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.
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Switched on Schoolhouse Products (SOS) Review by Kim Wolf

I have watched the growth of Alpha Omega over the past several years and I am excited about this innovative approach to education. I had the opportunity to review their Spanish I elective, Consumer Math and College Planner. The teacher is carefully guided in setting up a school program. Answer keys and access are password protected. The student and teacher access all courses from a master sign-in application. The program allows you to plan out the school year in advance. It also maintains a record of scores and assignments, virtually eliminating lesson planning and record keeping.

Spanish I

Spanish I is a multi-faceted approach to learning a new language. Students first make their keyboards "bi-lingual" by making an adjustment to the keyboard setting. They are next encouraged to obtain a microphone for the computer if they do not already have one. This is because this comprehensive program provides a comparison feature. That is, the Spanish speaker's pronunciation is compared to the student's pronunciation. The student is then advised how to improve their speech. This is the closest thing to an in-person tutor that I have seen! Spanish I is suggested for ages 13 to 18. When Level 1 and Level 2 are complete, the student will have the same level of proficiency that a college student would have after two semesters of college Spanish.

Consumer Math

Consumer Math is a high school elective for students who have completed Algebra 1 and Geometry. It covers a broad range of topics from family finances to occupations to business applications. There is specific coverage of finding a job, paying taxes, buying insurance, getting a mortgage, and managing credit cards. This is material our children should be exposed to, no matter what other math courses they take. All this is in an interactive engaging format that will your student will actually think is fun!

College Planner

Alpha Omega's College Planner course should be required for all high school students. Your high school student can be awarded high school credit while wading through the many exciting, challenging issues related to college planning. This is designed as a one semester course which will help your child plan and select a college and will guide him or her through the process of application, including writing the frequently requested application essay. Students learn about the ACT, PSAT and SAT, financial aid, and how to conduct themselves in a personal interview, among other things. I also appreciated the coverage of alternatives to college, such as apprenticeships and military service. This course would be ideal early in your child's high school years, but has applicability to all years of high school. It is a not-to-be-missed tool to help your child plan the future.

--Product Review by: Christine Field, Senior Correspondent, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

State History

I have been looking, looking, looking for a creative way to teach state history (Ohio in our case). Over the years that we've homeschooled, we've used workbooks, textbooks, and a myriad of library books and videos. It just so happens that 2003 was Ohio's 200th birthday and I wanted to find something a little different.

I have had my eye on Alpha Omega's Switched-On Schoolhouse state history for quite a while and now that I have had the chance to see what it really is like, I was not disappointed.

This is a full year's curriculum and is very complete. Not only do you get the two lesson CD-ROMs and an application disk, but you get a 182-page reference guide. Now, don't let that scare you. This guide ushers you through the whole download process and does everything but hold your hand (I like that!). You may get as detailed or simple as you want. And, if you do need your hand held, you may call their toll-free number and a very kind soul on the other end will help you through.

This curriculum has many features such as videos, planning calendar, automatic grading and record keeping - all sorts of little things that you would never think about when studying state history. You may use the curriculum exactly the way it is presented or customize with your own additions. A teacher's best friend is their highlighter, right? You can even highlight specific areas of the text! My children say that I do not own a book that hasn't been written in, so you can guess how excited I was to find that!

My daughter's favorite part is that the students may pick from 10 different themes as the background for their on-screen lessons. I don't know about you, but I look for things that will hold my students' attention just 'that much' longer, and if having a cool theme as a background on the computer screen while they're doing their lessons helps - I'll take it.

Switched-on Schoolhouse is available in all the major subjects through Alpha Omega.

--Product Review by: Kim Wolf, Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine