Thursday, September 15, 2016

TOS Review: Help Teaching Pro Subscription from

Help Teaching Pro Subscription {} sent us a one-year Help Teaching Pro Subscription to review and use as a curriculum supplement. This resource gives us 24/7 access to ALL grade levels from PreK-12th grade. All subject area premium content is also available with your subscription. The website is organized into three main sections: Tests and Worksheets, Test Maker, and Test Room. This subscription allows you to have up to 500 student profiles.

The Worksheet and Test area contains a wide variety of pre-made elementary worksheets and printable materials giving you access to a plethora of educational resources at your fingertips. Additionally, this section includes Math and Game Generators. The feature currently includes only three printable game choices: Number Bingo, Word Bingo, and Word Searches. The Math Generator creates worksheets for four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). The games and worksheet generators are easy to use. My 8-year-old daughter made a test without any problems. You can search or browse the resources by grade, subject, or common core standard if relevant to your state. I absolutely love that I can save the PDF file or immediately print it. Another favorite aspect that I adore is the fact that all worksheets and tests have answer keys making the grading process even faster.

Not to mention, also offers Online Lessons. These lessons include informative text, videos, and practice questions. One observation we had was that not all videos had sound. If this is the case, then your child must be a strong reader or have someone available to read aloud the content. We also noticed that some practice questions weren't live for several lessons.

The Test Room is an online platform allowing you to send assessments to individual children or students in your classes. The assessments can be sent via email directly to the student or you can share a public link to the test. You can manage classes to track performance. You can add children to a group or delete them if needed. There is also a "practice" mode which enables your child to prepare for the test. I explored the Test Room and was surprised by how much customization is allowed. We did find an error where the wrong answer was given for a question on one of the pre-made online tests. Furthermore, if you hoover over a question on an online tests, then the answers are given if the appropriate setting isn't clicked. The screenshot below shows the results by question. It tells me the number of students who answered a specific question correctly. I also received overall results giving percentage scores.

The Test Maker is the last section. This is the "go to" place for creating customizable tests. Each test can have up to 100 questions with a subscription. Furthermore, you can create unlimited number of assessments. There are over 1,000 images stored and categorized in their database. These images can be added to your test. Several question types were offered such as fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, open-ended, and true/false. Although you should know that if you add any fill-in-the-blank or open-ended questions, you'll need to manually grade them. Answers are auto generated for other questions.

Subjects Addressed
  • Language Arts (Spelling, Reading, Grammar, Handwriting, Writing)
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies and History
  • Geography
  • Arts (Music and Art)
  • Physical Education
  • Early Education
How We Used Our Help Teaching Pro Subscription
I used this resource as a supplement to my daughter's core curricula. It is not a comprehensive or complete resource, but the number of materials is growing. Alyssa (Age 8) utilized the materials 3-5 times per week. For the purposes of this review, we were asked to focus on the lower elementary grade level content. We aimed to use materials suitable for children in 1st-6th grade. I used this resource to find supplemental worksheets for a variety of subjects. The time spent working on the worksheets varied each day depending on the material being covered. She spent approximately 5-25 minutes on each worksheet. We used the resources as a way to slowly get back into the groove of having a school routine and schedule. I slowly introduced subjects back into her homeschool day after the long summer break. We used an assortment of the educational resources available from Math, Literature, Spelling, Grammar, Writing, Geography, and History.

We accessed the materials on my MAC 10.9.5 computer using Safari 9.1.3 as our preferred browser. You will need Adobe reader for the PDF printable files. Of course you'll also need a computer with Internet service and a printer stocked with ink.

The new school year started off with a bang. She completed a Learning Style Inventory and Goal Setting Graphic Organizer from their website. I wanted to see if her learning style had changed from the previous year and I encourage her every year to set realistic SMART goals.

She also explored several self-paced online lessons which correlated with her studies. I scheduled and assigned the Four Types of Sentences lesson for Alyssa to complete online. The invite link was sent via email. She read the grammar information, watched the video, and attempted the practice questions. Positive feedback such as "Great! You've completed all the practice questions." The lessons really changed up our normal routine making it even more interesting.  

