Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
This summer my family has had the privilege of trying out the MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software to practice and improve our reading skills. All three of my boys ages 5, 8, and 10 have enjoyed using this versatile reading program at their own level. My kids and are are thrilled to share with you how we have used this program and how it has added to our homeschool this summer.
What is MaxScholar?
First of all, let’s talk about what the MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software actually is! This online licensed software is a reading intervention program for all students. It can be used for all students, non-readers to strong readers, at all ages. The software is divided into different programs. Therefore, you can easily give students access to the skill areas you want them to focus on. You will need a computer or tablet with access to the internet to use this program. Even though MaxScholar is a reading intervention program I find that the skills and practice it provides is an excellent resource to students at all reading levels.
MaxScholar is divided up into 7 different programs: MaxPhonics, MaxReading, MaxWords, MaxMusic, MaxVocab, MaxPlaces, and MaxBios. MaxPhonics is for beginning readers, or struggling non-readers that need to learn letters and sounds. The other programs provide reading practice, and instruction at all levels, and are great for students who need to work on increasing spelling, writing, and reading comprehension skills. Work and progress in all the programs in MaxScholar can be tracked through the MaxScholar Teacher Dashboard. Here you can easily see your student’s scores, give students access to certain programs and change students working level’s as needed.
If you have a beginning or struggling reader the best place to start is MaxPhonics. A diagnostic test can be completed at any time to see what your student knows and where they should start in the MaxPhonics program. For non-readers, or students who do not know all the letters and sounds, it starts off with basic orton-gillingham methods of learning letter sounds. Students, see and hear the letters, find and listen for words that start with the sounds, and trace to form the letters on you tablet or computer. An assessment to see if the student has mastered recognizing the letter and sound is completed after every letter. The students work at their pace not moving on until all sounds are mastered. As students progress, blends, digraphs and words are introduced.
Max Reading provides students practice with reading comprehension and writing skills. First of all, your student can take a diagnostic placement test in the MaxReading program. It will give them a recommended reading level of where they should start. This reading intervention program is very different from any other online reading software I have used. Many programs to support reading comprehension online give reading passages, and then multiple choice questions. This program goes far beyond that.
The program gives your students passages at their level determined by the diagnostic test. However if you prefer you may set the level in the teacher dashboard. The student chooses books and chapters that interest them at their level. They first are given focus vocabulary words to review. Then they are instructed to read the passage. Afterwards, students work on Main Idea, Topics, supporting details, and actually outline the passage that they read. After that, they are given a choice of a type of open-ended question to be given and then given several multiple choice questions to measure comprehension.
MaxWords and MaxVocab
MaxWords is excellent for students who are already reading and could use instruction and practice in spelling rules, root words, prefixes and suffixes. When a skill is chosen students are given instruction, sample words, and then practice forming and spelling words correctly. This could be an excellent tool for students of all ages to increase their ability to understand word formations, and to increase their spelling skills.
MaxVocab focuses on understanding the meaning and usage of words instead of spelling rules. In this section Students can choose to review and practice vocabulary words given in passages that they have read. A Dictionary is provided where they can find words listed by story. They can review definitions of the words and also how the word is used in a sentence. Students also have the option to play vocabulary games.
MaxMusic was a pleasant surprise in this reading intervention program. When you enter the MaxMusic software you can choose to play a game of select an artist. There are many popular artists and movies available and each of them have several songs to choose from. Song lyrics are provided for the student to read, and complete several activities with, like finding the verbs, and choosing the correct word to fill in the blank. This provides a fun way for students that enjoy music to practice reading and language arts skills. The games in MaxMusic are fun as well. One is a basic matching sounds game. The other is a rock band style game where students use the arrow keys to match the rhythm in the song.
MaxBios and MaxPlaces
The MaxBios and MaxPlaces programs offer very similar practice as the MaxReading program. MaxBios offers reading passages that are biographies of important people. Students practice vocabulary, reading comprehension skills, outlining and writing after reading the these biography passages. MaxPlaces is set up the same way except with the passages are about places around the world. The home screen for MaxPlaces is very inviting with a large world map. Students choose articles by clicking on a spot on the map. With these resources students are also learning geography and history while practicing their reading skills.
How we used Max Scholar for a Non-Reader
My 5 year old son is still learning letters and sounds. MaxScholar’s MaxPhonics program was a great fit for him. I skipped the diagnostic test for him and we started right at the beginning. Ethan enjoyed this program. He did well with how each letter was taught, then practiced the sounds. He is excited to learn to read and this program was just the right speed for him right now. Each letters lesson could be completed in 5 to 10 minutes, and therefore kept his focus.
There are also some Pre-K – K level practice in the MaxReading program that he has been able to do. These work on comprehenion by asking questions about a picture story. There are options to have all text read to the student so a young child, even a Beginning reader, like Ethan can practice reading comprehension skills independently. Ethan loves that he is doing the same program as his big brothers and learning to read with MaxScholar!
How we used MaxScholar for a Developing Reader
My 8 year old is a pretty good reader however we have been working more recently on his fluency and his writing. MaxScholar’s Reading program provides him with excellent practice for these skills. When we first started MaxScholar, Caleb was not a fan. However, I found out later that was my fault. I had assigned Caleb to do the diagnotic test for both MaxPhonics and MaxReading.
The MaxPhonics diagnostic test was incredibly long and went through each letter of the alphabet in detail. It was too easy for him and he got bored very quickly with it. I also did not feel it gave an accurate placement. After working through the diagnostic test for 45 minutes, Caleb made 2 errors and clicked the wrong answer on part of 2 different letters. Because of that MaxPhonics placed him starting back at the very beginning with basic letter recognition. This was much too easy for him. The great thing is that I was easily able to change his level to more advanced phonics practice in the MaxScholar Teacher Dashboard.
However, I decided that MaxReading was a much more appropriate program for him. The diagnostic test placed him accurately. MaxScholar is giving him great practice in reading comprehension and writing. It is also building fluency and vocabulary as he reads and sometimes listens to the passages. I also have enjoyed having Caleb practice spelling rules with MaxWords. The way the spelling rules section is setup is perfect for what he needs to be working on right now and will go along perfectly with our spelling curriculum.
How we used MaxScholar for a Strong Reader
My Oldest son Daniel is 10 and a strong reader. However, all students can continue to build comprehension skills, writing and word knowledge. The MaxReading diagnostic test placed him fairly accurately. Daniel really enjoyed the style of reading practice that MaxScholar provides. He enjoyed the passages, outlining, and writing practice. He was proud of the work he did and loved the immediate scores he received from MaxScholar after completing his work. Daniel will continue to enjoy the reading practice on all of MaxScholar’s programs this school year.
Overall, my boys and I have enjoyed our experience using MaxScholar and we look forward to continuing to use it in our homeschool. Many other reviewers from the Homeschool Review Crew had the chance to use Max Scholar’s Orton-Gillingham Software as well this summer. Click below to hear more about this program if it would be helpful for your family.