Odyssey Writer
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Thread: Odyssey Writer

  1. #1
    Tracylhl is offline Junior Member
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    Default Odyssey Writer

    I have spent hours now trying to figure out how to get my kids started on the 4th grade "Idioms" independent assignment in Odyssey Writer. I would expect that my children would be able to do this independently and yet I can't figure out how to work the horrible program myself! I've called the customer service number and they sent me a sheet of instructions that does not address the issue. I'm becoming very frustrated with the issues I've had and this is the most current one. And most them, customer service ladies say to just skip the assignment, which tells me that they don't know how to fix them either! Can someone PLEASE explain how my kids can read the instructions, cut and paste the paragraphs into a new document so that they can underline and correct as necessary?

  2. #2
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    Hi. I feel your pain. As I've said to Support, Odyssey Writer is the nemesis of parents and students alike. Because Time 4 Learning leases the curriculum from Compass, they cannot do anything to change the program provided.

    I don't know if this will help you, but I thought I'd share how we do those assignments. Since Odyssey Writer assignments do not get graded by T4L, my son and I have been using a workaround. He does the actual assignment in Word and "hands it in" to me via email attachment. Once he has saved his Word doc, he pastes the instructions provided into Odyssey Writer (there is a button to click in the bottom left corner of the instructions to paste them into the draft page), then clicks the button to hand it in in order to be credited for the time he spends on the assignment in the reports.

    Leigh Ann

  3. #3
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    hearthstone_academy is offline Administrator
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    We haven't had any problems with Odyssey Writer . . . once we finally figured out how to use it.

    The first thing your student should do when the writer pops up is click the little icon at the lower, right corner of the instruction box that looks like two pieces of paper with an arrow between them. This pastes the instructions and any pages into the work area of the writer. It will also allow you (the parent) to see what the instructions were when you grade these.

    This will likely result in several pages in the writer document. To navigate between the pages, your student (or you, if you are grading) needs to click the little number icons at the lower, right of the document. The number with the green circle around it will be the page you are currently on.

    If he needs to underline something, all he needs to do is highlight that part and click the underline icon in the toolbar. The toolbar is at the top of the work area. The underline icon looks like a letter "U" with an underline beneath it. Clicking that icon underlines any text highlighted in the work area.

    You can see what any of the icons do by just hovering over them with your cursor and not clicking. If the action isn't available for the assignment you are on, that icon will be greyed out.

    To answer a question or type an answer in a space, just click where you want the answer to appear and type as usual.

    When finished with the assignment, your child clicks the "Hand In" icon. It's the one that looks like a hand holding an index card at the top, right. (I'm sure it's supposed to look like a piece of paper, but it reminds me of an index card. ) Choose ANY of the fictitious teachers. This does not actually hand the assignment in to anyone. It simply marks it as complete and causes it to show up as a link in your student's reports in your parent admin. In an attempt to make this clearer, T4L has set up a "teacher" called "Assignment to Parent Administration Page". You can choose that one, or any of the other names. It does not matter.

    When you view your student's reports, you will see completed Odyssey Writer assignments that appear as links in the grade column. You can click that link to open and print the assignment. Then, you can grade it manually. Having the instructions pasted on as part of the assignment is VERY helpful, because then you know what your child was supposed to do. (Once kids are in high school, T4L has prepared detailed grading guides for every, single writing assignment. They did this themselves, because Compass does not provide such a thing (probably because it was developed for use by certified teachers).

    If you want to use the provided grading rubric, access the writing assignment by clicking on the link in your student's reports. Close the little window with the instructions by clicking on the tiny "x" at the top, right. (This is a rectangular window, outlined in blue, with rounded corners.) Click the check mark at the top, right of your student's work and a rubric will pop up at the left. It allows you to assess five things about your student's work. Choose what you think about what your child has written and then click the little number at the top of the rubric or the little arrow at the top of the rubric to go to the next thing to assess. When you are finished, you must print this. (Click file/print at the top, left and select Preview Rubrics.) It can't be saved. Your choices will appear in bold print when they are printed out.

    No offline work appears in the student's reports as a grade . . . including worksheets and Odyssey Writer assignments. Some people want to turn the rubric assessment into a letter or percentage grade anyhow. Here is how to do that. On the printout, you will see a number preceding each of your choices (which should be in bold). Add up those numbers. Multiply the total by five to get a percentage grade.

