AJ learns better if she doesn’t have to read about a subject. She can read all about science or history in a book and the information may or may not click. If she can see the information or interact with it in some way it brings learning to life. We were contacted by Standard Deviants Accelerate to do a review, and after looking into their product, I thought it would be a great fit for us.
What is Standard Deviants Accelerate?
Standard Deviants Accelerate is an online learning system for select subjects for grades 3 to 12. Videos explain/teach the information and then follow up activities are completed online. Currently the subjects offered include the following.
- Arithmetic Grades 3+
- Fundamental Math Grades 4+
- Algebra Grades 7+
- Earth Science Grades 6+
- Biology Grades 7+
- Chemistry Grades 9+
- US History Grades 9+
- English Composition Grades 9+
- Nutrition Grades 6+
- AP Biology Grades 11+
- AP Chemistry Grades 11+
- AP US History Grades 11+
- AP American Govt. Grades 11+
- AP English Composition Grades 11+
The AP classes are only 1 chapter long and while they don’t exactly teach all of the information you need to pass the AP test, they teach how to take the test and then some important information. Topics covered include when you should guess at an answer, what to expect on the test, test taking strategies in general, and the topics you need to know. There is some material covered, but just an overview of the topics.
The regular classes are broken into chapters. Most of them have the same structure; a chapter introduction, between three to five lessons on the topics, and then a chapter review. Within each lesson the activities also follow a similar structure.
Each lesson starts off with a video. Next to the video there is a copy of the video transcript where you can follow along if you want. Under the video there is a place to take notes on the video. You can even copy and paste information from the transcript directly into your notes.
After the video there may be vocabulary. This is simply a screen that lists any new vocabulary from the lesson along with the definitions. The words are clickable, and once they are clicked the word and definition are read to you. Some lessons do not contain a vocabulary section.
The next section is the diagram. In this section there may be a list, a matching activity, or a picture where you need to label the parts. There is a word bank at the bottom and the correct answer will stick once it is put in the correct place.
Next comes the quiz. The quizzes are about five questions long and are multiple choice. Once the quiz is submitted it is automatically graded and any incorrect answers have a link to the section in the video that explains the correct answer.
The final section is the written answer. In this section they are asked a few questions about the “big question” that they are thinking about throughout the chapter. The answers are typed in and the submitted to the teacher (you) for review.
You can purchase each class based on your needs. There is a monthly or yearly subscription option. It is accessible 24/7 on your computer, laptop, iPad, or any device with an internet connection.
How we used it
AJ is in 6th grade so unfortunately there were not many classes for her age. We had a choice of Earth Science, Nutrition, Arithmetic, and Fundamental Math. We could have also tried the Algebra or Biology that is for grades 7 and up. She was really beyond most of the chapters in Arithmetic, and Fundamental Math had a few topics she hasn’t mastered. I gave her the choice on which math to use and she wanted to try Algebra.
We used algebra as a supplement to her current math program. She hasn’t ever had any algebra prior to this course and while she enjoyed it and learned a lot, she was not quite ready for it. My plan is to go back over some of the things she needs to work on in Fundamental Math and then try the Algebra course again. In my opinion this course would be a great supplement for an algebra course or even a remedial class for someone who needed more information. It wasn’t a good fit for someone who was just learning about algebra. There simply wasn’t enough practice and the pace was too fast. The explanations provided in the video were wonderful but they only showed how to do a few problems and then it was off to the activities and quiz. I saw no retention, and when she was asked to do a problem that was similar to the video she couldn’t figure it out. On the other hand she did learn a lot of vocabulary that I think will help when we do get to algebra later on.
We used the chapter on Mountains, Volcanoes, and Earthquakes to finish out our study on geology. This is a secular program so it does refer to millions of years, (and there is a section on evolution in Biology) but I am ok with that. The fact is that a lot of people believe differently from us, so before we try any new science or history AJ and I always talk about our beliefs and why we believe that way. She learned a lot of information from the videos. Some of it was a review of things we had learned earlier in the year, but most was new information. It was great to see the science explained visually. She seemed to retain it and enjoyed watching the videos. I think the main downfall for the science section was the lack of experiments. It is wonderful to see things explained but hands on learning is a lot of fun too. She ended up watching a lot more of the videos just for fun.
What we liked
- I love the idea of Standard Deviants Accelerate. The student logs on and there is little involvement needed from the teacher.
- The videos had a “Bill Nye the Science Guy” feel to them. They are kind of corny, funny, and full of information. I didn’t care for them at first, but they grew on me. AJ loved them from the start and was laughing and learning at the same time.
- There is a lot of information covered in each video, and taking notes is encouraged.
- One of AJ’s favorite parts was that there is no physical writing, everything is done on the computer.
- The lessons are fairly short, an entire lesson usually took about 45 minutes. They can even be broken up into shorter sections if you want.
- There was a big focus of vocabulary – something we often struggle with.
- Your work can be saved in your locker and you can go over it at another time when you want to study. It can also be printed out.
- The final chapter review takes questions that you originally answered incorrectly and asks them again. I love this because if you got it wrong the first time you were suppose to watch that part of the video again and you should be able to get the right answer now.
What we didn’t care for
- I didn’t like that all of the answers were multiple choice. I think that on the quizzes it would have been nice to have some fill in the blank or matching questions as well. Often some of the choices on the quizzes were obviously incorrect.
- We didn’t care for the writing section of the chapters at all. We honestly just skipped it. The idea of thinking about a main idea throughout the chapter is good, but we felt discussing the main idea was more than sufficient.
- There isn’t enough practice in the math sections.
- There were no hands on learning opportunities.
Overall we enjoyed Standard Deviants Accelerate! I plan to have AJ continue to use it to supplement our current courses. If you have a student that learns well visually this may be the answer for you! They are currently offering a free two month trial, so check it out.