We have recently received a 12 month subscription to MaxScholar‘s Reading Intervention Programs to check out the changes they’ve made since our initial review in 2016 (we weren’t huge fans of the program at that time). Let’s see what’s changed.
MaxScholar is a reading intervention program for students who are having difficulty trying to read, such as children with ADHD, dyslexia, learning or processing problems, but it can also be used by children who do not need intervening, in which case it can be used as a language arts supplement to help them move ahead with English and work on comprehension.
MaxScholar has seven components; the items available depend upon the level of your student, which is determined through pre-tests in MaxPhonics, MaxReading, and MaxWords.
This is the area for learning the building blocks of words through phonics and the Orton Gillingham method and lessons are reinforced through practice, drills, and games.
Here students will work through books and learn to highlight the main topic, and key information to enable them to have better comprehension which is verified through questions at the end of each chapter.
In MaxWords students learn the building blocks of words; root words, prefixes, suffixes, spelling and how to break words down into syllables.
Here you can look up the words used in each of the stories you read in MaxReading and find out their definition, see it used in context, and in some cases have an antonym or synonym provided. Then there are games such as hangman, definitions, and word searches.
In MaxMusic you can either learn about grammar through song lyrics, or through two games.
This is one of the two areas my son loved the first time, and still does. You choose a location on the world map and then read about it while highlighting the important parts of the text (if you wish; this isn’t compulsory and unfortunately there isn’t an answer key for this as the parent/teacher tell the student what to highlight in this case. It does say to highlight what your teacher or parent wants you to do, but there isn’t anything to work from. After finishing the passage, a couple of comprehension questions are asked, and these are then graded by the program. I would like to see more questions asked as just one or two multiple choice questions don’t fully assess comprehension, in my opinion. However, the information about the various locations is interesting and Tristan really enjoys this.
Max Bios is very similar to MaxPlaces in its set-up, but you choose first from a category, then a person withing that categorgy: for instance, Tristan chose Amazing Women, and was pleased to see Helen Keller at the top of the list as he is currently enjoying our family read-aloud of her Life Story.
How We Used MaxScolar
My children used MaxScholar as a supplement once or twice a week during the review period. Because they are currently working on 3-4 additional language arts programs between them, this was something a little different for them. Tristan loves the biographies and world information and that is where he has been spending most of his time reading up on people and places he is already familiar with before moving on to new identities.
Kallista, on the other hand, isn’t too thrilled to be working on MaxWords, but she does need a little extra help in this area, and I’m hoping that the highlighting in the MaxReading will help her to focus and not rush through her reading so much without picking up what she’s reading.
There is a dashboard where I can see what the children have been doing correctly, and perhaps more importantly, where they are struggling. It will tell me which questions they had right or wrong, but it doesn’t tell me the correct answer of the wrong questions, which is still something I wish I could see.
There is also access to the teacher’s documents that contain a lot of professional development such as handouts, powerpoints and teacher’s manuals for each part and subsection of the program. There are also docs such as an achievement certificate and scholar of the month, which could help provide motivation for students.
This time around we are more positive about this program, although I can’t speak for some of the issues I had last time as my youngest is now past one of those points so I can’t explore it. Kallista is doing more of the spoken text part of the program and it is interesting that there are a couple of different voices with different accents. It’s rare to hear this in programs, and because we love to learn about diversity, this is a good way to do it. I think it is also good for children for whom English isn’t their first language as not all people speak with the same accent (here in Northern Ireland each town has its own noticeable accent, and even different areas of a town can vary).
I would still like there to be feedback on the highlighting in the MaxBios and MaxPlaces and a way for me as a parent to see where they are struggling with this part of the lessons.
As I mentioned earlier, Kallista is still on the fence with this program while Tristan enjoys the biographies and places the best. I’m thinking that I will let Kallista finish up one of her other English programs first as she is 80% of the way through it and then pick MaxScholar up then. For Tristan, he can continue to use MaxScholar for general interest (with a little learning of course) as a way to fire up his interest about culture and people.
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