    I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have more questions. I actually like the Odyssey Writer myself, and it has always made me sad that it's so misunderstood.

    Mom of six . . . current students and homeschool graduates. Enjoying using Time4Learning since 2006!

  4. #4
    lac.ddclc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hearthstone_academy View Post
    "We haven't had any problems with Odyssey Writer . . . once we finally figured out how to use it. ... it has always made me sad that it's so misunderstood."
    I know you were speaking in general, but I'm part of the general group of parents you're referring to. It's not that I misunderstand it. It's that I understand it all too well. I work with a lot of different web-based and software programs, and Odyssey Writer is simply not a user friendly program, causing more frustration than necessary.

    We figured out very quickly that Odyssey Writer is a low-frills rich-text word processor that can format text to be bold, italic, and underlined. But there's a lot it can't do. Yes, you can insert a picture, but you can't insert a fillable form, even if the instructions tell you to do so. My son's biggest struggle his first week using the T4L curriculum was trying to insert a fillable template from the Tool Kit into Odyssey Writer per instructions. When he couldn't get the template to paste in as is, he finally gave up and pasted just the text. He's very particular, so the result was a big let-down for him. Plus a lot of time was wasted in his attempt. This was his first OW activity, so it wasn't a good first impression. I won't even get into his opinion of the graphic organizer. Why teach him he has to do something the way it's always been done and settle for a mediocre product when he knows he can create a better quality product with less hassle using a different program?

    My biggest issue is that I cannot save his OW activities to my computer/flash drive. It has an option to print, but I don't want to print everything he writes. When we eventually choose what assignments we want to put into his portfolio, we'll print those, but until then, I'd like to have my own copy where I don't have to go on the internet and sign in to see it.

    It's great that you like Odyssey Writer. I'm glad it works for you. But what works best is not the same for everyone. Since T4L doesn't grade this work anyway, I don't see any reason why the only choices should be either to use Odyssey Writer or skip the activity entirely, which is the advice I saw in the forums when I was looking for answers. I'm just putting another option out there, especially since other parents might feel the same way I do about not wanting to skip assignments. My son was so relieved when I suggested we find another way for him to submit them. Working together to figure out a way to do the assignments that works best for both of us taught my son about collaboration, problem solving, improving efficiency, perseverance, and thinking outside the box, all important life lessons.

  5. #5
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    I should have said that I appreciate your sharing your idea! I was just too eager to share my own experience.

    You are absolutely right that there are more options than "use it or skip it". One of the things I like about T4L is that we can do things our own way. I'm sure the work-around you've come up with will help some other members.

    Mom of six . . . current students and homeschool graduates. Enjoying using Time4Learning since 2006!

  6. #6
    lac.ddclc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hearthstone_academy View Post
    "I should have said that I appreciate your sharing your idea! I was just too eager to share my own experience.

    You are absolutely right that there are more options than "use it or skip it"."

    No worries, Kelly. I was just addressing the idea that people don't like it because they don't understand it.

    I also wanted to share my experience because I haven't seen any other workaround ideas regarding the Odyssey Writer out there. I'm so glad you shared your experience, not only here but with so many others. I've learned so much just reading your responses in the forums.


    Quote Originally Posted by hearthstone_academy View Post
    "One of the things I like about T4L is that we can do things our own way."

    Absolutely! I love that it's a curriculum our homeschool can use in the way that works best for us, that it's not another school we would have to submit to.

    Tracy, I'm new here. My son and I have been homeschooling from the beginning, but we just started using T4L the first week in September, and, though it might not seem like it from some of the things I've written in this forum, for the most part we love it. I understand that even for veterans of the site, sometimes something new and challenging pops up, like Odyssey Writer. IMHO T4L Support is generally good for technical issues, but for questions about day-to-day use and other homeschooling ideas, I usually turn to the answers I've seen the admins and other parents give in the parent community forum. Kelly and the other admins are a treasure trove of information that have helped to ease a lot of the frustration I've felt when facing a new challenge here.

    Leigh Ann

  7. #7
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    Leigh Ann, you made my day.

    Your work-around is now part of the treasure trove of info on this forum!

    Mom of six . . . current students and homeschool graduates. Enjoying using Time4Learning since 2006!

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