some of these people listed are amazing, and they have been influential and have made a difference. Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, and Bob Hope are a few listed that come to mind. On the other hand some of the people listed just do not make sense to me.  How are they influential? How did they make a difference? Here's who is listed under Hip-Hop Artists.

 I'm not a prude, but I will be the first to say that Hip-Hop is not our choice of music. If some people love it, great. It's not for us. I still do NOT understand how these people are influential or have made a difference. Most of these people are not someone I would want my child to think is influential in the world, so why would I want to show case them while learning? It just doesn't make sense to me. This next picture is the reading about Biggie Smalls.

Now let's look at Wiz Khalifa's bio. He's KNOWN for using marijuana!! Yes, let's let the kids read about him and about his song called "Burn After Rolling", and how his first studio album is called "Rolling Papers". I will then try and explain to them how he was influential and made a difference. No thank you!

Why in the WORLD would I want my kids reading about people who have continuous run-ins with the police, "took illegal short cuts for money", call their albums "Rolling Papers", and then label them as "important and influential!?" This doesn't even cover the people listed under "Entertainment." Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez? How do they benefit my children's education? They don't.  I just don't call people like that influential or important!

MaxMusic: Same issue as above. The students are to read the lyrics of artists and then they can play them on a piano.

These weren't as bad, but here's Wyclef Jean's lyrics. Of course they don't give the entire song, but I'm not interested in my kids listening to this type of music or reading about it while they are trying to learn.

How did we feel about this program:

Honestly I feel like this kid's program needs parental controls. I do not feel that with the content listed above that we will be continuing this program. I do feel that if they are trying to just reach kids in general and give them something that they are interested in, that they could go about it in a different direction. Unfortunately, this program is just not a right fit for our family. 

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