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Monday, October 21, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Bridgeway Academy Marine Biology Online

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I was asked to review Fun With Science - Marine Biology from Bridgeway Academy for Grades 5-8.

I will sum up my opinion of the course by saying we found it to be informative, enjoyable education and challenging enough to stretch our thinking while really learning from a quality course.

The course we took was designed for Grades 5-8. The courses were live video streams online. It required a computer that had an internet connection fast enough to stream the classes without lagging. They were streamed through a Jigsaw meeting site which required that I conduct a speed test with my laptop before the first meeting.

The class met one day a week for an hour and were taught by Carla Berg. At the time of the posting of this review, we have completed 7 weeks of lessons so have almost come to an end of the entire course. Each class explored the oceans. She covered information about fish, mammals, sea turtles, whales and other inhabitants of the oceans as well as ocean zones and coral reefs, the arctic and symbiotic relationships.

At the end of each class, she assigned homework which consisted of either taking a quiz online answering questions that were covered in class, designing a Marine Biology pamphlet, identifying species of marine life, writing a newspaper-style article about why we should save a marine mammal on the endangered species list, and making a food web. The homework was then uploaded to Bridgeway and graded.

My 6th grader and 8th grader watched and participated in the classes and worked on the homework assignments. I uploaded the homework on the Bridgeway Moogal site where the instructor assigned a grade to the homework.

These are some examples of our completed homeworks and a screenshot of the teacher's grade and comment on one of them:

I really liked the quality of the instruction. The teacher, Carla Berg, is extremely professional. It was clearly evident that she has experience in the classroom and online teaching students. She stayed on topic and engaged the students through either opening up the chat box or locking it when necessary, answering call-in “Talk” questions, and using whiteboards where students could type in their answers.

The classes were more than just sitting and watching a teacher lecture. She used interactive whiteboards, videos, colorful pictures, rubrics, PDF printouts which we printed out at home, and class discussions.

There were also a couple hands-on experiments that she assigned. We particularly had fun with the blubber experiment.

We learned how the blubber in whales help keep them warm by using a plastic bag glove alongside a plastic glove filled with Vaseline and putting our hands into a bucket of ice. It was amazing how insulated our hands felt inside the Vaseline (blubber-like) glove.

The class required a commitment to be near a computer with an internet for one hour during class time, though in a pinch, the classes were all recorded with their videos made available online after class. We had to miss one class and caught it on the video after class. It was still very informative to simply watch the video, but it was so much more interactive and easy to follow along during the actual live, online class when other classmates participated as well.

The other requirement usually took us at least one more day, sometimes two or three, to complete the homework assignments. I thought that the homework was a very important part of the course. The homework was not easy peasy, but it was not super difficult either. While it was challenging for my children, I really liked that it stretched their thinking and required them to actually put some work into the course – Not just breeze by watching videos and saying they learned something.

The Marine Biology class costs $145 for a 9-week online Learning Lab.

Please read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of this and other classes, here, or click on the picture below:

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1 comment:

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