Monday, March 9, 2015

Visual Learning Systems Review

Visual Learning Systems Review
Recently we received the Visual Learning Systems program, Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (K-5) and the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (6-12). If you've hung around the blog very long you know Science is a huge part of our life. My parents are retired science teachers and I have always enjoyed science as a child/adult. My son seems to have picked that up as well. When we received this program we were super excited to try out a new way of science in our house! 

Visual Learning Systems Review
What We Received
For this review we received the digital subscription program for one year. We used the Elementary Edition of the program which is for grades K-5th grade. They also offer a middle/high school level as well. 
Visual Learning Systems Review
We received access to the Admin, Teacher and student log in. After setting up my son with his log in information, we quickly accessed the site to explore. 

Each section has videos, animations, images, student worksheets and a full teachers guide to go along with the topic you chose. You can choose from physical, Earth or life science for the age we worked with. We worked with later elementary ages. You can also access the primary ages which has physical, Earth, life and health topics. 

When you choose a section it has videos that range in length from around 10 -15 minutes. The videos are broken down in sections/chapters or you can simply watch them all at the same time. This makes it nice if there's a subject area your child is struggling with. You can simply click on that section instead of watching the whole video sections again. 

How Did We Use The Program

I started out sharing the topics with my DS so he could choose what topic he wanted to start with. As I had guessed, he chose the Rocks section. (he's a huge rock fan) I logged in under the Teacher login and printed out the teachers guide and worksheets for him to use. Sometimes I would only read the teachers guide online and just print out his sheets. Either way, the teachers guide offers some great information.

In the guide you'll find the answers to the pre/post test and worksheets. The guide will show you how to introduce the video segments and some questions to get your students thinking. It also includes a video script so you can follow along if you wish. 

One of the teachers guide features I really liked is the standards section. If you have to report to your district or if you just want to make sure the standards of your child's grade is being met, you can easily know that with this section. It lists what state standards each video covers and what your child will learn. 

Day 1 We would start the week off by first taking the pre-test. Some of the subjects we used he already knew. Others he struggled some with the test but actually knew more than I thought he did. After taking that test we would watch the videos.

Day 2 I would add in the video review worksheet and have him watch the videos again with the sheet in front of him. That way he could pause the video and answer the questions as they come up.  

Day 3 we would work on other sheets such as the writing activities and labeling pictures. This would also be a day we would work on any nature activities or experiments the guide suggests. 

Day 4 would typically be test day. This would be where we take the post test and see if he has retained it and what he learned. 

This can be done in three day a week segments or you can stretch it out, like we did. This can be used a supplemental addition to your science program you have or you can use it as unit studies and expand on it as you wish. We chose the second option and he is really enjoying it. 

This was not part of the curriculum but one way we expanded on his rock study was with his rock finding kit he received for Christmas. 

The rock unit includes a rock hunt which was a favorite of Boo Bears. We walked around our yard to find and report on what rocks were out there. 
What we think...
It is a hit in our house!!! Even our Golden likes listening to the videos with him. 

He really enjoys online learning and this was a huge hit with him. I love that the information is in bite sized portions just right for his age. He can sit for the 15 minutes for the videos and then we can discuss what he learned. The writing assignments and worksheets are not too time consuming and it fits well with his age. 

I also love that it helps me make sure we cover a variety of topics in his age. We can also go down to the primary levels to see if we missed anything and make sure everything is covered his elementary science. I love that this goes with us where we go as well. It's not hard to carry our laptop when we are out of town to still keep science going. 

The variety of activities with each lesson is a huge help as well. You can choose to do the experiments or not. You can choose to expand on something your child really enjoys with book suggestions and your local library. The writing activities are not too long so that if your child, like mine, doesn't particularly like writing, it's not too bad. 

I would highly recommend this to homeschoolers or those with their children in school who need extra help. It's a great program and I see us using this for quite a while to come. 
Be sure to check out the link below and see how others used this program. 

Visual Learning Systems Review
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