Children's Literature 
The first area we explored was the Literature section found under English Language Arts. We found a conglomeration of tests related to children's literature books. The Literature section is further broken down into smaller categories including children's literature, young adult literature, classic literature, genres, others, literary analysis, Christmas/holiday literature, and chapter by chapter novels. Picture and chapter books were included in this area. My daughter reread and tested on many of the books from this list. She enjoyed reading many classic and treasured books from her childhood. A few of the books she read and tested on were Make Way for Ducklings, Owl Moon, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, BFG, A Bad Case of Stripes, and Click, Clack Moo Cows That Type. The Charlotte's Web test will be utilized next.

I printed off the complete Cursive Alphabet printable set from the Handwriting Practice section. Many months had passed by since my daughter last practiced writing in cursive. We are currently still working our way through this set. She focused on one letter a day and wrote each letter pair (upper and lowercase) 4-5 times in the space provided. This was a short and sweet daily activity which I found useful in preparing her for longer cursive handwriting assignments in the near future.
Cursive Alphabet

We also chose several Daily Writing exercises for her to complete. Alyssa chose the themed topic. Each day a prompt was given to answer. My daughter wrote her response on the line provided. We used these worksheets to encourage daily writing practice and to prepare her for upcoming writing projects. I wanted to start her back slowly and increase the amount of writing she did every single day. Monday's pet themed question asked, "What is the best kind of pet?" Her response was cats.
Daily Writing

I was hoping to use the spelling lists with my daughter, but the words for her grade level were too easy. We ended up using the spelling game and activity worksheets as a way to learn her spelling words from her core curriculum. In the photo below, you will see the Spelling Write It Thrice worksheet and the Spelling Word Breakdown worksheet. The word "sluice" was difficult for her because she kept using an "s." I gave her these two worksheets as practice activities. She could easily spell the word correctly on her final test the next day. The Word Breakdown practice worksheet helped her focus on analyzing the spelling of the word. She saw the word, heard the word, wrote it, and spelled the word aloud.    

The next section we utilized quite frequently were the Math Worksheets. We started with 3rd and 4th Grade concepts. These worksheets were used as a way to review previously learned concepts while we waited for her new Math curriculum to arrive. We reviewed topics including but not limited to fractions, quadrilaterals, prime factorization, expanded notation, multiplication, division, place value, time, and many other concepts. There are numerous resources in this section. This section was our second favorite worksheet section. I started the year with a few weeks of review. I also wanted to assess her knowledge since she takes a month off to be with her father during the summer. I can't wait until the Daily Math printables are available for 2nd-5th grade. These will be excellent daily review resources and will be great on those busy days where you need a quick math worksheet. I can also see these worksheets as morning work. They can be cut and pasted in Math journals.

I wanted to see how much my daughter remembered from out state study. I printed out a worksheet asking her to choose the correct capital for a variety of states. It did not cover all of the states. I would have preferred a worksheet that did include all of the states in order to be complete.

We used the Test Maker features in several ways. I would obviously make and give Alyssa tests I created. My daughter loves book projects so I assigned her a book to read. Then, as her challenge assignment I asked her to create a 10 question test and a Word Search as her culmination project. I asked her to focus on the story elements. I seriously had to pull her off the computer. She felt like such a big girl. First, we reviewed similar questions for books possibly related to her topic. She couldn't find any useful pre-made questions. She chose Option 1 to create a test using her OWN questions. I modeled how to use the assessment feature and then let her diligently work. Each question can be a different type of question. This means that the test can include more than one type of question they can all be one type. It's your choice! She created a test including multiple choice and true/false questions about the book titled, The Three Pigs. The Preview feature enabled her to check her questions before saving them. She had a blast! She said, "I love this! I can make my own tests whenever I want. It helped me focus on the important details of a book." I did ask her to make each question private. She even asked me if she could make more tests for my students. Check out the process below.
Create a Test: Option 1

Add Your Own Questions
Preview the Questions and Answers

Alyssa's Test Creation
She made me take the test and said I passed. :)

What We Liked
We both appreciated having access to the Game Generators and the Test Maker features. My daughter loves puzzles so she constantly asked for Word Searches. She'll also never turn down the chance to play Bingo with her mama. Creating Word Searches for books is her new passion. Alyssa started completing her own The Three Pigs Word Search, but then she assigned it to me.

