Vantage Learning graciously gifted me with a one-year subscription to My Access Home edition. This is an on-line writing course for students of all ages. One great way to learn about My Access is by viewing the demo videos on their website. Go here to view these videos and learn more about My Access.
I managed to add my log-in information and add both of our boys accounts with ease. The website is easy to navigate and use.
I got our oldest son started on his first assignment and when our youngest, T-bone age 11, saw this program he said, "I want to do what he's doing!" Now, let me tell you, this is NOT a boy who loves writing. He has not enjoyed writing at all. He does the bare minimum and ONLY what is required. Our oldest, is my creative guy. He will dictate pages to me, and when he gets inspired, fill a notebook with a story that he's dreamt.
Back to our morning with My Access. Our youngest couldn't wait to get on-line and complete the activities surrounding his first writing assignment. Both boys really enjoyed the graphics and the activities. We chose writing assignments from the 11-13 year old category. I found some of the activities to be challenging. T-bone was putting paragraphs in order and I couldn't get them right! There were five paragraphs that had a specific order, but I couldn't see what that order was. It took us 5 tries before we got the order the program was seeking.
After completing a bunch of these activities, the boys tried their hand at writing their assignment. T-bone chose to write to the Mayor and explain why he would be the best choice to go on the next mission to outer space. Big Mac wrote an essay about the need for better role models for youth. He chose the skateboarding industry as the area from which to pull his need for role models.
You must know that I have not required a lot of writing from my boys up to this point in their education. They did not enjoy writing, so I didn't push it. We worked slowly. Also, they know their keyboards, but are not fast typers. These two things have worked against us in using My Access Home Edition. Also, I don't give them grades very often. I tell them regularly how great I think they are, but I don't give grade letters, or other evaluations of their writing. If the grammar and spelling is correct, then I think it deserves a glowing evaluation. Writing is so subjective, I never thought it was fair when my English teacher would grade my poem. The boys wrote their first drafts and were immediately graded as "below proficient." This was instant discouragement. We spent the rest of that week trying to follow the revision directions, but still could not pull the boys grades up past that first analysis. The grade was shown in a bar chart of sorts, so the bar moved a bit higher, but never got out of that first category. The boys felt really discouraged by this.
After this first outting with My Access, we decided to try dropping down an age-level. Big Mac completed the first writing assignment in the 8-10 age-level (he will be 13 in November). My Access offers a writing program for all school-ages. Instead of typing it himself, I let him dictate his story to me. He spoke. I typed. On our first draft, he received a glowing evaluation. Currently I can't get into the program to tell you what it was, but it was the highest rating. The bars did not go the whole way to the top, but he was in that top range.
All-in-all, My Access writing program is well-developed and graphically interesting. My family found many challenges in using this program, but it may fit your family well. We will be writing more this year, and honing those skills. My Access did show me that I need to keep the boys motivated to write not only fiction but non-fiction in the form of essays. We spent a lot of time with this program, and it did keep the boys attention. It is a great option for the homeschool mom who does not feel equipped to teach writing on her own.
You can learn more about the products offered by Vantage Learning by going to their webiste: http://www.vantagelearning.com/ My Access Home Edition home page is viewable here: http://www.vantagelearning.com/login/mahome.html
It looks like I'm the first to post my review about this product, but in the future, check out the reviews of my other crew members here: http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/HomeschoolCrew/721291/