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Writing

   Table of Contents

Program Title

Publisher

Rating

Instructional Area

Operating System

Software

 

 

 

 

Developing Writing Skills

Queue

2.3

Writing, Grammar and usage

Windows

Macintosh

Inspiration

Inspiration Software

4

Concept-Mapping (Writing)

Windows

Spell It Deluxe

Knowledge Adventure

3

Spelling

Windows

GEDonline

Diversfield Comp. Ser.

1.9

Science/Writing/ Reading/ Social Studies and Math

Windows

GED 2002 Teaching Strategies

Steck-Vaughn

4

Social Studies/Science Writing/Reading/ Math

Windows

Macintosh

Plato

Plato Learning Inc.

2.9

Reading/Writing/ Math/Social Studies/ESL

Windows

New Brunswick Comm. College

New Brunswick Community College

3.3

Math/Reading/ Writing/Social Studies/Science/ Language

Windows

Internet Sites

 

 

 

 

Plato on-line

Plato Learning Inc.

3.1

Reading/Writing/ Math/Social Studies/ESL

Internet

Grammar and Writing

http://ccc.commnet.edu/grammar

3.5

Grammar, Writing and Vocabulary

Internet

Steck Vaughn GED Practice.com

Steck-Vaughn

2.8

Writing

Internet

Career Labs-200 Cover Letters

Career Lab

4

Computer Literacy/ Writing

Internet

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Program Title

GEDPractice.com

http://www.steck-vaughn.com

Publisher

STECK-VAUGHN

Subject

WRITING

Level

Low ABE - GED

Program features

Practice Tests

Computer Requirements

Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher OR Netscape Navigator 3.0

Price

Free

Overall Rating

2.8  Good

 Evaluation Scale (scale 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)

User Friendly

2

Interesting Interface

2

Ease of loading software

0

Affordability

4

Content

3

Age appropriate

3

Sound

0

Average

2.8

Description of Content:    This on-line program has between 15 to 18 questions per content area, so the Writing Skills, Part I section has the three content areas of sentence structure, usage, and mechanics.  The questions within the content areas fall into the three basic categories of correction, revision, and construction shift and are reflective of a typical pre or post-test. 

Navigation and Structure:    Navigation of the site was somewhat frustrating in that you had to answer a question, check your answer, go to summary and then go back in order to answer another question.  Sometimes you could go to answer a question after simply checking it, but this was not the norm.  The on-screen help of checking the answers is valuable, but it is written in somewhat technical language students may or may not understand.  

Instructional Applications:   This site could be used with students who are at the tail end of their studies.   It would be good for students who like answering questions that are reflective of GED content and knowledge and who like getting immediate feedback.  It could be used to reinforce prior knowledge of a student and to improve self-confidence at the end of their studies if they have mastered a subject.

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Program Title

Developing Writing Skills

Publisher

Queue

Subject

English:  writing, grammar, and usage

Level

Low ABE- GED

Program features

Dictionary and Thesaurus Usage

Computer Requirements

CD Rom; Macintosh system 7.0 and above; Windows 3.1 and above; 8 mg. RAM

Price

$150; Lab pack: $450; Network: $750

Overall Rating

2.3  Fair

Evaluation Scale (scale 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)

User Friendly

2

Interesting Interface

2

Ease of loading software

2

Affordability

3

Content

3

Age appropriate

2

Sound

0

Average

2.3

Description of Content:     This is a comprehensive English package with eight topics.  The Learning to Write section introduces parts of speech and topic sentences, main ideas, and details.  The Basic English Composition section covers simple sentence structure and reviews paragraphs and spelling.  The Developing Writing Skills section reviews word usage, run-ons, fragments, modifiers, and clauses, and then reviews different types of writing.  The Dictionary Skills section is how to use a dictionary and thesaurus.  Practicing Writing Skills is a drill and practice covering the material in Developing Writing Skills.  The Practical Composition section includes higher-level composition skills with such topics as subordinate clauses, comparisons, and sentence variety.  How to Do Research goes through the process of picking a topic, using the library, and writing a bibliography.  The Usage section covers the most common word usage problems with a variety of exercises.

Navigation and Structure:     You must go through a variety of menus and sign in each time you go to a new menu since this CD includes many programs.  There is no records management system but the student gets scores upon completion of each lesson and can print out those scores.  On the Macintosh version there are three menus available:  help, report, and quit.  The Windows version does not have any menus available, though you can hit escape and get to the main menu to quit.  This is an older, cumbersome program and does not have all the graphics and sounds of newer programs.

