Monday, March 9, 2015

Visual Learning Systems

I was privileged to review an amazing online science curriculum by Visual Learning Systems. There are two levels available, Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (6-12).

This online program utilizes videos, images, and animations to teach the numerous chapters of study in their program. 

The Elementary Edition contains studies in:
  • Physical Science
  • Life Science
  • Earth Science
  • Integrated Science
The Secondary Edition contains studies in:
  • Physical Science
  • Life Science
  • Earth Science
  • Integrated Science
  • Health
  • Biology
Each chapter has downloadable teacher's guides, as well as student printables. The student printable section contains both pre and post assessments, as well as worksheets for each chapter. 

The Teacher Guide contains: 
  • National Standards Correlations
  • Learning objectives
  • Assessment explanations
  • Video introductions and suggestions
  • Video scripts
  • Answer keys
Each chapter is broken down into one to three minute video segments. I really, really like this set-up. Often times when a student is presented with a whole chapter, whether it be in a book or long video, it is so overwhelming. When broken down into smaller segments, the material does not seem so overwhelming and daunting. The breakdowns are extremely helpful when going back to find an answer to a question. I always think of the analogy, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

My 3rd grader loves animals, so it was a no brainer when she began with the animal related chapters. She began with the chapter entitled, Animal Classification, in the Life Science section. This particular chapter of study is actually targeted for middle school, but my daughter was able to complete this chapter with minimal help. She was very excited when she was able to answer all of the questions in the post chapter quiz. As she completed the worksheets and she came across an answer she was unsure of it was easy for her to go directly to the video segment in order to get the correct answer. She loved the videos and eagerly completed the worksheets for the chapter. My daughter has eagerly completed many of the sections in the elementary level, as well as some in the secondary level. She looks forward to using this program every day. As a mother and teacher I am always excited when one of my children has such an insatiable desire to learn. 

My 1st grader also wanted to learn about animals so we started in the life section with, What is an Insect?. My daughter enjoyed the videos and they kept her attention. Since a lot of the vocabulary was above her level of current understanding she stopped the videos many times to ask what something meant. I was excited that she really wanted to understand the material that she was viewing. She listening intently and could easily pick up where she stopped. For the most part, she utilized the video sections of this curriculum. She willingly sat and watched many of the videos. I was pleased knowing that she was learning a lot from just watching. 

My 6th grader tackled Life Science for Middle School. My daughter is more of a visual learner when it comes to science, so this program was definitely a perfect fit for her. She completed the first chapter, Bones and Muscles, in two days. I have been struggling to find the perfect science curriculum for my daughter and I think I have found it!!

Overall thoughts
The website itself has a very basic look without much visual appeal. The layout could be cleaner to enhance navigating the site easier. These observations are minor and inconsequential in that they have nothing to do with the overall content which is amazing. The curriculum is secular based so I did discuss with my children how our creation theory beliefs did not line up with everything said in the videos. With regard to the content, I am very pleased with what is offered and I would highly recommend this science curriculum to my friends, fellow homeschoolers, and educators. I am impressed by their excellent customer support. I had several questions as I navigated the site. When I called customer support, my questions were thoroughly answered. This is definitely a huge perk. I will continue to implement this curriculum for my children as it is the PERFECT fit for our family. 

You can find Visual Learning Systems on Facebook and Twitter.

To read more reviews click HERE.

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