The My Content feature was extremely helpful, because it saved the tests or worksheets that were created making them easy to find and more accessible if in a hurry. Furthermore, you have the option of modifying your saved worksheets and tests. As soon as I logged in, My Content was visible. There is also an archive feature which allows you to store unused tests. I used this feature to get rid of the assessments I created during my exploratory phase or to set aside the ones my daughter already completed.

I was super excited when I figured out how to utilize the Test Room feature. My daughter doesn't have her own email address which limited our use of this feature, but I sent her an online assessment to my email so that I could see exactly how the platform worked. I went to Alyssa's school computer and logged into my email account. She clicked on the link they provided to take the test. The score was automatically generated and sent to my account. I viewed the results and graded any open-ended and fill-in-the-blank questions. I noticed that she could see the answers which motivated me to further research the Test Room capabilities. When you are sending an online assessment a setting must be adjusted. This process is simple and accomplished with an easy click of the mouse.

After figuring everything out, I created an Addition Pre-Assessment using the Test Maker feature. Then, I emailed the students in my online Elementary Math class. I don't actually have their email addresses, because they are automatically added into the company's system. Imagine my surprise when I noticed the share a public link option. I immediately shared the link to the pre-assessment on their homework board. They earned rewards for completing the test voluntarily, because I wanted feedback from their experience. One of my older students gladly shared his opinion.

Student Feedback
"Everything went smoothly and the site was easy to use. I like the layout of everything and how I could go back and review my answers before the test was over. I also liked how some questions were multiple choice and others were not."

Alyssa's Feedback
"I thought it was weird that I had to take the test through my mom's email account. It made it more difficult for me, because I had to wait to take the test. It was easy to use. I did enjoy answering the test questions."  

Possible Vendor Suggestions
  • Search Feature Needed for Specific Topics Across All Grade Levels
  • Student Password Account for Homeschoolers Wanting to Assign Worksheets and Tests Using the Test Room Feature and Online Lessons. A Specific Number of Accounts Cane Be Designated. 
  • Add More Games and Puzzle Options such as Crosswords, Concentration, Flashcard Games, etc.
  • Website First Appearance is Overwhelming
  • More Elementary and Intermediate Level Chapter-By-Chapter Novels Would Be Greatly Appreciated such as Charlotte's Web, The Secret Garden, Mr. Popper's Penguins,  The Little Princess, Huckleberry Finn, and Robin Hood.
  • Math Game Generator Needs the Option of Spacing Out the Problems When a Smaller Number of Problems are Requested Which Provides Younger Students With More Room to Solve the Problem. 
  • Math Generate Can Offer Regrouping or No Regrouping Option
  • Test Maker needs a "Back" button
I recommend this educational resource for new and veteran home educators who utilize a traditional worksheet-based program. I also recommend it to tutors and classroom teachers of public and private schools. If you enjoy creating tests and printable games for your child, then this tool may also be useful to your homeschool. Individuals needing to report grades in certain states will find this resource beneficial too.

I have mixed feelings about this subscription service. I have a love/like relationship with I will consider renewing my subscription next year based on how useful the content is throughout the school year. I will also decide based on the amount of growth and expansion the company has over the year.

I was disappointed at times, because I wasn't always able to find topical resources to fit the needs of my homeschool and I didn't always have the time to create a worksheet. I do appreciate having the ability to create customized tests. This was definitely my go to resource when wanting to create a test. If this feature is used several times a week, then this feature alone may encourage you to consider the reasonable price offered for a subscription. However, it was not my go to tool when I was looking for specific materials.

The website definitely offers a decent amount and variety of educational materials that could easily supplement into your homeschool lessons depending on your needs.

Help Teaching Pro Subscription will ONLY cost you an affordable $24.95 for a year. Check out the FREE materials on their website as a way to try before you buy.

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