Monday, June 6, 2016

Let MaxScholar help your child with Reading! A TOS REVIEW!

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review


No matter the reading level, I personally believe everyone can use a little polishing up on their reading skills. MaxScholar offers  MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs that can help your student achieve greater reading skills through a variety of activities and games. K-2 Phonics is intended for the lower levels, while MaxGuru is geared more for the older students, such as Mr.B. For this review, we received a one-year license to MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs and focused our review on MaxGuru, which includes:


  • MaxPhonics
  • MaxReading
  • MaxPlaces
  • MaxMusic
  • MaxWords
  • MaxVocab
  • MaxBios
All of these offer a multi-sensory approach to online learning. 

How We Used This:

This is the screen once your child logs on. They can choose either of those options, or follow the arrows down to choose where they last left off. There's also additional program features that I'll get to in a moment. 



First I'll start with MaxPhonics and MaxReading, since these were 2/3s of  my main focus when requesting this review. I wanted to see how the MaxPhonics would work with special needs learners, and I can say it's a nice setup for the younger kiddos. But not for older students, or advanced students. 

Sadly, neither of these have worked out for us the way they could. MaxPhonics is way too easy for him. He would do it for fun, and that's pretty much it. If you notice down below, I posted a photo that shows it is on a pre-K level. That's far below his academic ability, and it only goes to a grade level 2 anyway. So onward to MaxReading! He signed in on his own, and I didn't realize there was a pre-test. Well, he didn't realize this pre-test is a pretty important aspect to the program. You see, what level your child scores on this pretest is the level at which the program begins. Unfortunately for us, it began on a Kindergarten level for Mr. B. This led to a lot of frustration for me, since he flat out refused "to use the baby program" as he felt it was at that time. I tried to log into my parent account to see about manually adjusting the level and/or resetting this particular test, and after a week I realized there's a different login for parents vs. teachers. I was going to MaxScholar.com and clicking on login, where he logs in, and entering my own email and password. I would be taken to a screen that welcomed me, and looked like I could access a variety of tabs. Each time I clicked on a tab I was taken back to a login screen. I naturally concluded it was a server glitch and waited....and waited...and waited. After about a week I realized there's a different login page all together for parents! Why? I have no idea. So...I finally get logged in, only to realize I have no control at all over his lessons or education from this site. I can't lock things, I can't unlock...nada! I'm more than irritated at this point in time, and we've now wasted more than a week of our review period. Ok, so not really "wasted." He did other activities, but not the reading which is what I wanted him to do. More on those other things in just a bit. So, I email them, thanks to my email server their email is filtered through various spam folders and I finally found it and see that they have graciously reset this test, and I'm told I will be able to find it when we log in again. So....we log in again, expecting the test to be an automatic thing again and....wait for it....nothing. He's still on a lower level. So I think it is just taking some time, and we do a little MaxMusic and MaxPlaces in the mean time. About a week or slightly more goes by and we still haven't found the reset test. So, I email once more. And again I'm informed the test is reset and will be accessible when we log in to MaxReading again. So, we try again. We wait again. And again, nothing. So 3-4 weeks of this review period was spent with Mr. B trying to find a reset pre-test and working his way from zero to level 4 in frustration, and me trying to figure out why the parent account is nothing more than a way to login and see lesson scores. Needless to say, we're less than impressed with what could be a really fun, useful tool! On the other hand, we had a lot of fun with MaxPlaces. And really, I can't say that MaxReading as been a "total bust" since he has enjoyed the articles he has read, and we've used them as starting points for more thorough research. Such as the level 4 reading selection of The Gold Rush in Alaska. We've talked extensively about the Gold Rush, and we even ordered a bag of paydirt from Amazon to pan for our own gold. Disclaimer: Don't expect to get rich from paydirt ordered from Amazon. You won't. But it's a load of fun!

Back to those other options:

MaxWords is a spelling'ish section. Mr. B hasn't worked much in it, other than for me to see what it is and how it works. We were so focused on the MaxReading, that I totally dropped the ball on MaxWords. It's a world building area where you focus on word roots to learn to build words. Pre-fixes and Suffixes,and that sort of thing. 


MaxMusic is a fun game similar to a childhood favorite of mine where a note is played and you must repeat that note for as many rounds as you can. I really enjoyed playing MaxMusic, though some of the selections are questionable in my opinion. I would not allow him to study the music of Lil' Wayne, for example. And that is one of the featured artists. So I spent a great deal of time here, and he played a little. I do like the educational component of each musical selection, and I can even respect the selections that I do not agree with since I know there's a wide range of backgrounds who will be using this product. But for us, this part wasn't as much of a fit as it may be for others.

MaxVocab is exactly what it sounds like, vocabulary.

