Sunday, June 12, 2005

Curriculum Talk - Critical Thinking Press/Bright Minds

Over the summer I like to do a lot of stuff on the computer and through games. It makes the kids feel slightly better about the year round stuff. This year I'm going to purchase Punctuation Puzzlers CD's from Bright Minds. I am a Bright Minds distributor to be able to buy the products for my children a little bit cheaper. I'm lucky if I do two parties a year and those usually consist of a group of us ordering over coffee. Okay, I'm never going to make a living off commission. So far I've been very pleased with the Bright Minds/Critical Thinking Press (CTP) software. It is not high tech, but it is really well done. We have Reading Detective and Math Detective. These softwares make reports for the parent/teacher that analyzes the types of errors your child makes in the work. I find this to be really helpful. I can figure out the weak points and go back and address them. For instance, if your child misses all the questions posed a certain way, let's say for example, true - false. Then you can go back and give a lesson on how to take a true/false test. It also analyzes the errors on different subjects. For instance, if your child misses all the probability questions in Math Detective or mood questions in Reading Detective then you know what you need to remediate. I find these programs to be really helpful in pointing out the weaknesses in my children's skills.
Editor in Chief is another great piece of software. This is way, way low tech. There is a paragraph with a picture and a caption just like in the book version. It tells the reader how many mistakes there are. The reader/student then not only has to find the mistake, but use a drop down box and find the exact rule that applies. You have to know if it is a mistake of misusing a pronoun (objective, nominative), verb tense, wrong word, etc. It does take some getting used to figuring out where some of the rules are in the little drop down boxes. Usually finding an error that sounds wrong is easy, sometimes fixing it is easy, but identifying why something is incorrect takes it to a whole new level of difficulty.
Here is a link to some demo's to download. I've been really pleased with all the software. This stuff is not super easy and you may have to sit with your child at the computer to get the full benefit of the software. I think this is especially true of Editor in Chief. If you're looking for something a little bit fun with a lot of learning, you just might find it with the Critical Thinking Software. If you have any questions about the software, drop me a line. I own all but the new ones and I'm putting in an order this week for most of those.

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