Monday, September 10, 2012

Scholaric Review and Giveaway

By nature I am a researcher and a planner. You know the kind that has 14 charts laid out for K-8 based on different scenarios? It is innate, and it's a sickness! Last year I discovered digital planning and was hooked. I used HST+ and was for the most part happy. However, this year my dear husband upgraded to an iPad 3, leaving me the proud owner of an iPad 2! Fantastic! However, as that little screen became an extension of my body I knew since I could barely sleep without it I would never be able to plan without it. That brought me to my summer of digital planning horror. Oh let's not talk about all the money spent on planners this summer! I had already tried out many planners last year: Homeschool Tracker + (which is what we settled on last year), Skedtrack (oh how I wanted to love a free online planner!), Scholaric, EduTrack. So many options!

This year I had new criteria. #1: easy to use and #2: able to use it on the iPad. After scouring the internet for online planner options I pretty much narrowed it down to HST online, Well Planned Day, and Scholaric. I hemmed and hawed about WPD Software as the reviews of the Beta program were less than stellar. I tried HST+ but didn't have a whole lot of time to play with it for the purchased month. I do hate to pay for trials. However $7 verse the $40/$65 to try WPD has something to say for it. I finally decided to try Scholaric again.

When I tried it a year ago it just didn't have all the features I needed to make it a good fit. I was pleasantly surprised with the major upgrades done this year. I began to think this might work. But, decisions are hard in my homeschool world and just like in curriculum I wouldn't want to sell myself short if there is something "better" out there!

So, I broke down and ordered WPD software. Ugh. epic fail. I have no doubt it will be a great resource one day, but it fell far below my expectations and needs NOW. I decided to go back and try Scholaric while WPD got working on the program. I started inputting plans into Scholaric and was amazed at how easy it was. However, being the compulsive indecisive I am I decided to give HST online one more shot before I "committed."  (I also still owned WPD and occasionally returned to the software to check progress). I told you. It's a sickness.

At first there were several features Scholaric did not have that I thought would make me decide on HST online. For one, I loved the idea of putting all my lesson plans in over the summer and then assigning them as I got to them. Well, as I tried out HST online (for the second time), I realized that it took just as long to assign my already done lesson plans as it did to create the lesson plan in Scholaric. Second, I like the idea of being able to re-suse lesson plans for subsequent children. This is still on my Scholaric wish list, but not important enough for my current needs to be a deal breaker.

This year, my goals are different for homeschooling and I wanted a planner that would help me meet my goals. I am seeking to be more relationship oriented instead of task oriented: Scholaric is so flexible, so easy to bump and move assignments forward and back, delete and create new. So easy to use! Scholaric is helping me enjoy my kids and our homeschool this year. It certainly is planning made easy!




Why I love Scholaric:


  • Scholaric is an online planner, no software to download, easy access on any computer or mobile device that has internet.  
  • Set up is so easy! It is easy to input students, set grading periods, set up courses, set default schedules for those courses, and schedule vacations and days off. Here is a screenshot of my dashboard set up with my 2 school age children. 



  • You can easily track goals such as # of hours, lessons, or my preferred method, days. The default is hours and to change that you just go to goal tracking, click on the little arrow by "total hours" and rename it whatever you want to track. I renamed it "Total Days." Then to the right under the star click measure hours and select how you want to track. 

  • Lesson planning is so easy! You can schedule as simply or as complexly as you would like. I tend to keep it pretty simple on my planner as I use a lot of open and go curriculum and keep detailed plans for each subject such as history that is not open and go. I don't feel the need to input everything from a curriculum when I have a TM so I tend to go with Lesson 1-? when applicable such as Right Start Math or First Language Lessons. For subjects like Writing with Ease, Elemental Science, or Biblioplan that are based on a week/day schedule I schedule it like Week 1 Day 1, Week 1 Day 2, etc. There have been some recent upgrades in this area and you can now do even more complex scheduling, making it possible to assign a book by pages per day and repeating chapter sequences. I am really excited about all the new options! 
Screenshot for a regular repeating lesson plan: 




Screenshot for a 2 part incremental lessons:

Here is a screenshot for a week of lessons for my second grader:


  • If you make a mistake or want to delete, you can delete just one lesson or have the option of deleting the entire series. 




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  • Bumping is so easy! I scheduled known days off and vacations ahead of time so Scholaric skips those days when scheduling. However, plans are just that, and they often change. I love how easy it is to bump earlier and later if we get to more or less than we intended. If you bump a lesson, all the lessons in front of it move as well. You can also just drag the lesson to the new day if you want everything else to remain the same and simply double up one day.
  •  
  •  Another favorite feature is Sharing. We do Bible, science, history, and Spanish together so I can create one lesson plan and "share" it so it shows up on both E and C's calendar. 
  • Printout/Reports. You can print either the calendar view or a list. You can choose to print it weekly by subject, weekly by day, or just a daily list.


