Tuesday, February 23, 2016

HelpTeaching.com {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

HelpTeaching Review

When my children were younger, I primarily used sets of pre-packaged homeschool curriculum. As they've gotten older, we're sometimes veered away from traditional homeschool materials in favor of creating up our courses. For the past few weeks, I've been finding out how a Pro Plan subscription from HelpTeaching.com can help me keep up with my kids as they branch out to study topics of their own interest.

In summary, HelpTeaching.com offers lessons, worksheets, and tests on a wide variety of topics for students of all ages. I'm primarily using their resources for Brennan, our ninth grader.

This semester Brennan is taking a geology course that my husband is creating based on a video series about the geology found in national parks. My husband created a word document with vocabulary words and study questions based on the videos. Brennan fills them out as we watch and discuss the videos. I found that I can use HelpTeaching.com to create tests over the material.

HelpTeaching.com has a large encyclopedia of test questions to choose from, but I didn't find any that matched Brennan's studies exactly. Thankfully, it's simple to create my own questions on HelpTeaching.com. My only disappointment is that I wasn't able to create a set of matching questions to check the vocabulary.

After inputting the questions, I was easily able to print a complete test. If I had wanted to email the test to him (tempting), I could've shared a link for him to access it online or converted it to a pdf file for him to print himself. I can also assign the test to be taken online, but I sometimes had trouble getting the online version to recognize the correct answers for the fill-in-the-blank questions.

In addition to using HelpTeaching.com to create tests for Brennan's geology course, we have also used their learning activities to help Brennan prepare for his upcoming Science Olympiad competitions. 

One of Brennan's events this year is Wind Power, and his team will be taking a test over renewable energy concepts as well as creating a windmill blade for testing. I found one test that I printed off for him to make sure he knew the basics about renewable energy before we delved into other, more detailed concepts.

Another one of his events is Forensics. The primary competition involves solving a crime scene by identifying powders, matching fingerprints, etc. They also need to understand some basics of DNA testing.

HelpTeaching.com had a lesson on DNA Structure and Replication that we used as an introduction to the concept. There was a brief written introduction, a video from Kahn Academy to watch, and then corresponding tests to take.

By using the Advanced Search function in the Test Maker area, I found enough questions about fingerprinting to make a worksheet to cover some of the topics Brennan will need for another section of his Forensics competition. They span a wide range of difficulty levels but work for my purposes.

I've been browsing through all of the topics in HelpTeaching.com trying to find other lessons and tests that will mesh well with Brennan's school and Science Olympiad events. I keep finding all sorts of rabbit trails that we could hop down, but I wish for a site-wide search engine to use. I suspect that there are even more lessons and worksheets that could be useful.

HelpTeaching.com has been a useful addition to our homeschool days, primarily as a way to create my own worksheets and tests. The lessons would be helpful for students who likes to explore different topics and rabbit trails on their own.

A Pro subscription to HelpTeaching.com costs $24.95 per year. I've primarily looked at their middle school and high school materials, but they cover topics for all grades. 

HelpTeaching Review

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