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Essay Rockstar from Fortuigence {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Fortuigence Review
If you’ve been reading long, it is no surprise that I do not like teaching writing.  I don’t think of myself as a writer, how I can I possibly instruct one of my children how to write – and write well?  Thankfully, there are some great resources to help parents like me!  Essay Rock Star Textual Analysis Writing Course ($57) from Fortuigence is one of those resources.  We – or rather my 6th grader – has been using it for this review.  
There are four parts to the semester-long program known as Essay Rock Star.  This program is for middle school to high school learners (or even adults) to gain necessary non-fiction writing skills crucial to college and beyond.  The four courses are Personal Statement, Persuasive Essay, Expository Essay, and Textual Analysis – the one my daughter used.  Each course is worth 1/8 credit.  Textual analysis is essentially writing a review of someone else’s work – books, movies, etc.  This type of writing uses critical thinking skills.  The courses all use a five-step writing process that will serve the learner well in all writing applications. 
Fortuigence Review
The Essay Rockstar Courses are self-paced video courses with full teacher support.  Your learners logs-in to watch the video of the lesson.  There are often support materials to download (pdf) specific to the lesson and assignment and additional helps to clarify any parts of the lesson (general grammar helps, etc.).  The work is submitted through the student’s page (by copy and paste) to the instructor.  The instructor gives feedback and the lessons/assignments continue.  The learner works at their own pace independently.  At the end, is a certificate to print showing completion of this course.

The low-end of the age range is 12 years old.  My daughter that used this will be twelve soon and is doing sixth grade/middle school work.  She did not have any issues with the work itself.  The lessons were just enough information at a time for her.  The helps provided – checklists and examples for the lessons as well as the “how to” mini lessons to refresh things not taught through the course (how to write a strong introduction and conclusion is one) – were just the extras my younger learner needed.  

What she was lacking, however, is maturity.  She worked through things fine.  She showed me her notebook with her notes from watching the video and her brainstorming and rough draft info.  She is not one to want to do her school work (I know, not that unusual), so I did make it a point for her to pull up the website twice a week to work on this.  What I didn’t follow through on was the actual steps within the lessons.  As in, actually submitting the work through the student dashboard.  I thought the program wouldn’t let her proceed without this step.  Apparently, you can.  The first time you try to move to the next lesson, you get a warning box letting you know to submit your work first.  Then, she only needed to click again to get to the next lesson.

Perhaps this was my fault in not staying on top of her more.  Maybe I wasn’t clear enough in the instructions that I was not the one reviewing her work.  Did she think that showing me was what the prompt meant?  Whenever I asked my daughter during the course how she was doing with it, was everything clear, nothing confusing, etc. she assured me all was well.  I should have followed up more at this point.  I trusted that she could handle this on her own.  She does her math independently, so I assumed she was doing this as well.  When this was discovered and we talked earlier this week, she confessed to realizing her mistake after the second assignment.  She had missed the (very clear) directions that the work was to be submitted through the a form at the bottom of the lesson page.  At that point she was embarrassed that I thought she was doing well and she missed something so obvious.  Clearly, maturity on her part, lack of oversight on mine, but not a reflection on the course. 

So, while I cannot comment to the effectiveness of the instructor feedback on the assignments, I can say, that this has been a good course for my daughter.  Will she get more out of it when she actually goes through this again and actually submits her writing?  Absolutely!  There are examples shown throughout.  There are two types of textual analysis – thematic or part-by-part.  The examples follow each type through each step of the process.  You can follow the process and see what it should look like.  This make it easy to check yourself.

Our top favorite features are that this course can be accessed anywhere at anytime.  Self-paced online courses are becoming more popular with good reason!  You can fit them whenever it works for you.  Another favorite – especially for me – is that I don’t have to be the one teaching and evaluating.  I’m not hurting my child’s feelings (it means something different coming from Mama) and my weak subject can be taught by an expert.  That is a win-win-win for our family.

Don’t forget, there are other short courses in the Essay Rockstar program reviewed by fellow Crew members.  Read the reviews to see which one you and your learner are ready for.
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Thank you Fortuigence!

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