9/1/10

TOS Review: My Access

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When I saw my name on the list for the notification for this product, I literally shouted out loud! I was afraid I was going to wake the children because I was so excited. I had heard of My Access before and the more I heard the more intrigued I became..

What is My Access? 

 My Access from Vantage Learning is an interactive online  subscription that utilizes artificial intelligence to provide instant feedback to students.  The students use this feedback to improve their writing skills. 

It is intended for students ages 8 to 18.   The writing topics (over 100 of them!) are first divided by age groups: 8-11, 11-14, 15-18.  The topics are further divided by purpose: informative, narrative, and persuasive.  My Access teaches students to approach writing as a process.  

Each 12 month unlimited access subscription includes one parent-account and either 3 student-level accounts ($99) or 6 student-level accounts.  ($129).

How does My Access Work?

I was given the subscription for the Home Edition for up to 6 students.   I created a parent account for myself and then created an account for myself as a student.  I then set up accounts for 3 of my girls.    Why did I set up myself as a student?   So that I could understand the program.  I wanted to see how it worked.  I wanted to know its standards for grading.

A student logs in to their account to access their assignments.  Here BooBear logs into her account:

 

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After clicking on the progress tab she chooses an assignment to view the My Plan that My Access created for her.  You can see the pretty graph in the picture below.  (She’s pretty proud of how high those bars go!)

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Once she has reviewed her revision goals for this particular assignment, she clicks on the Assignment Tab, chooses the assignment and clicks resume to continue working on that assignment.

One of the great things about having an online subscription is that you can log in on any computer with internet access.  Here TailorBear works on My Access in the family room while BooBear was working on My Access in the dining room.

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When BooBear finished her work for the day, Turtlegirl jumped on for her daily turn.  If you look closely you can see the My Access Loading on the screen.

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Here Turtlegirl ponders which writing topic she’d like to tackle next

 

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and then she reads the instructions. 

 

 Eventually she makes her choice and begins the pre-writing process using the My Access tools to brainstorm and create an outline.

So how does it work?  It takes students step by step through the writing process giving feedback and instruction so they can build the skills necessary to improve their writing.

What I love about My Access!

My favorite feature is the My Editor tool.   As the students write or revise their papers they have access to the My Editor tab.   This tool analyzes their writing and provides clickable links with helps and suggestions for the student.   For example, let’s say I misspell a word.  My Editor puts a <spelling error> notation.  Click the notation and it gives you some spelling suggestions.   Perhaps you got carried away and wrote a run on sentence?  It would give you a clickable notice.   You would be given a reminder of the rule and a suggestion.

Another feature I love are the pre-writing tools.  The student can can begin their draft right away (not recommended) *or* they can choose to start the writing course which discusses the writing process and guides the student to the graphic organizer to plan their writing.

I really like the ability to create My Topic assignments for my girls.  I can create my own topic or I can use the “Topic Wheel” to create a topic.  TailorBear and Turtlegirl enjoyed writing fun stories about dragons and cats from the Topic Wheel.

My Access is more than just the My Editor.   Students can learn and practice writing skills by completing activities.  Activities are arranged by writing trait such as content development or focus.  There are progressive levels for those activities such as Content Form A, Content Form B etc. Students earn points towards rewards by completing activities and submitting drafts of their writing. 

What I love best though is the reaction of my children.  They love using the program.  My oldest had been so discouraged in the past with trying to figure out how to revise and edit her papers and My Access has given her the tools she needed to evaluate her work.  She was so impressed with the My Editor tool that she asked me to create My Topic assignments for her so she could revise several papers from last year. 

How we are using My Access in our home school

My Access appears daily on my girls’ assignment sheet.  They know that they are to spend 20 to 30 minutes every day working with My Access. We are using My Access as supplement to our English and History curriculum.   When they are given a writing assignment for English or History or any other subject, I create a My Topic assignment in My Access.   When they do not have an assignment from our spine curriculum they are free to choose one of the writing topics already available or they may request to create one using the Topic Wheel.

It sounds great! Are there any cons?

Our biggest frustration with My Access with the My Editor tool.  We love this tool but I would love to see an option for the parent/teacher to override some things marked as errors.  Because My Access uses artificial intelligence to provide feedback, it is limited to conventional rules and spelling.  This means that correctly spelled words not found in its dictionary are marked wrong.  I would love to be able to add to the dictionary so that names would not be counted as misspelled.

I think this program is awesome for students who like to write or who are able to write.  I don’t believe it teaches writing so much as it teaches how to rewrite, revise and edit.  I think if your student struggles with putting a sentence or a paragraph together, that this program may be frustrating.

Turtlegirl is my best writer.  Writing is what she plans on doing when she grows up.  She wanted me to share that she thought some of the revision goal ideas and suggestions should be rewritten to provide more concrete help.  She said some of the examples just didn’t apply to what she was trying to do and were not helpful.

I love this program for my high school student.  I think it’s awesome for my advanced in language arts 8th grader.    I don’t know that my 6th grader is getting quite as much out of it as her two older sisters, but I am grateful that we have subscription for her as well.   The program states that is for ages 8 to 18 or grades 4 to 12.   I don’t think I would use this with a student below 5 or 6th grade.

Overall I think this is an excellent program to teach students to work through the writing process and learn how to revise and edit their papers.

Be sure and check out Vantage Learning to see all the products available for Home, School or Corporation including  College Edition of My Access and Add on Packs for the Home Edition.

Click below to read what my fellow crew mates have to say about this product:

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Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this 12 month online subscription to My Access! from Vantage Learning so I could provide my honest review. I received no other compensation.

5 comments:

  1. Great review. I completely agree with you that I wish we could override some of the "My Editor" features.

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  2. It is so wonderful that God provided exactly what you needed with this product... :)

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  3. Very helpful review. I popped over from the Crew and was really interested in finding out more on this one.

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  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Tess :) You wrote a great review, too! We're blessed to have this tool to use this year.

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  5. Very nice review. I wanted to take pictures of my kids doing it but I thought it'd be better to NOT include those. The looks on their faces well, they weren't pleasant! I must say though, for 'not liking' the program they sure like to write!
    :) Thanks for stopping by :)

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