Instructional Applications:    This program could be used with a variety of ABE/GED students who need some drill and practice but are tired of workbooks.  It covers so many different levels that an instructor would need to review the various sections to get familiar with what would be most appropriate, but it would be cost effective for the multi-level classroom.

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Program Title

Grammar and Writing

Publisher

http://ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/  

Subject

English:  grammar, writing, and vocabulary

Level

GED

Program features

graphics; can use some sections with Power Point

Computer Requirements

Internet access

Price

Free

Overall Rating

3.5 Excellent

Evaluation Scale (scale 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)  

User Friendly

3

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

0

Affordability

0

Content

4

Age appropriate

3

Sound

0

Average

3.5

Description of Content:     Comprehensive English website that covers two major sections:  Guide to Grammar and Writing and Principles of Composition.  Approximately 300 subjects are listed in the index under these two sections, so many areas are covered.  The graphics and interaction, as well as the feedback during quizzes, make this site wonderful for holding the interest of even the most reluctant student.  There are a variety of types of quizzes, too, including something that resembles magnetic poetry to practice adjective order and crossword puzzles to learn prepositions. Some of the quizzes have the student read a literature passage and identify parts of speech.

Navigation and Structure:    With the extensive index provided at this website, it is easy to navigate from one subject to another.  The only negative aspect here is that sometimes there are quite a few links on a page, making it difficult for students who might not be computer savvy.  The link buttons are labeled there and you can always go back to the page that links you to the initial page, but there is no “help” button per sey.

Instructional Applications:    This website is a great tool for teachers to use as additional material for a GED/ABE English lesson; students could read the information and do the quizzes as a reinforcement to a class lesson.  A student doing home study could also use this website as an individualized learning program.  The main drawback is there is no records management system, but students could be responsible for writing down their progress.  Another way to use this website would be to assign just the quiz section after a class lesson.

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Program Title

Inspiration

Publisher

Inspiration Software

Subject

Concept Mapping Software  (Writing)

Level

Low ABE - GED

Program features

Inspiration is ideal for use in language arts, science and social studies, or anytime your students need to structure research or other thought processes.

Computer Requirements

Windows 95,98,NT, 2000, XP/8 MB RAM/20MB hard drive space for all components/CD ROM/ Not necessary but recommended: Windows compatible printer and Browser

Price

$69

Overall Rating

4   Excellent

Evaluation Scale (scale 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

4

Affordability

4

Content

4

Age appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

4

Description of Content:    Content includes providing visual aid for students to Brainstorm, Plan, Organize, Outline, Pre-write, Diagram, Concept Mapping and Webbing.  The Content Covers many areas for students however helps give structure and organization for projects.

Navigation and Structure:    Inspiration has made navigation simple.  The student can either start with an idea and diagram it down to focus on key points or the program will help the student brainstorm ideas starting simple with a subject such as vacation.  It can also show relations to other ideas.  The program makes the concepts visual to the student helping them put their thoughts together and produce essays and book reports with ease.  This is a great program.

Instructional Applications:    This program would be great at providing instructional help for students.  I think that many times good ideas and concepts get lost in the process.  This is one of the best learning and organizing pieces of software.

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Program title

Spell It Deluxe

Publisher

Knowledge Adventure

Subject

Spelling

Level

Beg. ABE Literacy through High Adult

Program features

Short lessons, drill and practice

Computer Requirements

Windows 95, NT, 98, install on hard drive, sound (if wanted)

Price

$30

Overall Rating

3  Good

Evaluation Scale (scale 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

3

Ease of loading software

4

Affordability

4

Content

4

Age appropriate

2

Sound

2

Average

3

Description of Content:   Drill and practice activities help students learn how to spell words from first grade level to college level.  Users can add custom word lists using the Editor.  On the surface, the graphics would seem inappropriate for adults, but students are really quite charmed by the singing swamp animals and reptiles.  Spoken words are helpful to some students, but the program can be useful without sound.  A computerized voice dictates words.

Navigation and Structure:   The student chooses the spelling lists.  Teachers can assist students with approximate placement.  Click on View Words for the current spelling list being practiced.  The Main Screen is always available. It is suggested that the Bayou Word Preview is used first to get familiar with the current list.  If students have trouble with any of the words, they may choose another activity to practice.  New lists are accessible at any time.  

