Wednesday, September 5, 2018

GrammarPlanet Review

GrammarPlanet is a new, online program for grammar, punctuation and usage.  It is for students ages 10+ who want to learn grammar, or even brush-up on their grammar skills.  It is brought to you by the same people who produce Analytical Grammar.  I have seen Analytical Grammar recommended for use by Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, so I thought an online version of their program might be a good way to approach grammar, especially for my child who prefers to do as much as possible online.


Sign-up was easy enough, though I don't think it should have been required to give a student's birth date.  I wouldn't have minded giving an age, though.  To begin a lesson, you are instructed to print a study guide to read as you watch the video lesson.  The study guides are typically about one page, and cover the same material that is in the video, but it is not verbatim.  It has examples and a review of the process order for identifying parts of speech.  This is a portion of Unit 5's study guide.

Grammar Planet Study Guide

The instructor is friendly and speaks clearly.  Often in instructional videos you get dramatic and cheesy, or monotone, but she is neither.  It's just her face; she is not writing on a whiteboard or pointing or shuffling papers.  Only occasionally do we see hand motions.  So it's not particularly distracting, but I would have been fine with just the audio since we're supposed to follow along with the study guide.

The format of the program is straightforward.  Once the student gets through the video, they are given practice questions.  The practice screen is very clean and uncluttered, so again, there are no distractions.

Grammar Planet

The practice questions start with short sentences, and as you move through the lesson, the sentences get longer, so that more examples of the parts of speech being studied are included.  The user interface is pretty simple.  When the user click a word, a box pops up wth the parts of speech that have been taught, and the student clicks on the appropriate label.

When they are finished labeling the sentence, they click on the green submit button.  Each sentence is automatically graded, so you know when you have made a mistake.  Seeing an error sometimes helps the learner realize they are making careless errors, or helps to clear up a misunderstanding, so I like that it shows how you are doing as you.

The practice section is responsive, so the student will answer anywhere from 10-25 questions, depending on how well they are doing.  Students who grasp the material will move more quickly through the lesson.  If they miss too many questions, the unit will become "locked" and the parent/teacher has two options.  They can reset the unit so the student can start over, or they can unlock it, so they can move forward.  The parent/teacher is encouraged to look over their student's progress and talk to the student, to determine which approach would be best.  The only problem I have with resetting the lessons is that it repeats the sentences, so it can be hard to determine when true mastery is achieved.

However, as students do pass and move into the next unit, they will have review opportunities built in, because the concepts are taught sequentially and build upon one another.  The format of the program means you're continuously reviewing previously learned content.  

One thing I couldn't figure out was the inconsistency in the grading between the practice questions and the tests.  If you miss one element of a practice problem, such as forgetting to label an article, while still labeling the other 10 elements of the sentence correctly, the entire problem is marked wrong.  This, understandably, counts against the student in the adaptive format of this program.  In a test however, they give partial credit, so you can get 4/5 questions wrong but enough partial credit to pass.  It seems the practice is more rigorous, but once you get to the tests, they are easier to pass.

They also don't specify the threshold for passing.  I know my son scored a 74% when we were first trying to figure out the program.  I don't consider this mastery under normal circumstances, but it said he passed.  The only thing I can do at that point is reset a unit if I don't like the score.  This can seem a little unfair to the student after they've been told they "passed" according to the program's standards, but there is no way for me to set the standard for passing in the parent dashboard.

The parent dashboard allows you to look over your child's most recent practice session, and to print results (which is great for portfolio reviews) but there isn't a lot of control over the program itself.  You can reset or unlock units, but that is all I have found at this point.

I still think the program and user interface is easy to use.  The grammar itself is thorough and intense, however, and students should be prepared to really pay attention to the lessons, go over the study guides, and put in real effort.  I like the concept of the program and I think now that we've slowed down to the recommended pace (15 minutes every other day), Elliott is coming around to it.  Doing more than this was frustrating because it led to careless errors or made the subject take too long as the adaptive features lengthened the time spent.  This is a mastery-based program, and the idea is to let the material "marinate" over time.  It is a slow-and-steady wins the race kind of program, which I like.

If you are interested in learning more about the program I suggest you try it out!  There is an ad-supported version that is free, or you can pay a one time fee of $39 for an ad-free account.  Your student can take as much time as they need, because your subscription will not expire!

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*Grammar Program Online {GrammarPlannet Reviews}

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