May 162016
 
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As I mark the official close of this school year, I am already looking forward to next year.

While this year was everything I could have hoped for and more. I must admit that I have quite a bit of anxiety about next year. Why? Because I will be homeschooling 2 boys with vastly different learning styles and interests!

While Zen will be in pre-K, I get the consolation that it should be a pretty laid back approach which is good as this will be my “trial and error” year as I figure out what will work for him. I am willing to bet money that the methods and resources that worked for his older brother won’t be a good match for him.

Part of this planning process is organization. While this year a $0.17 notebook was sufficient as a planner, I am looking into something better as I start to keep track of educating 2 children.

Last year I had scored a free lifetime membership to Lessontrek as part of a limited time promotion that they offered. I didn’t use it at first because it didn’t seem appealing but I have decided to take it out for a spin these last 2 weeks to see if it will be a good option for next year.

Pros:

* Easy to use
* supports multiple students
* Ability to color code students and subjects for easy visual recognition
* automatic grading with different grading types (optional feature)
* Ability to choose whether or not to show weekends
* Easy to grade all assignments/subjects for the entire week in one screen
* you can enter as much or as little information as you like.
* Can be used for advanced lesson planning or after the fact tracking.
* Easy to drag and drop information to other days as life happens and schedules change.
* Able to reorder the day with easy drag and drop
* Able to copy entire week to use as template for future plans.
* Ability to create transcripts
* Easy to jump back or forward in time with 1 click using the “time line” at the top of the screen

Cons:

* requires computer and internet connection
* unable to print grades or completed work log
* Help/tutorial information is basic/limited. There is a 3 minute tutorial video which highlights the basics in a very fast format, no help documentation, just some helpful tips when clicking the “Help” button
* While the daily use is quick and intuitive with minimal clicking, changing settings is tedious as there are extra clicks to accomplish the changes. Specially when modifying settings for multiple subjects as it takes you back to the main screen after each subject having to click all the way back to the dashboard each time.
* Unable to view multiple students’ information at the same time

Color coded, easy on the eyes with the whole week at a glance

Color coded, easy on the eyes with the whole week at a glance

I chose to show weekends because we often have field trips or other educational activities on those days. It doesn’t take me any longer to do the data entry here than it did on my notebook (I do type faster than I can write by hand, lol). So far I’ve only used it on desktop and Chromebook so I don’t know if it would work on tablet/ mobile.

I loved how easy it is to access any week of the school year from the main screen. If something happens to change the schedule I can easy drag and drop the boxes as needed.

Tweaking the settings to be “just right” was a pain in the rear mainly because I felt like I was doing a lot of clicking but once it was configured the way I wanted it the performance has been great.

While I didn’t use grading in our school this year, I plan to next year so I activated the feature and tested it this week to see how I liked it. I enjoyed the flexibility of grading types and custom scales, I was able to set some subjects such as math to have a percentage grade while others like science be “complete/incomplete” and others have no grade at all. Being able to add all grades for the week is very easy and once I figured out the weight method I was impressed at how well it kept track of everything.

Easy to enter all grades quickly in 1 screen

Easy to enter all grades quickly in 1 screen

 

My biggest disappointment with it is not being able to print the week after the fact and show the assignments already checked and with grades entered. The printable report currently only outputs the information in a to do list format with a space to write the grade in manually. This is great for those that use this for planning but not so much for people like me that would mostly use it for after the fact tracking.

“Print Week” screen, works great as a printable to do list

While the system keeps grades for you, there is no report card option to print, I currently print the screen which gives me the information necessary but it’s not in a printer friendly format. The lack of reporting or at least the ability to export data to PDF is the biggest con for me, it’s still a workable system and it won’t stop me from using it further but I really hope that the developer has this feature on his to do list.

Lessontrek App - Google Chrome 5132016 35452 PM.bmp

Gradebook does not offer a printable report card option. It is in Beta stage so it can only get better

The verdict:

While it’s not perfect, it will get the job done. The plan is to use it next year, only time will tell if I’ll still be using it by the end of the year.

Exclusive reader offer!  For a limited time get a 1 year subscription for only $15 (a $45 savings!) with code HM45.  But hurry!  Code expires 8/24/16.

 

Visit Lessontrek’s website to sign up.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own and I did not receive any compensation for this review.

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