Instructional Applications:   Students can use teacher-prepared check-off lists to indicate completion.  For students who need hands-on drill and practice activities, this is a good addition to other spelling tutorials or classroom instruction.  Low-level students especially love this program and feel in charge of their learning. 

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Program Title

GEDonline

Publisher

Diversified Computer Services www.gedonline.org

Subject

GED 2002 training –Writing, Social, Studies, Science, Reading and Math

Level

Student needs to be computer literate and internet savvy or have access to someone who can help him/her install the program.

Program features

Drill and practice activities  

Chat Room  

Email

Computer Requirements

Software:  Windows 95, 98, 2000, ME, or NT; Internet Explorer 5.0 or above if using AOL access; Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above if accessing from other ISP; Web Player Plug-in Adobe Acrobat Reader

Hardware: No specs are given.  I would assume the minimum requirements for usage would be the following: Pentium I, 133 MHz,64 MB,56k modem

·         Previewing was done on a Pentium III 128 MB using Win 98

Price

Subscription rate:

·         $50 for 4 months

·         $10 per month for additional months

·         Practice test booklet PA $10

·         Practice test booklet PB $10

·         Practice test booklet PC $10

Overall Rating

1.9  Fair

Evaluation Scale (scale 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)

User Friendly

2

Interesting Interface

2

Ease of loading software

2

Affordability

2

Content

2

Age appropriate

2

Sound

1

Average

1.9

Description of Content:  This online product is designed to give students practice before taking the GED tests.  It provides both an opportunity to practice for the tests and a diagnosis of how well a student might do on the tests.  Practice lessons provide little instruction and are brief.  The only feedback that is given in the language area if an error is made is, “No, the correct answer is #.”  No further instruction is given.  In order to have an essay scored, a student sends it by snail mail to the company for feedback.  The product does link to some interesting Internet sites in the Social Studies area but there are no questions.  The science area also does provide some visuals although there are times when one can go to a site and not be able to return by clicking the back arrow.  Comprehension questions range in number from two to ten depending upon the subject.  The reading area is limited in practice while the math area does appear to provide more instruction during a quiz.

Navigation and Structure:  Once the fee is paid, a student is mailed the GED online CD, username, password, and a set of Steck-Vaughn official GED practice tests.  The student then “takes” a GED practice test by inputting the answers online.  The test is then scored immediately and recommendations are made.  If a student does not do well, he/she is recommended to go to practice lessons based on the following categories:  comprehension, application, analysis, and synthesis.  Navigation is not too difficult as long as a user has had some experience with Internet. 

Instructional Applications:  Higher-level students who want a real quick review and practice and who prefer using a computer should use this program.  Being comfortable using Internet is a must.  Visual effects can be very disconcerting for low-level readers.  Although the program says that there is a GED Chat room, this reviewer had difficulty accessing it, but when that was finally done, no one else was using it. 

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Program Title

GED 2002 Teaching Strategies Online Course

Publisher

Steck-Vaughn www.steck-vaughn.com

Subject

GED 2002  All Areas

Level

Low and High Adult GED

Program features

Visual – samples/charts

Auditory – video clips of experts giving advice

Kinesthetic-tactile – constant interaction with computer/tests and chat available

Computer Requirements

Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher Netscape is not supported
Windows 98 or higher
MacOS 9.0 or higher
Screen resolution 1024 X 768
266MHz or equivalent processor
16-bit Sound Card
Speakers or Headphones
Internet connection
Acrobat Reader 4.0 PDF Viewer
PC users: Windows Media Player
Mac users: QuickTime

Price

Subscription rate:

·          GED 2002 Teaching Strategies Online Course - Unlimited Access for 90 days     $60

·          GED 2002 Teaching Strategies Online Course - Unlimited Access for 180 days    $100

Overall Rating

4 excellent

Evaluation Scale (scale score 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

4

Affordability

4

Content

4

Age appropriate

4

Sound

4

Average

4

Description of Content:   Steck-Vaughn has created this 16-hour online course to provide GED educators with key information, resources and teaching strategies to help them teach and prepare their students for the GED 2002 series of tests.  It includes an overview of the GED Tests, an explanation of the reason for changes, the history of the GED, and the changes made for the GED 2002.  The course then elaborates on all five tests specifically.  Finally, a section on “Teaching Across Content Areas” concludes the course.

Navigation and Structure:    Steck-Vaughn provides a very user friendly, professional product that may be ordered online.  Once the fee is paid, a teacher is emailed a registration notification with a user name and password.  The teacher works through a series of clearly explained activities, which involve excellent samples, video clips, and printable worksheets.  At the end of each unit, the teacher takes an online test to assess understanding.  Links are accessible to explanations for those who may need review.  Scheduled chats are also available plus the ability to email questions and share ideas.  Sections exist for note-taking and scheduling assignments.  Finally, the program provides a list of sites for more information, materials, new ideas for lesson plans, and GED test preparation.  The Help Desk offers a live person answering the telephone or email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Questions answered by the Help Desk include technical questions about the software or about computers in general.

Instructional Applications:    This program is an excellent way to get ready to teach the GED 2002 whether one is a veteran GED teacher or a novice.  Teachers will find it a quick method for the following: Interpreting Visual Information; Decoding Edited American English; Demystifying Graphic Information; Teaching Higher Order Thinking Skills; Using the new 4-Point Essay Scoring Rubric

Even though it is good if the teacher is comfortable with the Internet, the course is so professionally done that there is little room for confusion. The GED 2002 Teaching Strategies Online Course is a great way to review and assess one’s knowledge.

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Program Title

Plato

Publisher

Plato Learning Inc.

Subject

Read, Write, Math, Social Studies, Life/Career, ESL

Level

Beginning Literacy – High Adult

Program features

Audio, Management system, Print rec, password, customize

Computer Requirements

Windows 95/98, Win NT 4.0/2000, CD-Rom

Price

Price varies, call 1-877-517-5280

Overall Rating

2.9   Good

Evaluation Scale (scale score 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)

User Friendly

2

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

2

Affordability

2

Content

4

Age appropriate

4

Sound

2

Average

2.9

Description of Content:    This software is designed to improve the knowledge and grade levels of students form K-Adult.  It covers a wide variety of subjects from ESL, Language, Math and Reading, to Social Studies, Science, Calculus, and Life and Career skills.  The program is knowledgeable and easy to read and use for the student.  There are tutorial sections that explain and apply basic concepts in addition to mastery tests.  If mastery tests are not passed, a new set of tutorial and mastery test questions are provided.

Navigation and Structure:    The structure is fairly easy for the learner to navigate.  The programs provide encouragement and “kudos” for success by literally placing gold stars by assignments successfully completed.  Both half and full shaded boxes are placed next to assignments to help students keep track of completed assignments.  Feedback and hints are provided immediately after each question in the assignment.

 The management system is quite entailed and requires some study to implement.  Assignments can be as classes or individual and can be a whole curriculum or set-up as bits and pieces. The reports show current use, time on task, grades, and mastery levels. Programs can be designed based on TABE (and other) conversion scores to provide individualized study.

Instructional Applications:    This program can be used as a supplement for class instruction and is ideal for main study in a lab situation.  A program can be designed for each individual based on needs.  This is especially useful to an instructor with students at varying levels of proficiency.  This program is very conducive with students who prefer to use the computer.  This courseware will align with several standardized tests (i.e. TABE & others) so individual plans can be developed.

Notes of concern:

The beginning English curriculum has some assignments that are bothersome to students because the talking section is slow and they cannot move easily to the next screen.

The Trigonometry curriculum is not ideal for self-instruction, but would be good combined with class instruction.

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Program Title

Plato - Online

Publisher

Plato Learning Inc. www.plato.com

Subject

Read, Write, Math, Social Studies, Life/Career, ESL

Level

Low ABE- College Prep.

Program features

Audio, Management system, Print rec, password, customize

Computer Requirements

Internet Access, Win 95/98/00, CD-ROM

Price

$300/per access computer, per year – existing customers

Overall Rating

3.1  Good

Evaluation Scale (scale score 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)

User Friendly

2

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

2

Affordability

4

Content

4

Age appropriate

4

Sound

2

Average

3.1

Description of Content:   This program is designed the same as the Plato stand-alone and network systems, except you access the program through the Internet.  The software is designed to improve the knowledge and grade levels of students from K – Adult.  It covers a wide variety of subjects from ESL, Language, Math and Reading, to Social Studies, Science, Calculus, and Life and Career skills.  The program is knowledgeable and easy to read and use for the student.  There are tutorial sections that explain and apply basic concepts in addition to mastery tests.  If mastery tests are not passed, a new set of tutorial and mastery test questions are provided.

