Friday, September 3, 2010

Time 2 Review Time 4 Writing

What is Time4Writing ?

From their website: "Time4Writing provides online writing courses that help elementary, middle and high school students build writing skills through one-on-one interaction with a certified teacher. For eight weeks, students study a new topic each week through interactive exercises, lessons, readings, and written assignments. A personal writing teacher reviews and provides feedback on each assignment the day after it is submitted. Time4Writing offers mechanics, paragraph and essay courses at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels."

We were able to use this product for a full four weeks. We chose to try out the Middle School Paragraphs class. Overall, I would say that my middle school-aged son, Tex, who tested it for me, enjoyed the product. He tends to enjoy almost anything with computers, and to facilitate this idea, as well as the two reviews we did concurrently on computer-based products (this one and one on America's Math Tutor, which will be reviewed at a later date), I set up a free blog with all of the links to his current computer-based school items, weekly scheduling updates, and weekly comments on his progress. His page automatically loaded when he turned on the internet and he was able to navigate through all of his programs from there with no trouble. If you decide to use several computer-based programs for homeschooling, I highly recommend doing this. It made our experience that much easier and more pleasant.


Our impressions of this product:

Here's what Tex liked about Time4Writing:
  • The sequential nature of the product (everything built on previous lessons).
  • The simplicity of the content (ie. the information wasn’t overly complex or hard to grasp in any given lesson, and was clearly explained).
  • The varied structure of the lessons (a mix of brief audio lessons, automatically graded (short) quizzes, and teacher-graded writing assignments).
  • The choice of doing the unit as a four-week unit or as an eight-week unit (or somewhere in between).
  • Being able to type his lessons instead of having to hand write them (I will remember that one and let him use MS Word to do his assignments more often…moms can learn new things, too!).
  • Writing his assignments for someone other than me…I think he enjoyed knowing that someone else would see his work and perhaps appreciate his genius. *smile*
  • The idea that he would be improving his paragraph skills since he has a review blog and wants to make it a better one by becoming a better writer.
  • The brevity of the lessons…they were fairly simple to complete, and he liked that a lot (mom isn’t so sure she liked that as much as he did and made him double up a few times when the lessons were ridiculously short…meanie!)
  • That you could write the teacher a note and ask questions.
  • That there was a profile feature and he got to help fill out brief info about himself and choose a profile picture (he chose one of his horse looking like she is laughing).
What Mom didn’t like as much:

  • How to submit your lessons was unclear at first. We were confused and worried until we figured it out for sure by the second lesson.
  • That there was not an auto save feature ( at least not one that we could find) and TWICE Tex’s work on a written assignment was lost when his session timed out (and re-logging in rerouted him to a blank screen). He had to re-type his entire assignment (a paragraph) a third time (actually, I did it the third time for speed’s sake), but thankfully, he remembered what he had written. Can you imagine how he’d have felt if he’d had to do it all over again because he didn’t remember it all?
  • Dealing with the teacher. Honestly, I am sure she was a nice lady and all, but even though our lessons were returned on time with generally good grades (since Tex had few technical errors), she failed to respond adequately to questions as to why certain things she marked off for were wrong, saying that most kids would have taken the Mechanics Course already and know why, instead of just telling us the reason. I realized there is more than one reason to be grateful that we are homeschooling.
  • I asked for a rubric (a set of criteria for assessing work/skills) for the class and was told there was not one available. The only answers I got when I asked how he was to know what was expected at this level were to a) take the Basic Mechanics Course first b) refer to Strunk and White (which might be fine, except you kind of have to know what you are doing to look up something grammar-wise in S&W…it’s like trying to look up "psychology" in a dictionary if you don’t already know that it doesn’t start with “s”).
  • Because of the previous two things, it seemed I was teaching more than the teacher, having to look up for Tex the whys and wherefores of each thing he lost a point for (even if I knew why, we looked it up so he would be part of the process, and also, I wanted to make sure I remembered correctly, because I actually disagreed with her (justifiably) on a few things). 
  • The time constraints. It seems that you purchase your class and have access for a set amount of time to accommodate the completion of that class. While the T4W folks graciously extended our class period from the usual eight-weeks to ten-weeks to accommodate a long-awaited family trip/reunion, we also had an illness, unexpected visitors, and a near-miss hurricane that we had to prepare for, and the time issue was just one stress I didn’t like or need. One of the usual benefits of home schooling is that we are in charge of our time.

