Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Samson’s Classroom Gets An A+ {Review}

 

Samson’s Classroom is a set of three online programs that help support reading and spelling skills for grades K – 5.  It involves three core programs:  sight word recognition, spelling, and reading comprehension. We review a Family membership, which allows four students access to the program for a year for $50. A single user account (called a Home Account) is $30.

Setting up the program is very easy. There are some quick videos to watch if you have question on how the programs works, too.  Luke and Levi have their own accounts, plus I have one as the teacher/parent. With my account I can log in and see their progress and scores on any of the tasks. I can even add my own spelling words to the Spelling with Samson program. There are already 5,000 words in their database and although I’ve added a few words that weren’t in there, there is an option to request them for future upgrades (since there is a voice that spells each words and uses each word in a sentence, I imagine it will take a bit of time to have them added).  Your child can chose which activities they play each time they log on.

In Sight Words, there are 5 activities for each of the sets of words: 

  1. Study mode, where each word is spelled for the student;
  2. Missing Letters – where the student picks letter tiles from a small set to spell each word;
  3. Letter Scramble – where the student selects the correct word
  4. Spell Words – the child spells the word with letter tiles
  5. Missing Words – the child selects the word to complete a sentence.  I am glad that visually confusing words (like “cee” and for “see”) are used to really make the student work!

My boys love the Sight Word section of Samson’s Classroom. The theme is karate, and the boys earn colored belts as they complete reading and spelling tasks using 224 sight words.  This was the first section Luke completed when we first started the review.  He loved working to get his karate belts.  Here’s a screen shot of his Black Belt:

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In Spelling, the student works on four activities to stretch skills.  I would say that Samson’s goal with these tasks is to help kids spell every word right in a timely manner:

  1. Study Zone – the student clicks on each word and it is used in a sentence and spelled aloud.  The boys just listen to this part.
  2. Missing Letters – students hear a sentence, then find the set of missing letters to correctly spell the target word (this is one of the boys most favorite games because of the karate) : samson spelling missing letters
  3. Spelling Scramble – students first collect letters and then use them to spell the target words.  This was a hard game to learn (even for me) because you can only control Samson with the arrow keys, and the little spider is fast!  Initially, Levi figured out that if he let the spider catch him, after a short 5 sec or so “time out",” the spider disappeared and he could steer Samson to all the letters:Capture
  4. Crunch Time – students spell the target words … and speed counts!  I will admit, that this is a hard task with the first try of giving the student about 5 seconds to spell the word correctly.  More time is given if the student cannot spell the word before a walrus comes and starts eating the iceberg your character is standing on.  Here’s a picture of the walrus right after he took one-third of the iceberg away:

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I will say that this is the hardest task on Samson for my Luke.  Speed + Spelling = tears.  However, he has shown me that he can get 100% on this task, but it takes some practice and concentration.  When Luke achieves success on this, he is all smiles, and I know it boosts his confidence in his hardest subject!!

Reading with Samson has four levels of reading. The student can select any level they wish and read the passage (both fiction and non-fiction content is offered).  I was impressed with the variety of questions asked about a passage – factual as well as word meanings, author purpose, and some simple inferential questions.  If a student gets a question wrong the first time, they get a second try.  The split screen allows the student to look back at the passage for details they might need:

samson reading passage

As your child reads successfully, they earn tokens to play an arcade game called Hammer Time:

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I do like all the parental reports that are provided.  Here’s what Luke’s reading stats look like:

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With a quick glance I can see that green stats mean he did well, and red means he missed some answers.  This red/green code is used to report scores with all Samson’s programs.   The kids see red/greed dots on their sign in screens so they can track their progress:

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My recommendations & thoughts:  My boys are really enjoying Samson’s classroom, and I am really appreciating that the boys are getting an extra dose of spelling and reading during their day.  I know the Spelling component is really challenging Luke right now, and I think this is really, really good for him.  No, I do not like that he cries about it (the crying has lessened so much over the review period, I should add), but I do like that he is having to focus, concentrate and work at learning. This is just what he needs right now.

I should mention that there are some printable resources you can download and use as well (worksheets and games), but we haven’t used any of them.

Early on during our review period, I had a question and spoke with an engineer at Samson’s Classroom.  He was so nice and interested in what I had to say about the game.  I really got the sense that the developers of this game are constantly trying to improve their product and offer something that is of high quality.  With Samson being web-based, at least I know that the program is always up to date!

To read what other Crew moms thought of Samson’s Classroom, please click on the banner below:

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Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

1 comment:

jzweig said...

Hi Alane!
Thank you so much for the great review. I just wanted to stop in and let you know that we have made a major improvement to the spider game in Spelling with Samson. We have changed the controls for how Samson runs and we have been shocked by the amount of positive feed back that has come in about it! That's why we pay so much attention to our customers :p You guys really know what you're talking about! haha. Thanks for including the constructive feed back so we can continue to make Samson's Classroom even better!