For the last 7 weeks we have been sharing about an online essay writing class that Nate has been taking through Bridgeway Academy . It is a High School Core class called Easy Essay Writing. The Essay Course is normally 9 weeks and 90 minutes per week for 0.5 school credit when signed up as a Bridgeway student for the cost of $275.00. You may browse some of their Online Homeschool Coop Classes, or take a look at the paragraph for the Easy Essay Writing. (The class is intended for a High School Core – you would decide if your child is ready for this class.)
We’ll start with what the class is. Students log into an online system where there are several screens. One for the Teacher, a few for white boards, one for writing notes, and a couple to text and communicate with the class. There is an hour before the first class where students can become acquainted with these screens. They are straight forward, pretty simple.
Students will need a high speed internet, head phones, and mic. You will also need to be able to download different browsers – such as Firefox or Chrome. We found that Chrome worked better for our class. We also went through several headphone / mic set ups before it worked well with the class. The teacher is really patient and there are handouts to help you with these steps.
Once the session starts, we were given a Syllabus and reading material. The Syllabus broke down what was required for homework for each week. The class is one hour long, with 2 hours of homework for the week. For our 10th grade son who loves to write – it took the entire 2 hours with reading and writing assignments.
Each week, there are several links for students to read. Sometimes we printed them out, sometimes we read them online. If you are scheduling a computer, as we did, between several students, you’ll want to think about the time for them to get their homework finished.
The students are building an essay from the ground up. The first weeks explain how to write a thesis and create outlines to pull together ideas. The students are to read several items in their assignments and form a thesis based on the parts. They are also reading about ways to outline an essay and use the examples to outline their thoughts using 2-3 different styles.
They learn about opening paragraphs, closing paragraphs, the 2 middle paragraphs, and then pull it all together by the 7th week. Building, week by week.
The homework is turned in by Fridays to the teacher and the teacher returns her remarks to the class by Monday morning. The classes are recorded and are available for students to watch if they skip a class. We had one doctor’s appointment out of town for my husband, and my son was able to make up the class online, while we were out of town for my mom’s birthday, using his iPod. It was the 5th week’s class, so he knew the general direction of the class by that time. He was able to do his homework easily and turn it in.
Communication is through the Teacher directly. Her email and phone number are on just about every handout. We were able to email the Easy Essay teacher and received a response within the day. We were never stuck due to lack of communication.
Nathan just turned in his 7th week’s homework, a completed 5 paragraph essay. He has argued his points out and kept clear to his thesis. In the thesis he states his opinions and three points to back it up. Those items created his paragraphs. Um. Which started out as really long one thought sentences . . . but we had him replace each and with a punctuation mark and capitalize the next word. That was fun about the last week’s homework, he went through a list of joining words and banned words to help him clean up his work.
We were able to review a few essay focused curriculums the last two years, and did not come to this clean of a result. Nathan said he felt the accountability of his classmates online and the teacher expecting the homework and the idea that he would have a credit with a grade. For us, the results of taking this class have been outstanding, and the product delivered what they claimed on their explanation of what to expect.
That said – I feel that I should share some of the difficulties. Please note that we were not a part of Bridgeway Academy. Our review students were off on the side, separate, and were not logged into the main site. As such, all communication was only through the teacher.
Emails. I would make sure that your high schooler used his email right away when you sign up. We still have emails going to me, and I have to forward them to my son.
Technical. We continued to have difficulties with the feed, the teacher loosing her feed in class, the classes not recording, the mics not working. We tried the items listed in the introduction, and then were told that it had changed. I would hope, after the crew has gone through this, that they will be able to help others more easily in the future.
Homework. We turned our homework in on Friday, and got the results back just before class on Monday. Sometimes with a suggestion to change some wording. We did not hear back on our corrections, and Nate never had a feel for how he was doing in the class. We have not had several weeks of homework graded. I am assuming, since we are building an essay, that we are working in a rough draft situation. Please note that this is not a ‘how to write’ class full of punctuation, thesaurus work, sentence building, or the like. Simply the bones of how to get your opinion/research ideas out concisely with an essay.
So Many Handouts in emails, none on the website. In the beginning, we were receiving several handouts from class. Since the mic and headphones are required, there is no way for a parent to know what is required, other than the syllabus. Emails went back and forth from the teacher and forwarded to the student. When we went out of town one day, we wanted to log in and work on the homework from a different computer than our tower at home. This is when we realized the importance of having everything on the student’s email account. We had not forwarded them to Nate. A few minutes at home, a few forwards to him, and he was on his way. We talked to Bridgeway and the Teacher. Within the next two weeks they created a dropbox that we could log into that had all of the handouts and and class recordings. That was Awesome. So handy. I’m going to assume, outside of a Crew Review, that you could log into Bridgeway Academy.
Homework. The homework was pretty intense, with just a few words to describe what was needed. There isn’t any explanation of what is desired. i.e. :
· Write 5 thesis statements answering the following questions. Then, outline a full 5 paragraph essay with supporting points using one of our outlining strategies.
Q1: Discuss an event in your life that challenged you personally and the results.
Q2: What is more important in life, time or money?
Q3: Is college important? Why or why not?
Q4: Which is better, homeschooling or public/private schooling?
Q5: What does it mean to be a Christian?
Which is ok, except we didn’t have a clear understanding of what she wanted for a Thesis. In school mine had to be one sentence. Nate thought it could be 3-4 sentences. We did get back his homework for this one, and we had both gotten it wrong.
This would be a good experience for mom and child to see how much the child can be accountable for. What will they pay attention in class to absorb. For homeschool kids who are used to asking mom the questions, this class was found lacking in home work helps. There wasn’t enough for the student to figure out the answers, and no helps for mom at home to try to figure it out. In the end, I think we did just fine. If you are a hands off parent – this might already work well for you. If you have a child with Audio Memory Deficiency like Nate has, just having something spoken in class will not translate to memory.
So – all in all, again, the goals and claims of the class have been met. I rarely discuss feelings with the crew reviews – but I do feel that they used our group of kids to beta test a new system geared towards homeschool co-ops. I’ve also never talked about price and value. However, I can not see any homeschool family seeing the value of $275.00 for one 9 week class.
If they drop the price to a $99 type price point, if they work on getting all of the class related items on their website, if they work on a text/PDF for the video portion, if they work with communication or login to check homework status – then I’d recommend this class to any high school student that needs a quick jump start to writing a well organized and thought out essay.
I received an 8 week class, 60 minutes per week for this review. We have not received corrected homework as of the night before the 8th week class. We will not receive a credit as stated in the class description as we were not officially enrolled in the Bridgeway Academy. The disclaimer below is required by TOS, and this is the first time this review period that we have not received the exact copy of the product on the website. Again, in those 7 weeks so far –my son has been given what was promised, writing an excellent essay.