Thursday, February 25, 2016

HelpTeaching.com Pro Plan (Printable quizzes, lessons, and worksheet generators Review}

As part of the TOS Review Crew I was recently given a one-year subscription to HelpTeaching.com's Pro Plan, which gives me access to all of their resources for all ages.

HelpTeaching.com offers:
  • Printable tests and worksheets covering a wide range of topics from PreK-12th grade~
    • Arts
    • Early Education
    • English Language Arts
    • Life Skills
    • Math
    • Physical Education
    • Science
    • Seasonal and Holidays
    • Social Studies
    • Study Skills/Strategies
    • Common Core ELA
    • Common Core Math
  • Math Worksheet Generators
  • Printable Game Generators
  • Lessons in:
    • English Language Arts
    • Math
    • Science
  • Game Generators
    • Bingo
    • Word Bingo
    • Wordsearch
  • Test Maker that can be populated with their library of over 130,000 questions or your own questions for quizzes, tests, and worksheets. The ability to make and print your own tests/quizzes, is probably most useful for those who unschool or create their own curriculum, and are required to have portfolio materials to submit. The rest of us use materials that have quizzes and tests incorporated. ;) 
  • Online Testing that allows you to schedule tests for each of your students
  • A dedicated space for you to upload your own content for test and worksheets  
For the purposes of this review we were asked to focus on the materials for the upper grades. With the wide variety of resources, I was hoping that they would be useful for our homeschool. We had mixed results with the various resources.

I checked out a number of worksheets and realized that they are less informative worksheets than quizzes for material that we may or may not have covered. For the purposes of this site, I would suggest that "worksheet" = "quiz." I actually started to feel a little like a public school teacher, who is required to teach for the test, as I searched through the elective materials available, so I backed off from the worksheets for my older children, as they didn't actually coordinate with anything they were currently working on, so would have been an exercise in frustration. Again, I think these would be fantastic for someone who uses a boxed curriculum that coordinates, or who puts together their own materials, and uses the quizzes as a starting point, as they put together their own lessons.

I printed up some of the worksheets for my youngest, and we had good success there, as his materials are a little more straightforward.

I did assign some random lessons and tests for both of my older children, and we had mixed results there as well~
Eldest's first experience with a lesson/test was not stellar. Part of that was my fault. When I set her test up I didn't know to click that first check box, so she wasn't able to go back and forth from one question to another.
Although she expected to be able to, as there was a "back" button. Since she wasn't actually planning to "change" her answers, this wasn't really something either of us had considered, she was just skipping the ones she didn't know right off the bat, to do the ones she did... typical SAT test taking strategy that backfired here.

I also hadn't clicked the "Enable Practice Mode" check box, which it turns out would have been a good idea, so that she could retake the test. Because I didn't, she was locked out of being able to take it again, and complete the questions that she had skipped (thinking that she could return to them...). I tried to send it to her again (And deselect her brother), but it turns out that one can only add students, not delete them. I *was* able to send her the link, so that she could take it again, with the ability to go back and forth. 

Eldest: even though we ran into issues with the test on using Parallel Structure, she enjoyed the quotes from great literature, and the exercises required in the test. One of the questions that she did answer the first time through the test amused her, so she sent me a screenshot:
Note the greyed out "previous question" ... oops! 



Here is another bit, from the teacher end of things: Can you guess what she wrote about??? Her answer is the "Student answer" following the "Sample answer that is included to help the teacher assess the student writing.




Yes, our doggy had surgery, and at night is required to wear "The Cone of Shame and Destruction" :) Clearly, fodder for creativity... ;)

My sense is that the ELA resources (And math resources if they coordinate with what your students are studying), are probably the most intuitive to use. The Science resources really have to match up well with what you are studying to be extremely helpful, in my opinion.

For Middlest, my son went through a lesson on fish (because he loves fish/fishing, and reads about them/it all the time), and took the test, but the site never showed that he actually took the test, and his results never came through.
Middlest's input: "The tests aren't set up very well in conjunction with the lessons~ there were questions on the tests that weren't discussed in the lesson, so that was confusing and discouraging."
Here is a screenshot of a portion of the lesson, which included a video. Side note: he enjoyed the video, although he would like me to note that this is a secular company, so don't expect your science to have a Christian Worldview... ;)
It's important to note that the "Related worksheets" and "Related Lessons" only show up on the teacher side, not on the student side, so if you want them to do the related worksheets or lessons, you have to assign them. The "Additional Resources" DO show up on the student side. 

Final thoughts: 
All in all, I would say that this is a very useful site for those who enjoy making up their own worksheets, or creating a course based on ready-made worksheets. There are a few quirks that could be smoothed out (like the test results that disappeared into cyberspace, and making the test taking process more intuitive~ it wasn't clear that it wasn't possible to skip questions and come back to them~). We may try the scheduling aspect again, but to avoid frustrating my children for now, I have decided that we will print most quizzes/worksheets. It's great to have that option! :)

I think the English/Language Arts resources are very helpful, particularly when you are covering a specific topic (say, hyperbole), and you want to find a ready-made, printable worksheet.

For the younger set, the math worksheet generators, and the ELA worksheets could be used every day!

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
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Blessings~



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