|REPORT CARD |
|Overall Rating:||4 Stars|
|Ease of Use:||A-|
Located online at: http://www.MyTeacherAssistant.com/.
Source: Sunburst Technology, 1550 Executive Drive, Elgin, IL 60123. Phone: 800/321-7511; Fax: 888/800-3028; Internet: http://www.sunburst.com/.
Access Fee: $100—annual subscription; $1,000—unlimited site license. School district pricing available.
Audience: K-12 teachers, students, and parents.
Format: Subscription Web site.
Minimum System Requirements: Computer with Internet access and Internet browser.
Description: My Teacher Assistant. com provides a technological classroom associate for the teacher. This product handles everything from assigning, creating, and grading quizzes to translating projects from English into Spanish. Virtual field trips, Internet activities, lesson plans, and puzzle libraries are among the countless resources available.
Access: The site is accessed through a password. Using AOL as the Internet browser, the program was accessed immediately with the password. When I went into the program using Mozilla Firefox as the browser, however, I could enter the program but couldn't read the opening page. The text was distorted. Access Rating: A-
Content/Features: MyTeacherAssistant.com offers more than 30,000 safe and organized online educational resources for the classroom and for parents. The curricular areas of math, science, social studies, and language arts are supported with an array of Web sites, lesson plans, and other materials to help create a rich learning environment.
This K-12 portal opens to an uncluttered interface. The user has the option of working with three file folders—Create Project, Classroom Resources, Resources and References. Each folder offers 7-9 features.
When the cursor is rolled over a folder, a brief description of its components appears. A complete annotated table of contents is accessed by clicking on the question mark following each component. A toolbar at the bottom of the screen allows access to student management and grading options.
The Create Project folder provides nine options, among them the creation of tests and quizzes from customizable templates and a database of content for math, science, social studies, and language arts.
Existing test questions and tests for Primary, Elementary, Middle School, and High School levels are accessible through a bank provided by Quickmind.net. Teachers can add questions; use graphics, graphs, tables, and charts; and create assessments in a few easy steps.
Crossword Maker and Word Search also provide word databases. The created puzzles can be completed on the computer or they can be printed. The puzzles can be banked in the program.
All of these components have a short tutorial accessible in the top navigation bar. If the tutorial doesn't provide enough information, a user manual with detailed instructions is available.
Web Hunt allows educators to create online research projects of 10 questions with a few suggested Web sites for research. Worksheet Generator provides existing or newly created drill and practice sheets; these can be created to address various state standards.
Presentation Builder leads the user through simple steps for making visual slide presentations. The Shapes for Math feature enables the online creation of geometric models. A variety of Geometry activities can be created and customized for use, both on the computer and on the printed page.
Web site Creator and Report Writer offer step-by-step instructions for their functions. The steps are clear and easy to follow for tools that cover graphics, painting, drawing, and word processing.
The Classroom Resources folder features seven options, including a selection of fonts (some of which are correlated to handwriting exercises), an array of certificates that can be customized and printed, a worksheet library, and Web forms.
The Forms option provides a collection of fill-in-the-blank templates such as notes home, lesson planning forms, field trip permission slips, and many more. Smart Art offers a vast collection of graphics. States allows research and fast facts on all 50 states and also provides links to state resources, Web links, and even specific state graphics.
The 101 Internet Activities feature links to Web-based projects organized by subject area and grade level. In this area, I selected Science and Middle Grades and found access to a sidebar of topics. When I chose the topic of Whales, a description page appeared that included the lesson objective, a Web link, and some teaching tips.
The Activity tab presented a student worksheet with three suggested Web sites to be used in the completion of the worksheet. All of the activities were primarily in the same format; they could be used on the computer or printed.
The Resources and References folder provides access to the standard materials: encyclopedias, dictionaries, a newsroom (including newspapers, magazines, and electronic media), maps and globes, and worldwide museums. All of these areas have keyword search capabilities, tutorials, and user manual instructions.
The Yellow Pages option offers 2,000 Web sites organized by grade and curriculum. This area can be searched by topic or through the use of an index. A user can also add links into this segment.
Professional Development guides educators through lessons and the use of a variety of products including Inspiration, Kid Pix, Word, and HyperStudio. The material here can be used as a self-tutorial or a classroom lesson. Tips and complete manuals of instruction for Windows XP and Office XP are also included.
Resources for Parents suggests and links to Web sites with information on specific issues such as learning disabilities, college financing, career support, homework help, and general family sites. This feature is also available in Spanish. Content/Features Rating: A
Ease of Use: My Teacher Assistant.com is a very easy portal to use. It has a clean interface and intuitive buttons with annotated rollovers. The user has a very quick (and small) learning curve.
The directions in the users' manual and the tutorials are clear and concise. The suggested links for activities and for research are not overwhelming.
Each activity offers three focused Web sites. As an example: the sites suggested when researching Colonial Life were informative, easy to use, and exactly what the annotation described.
The student management portions of the program are provided through another Sunburst product, QuickMind.net. At the time of this review, Help was not available at the management window and some of the functions were not operational.
It was helpful to have a blinking "Loading" indicator while the various databases were loading. Ease of Use Rating: A-
Product Support: Support is available through Sunburst Technology. The Technical Support Team is available Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., Central time. Support is offered with a toll free telephone number (800/338-3457, ext. 2800) and e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). Online tech support can be found at http://www.sunburst.com/support/techsupport/search.cfm/. Product Support Rating: A
Recommendation: My Teacher Assistant.com offers an easy, organized resource for teachers. This product provides access to a wealth of standards-based curriculum, interactive homework assignments, project templates, tools, lesson plans, reference materials, and online professional development.
One of the main benefits of this portal is its ease of use. The tutorials, on-screen users' manuals, and the intuitive site design provide straightforward access to extensive lesson planning, homework, and assessment resources at school, home, or anywhere that K-12 teachers and students have an Internet connection.
This modestly priced service is a very good purchase for the less experienced Internet user, the teacher who wants to develop rich Internet lessons without hours of surfing for appropriate sites, and for students and parents who need fast and easy resources.
Reviewer: Alice Kurtz, 5/6 grade teacher, Irving B. Weber School, 3850 Rohret Road, Iowa City, IA 52246; 319/688-1170; Kurtz.Alice@iccsd.k12.ia.us.