Navigation and Structure: The structure is fairly easy for the learner to navigate.  Assignments are chosen by the instructor and can be assigned as a class or individually.  Students would go through programs as they would regular Plato tutorial applications and mastery tests.  There is a status legend that lets students know if they have completed a section or if they have been locked out of a mastery test until they take the tutorial again.  The status legend also lets a student know if they have started a program or mastered it.  The status is located next to the assignments and is represented by an empty circle (not started), a half filled circle (in progress), a full circle (completed), a gold star (mastered), and a red lock (locked).

The management system is the same as for regular Plato. It is quite entailed and requires some study to implement. The reports show current use, time on task, grades, and mastery levels. Programs can be designed based on TABE (and other) conversion scores to provide individualized study.

Instructional Applications:   This program can be used as a supplement for class instruction and is ideal for main study in a lab situation.  A program can be designed for each individual based on needs.  This is especially useful to an instructor with students at varying levels of proficiency.  This program is very conducive with students who prefer to use the computer.  This courseware will align with several standardized tests (i.e. TABE & others) so individual plans can be developed.

Notes of concern:

The beginning English curriculum has some assignments that are bothersome to students because the talking section is slow and they cannot move easily to the next screen.

The Trigonometry curriculum is not ideal for self – instruction, but would be good combined with class instruction.

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Program Title

New Brunswick Community College - Saint John Distance Courses

Publisher

New Brunswick Community College  

http://www.saintjohn.nbcc.nb.ca

Subject

GED Preparation: Math, Reading, Writing, Science, Social Studies and Language

Level

Low and High Adult

Program features

Password security

Email help

Audio components

Video components

Print records mailed

Computer Requirements

Pentium II 266
56k modem
Windows 95, 98, 2000
Internet Explorer 5
Windows Media Player 6.4
Macromedia Flash Player 3
PowerPoint 97 or PowerPoint Viewer

Price

Cost for distance courses is per course and ranges from $25 – $60 for current courses. 

Overall Rating

3.3  Good

Evaluation Scale (scale 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)

User Friendly

3.5

Interesting Interface

3.5

Ease of loading software

0

Affordability

3

Content

3

Age appropriate

3.5

Sound

3

Average

3.3

Description of Content:     This course gives an overview of the GED tests, some test-taking strategies, and the chance for students to evaluate their skills. Based on results of the Official GED Practice tests (which are sent out by mail), students discover approximately how they would score on the real tests and what things they need to study. This is only a preparation course. The course consists of 4 online lessons that introduce the various tests, online practice items, and the Official GED Practice tests.

Navigation and Structure:    It is easy to navigate and the feedback is appropriate.  The reading level of the directions is easily comprehended and assistance is available.

Instructional Applications:    This course is ideal for the self-motivated student who prefers to study and prepare at home in front of a computer rather than in a classroom setting.

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Program Title

Career Labs-200 Cover Letters for Job Hunters

Publisher

Career Lab www.careerlab.com/letters

Subject

Writing and Computer Literacy

Level

Low Intermediate – Low Adult

Program features

The home page offers 21 links to specific cover letters.  Examples of cover letters can be found at all links. 

Computer Requirements

Any computer with access to the Internet

Price

Free

Overall Rating

4  Excellent

Evaluation Scale (scale score 0 = not applicable, 1= not recommended, 2 = fair, 3 = good and 4 = excellent)

User Friendly

4

Interesting Interface

4

Ease of loading software

0

Affordability

0

Content

4

Age appropriate

4

Sound

0

Average

4

Description of Content:     Career Lab - 200 Cover Letters are an excellent range of sample letters for all job purposes.  The illustrated cover letters prepares the job hunter for creating a specific cover letter for each job application.  The sample letters are designed to benefit the job hunter to use these resources in order to publish a better cover letter.  

Navigation and Structure:   Typical web site navigation in a well structured layout that features twenty one links to all types of cover letters that apply to all job applications.  Structured very well and is easy to use. 

Instructional applications:   It is an excellent source for generating a more colorful cover letter.  I will personally get the benefit of using this site.  Thanks for leading me to this site. 

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