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StudySync

By Sally Finley - Posted Sep 1, 2012
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Company: BookheadEd Learning, LLC, 610 Daniel Young Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476, (888) 938-3880, www.studysync.com

Price: StudySync is available as a 1-year or multiple-year subscription. A single teacher subscription is $175 per teacher for up to three classes. Contact StudySync for information on buildingwide and district subscriptions. A 60-day trial is available to any interested teacher.

Audience: The texts in the StudySync library are suitable for a variety of readers including high school, middle school, and college-level audiences.

Format: StudySync is a web-based subscription service.

System Requirements: If you use Internet Explorer, you will need version 7 or higher. StudySync is compatible with Firefox 2+, Safari 3+, and Chrome. The video on StudySync requires Adobe Flash 10+ for all desktop/laptop browsers.

Description: StudySync is a web-based program of more than 350 classic and contemporary text excerpts from novels. The program is designed to build reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. Texts are tied to common core standards.

REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:5 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A+
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: StudySync can be accessed over the internet at home, in a classroom, in a library, or in a computer lab using a computer or an iPad. Access is easy and quick; it requires an email address and a password. In­stallation/Access Rating: A

Content/Features: The StudySync library contains more than 350 classic and contemporary texts that can be located by title or subject area. By rolling over the title, users can see a brief selection of the text. Currently, the texts in the library are excerpts from the original book. Future plans include full-book versions.

Lesson plans are available for excerpts or the entire book. Included are extensions that can be used with advanced learners.

A homepage allows site navigation to any part of StudySync by clicking on an image or by using the navigation bar across the top of the screen. By clicking on the assignment tab, the user can view all incomplete assignments. The assignments are viewed in a carousel format.

SyncTV lessons accompany some of the texts to give students the opportunity to view real-life students analyzing and discussing selected texts. The format for each SyncTV episode is the same. These steps include watching a preview, reading the text, watching a SyncTV episode, responding to prewriting Think questions, and then writing an essay.

There are prewriting and writing features of the program. In prewriting, three prewriting action steps guide the student through the process. Clicking on Write the Essay takes the student to a screen that includes a writing prompt assigned by the teacher as well as an area to compose the essay. Teachers can use the prompts provided or write their own. Students save their work in a Binder that includes all assignments, essays, and reviews.

Students have the ability to write their own reviews of peer writing. Each review is anonymous. Reviews are stored in a library. Rubrics provide specific instructions for writing the review. Teachers can create their own rubric or use the ones provided.

Once an assignment has been completed, students can review the work of their peers and write a review using a rubric. The rubric guides them through the review and helps students rate the peer essay. The student who wrote the essay has access to each review. Reviews are completed on an anonymous basis.

As they read, students can annotate the texts and include their own notes in a pop-up text box. Teachers can also add their own notes to the reading for student clarification.

An audio feature allows the student to listen to the text. This is especially useful for those who have strong auditory skills or for English-language learning students. Videos offer a closed-caption option.

A management system provides teachers with instant access for reviewing student progress through a homepage. The Student Tab shows when students last logged on, their assignments, completion dates, and review data. Teachers can provide students with feedback and assign a grade. The Assign Tab gives the teacher a report. By requesting a communication key through email, teachers can communicate with other educators around the idea to network and share ideas.

StudySync Blasts is a public site that allows teachers to access and assign weekly Blasts about topics of historical, political, or cultural significance. Students send short, thoughtful responses to topical questions and participate in a poll. Once completed, students can review and rate Blasts submitted by others in their community. Blasts can be sent directly to a student cellphone or PDA with teacher approval. Assigned Blasts will appear on the student’s Blast screen. Content/Features Rating: A+

Ease of Use: StudySync requires access to a computer and a browser. The videos will play on most mobile devices, including Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: A 30-minute webinar is available for new users. I highly recommend using this service because it provides an excellent overview of the product. The webinar is fast and free and will help teachers learn how to engage their students in new and innovative ways. A Help Center includes an inquiry form that can be mailed for assistance. An FAQ provides answers to commonly asked questions. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: Today’s teacher is challenged with the task of finding ways to use modern technology to engage students. StudySync is the perfect means to tackle this challenge because it uses mobile technology, social learning, visuals, and broadcast-quality video lessons. More than 350 texts are included in the Library, and more are being added. This is an excellent program to encourage reading.

My favorite part is the SyncTV episodes featuring teens analyzing and discussing a selected text. This feature would be an excellent way to build student skills in learning how to critique and analyze a text passage through peer collaboration. Making learning fun is the role of the teacher, and StudySync is a great way to bring engaging activities to the student. A major advantage of a technology such as StudySync is that it offers the child who seldom participates in class a way to engage at a safe distance.

StudySync is an excellent tool to assure that students are using critical thinking skills and working on real-life problems. Technology gives them access to the real world.

Teachers will find StudySync easy to use. With just a few clicks, they can design their own rubrics and assignments using prepared templates that guide them through the process. The Student Binder stores all student work in one place, helping the student and teacher evaluate progress.

The Blasts are a powerful tool to engage students in timely topics. Sent once a week, they focus on high-interest topics of cultural significance and offer reading and writing opportunities. Topics are archived in their own galleries for reference.

StudySync is a great way to challenge students and get them interested in reading and writing. I highly recommend it for any literature or social sciences classroom. Highly Recommended.

Reviewer: Sally Finley, educational consultant, Coral Springs, Fla.; sallyfinley1@yahoo.com.


 
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