The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Tess Hamre and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

My Access! Home Edition Review by Stephanie D. Scarborough

Vantage Learning
110 Terry Drive, Suite 100
Newtown, PA 18940

My Access! Home Writing Program (Family Edition) provides one parent and three student subscriptions for unlimited use for 12 months. It has 45 writing topics at the elementary, middle, and high school educational levels.

One of the many strengths of this program is the depth to which each topic can be explored. Clicking on the "Get Started" button gives you a guided tour. Moreover, you can receive an additional explanation of each feature, button, or page simply by clicking on the "?" at any point in your journey.

Now, regarding the specific attributes of My Access! Home Writing Program. A "Writing Dashboard" gives information about your writing progress at any time. The progress column lets you see the number of submissions as well as your overall and trait-specific writing performance. The specific writing skills are focus, content and development, organization, language usage, mechanics, and conventions.

The "assignment page" allows the teacher to view and select available writing topics or design additional topics. The writing packages are grouped by ages. Each package contains 15 topics. The writing categories in the packages are informative, narrative, and persuasive.

The "resource center" provide the following helps to enable families to get the most out of their My Access! experience.

  • Home Student User Guide
  • Home Parent User Guide
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Writers Guide
  • Technical Requirements
  • System Requirements Check
  • Contacts and Support

So when in doubt, read the directions.

The program makes it easy for the teacher to deliver reports to others (such as grandparents or an umbrella school administrator). Moreover, My Access! helps you set goals, assign point values, enter an incentive, and establish deadlines. All these tools help your student to function at a high level without constant supervision.

There are also 48 activities available to help students improve in certain areas of writing fluency. They earn points for these questions also. A sample essay and related multiple-choice questions help to prepare the learner to produce his own essay.

As teachers, we sometimes need help creating a writing topic for our student. My Access! has a time-saving gadget called the topic wheel. It is a three-part selection in which the teacher selects a beginning, middle, and end portion from the topic list. The beginning part describes the type of writing, such as "write a brochure" or "write a recipe." The middle section includes a list of purposes, such as "that explains an imaginary country" or "that describes a process." The ending part focuses on the audience, such as "to the President" or "to a superhero's nemesis." While exploring this section, I was able to create some inventive and even some silly combinations. Our children love to laugh and be silly, so I'd certainly be able generate an interesting writing assignment that would require a high level of creativity.

Another use for the topic wheel would be to assign one topic for a couple of different audiences--for instance, an essay for the President of the United States and also for a person in a remote African village. This type of assignment would help the student recognize the adjustments necessary in order to adapt the essay for the new audience.

Overall, My Access! was titillating to explore. It seemed there was another treasure with every click of the mouse. Each time I'd return to the site, I'd discover another aspect of the program. Your time, as well as your homeschool dollar, will be well spent by utilizing this writing program.

Product review by Stephanie D. Scarborough, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2007