Tuesday, February 23, 2016

HelpTeaching.com ~ A Crew Review

Arlene and I have been exploring the online lessons and printable worksheets available from a Pro Plan membership at HelpTeaching.com. This review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew has turned out much differently than I initially expected. We were asked to review the material available for the older grades (Middle and High School levels.) What we've found by digging into the HelpTeaching.com website is that while it may not contain everything we'll ever need, it is definitely worth the price!

HelpTeaching.com, online lessons, printable worksheets

HelpTeaching.com has several layers to it, each with a lot of options. It does what the name implies, it helps you teach. This site is probably the largest conglomeration of teaching videos, printable worksheets, and customizable tests I've ever encountered. At first, I was skeptical. After all, we're not really the worksheet type of family. Would I find enough options here to make it worth our time? The answer is: YES.

It took us a couple of weeks to find our groove for how best to use the HelpTeaching.com website. Because each family's style is different, I'll try to give you an overview of some of the things you can do, print, and learn here, and then tell you about our favorite ways to use it.

HelpTeaching.com, Online lessons, printable worksheets

HelpTeaching.com has tests and worksheets for just about every subject you would expect to find in grades K-12. If you've got a favorite curriculum, the Pro Plan allows you to customize your own tests and quizzes, even using their choices of graphics and/ or diagrams. If you're wanting to make your own test for a biology course, you can use the Create a New Test feature to select the grade level, subject, type of questions, and then hit search. There are questions other users have made, there are diagrams to label, there are multiple choice questions...so many options! I named my test cells, then I choose parameters, and hit search. For "cell diagram" as a keyword search, it found 414 pre-made questions. Now, understand that not all of them were what I was looking for ... but that is a lot of choices! I learned to be more specific in my search terms.

Ok, so maybe you're not jumping up and down to make tests, what else is there to do on HelpTeaching.com? How about choosing from worksheets that are already completed? Ones that just happen to go along with what you've been studying, like the Famous Paintings Quiz? I wanted to see how many of these Arlene could identify without any help. There were options available on how she could take the quiz. I could have chosen to print it out, OR I could assign it to her to take by a certain date, OR I could just let her take it right now - online, and either write down the answers, or tell me orally. We're not into printing a lot of tests when she can answer them orally, so that is the choice we've made most often.

Another cool feature of the Pro Plan from HelpTeaching.com is the ability to choose from their online self-paced lessons. They have lessons available in Math, English/ Language Arts, and Science. The lessons are made up of text to read, sometimes with diagrams to illustrate, and videos. The 10th grade science lessons include Biology, Chemistry, and Physics options. All of the ones we did had required videos as well as a section or two of reading. Some of them had pre-lesson questions to see how much you knew beforehand. 

A word of caution: these lesson videos come from several sources, including HelpTeaching.com's own videos, Khan Academy, Educator.com, and YouTube. Each teacher or family is going to have to decide what they want to do about the way these lessons link to various sites. Perhaps if you're going to let your student use this site freely, you might consider an internet nanny software. Arlene is not allowed free reign on the internet. In fact, we're quite picky about both the sites she visits, and the amount of time she spends online. I found it easiest to have her work through the lessons when I was sitting beside her on the couch. Often the text in the lessons, or the related information at the end of the lesson, links to other sites. 

HelpTeaching.com, Online lessons, printable worksheets

Because this was a review, and not us trying to stay on a specific topic the whole time, I let Arlene suggest which lessons she wanted to read and watch. Two of the lessons she wanted to do were listed as 8th grade Earth Science lessons. They were The Ring of Fire and Types of Volcanoes. Arlene already knew some information about the Ring of Fire, so we set off to learn more. These two lessons had several interactive activities, including building your own virtual volcano and watching it explode, and clicking on various earthquakes around the Pacific ocean. We visited links that led us to Discovery Kids, the US Geological Survey website, and an article on Economist.com. I thought both lessons were thorough and interesting. Arlene liked that there were videos and activities, not just reading.

Arlene took several of the online tests and quizzes in various subjects. We also printed out some of the worksheets and helps. Who doesn't like nice, crisp staff paper for writing down their newest musical composition?


We found the Game Generators page. This page allows you to customize three types of game sheets: traditional bingo, choose your own subject bingo (the example is Day in the Park Bingo,) and Word Searches. There is some serious fun to be found here! Want to make a bingo game for a co-op class? Or maybe your child's birthday party... or a baby shower... or just for fun? There is a customizable toolbox on the right side that lets you change the title, words used, or number of bingo sheets to randomly create for your game. The Word Search Generator has a similar toolbox where you can choose to change the words, decide if some of the words are placed backwards, and if you want to make and print an answer key. 

HelpTeaching.com, Online lessons, printable worksheets

I decided to make a word search for Arlene out of random terms from biology class. I named it "parts of the eye, ear, and skin." I just wanted to see what it would do. This tool is SO cool! When Arlene saw what it could do, she wanted to make a word search for Kurt, with things related to Pittsburgh. When you're finished creating your word search (or bingo cards) you can print them, or save them. I suggest you do both! I know this was designed for teachers, but this would be so much fun to use for an activity for a baby shower or birthday party!

If you want to try out the Free Printable Game Generators, you'll need to make a HelpTeaching.com account. You can sign up for a free account to try it out. I'm pretty sure that most of you will find that you want to sign up for the Pro Plan to get the most usage out of HelpTeaching.com. The free account only lets you use the Test Maker feature to create tests and worksheets up to 10 questions in length, and the Game Generators. The Pro Plan ($24.95/year) allows you access to all the lessons as well. This is a great value, especially for Middle School and High School when you understand your students need to get used to taking tests regularly, even if your curriculum doesn't focus on regular testing. If you're a school or business, HelpTeaching.com has a Group Pro plan for $199.95/ year for up to 30 users. This would be great for teachers as it allows them to use the online testing features for up to 500 students.

Overall, we are pleased with the Pro Plan from HelpTeaching.com. I have found teaching lessons that help explain the difference between mitosis and meiosis, I've seen Arlene interested in the interactive teaching tools, and I really like the Game Generators! Click on over to HelpTeaching.com and take a look for yourself! To find out what features other Crew members used the most, click the banner below.

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