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Five Great Educational Websites


I'm often asked to recommend websites for families to use at home when supporting their children.


For my work, I subscribe to many websites. The financial investment is worth it for me, because I have many students needing the same types of support. I understand that families are looking for the best combination of content, price and engagement for their child. With that in mind, I'm suggesting five websites I'd recommend, along with my reasons for recommending them. I hope you'll find at least one or two of these helpful!


  1. IXL - au.ixl.com


This website offers English and Maths topics aligned to all year levels of the Australian national curriculum.


Pros:

*Very comprehensive - you'll find questions reinforcing pretty much every topic covered in the Australian curriculum;

*Gives a 'smart score' as students complete questions, which allows them to move towards the goal of 100% depending how consistently they are accurate (while at the same time, not sending them back to the 'start' if they get a question wrong);

*Explanations are provided after an incorrect answer, so the student (or parent!) can learn how to reach the correct answer;

*Depending on the level of access you buy, you can go up and down to any year level, making this a great tool for both remedial work and extension;

*Pricing is reasonable and scaled to reflect the level of access needed;

*Virtual 'stickers', 'prizes' and 'gold medals' are awarded as incentives.


Cons:

*The format of the questions is quite boring:

*If a student is getting a concept quite easily, it can feel like a lot of unnecessary work to get the reward at the end of each level;

*The 'Challenge Zone' questions at the end of each topic (the last 10% or thereabouts) are sometimes very easy and sometimes too challenging.


I use IXL as part of a toolkit for tracking student progress, rather than as a teaching tool, but it's great for practice and is ideal for home use.



2. Reading A-Z - www.readinga-z.com


This website offers English topics focused on reading, but not exclusively about reading (despite the name!). I use it to get a wide range of downloadable texts.


Pros:

*Thousands of downloadable leveled texts available (which can be printed or viewed online) and these are easily matched to other reading levels and reading age by using the conversion chart provided on the site;

*Wide range of reading topics covered including phonics, phonological awareness, alphabet, high frequency words, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary and graphic organisers;

*Writing, word work and reader's theatre all included as well;

*Wide range of subject matter in the texts provided, making this a great way to get high-interest texts for reluctant readers;



Cons:

*Topics are somewhat US-centric (which makes sense, as it's a US-based program) - though this isn't a huge issue and can be managed easily;

*Pricing reflects the product - around USD$120 for a year;


Reading A-Z is a great resource for reading support - consider it your own online, levelled library!.



3. Study.com - www.study.com


If your child has an exam on a specific subject, then Study.com may be a fantastic option. I activate and de-activate my account as needed when I am supporting a student in a topic for which I don't have other resources. Eg. Specific texts or movies. This website is particularly helpful for secondary students.


Pros:

*Wide range of content;

*Content written by experts:

*Video, audio, visual and written guides and assessments to support students;

*Monthly fee, so you can join for a short time and cancel the subscription once your child has finished learning about a topic;

*Access to everything as a member - so you can make the most of a month of membership by planning ahead and accessing resources for upcoming topics.


Cons:

*Cost: USD$59.99/month;

*Requires student to be motivated and organised to search for relevant materials.


Overall, I recommend Study.com if your student needs expert support in a certain topic. It is a great informational resource.


4. Flocabulary - Flocabulary.com


I love Flocabulary because my students love Flocabulary! The concept behind this website makes it unique - it has short rap videos about each topic and then offers a booklet of handouts to support the topic, along with online quizzes, games and extra resources. Flocabulary offers videos for all ages and across many subject areas, including Language Arts, Math, Science, Life Skills, Vocabulary and Current Events.


Pros:

*Fun and engaging - the videos are all short (less than five minutes each and often less than three minutes) and often contain humour;

*Comprehensive range of subjects covered;

*Fantastic supporting resources;

*Cost - only USD$96 for a year.


Cons: *Some topics are very US-centric (US history, US celebrities) and these won't be relevant to much of the Australian curriculum;

*US spelling - only really relevant for the spelling and vocabulary topics.


The tunes from Flocabulary are really catchy and I've become very familiar with them over the years. This is a resource I highly recommend if you're looking for ways to introduce or reinforce topics learnt at school, or if you're looking to expand your child's vocabulary.


5. Khan Academy - www.khanacademy.org


I'm possibly saving the best recommendation for last here. Khan Academy is a FREE resource that offers in-depth videos explaining concepts and the ability to track progress as you go. The mission behind this website really appeals to me - they just want to help everyone have access to high quality teaching learning materials. I use this resource for myself when I need to brush up on the best way to explain concepts. It's especially good for higher level maths, where mum or dad might not remember how to solve a problem!


Pros: *Free;

*Comprehensive;

*Materials created by experts;

*Progress can be tracked if you create a free account;

*Placement tests available to help identify areas needing extra focus.


Cons: There really aren't any cons here. It's a free website with high quality content!




Happy learning!

~Jane




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