Since the end of April my children have been using the MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs by MaxScholar, specifically, the MaxGuru package. I think MaxScholar is onto something; our review will show you what it does, and what needs improvement.
MaxGuru should include:
- All MaxReading
- All MaxWords
- All MaxMusic
- All MaxPlaces
- All MaxBios
- All MaxVocab
However, some of the areas of the program are only accessible to specific levels (I did get a chart that showed what is available in each level when I requested help, but I can’t find one on the site). The reason we were excited to try out MaxGuru was so that Tristan could use the MaxPlaces and MaxBios so that he could learn about the wider world and feed his hunger for places around the world. Unfortunately, Tristan was at level 2 and MaxPlaces isn’t used until level 4. I was able to have MaxScholar unlock the higher levels for him though.
So that we could look at the whole program, Kallista started out with some MaxPhonics, but she became a bit bored as she knew them, so I moved her along to letter blends as there are a couple she has difficulty with. I thought she was doing pretty well.
The phonics are taught in groups of a few sounds or blends. Kids practice saying them, writing them on the screen with their mouse, and then playing a game to help ensure comprehension.
When I went into the parent’s dashboard, however, nothing was shown for all the work she’d put in. When I enquired, I found out that the parent/teacher is meant to be with the child and marking these areas rather than the program. Teachers are able to check off which sounds have been completed, but this option isn’t available to parents which meant that from my dashboard I couldn’t tell what Kallista had been working on.
MaxReading has a few books for each level, each of which are divided into chapters. The student reads a short chapter (one screen) and then uses on-sccreen highlighters to mark the topic, main idea, and important details in the story. When they’re done they can compare their answer to the correct answer (in the parent’s dashboard I can only see my children’s answers, not how they compare to the correct answers).
There is a multiple-choice comprehension quiz as well that the program scores (again, I can see the kids’ answers, but not the correct answers to know what was expected). There is an activity to type the main topic and ideas, but it’s not graded, nor is the question that asks for a written answer. I’m also not able to go into the program and score these answers, so I’m not sure why they’re included if they’re not deemed important enough to be graded.
The final score for MaxReading is based on the highlighting work and the comprehension quiz.
Tristan has only touched on MaxWords so I can’t speak too much about it other than it works on prefixes, suffixes, root words, and the multiple vowels sounds.
In MaxMusic kids can choose an artist and the progam will show some of the lyrics. Kids will highlight the words asked for, in this case, all the verbs.
Then the can learn to play a little of the song, a few notes at a time.
In MaxPlaces kids choose a city from the map that they want to learn about. It seems that only some locations are shown on the map, but more are available once you click through. You read the text, highlight the important bits, and take a multiple-choice comprehension quiz. Only the quiz is graded, not the highlighting.
MaxBios work much the same as the above, with a nice selection of people to choose from.
MaxVocab is strictly for the students as it doesn’t show up in my parent’s dashboard at all. It lists vocab words for each of the books, by level. It gives the definition, uses the word in a sentence, and also gives a synonym and sometimes an antonym.
I think that the one main thing that would make this a better program would be for parents to have their own instructions as the ones currently available for teachers aren’t applicable to the parent’s dashboard which makes things frustrating.
Also, the website should be clear about what is available at particular levels as Tristan was able to use the MaxPlaces during the trial but then not in the program until we had another 2 levels unlocked. Having all of this information upfront before purchasing would be helpful.
Overall, I think MaxScholar is onto a good thing, but it’s not going to be a program we’ll use for reading. Tristan will use it, however to do more reading up about world cities and biographies as we work them into some unit studies, or for his own interest, but the children won’t be using it for the 3-4 days a week that they have been doing.
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