August 27, 2012 at 8:39 pm
by Christina Tynan-Wood
It was back-to-school day today at our house. And that means that almost every conversation I have with my teens for the next nine months will have the word “homework” in it. Last year was a bit rough around here school-wise. So this year, I’m determined to make the homework hour as much fun as possible. To make that happen, I’m looking for entertaining educational sites my kids will enjoy exploring as much as they like poking around YouTube watching amusing videos.
Back in February, Alleyoop.com launched to help teens get college-ready with math. And just a couple of weeks ago, the site added an extensive science curriculum through collaborators like NASA eClips, and partners such as National Geographic, Scientific Minds, Patrick JMT, Virtual Nerd, Adaptive Curriculum and Brightstorm. Alleyoop.com fits perfectly into my up-the-fun-strategy on homework. Not only does it teach science and match in short, engaging videos and animations but the topics are easy to search and align neatly with the high school curriculum being covered in school. Added bonus? It’s all wrapped around a gaming model that infuses learning with a little bit of game fever. They take lessons to earn points. And those points can be used to buy one-on-one tutoring. It will even reach out to kids via text or email to remind them to carry on with a subject they are learning — and earn more points.
What happens in my house at homework hour usually falls into two fairly predictable scenarios: The materials covered in school was easy and clear and the homework is done in a matter of minutes. That is obviously my favorite homework hour. But sometimes, nothing happens. No amount of poking, reminding, or prodding gets the homework done. The kids won’t say why. They are just stalled. But I have learned that the reason for this is usually that they weren’t paying attention in class – or just didn’t understand the material — so they don’t know how to do the homework. Rather than admit this, they just avoid the work.
When the subject they are stuck on is difficult science or advanced math, finding a tutor right now is not only challenging but expensive. But calling up a quick, clear, and engaging animation that explains that difficult topic using examples kids can relate to, a video lesson by a gifted teacher, or a whiteboard lesson in math or physics that will explain the topic clearly – and explain it again…and again? Or, when all of that fails, dialing up a tutor right there? That’s exactly what I need to turn those “stuck” homework sessions into the kind that move along quickly and successfully. Alleyoop.com is now bookmarked on all of our computers.