This fall, Emily has been taking an online “Learning Lab” class at Bridgeway Academy. Bridgeway’s 8-week classes use Jigsaw Meeting as the online location for teachers and students to interact. With this format, students and teachers can interact through voice or through a “chat box.” The instructor is able to show videos and power point presentations, and the students can see her in one of the on-screen boxes.
Learning Labs are offered for elementary through high school students. The cost for the elementary and middle school level courses is $145. Bridgeway Learning Labs also offer 0.5 credit high school labs for $275 and up. Classes include such subjects as Geography, Magic Tree House Science, SAT Prep, and Public Speaking.
The class that Emily took was Marine Biology (for middle school students). Since she loves animals and is obsessed with sharks, she was quite excited to have the opportunity to learn more about ocean life! The weekly topics included:
- What is Marine Biology
- Osteichthyses (bony fish)
- Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fish)
- Marine Mammals
- Sea Turtles
- Marine Ecosystems
We loved our instructor, Carla Berg. She presented the material in a variety of ways, including lecture, Power Point, and video. She often asked the students for input, either by turning on the microphone for them to speak, or by allowing them to write on the whiteboard or in the text box. The students were given homework each week, which required 1-2 hours of time and included such varied assignments as quizzes, classifying invertebrates, designing a food web, and creating an animal profile pamphlet. Emily enjoyed almost everything. (She had trouble and became frustrated with one of the homework assignments, but enjoyed the rest). She even did some extra reading and research that wasn’t assigned!
The Learning Labs were definitely a new form of school for Emily. Not quite a classroom experience, but close. The ability to interact with the other students was unique, and she has had few other activities in which she’s responsible to a teacher other than me. I think that, and the reminder that her work would be compared to the other students’ helped her to be more conscientious about her assignments.
There are so many opportunities out there for homeschooling families now and the Bridgeway Learning Labs are a great option to consider for families who want some outside classes or just a different learning experience for their children.