MaxBios is supposed to be a study of various influential people. I have to just stop and laugh for a moment, because after all of my frustration with MaxReading, I had high hopes for MaxBios. Here's a screen snip from MaxBios. You see, they have a Hip Hop Artists section. Apparently Wyclef Jean, Lil' Wayne, and Biggie Smalls (to name a few) are influential people. Maybe to some, but I really don't want my 10 year old reading about Biggie Smalls and his criminal record and subsequent murder. But that's just me. 



MaxPlaces is another attribute to MaxGuru. While The MaxReading has been a bust for us, MaxPlaces has been a source of entertaining education for Mr. B.


With MaxPlaces you have this handy dandy world map. You click on a city and you can read all about that city. Once you click on a city, or example Bogota, you are given an article to read and you can highly like the MaxReading part. Again, I don't like the highlighting for special needs reasons. There's also some comprehension questions. Mr. B would work an article and then research where he had just learned about for a long time, days some times! 



Mr. B found out the hard way that one can't simply read the article and the questions, without actually working through the program, and still get credit. So he read a bunch, then he had to go back and re-work what he'd already done so that I could see he had done it. This is not a program specific issue with him, you'd think he'd learn by now HAHA! 




Our Thoughts:

Mr. B is frustrated that he is just now on to a level 4 in reading. He's also frustrated with the highlighting portion. It's very difficult for him, and I could see it being difficult for other special kids-especially those with fine motor issues, but it seems to be a required portion that impacts the grade. So he has stellar scores on the comprehension part, but horrible grades on highlighting, so he has an overall all B-. This is a huge confidence bust for him. I'm also irked that I get all of these newsletter emails from MaxScholar telling me all of these wonderful teacher options, yet as a parent I have none of these. So I get an email the other day that says I can lock lower levels, etc. but I login only to find it's another teacher option, not a parent option. As a homeschool parent, I AM the teacher. And, sociologically speaking, a child's family is their first and most influential peer reinforcement group. As a result, a parent should be given the same access to their child's education as a teacher. I also don't understand why I can't login from Maxscholar.com homepage like my son, and apparently teachers, can do. Now, with that said, if this is a classroom setting then the set up is good. The teacher would have control over his or her lesson plan and the parent would have access to see what their child is doing, how they are doing, etc, without the ability to alter the plans of the teacher for the whole class. But as a homeschooling parent, I need teacher access, and it's not made clear on the MaxScholar site whether or not parents would have that teacher access. With that said, I don't like the set up the way it is where I have no control.


This is in an email I received as part of their newsletter mailer, but this is not an option I can find on the parent's site. It is quite frustrating to receive emails that tell me I can do things only to find out I can't. Perhaps this is something that could be changed for homeschooling parents. 




This is NOT the login for parents. However, your child can login from this main screen. You can attempt to log in from this screen, and it will look like you have. But every time you click on your dashboard, or another option, you get whisked back to another login screen. And you rinse and repeat this process over and over again. I spent a week lost in the limbo before I realized I wasn't able to login from the link that said login. This, for me, is another quirk that could be changed. I find it easy to go to the main page of a program and login. 


This is the login for Parents. Notice the address is different. 




This shows he is working through a pre-k level of phonics. Phonics only goes to a level 2, so either way it would be below him.  For younger students, this is a cute and fun way to learn phonics with a multi-sensory approach that will cater to a variety of learning styles. 

We truly love the potential of this program, but the inability to control it myself has greatly hindered our use. From the parent Dashboard, you can generate reports. The reports are easy to read, and easy to interpret.


As you can see, highlighting just isn't his thing. Yet it impacts the reading score. I wish these were two separate scores. 


This is a graph that is very beneficial and truly helps to see what portions of the program your child is using, etc. You'll notice MaxBios is unused. I took a look myself, and I do NOT agree with the chosen individuals who are showcased as being influential people.  And sadly, as a parent, I can't even block this from him. Perhaps this is better suited for a child older than 10. But for my 10 year old, this isn't acceptable. I would like to have the control to lock these particular features.  I do like how each section is color coded. 



I'm not sure what it looks like when there's an incorrect answer. He's yet to get one on this part. 

Overall, I like the program. The MaxMusic is a little odd with it's choice of selections, as is MaxBios. Wyclef Jean and Notorious B.I.G. aren't exactly who I would consider to be top influential people for my son to study, but I can see their desire to appeal to a wide audience. Mr. B enjoys MaxPlaces thanks to his love of all things Geography. I'm not sure how much use we will see of MaxGuru after this review period, unless some changes are made. What I consider to be flaws in the difference between parent and teacher accounts are more than I can put up with when I need more control over his education. He can choose to redo a lesson on his own, but I can't go in and change things myself. To me, that's a major flaw in an otherwise fun and educational program that could truly benefit my son. If that sort of thing doesn't rank high on your list of priorities, then I would recommend this for kids with learning issues, ADHD, Autism, etc. It's multi-sensory and modern pop-culture approach is sure to be a hit with kids. 






I was only 1 reviewer out of 90 to review MaxScholar. Please click the banner below to check out the others! 
MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

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