Monday, October 28, 2013

Marine Biology with Bridgeway Academy Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2013 #hsmommas #homeschoolmarinebiology #hsreviews

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    As the boys are getting older they are showing interest in topics that may not appeal to the other, this was the case with Marine Biology. Alyx was super excited when I told him we had the opportunity to review an online class from Bridgeway Academy that focused on Fun with Science: Marine Biology, This class falls under their Learning Labs. Taylor shows very little interest in this so the way this worked out is perfect for our family. Taylor could focus on another subject that appealed more towards him, while Alyx took to completing this online course.

   Every Monday at 1:15pm EST Alyx logged on, usually a few minutes early so he was ready and waiting and for an hour he would learn all about the Ocean and the creatures that live within its depths. The class is generally geared for 5th to 8th graders, but Alyx being in 10th grade felt the class was paced nicely and offered a bit of a challenge even at his age, so I feel it is fit for a wider range than what is recommended. There are a few weeks where you need to print some materials so your child can follow along with the class.

   The process for this class was different than others Alyx had taken online, in the past his classes have been one on one, this class however is not. The login process was a bit confusing for us as there are two different sites you need to keep track of, one that holds the actual class, and one that holds all of the information about the class and the homework assignments and grades. Once we got it all figured out we were good to go. We could not make the set appointment for the class orientation as this was not explained ahead of time and it was not on a regular class day. In my opinion it would be easier to lengthen the classes and make the first week the orientation week. This way people already have the time slots scheduled into their calenders. On the bright side, because we were unable to attend the orientation as it conflicted with our co-op the teacher, Carla Berg set up an alternate orientation for us that better fit our schedule as well as recorded it if we missed anything. So I felt that she was very accommodating.

   The first week we had to print out a diagram for Alyx to have on hand for his first class, also we had learned during the orientation that our laptop Microphone and speakers were not going to be sufficient so we ran out and bought a headset with Microphone, this was fairly inexpensive (under $20) and we have used it for other things as well, so it is not something that was bought and once the class is over we will never use again. Alyx is finishing his last class today, so I don't know how he did for his final grade, but all in all he has done exceptionally well, each week he has put much effort into his homework, which ranged from simply filling in a worksheet online or doing a research project or hands on lab. So sometimes the homework took 20-30 minutes and sometimes several hours. This however did not need to be done the night of the class, they were given a whole week to complete their assignments. They just needed to be sure they were sent in through the website by 9 am every Monday. This allowed her time to grade the assignments before class got started. Alyx always looked forward to getting his graded work back, because Carla always made comments about each answer and they were always very positive, this helped keep Alyx motivated as he works well with feedback given. He was delighted I believe the 3 rd week, when after they had to do a project for the previous week's homework she used Alyx's as one of the examples during the class for everyone to see. This made Alyx extremely proud and boosted his self confidence so much. I was delighted with the way all the work and classes were handled.

  One of the fun aspects of the class is that there is a map in the lower corner that shows where everyone in the class is from. Alyx found it very fascinating and always commented to me about the location of some of his classmates. For this particular class the students were all TOS Crew member's children. So he found it entertaining to put names of those belonging to some of my online friends. It made him feel especially connected.

   Some of the projects for homework were corrected right online, others were sent via a rubric in an email to me. I enjoyed reading the scale and seeing Alyx's scores. He did very well except for one week, where he felt the words and names of the species were just too overwhelming, I cannot make up my mind if that was the case or if his processing just wasn't up to par that day, he may have just been having an off day. I was so happy that the week that he felt was hard did not deter him from putting forth effort for the remaining weeks of his class. He shrugged it off and moved onto the next week. This made me so proud of how far he has come, in the past that one week he struggled would have just made him want to throw in the towel. Shows how some positive reinforcement from a teacher can make such a big impact on a student's outlook on the class as a whole.  Kudos to Carla Berg for that.

    The Marine Biology class which runs normally 9 weeks(we did it in 8) has a cost of $145. I think this is well priced for the amount of instruction and depth of the classes. There is homework involved, but much care goes into grading the assignments and offering written feedback.  Bridgeway Academy offers a variety of homeschool classes to fit the needs of your children. They focus on making homeschooling easier on families by offering instruction from certified teachers in an online classroom setting. Many of their classes qualify for credits upon receiving the completion certification. There are classes available from Kindergarten through the end of High School. There is sure to be something to fit your homeschooling needs.  Some of the crew had a chance to review the other classes offered so please click on the banner below to read those.


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