Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Here To Help Learning Review

Over the past few weeks we have had the pleasure of utilising Flight 2 Paragraph Writing from Here To Help Learning, with our small group of micro school children.

We were given a 12 month membership to Here To help Learning, a homeschool writing curriculum, in order to write the following product review.

First Impressions

The Here To Help Learning website is bright, fresh and simple to navigate. The approach they take to writing is laid out right there on the main page of the website. To dig a little deeper and find out more details about the program I simply needed to click on the knowledge base link found across the top of the site.

Having a website that is easy to navigate is such a bonus when trying to get your head around a brand new curriculum product.

Exploring The Curriculum

As soon as my membership was all ready to go I logged on immediately to take a closer look around. The main lesson area is found under the Writing Tab and there I needed to decide which Flight Path I would take.

The flight paths are not grade levels, they are simply differing options that either cover Paragraph Writing or Essay Writing, depending on the level of your choice.

After watching a couple of the video lessons and laughing out loud, I might add. I decided on Flight Path 2 Paragraph Writing. I will explain in a little more detail later on why I chose that level.

Basically from there it is as simple as clicking on Lesson 1. Each lesson is completely self contained, there is no need to click all over the website to find the various components of each lesson. Oh how I love that!

So the video component and the printable worksheets and teacher lesson plans are all found right there on the one screen.

I would've liked to have been able to bring the lesson videos up on the screen individually so that when we watch them with the children there is no other visual clutter around the video screen, but that's a very minor inconvenience.

How We Have Used Here To Help Learning

I was quite excited when I realised that I could try this out in our micro school setting. Anyone that runs classes in this type of environment at all understands how tricky it is to find programs that are easily utilised in a group of varying aged (and abilities) children.

We have 8 children in this group, all of primary school age, with the youngest being 5 years old. We all work on the lessons together exactly as Mora does them with her group on the video. The variations in ages and abilities was my reason for choosing Paragraph Writing. I wanted to ensure that everyone had all of the great groundwork covered in the writing process before moving on to the Eassy level of the program.

In general we don't often take on subjects from the 3R's in our micro school setting because it's just too tricky but the Paragraph Writing program from Here To Help Learning has been an absolute pleasure to use with the kids.

What I liked most is the fact that Miss Mora, on more than one occasion, points out how to use the lesson with children of varying levels. She even offers them challenges to take on with their writing, whether they are barely writing at all and need an adult to scribe for them or even if they are filling pages with their stories. Any primary school aged child truly can use this course. If I had to point out something negative it would only be that if you have a child that is an avid writer that it may be a little on the slow side, but for that child I would simply complete more lessons in a week to speed the process up some.

My daughter working on her 1st Rough Draft

Each lesson is gentle, whilst introducing new concepts and all the while re-enforcing the writing process. We have just completed our first full rotation of the writing process, beginning from an idea to a complete published piece. Each step is a single lesson, with a video component and a small amount of written work, which we generally do as homework for the week.

All but one of the lessons we have been able to complete together within an hour. This takes a little longer for us as we have 8 children, so when we are playing games like "Sentence, No Sentence' everyone wants a piece of the action so it takes just a little longer than if we were working through this on our own.

In saying that though I love that we have the group, the kids really enjoy doing this together, playing the games, watching and laughing at Miss Mora, who by the way is incredibly funny and a just a little bit cheesy. The videos are highly engaging and she really ensures everything is easy to understand. The kids all bounce ideas off each other and are really working together to help each other out with their new found writing skills.

In terms of teacher preparation, there is very little. I always try to watch the video a few days before class so I know exactly what to expect. The only other thing I need to do is print the required worksheets for that particular lesson. It really is that simple. Miss Mora does all the work for me.

Lesson Structure

I wanted to spend more time on the actual lessons and detail how they are structured. Each week the lessons operate with a predictable pattern.

The video opens with an introduction, a quick checklist of the materials required and a gentle attitude reminder for the students.

Then it moves into learning new content, if you are on the first lesson of the writing process, if not you are practicing the content learned in that first lesson.

From there the video lesson moves you into the writing warm up. The students are given a funny picture prompt, the group brainstorms together some words that they may like to use in their writing. A timer is set and they have complete freedom to write as much or as little as they wish during the writing warm up time.

Then it's time for the writing process. Together the group works out where they are in the step by step writing process. For example, brainstorming, list making, rough drafts or maybe publishing to name a few. That stage of the writing process then becomes the focus for the remainder of the lesson.

I really like how this is structured. It is predictable, gentle and easy for both the adults and children to follow along with. It has been an absolute breeze to use within the group.

The group all with their first complete writing pieces....smiles all round!

Looking Ahead

This is one review product that we will most definitely be adding into our regular school routine. We have already discussed with our micro school group the possibility of taking the kids through the Essay Writing component of the program next year.

Parent Resources

A forum is provided on their website if any questions arise whilst using the program. There are also a large variety of resources linked on the Resource tab at the top of the website. From Language Helps Booklets, to Master Supply lists and Teachers Guides.

Details & Pricing

Visit the Here To Help Learning website to find out more details.

To see more from Here To Help Learning you can visit them on your favourite social media outlet

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heretohelplearning/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HTHLTweets
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HTHLearning/
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/HereToHelpLearning

There are several options when it comes to purchasing this homeschool writing program. Full teacher kits are available as a physical product or you can access everything via the subscription option, which is what we have been using here at home.

I hope you have found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews of Here To Help Teaching from members of the crew, please visit this link.

Happy Homeschooling,

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zekesmom10 said...

I've been thinking about using this as a co-op type class at home as well. Thanks for the peek at how it went.

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