  • Marking complete. I love that if you want, you can mark an entire day as complete. I despised getting to the end of a week or even 2 weeks last year realizing I had not marked lessons as complete and having to do each individual lesson. Now it is so easy!

  •  Scholaric customer service: Jeff, the developer is amazing. He responds promptly and is so helpful. It is so great as a homeschool mom to have a question and know it will get answered. Also, he is great about getting feedback and is continually improving Scholaric.  I have found the Scholaric blog so helpful! 
  • Price. Scholaric is ridiculously affordable at $1/per child per month. Less than half the price of other online planners! (You can sign up for a 15 day free trial at http://www.scholaric.com/ )




My  Scholaric Wish List:
Scholaric is improving quickly and I am thrilled with how far they have come. However, there are a few things that would make it perfect.
  • I would love to be able to send books read to a reading log.
  • I would love to be able to split a book by pages across a certain number of days (the new splitting feature sort of does this if you know how many pages you want per day).
  • I would love to be able to put curriculum in as resources. (Though one way I thought to get around this is to have History as a subject and each resource as a "course" So history is your subject and Story of the World might be a course, SOTW Activity guide another course, Usborne Encyclopedia of World History another course, and maybe literature another. allowing you to just put in page numbers as a lesson plan.) 
  • I would like to be able to bump an entire day (unexpected sick days or field trips). 
  • I would like the "share" feature to be fully linked so that when I edit a lesson or bump it, it would apply to all kids with that lesson plan. 
  • I would like to be able to share lesson plans. Both from year to year or person to person. 
No planner like curriculum is perfect. It is all about finding the one that best meets your needs. And Oh Ode to the planner that fits ME! Just like when a curriculum "clicks," I hear the applause in my homeschool planning heart when a planner fits and actually makes planning easier and most importantly achievable! 

Now for the fun part! Scholaric is giving away 6 free months! (valued up to $30) To participate in the giveaway leave a comment to be entered and then do as many of the others as you want for additional entries. You can have up to 9 entries! 

1. Leave a comment. It is as simple as that!
2. Follow the One Magnificent Obsession blog.
3. Like One Magnificent Obsession on Facebook
4. Like Scholaric on Facebook
5. Follow Scholaric's blog
6. Share this blog post on your blog
7. Share this blog post/giveaway on twitter, facebook, and/or a homeschool forum (one entry each!)



Comment once for each of the above you do and I will draw a winner on September 17th. 




23 comments:

  1. This is one of the planners I was looking into purchasing! Thanks for the review- it was very helpful (especially the pictures!).

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  2. I'm interested in trying it, thanks for the review.

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  3. I just started using it this year as well. It's our first year homeschooling and scholaric fills all my needs planning-wise as we "stumble" through the homeschool process as a newbie. ;) I am impressed by their continual updating. It shows me that they're in the biz for their customers, not just the "bottom line."

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  4. I like Scholaric on FB (that's how I found out about your blog contest!). I am Laura Hart on FB.

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  5. I went ahead and signed up for their blog updates via email as well. Thank you!!

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  6. Love, love, LOVE Scholaric!! (I'd been meaning to tell you...) I used, scratch that, TRIED to used, Skedtrack last year. I, too, wanted to love a free online planner. It was not user-friendly. I spent more time trying to enter stuff, bump stuff, "approve" stuff...it was ridiculous. I did the free Scholaric trial and, in my opinion, it is perfect...simple, easy, quick. I am not a "planner" by nature, and this program allows me to be one. I absolutely love it! Thanks for recommending!!!

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  7. I have never use a computer planner. I am still in the dark ages. I am still using pen and paper. Thanks for all the info.

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  8. Absolutely love your blog and am a follower of course ;)

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  9. Oh my, obsess away; because as an "attention to details" person, you are saving me hours of work and research! This post comes in the nick of time for me as I was looking to modernising my Microsoft Notebook method of lesson planning to make us more mobile and flexible. Thanks so much. I am also wanting to be more values based this year, less curriculum based and more active learning - will this planner help or hinder do you think?? Not wanting to get into the ticking of boxes rut, but do need a schedule of sorts!! Sue

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  10. Would love to try this out. Thanks for the great review!

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  11. I liked Scholaric's page on Facebook.

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  12. Shared this post on my Facebook timeline.

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  13. I Like One Magnificent Obsession on Facebook

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  14. I shared on Twitter. https://twitter.com/SaraMomofmany/status/247557374276153344

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  15. I want to win this. Would love to use this planner

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  16. I want to win this. Would love to use this planner

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  17. I am trying WPD as well, but I am not satisfied. I would love to try this.

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