What Mom did like about Time4Writing (in addition to most of what Tex already liked):
  • The fact that his time was accountable to someone other than me and that he DID seek to please the teacher. I liked that he wanted to get finished in the four-week time frame, and he tried to do as much as he could (most days) to accomplish that. It wasn’t me having to be pushy and tell him to get on the ball and do that writing assignment that only I would see (and maybe his dad and grandparents). He was working to impress her. That kept him on the ball. But then, so does writing for his blog, because he sees that as somewhere other people may see what he writes. However, I have to be his editor for that one, so more work for me.
Additional Information about Time4Writing:

If you'd like to view a video of how Time4Writing works, you can check it out HERE.

Time4Writing costs about $99.00 for each eight-week course. Personally, I wouldn’t pay that much for a book-based curriculum that taught the amount that was included in the one class we was just enough for eight weeks with having to wait for grading of assignments, but it was not really a ton of material. In fact, I already own a book that offers the same course material (well, actually, the book has a lot more) and it cost me under $25.00.

HOWEVER, the value of ME not being the one who was the driving force behind the assigning and grading of the assignments could not really be measured IF I’d really needed a break from teaching, or if the subject we chose to pursue as an online class was not one I felt skilled in (I‘d probably pay that amount for a Trigonometry class without hesitation, even though I already own a good trigonometry book, because I am HORRIBLE at trigonometry).

In that case, one of these classes might be a very small price to pay as an investment in your sanity…and it just might be what you need to have a successful year.

Some of the classes that are offered by Time4Writing are:
  • Elementary, Middle, and High School levels
  • Grammar
  • Basic Mechanics
  • Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics
  • Sentence Structure
  • Paragraph Writing
  • Writing Enhancement
  • Essay Writing
  • Advanced Essay
  • High School Essays for Standardized Tests (coming soon!)
You can go to their site for more detailed information on any of these classes.

They've even got a page to help you choose a course if you aren't sure which one your student needs HERE.

**This company also has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If for any reason, their program does not meet the needs of your student, you can change courses or get a refund within the first fourteen days. Click HERE for more information.

You can see what others on the Crew thought about this program, and others by the same vendor (Time4Learning) by clicking HERE to visit the Crew Blog.

My son and I received admittance to the Middle School Paragraphs class free in compensation for my fair and honest review of this product. In this review, I am telling you OUR experiences with this product and in no way guaranteeing or expecting that these will necessarily be the same experiences you will have if you choose to use this product.

If you would like to see what experiences others on the Crew had while reviewing this product, you can click on the link HERE to go to the Crew Review Page. Just make sure you look for reviews that indicate they are about Time4Writing (there aer reviews about the Time4Learning site and the Spelling City site here, too).

I hope you have found this information helpful. If you have any questions I did not answer, please feel free to contact me.

Blessings to you all for a wonderful weekend…we are just so happy that Hurricane Earl did not decide to come visit us after all!



Dawn said...

Hi Heather. WOW! AMAZING review chalked FULL of ALL KINDS of great information. Well worded too. Stopping by from the Crew to check out your review...IMPRESSED! Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Dawn said...

PS - I'm now following you - AND - I LOVE all your pics and info on your sidebar! Additionally, I am reading Passionate Housewives Desperate for God now...and am GREATLY enjoying it!!

Our Homeschool Reviews said...

Great review! I think you did a wonderful job listing the pros and cons!

Catherine said...

What wonderful, informative review!

SisterTipster said...

Thanks for a very informative review. Have a great day!

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