Friday, September 3, 2010

Time 4 Writing

Title: Time 4 Writing
Created by:
Cost: $99 for 8 weeks
Format: Internet Course

We all know how important it is to have good writing skills - it’s just as important as having good math skills. Nearly everything we do involves writing in some form or fashion - writing thank you notes, sending emails, handwritten letter, job applications, etc. Writing comes naturally for some people, while others find it challenging. I was thrilled when asked to write a review about Time4writing, as it thought it would give me the perfect opportunity to see what another teacher thought of my daughter’s writing abilities.

“What is,” you ask? It’s an online writing course that offers many different class options for your elementary, middle, and high school students. There are 4 teachers on staff - one will be assigned to the student once registration is complete. During the registration process, you create a user name and password, and choose which course you feel best suits your student.  For a detailed list of available courses, click HERE.  You receive a confirmation email shortly after registration is completed, allowing you begin the writing course right away.

No need to worry if you’re having a hard time deciding which course will most benefit your student. You have 2 weeks from the date of registration to change courses if you choose to. Once a few assignments are completed, the teacher may recommend a course switch if she feels it will be beneficial. Within those first 2 weeks, if for any reason you are not completely satisfied, Time4writing offers a full refund. Once the 2 weeks is up, you are locked in for the remaining weeks.

I choose MS2 – Essay (Middle School 2 – Essay Writing) for my daughter. The primary objective in the MS2-Essay course is to create narrative and expository essays. The course is 8 weeks long - broken down into units. Each unit has between 4 - 10 assignments. As the assignments increase in difficulty, fewer assignments are due each week. The assignments include such things as, quizzes, writing paragraphs, writing essays, etc. The quizzes are scored immediately, allowing you to move on to the next assignment. Other assignments require the student to submit their work, and within 24 hours they will receive feedback, as well as a grade from the teacher. The parents receive an email notification when an assignment is graded, in addition to any other interactions between the student and the teacher. If the parents or student have any questions regarding assignments or progress, they are welcome to send messages to the teacher via

Over all, my daughter enjoyed the course. Some of the things she and/or I liked where,
  • Being able to type the assignments rather than completing them the traditional way, with paper and pencil; which is something she wishes I would allow less of.
  • The writing prompts that were provided, such as “If you could visit any state in the United States, which one would you choose and why?” or “Why weekends should be longer.”
  • The quick response to our questions and grading completed work. We always received an answer to our questions, or a grade, by the next day (within 24 hours).   

There were, however, a few things she and/or I disliked. 
  • Submitting completed work -
    We searched all over the site to find directions on how to submit the assignments once they were completed, and all we could find was a “save work” option at the bottom of the work page. We eventually learned that when an assignment was saved, it was also submitted to the teacher. If the assignment wasn’t completed, then the student typed “unfinished” at the top of the page.
  • Finding grade once feedback was received from teacher -
    The Grade page doesn’t list the assignments and grades in order. As you can see in the photo below, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the order the assignments are listed. 
  • However, we eventually realized the grades are listed in order (minus the quizzes) on the Assignment page. Having the grades listed in correct order made it much easier to keep track of which assignment she was working on.
  • Little teaching (instruction) involved -  Each unit begins with a brief explanation; this is where the lessons are introduced. The student can either read or listen to the information given, which is followed by a short quiz. The student then moves on to the next assignment, which is usually a writing task of some sort. Each writing assignments give instructions on what to write about, such as, “Funniest Incident Ever,” or “Most Disgusting Meal,” however, no further explanation of what is expected is given.
  • Having a clear understanding of what was expected -
    Once the assignment is turned in, feedback and a grade are given. However, I felt that the feedback given didn’t allow my daughter to learn and excel on the next assignment. The feedback given, although always kind, consisted of something to the effect of, “Great job! I made a few corrections, please look them over and let me know if you have any questions.” Sometimes she would add, “Make correction and resubmitted for a higher grade.” However, there were several times when my daughter had corrected the errors and resubmitted the assignment, but was given a lower grade than she started with. I feel the feedback would have been a bit more helpful if it were along the lines of, “Great job! Be sure to add or omit commas after ….” or “I added a semi colon after ____. Remember we use semi colons when ….”

With all that said, I’m very grateful to Time4writing for their generosity in offering my family a free 8 week course of our choice.  And although I feel wasn’t a good fit for my family, I do feel it would be a great fit for a self-motivated student who has already mastered the basics of which ever course chosen (ex: paragraph writing, essay writing, etc), or for the natural writer looking for an enjoyable writing course.  
If you would like to sign your student up for one of Time4Writing’s courses, click HERE

Go see what other TOS Crew members had to say about

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I received a free 8 week course of my choice with in exchange for my honest review.

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