Saturday, February 23, 2013

Online Resources: Scholaric

One of the most popular posts on my blog is an old one. . . a review I wrote of an online homeschool grade book and lesson planning program called Homeschool SkedTrack. You may be surprised to know that I no longer use that website, although I still think it is quite good. I took a year off to go back to good old pencil-and-paper, but have since hunted around for other online resources to make my planning more routine and easier to manage.

My late-night internet wanderings paid off with the discovery of Scholaric - the website that promises "Homeschool Planning Made Easy".

Due to an insanely busy summer, I didn't start my research until the week I was beginning school with the kids. (I know, I know. Not. Smart. Once again bursting the "she's-a-perfect-homeschooler" illusion.) I quickly found that I was stuck! Several of the websites I looked at required a ton of up front work; one was still in development, and basically useless. But Scholaric's promise of "easy"? Now THAT I could work with!

And you know what? "Easy" was absolutely accurate. I was up and running on Scholaric in - no joke - 15 minutes. Here's what I mean:

1. Add a student: See the button at the bottom of the screen? Click it. You get the new student field. Type the name, you're done. 60 seconds, tops.

2. Add a course:

Seriously, that's it. Type in "Math" and then "2nd Grade Math". Done. Another 60 seconds. Tops.

3. Plan a lesson: Here's a screen shot of the planning lesson for Amy's subject, "Grammar 2"

Under "Description", I just typed in what I wanted Amy to see; "Lesson 62". (There are ways to type in the lessons so that they will sequence automatically - honestly, I just don't fool with it. Probably next year!) Next I had to decide if the lesson repeats.

Again, easy! Just select the repetition tab, check the dates you want the lesson to occur, and for how long. Done.

Last step: is this lesson shared with anyone?

This feature is especially helpful for our history and science lessons, when I've got girls working together. And my new secret weapon? I created my own set of lessons! That way, when one of my kids needs me to work a lesson with them, I "share" it with myself. Then Scholaric prints up a daily list for me, and I know who needs what kind of help that day. Sweet!

 That. Is. It.

Simple. Easy. To the point. Repeat for as many subjects as you have, and then print lessons by the day or by the week.

Now Scholaric can do a whole bunch of other things, but no so many that it becomes unwieldy or difficult to use. You can print report cards, track hours or other goals instead of grades, and print your gradebook. Mark a whole day's work as complete, or allow your children to log in and check off assignments as they are completed. Move lessons ahead or back with a simple click. Easy, easy, easy!

If you're thinking about using Scholaric, here are a few more considerations:

• Scholaric does indeed have weighted grading! You can read about it at Scholaric's blog. . .which is exactly what I'll be doing this afternoon.
• Help using Scholaric is accessed on the main page, usually reading through a set of blog posts by the developer. For those of you who like a video tutorial, at this point you won't find one. But really? Y'all. Did I mention it was easy??!!!

And the last consideration:

I was given a free, 6-month trial in exchange for my review. It ended 2 weeks ago. And I happily - happily I tell you - paid the paltry $5 per month (through Amazon payments) to keep using Scholaric for my homeschool planning.

And that, dear readers, it what we call. . . .  a keeper.

If you try Scholaric, let me know what you think!

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