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Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
As my children are getting older, they are obviously working on more advanced courses – higher maths and sciences, etc.  They are also working more independently.  Online resources are perfect to use for those subjects.  Standard Deviants Accelerate is not only a provider of online resources covering those higher level subjects, but they’ve been doing this for 20 years.  I was first familiar with their DVDs for AP courses – taking a creative and fun approach to review and test prep.  Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses offer so much more now and obviously, as the really effective online course.  The videos are still in the same funny and definitely not boring format with interactive options for completing the lessons. 
There are flexible options to subscribe monthly or annually.  For home users, the monthly option allows up to four students ($24.95/month/course).  The annual option, 12 months access for a single student ($99), for home users is a bigger savings.  There is also an option, targeted to classroom teachers, which allows unlimited students for 12 months access ($249.99).  The AP courses are primarily review and test preparation and therefore less involved and lower in price – $14.95 monthly up to four students or $99.99 for unlimited students for 12 months.  

For this review period, my older girls (roughly 5th, 6th and 8th graders) have been working through the Nutrition course.  This course is intended for a full school year for learners 6th grade and older.  The video presents the information; a transcript to read along (or download to review) is alongside the video box; a box for entering text/notes is below.  My girls did not take notes – at least not in this text box.  They might have if it was in a separate window (like a smaller pop-up) that they could drag where they wanted in on the screen.  Once they found they wanted to take notes (at least one of the girls), they would print the transcript and underline and add their own notes on the paper.  The ability to keep it all online is nice, but may not work best for all learners.  My daughter found what she needed and was able to adapt.  I love that the program is so flexible and versatile that my three very different learners can use it how it suits them.

The nutrition course spans 8 modules, covering topics from macro- and micro-nutrients to the food industry to nutritional disorders to the food spectrum.  Each of these modules, or chapters, has an introduction and review as well as a varying number of segments presenting the lesson.  The Introduction gives the student the opportunity to see what they already know and learn the Big Question that will be covered throughout that module.  Within each chapter are topics and within each topic are tabs to navigate the lesson – Video, Vocab, Diagram, Quiz and Written Answer.  When you reach the chapter review, there is a Group Activity – a truly active activity planning and “teaching” a lesson – creativity encouraged, Post-Test (which cannot be complete without prior completion of the quizzes) and a Critical Thinking Question (which cannot be completed until the Post-Test is done).

Throughout the completing the course the student is able to keep notes and completed work (diagrams and quizzes) in their “Locker”.  They can also let the teacher know they are ready to present their group activity.  At first, the girls tried completing the course with only one learner signed in.  They quickly realized they have different ways of taking notes, etc. and wanted to use their own “Locker”.  It was easy to add the other girls once they had begun the course.  Only a unique e-mail is needed (thank you gmail!) and the girls were entered and had a code to set-up their own access to the course.  Once signed in on their own, the girls were able to do the Diagram (an interactive graphic organizer) Quiz and Written Answer (applying the Big Question to the topic) independently.

The girls watch the video portion together and do the group activities together.  The rest of the work is on their own – and they like it that way.  We do so much of our early learning with all the children together, this is a great transition for the middle girls towards independence.  The others cannot move to the next topic without completing the group activity so they are all kept to the same general pace.  They have been completing 2 or 3 topics a week roughly.  One of the girls is not a self-starter so she has been gently (and not so gently) reminded by her sisters to get her work done so they can all move forward.  Typically, we are all working as a group (in history or science) or they are completely on their own (math or language arts).  This hybrid of group and individual work has been great for my girls. 

While called courses, the offerings from Standard Deviants Accelerate are considered supplemental.  We have not explored the other subjects, but speaking from our experience with the Nutrition course, this would be a great spine or basis for a full course (earning high school credit).  We will be adding some other work from resources we already own as well as meal planning and preparation to round out the course as presented.

These courses would also work well in a co-op setting.  Our family is small enough, that the monthly option for homeschoolers accommodates us well.  If we had more than four learners – or in a co-op – the teacher’s option would be quite reasonable and a great fit.  The functions of the teacher side of things (available to both home users and school accounts) are great for keeping track of the students progress (especially useful with multiple students) and answering questions they submit through the student portal.  I do wish there was an option to initiate a message rather than just respond, but really, I can just talk face to face with my child. *grin*

Most of the courses available through SDA are for high school or middle school learners.  There are two courses that could be used by younger learners – Arithmetic (grades 3 and up) and Fundamental Math (grades 4 and up).  From a quick perusal with my third grader at my side, this would be great for a mathy child or an older, remedial learner.  Check it our for yourself – free!    
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Don’t forget to read the other reviews.  There are so many subjects and courses available from SDA, see what my fellow Crew members used and their thoughts on them!

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