Bridgeway Academy homeschool review

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We were given an 8 week long program to review called Easy Essay from Bridgeway Academy. Scroll down on that page and Easy Essay is the 10th item down from the top. As a TOS Review Crew member I jumped at this chance because essay writing in our home has always been a chore! And you all know how much we like to do chores!  UGH!!

The Easy Essay class meets for 90 minutes (TOS Review Crew has a shortened class time of 60 min) with 2-3 hours per week of homework. Easy Essay is for 9th-12th grade students. For successfully completing the Learning Lab course the student receives 1/2 credit elective towards high school graduation. The cost of Easy Essay is $275.00. Bridgeway Academy has a whole course line up at the online learning academy, with classes for all ages and they even offer Learning Labs for use in
Co-ops!

The class had a main focus of organization, structure and design and taught the basics of getting started in writing an essay. Things like brain storming for ideas, using Graphic Organizers, 3 point thesis,  and the final class today will be over how to write a 5 paragraph essay in 45 min.

A lot of learning went on in this class, though there were a few glitches with the audio and recordings. The classes were done through Jigsaw Meeting, which is the platform that is used for the class. For some reason the classes were not all recorded (I think it was a Jigsaw Meeting issue and NOT a Bridgeway Academy issue). I do hope that before they do this again they will have the glitches worked out or go with another platform to carry the classes. We did have to miss a class due to a doctor appointment that was out of town and of course wouldn't you know it, that was one of the sessions that was not recorded. LOL...but I guess so many missed that class that Mrs. Kulp (the teacher) took the time to repeat the class for us all. That was very kind of her to do, especially since it was the class that my son was really eager to attend, it was on thesis statements and he has always struggled with writing those. That has been very annoying to my homeschooled young man.

Homework was assigned in each class and was due by Friday 5pm. This was all fine and good, but we did not always get the homework graded and sent back to us in a timely fashion. Sometimes it was not returned until just before class time, last weeks homework has yet to arrive. The comments on the homework were well done. A Debra Watson graded some of my homeschool young man's work and she had a few typos that I thought were very unprofessional such as MY instead of ME in wording. The comments were very helpful on the homework, here is a quoted comment from week 3 essay.



"a thesis needs to have 3 points and make a clear statement. So, you’re missing 2 points and I don’t understand the overall "so what" or the importance of this. Why is studying more that important? Remember our formula is STATEMENT + 3 MAIN POINTS + SO WHAT ( or why is this important anyway) = THESIS."
Here is a comment from the homework that was sent back to us today.
"Overall this essay has the proper structure but is missing the key elements that guide it and make it understandable, namely a sound thesis and clear supporting points. Go back to the outlining phase and really think through the points you are trying to prove. What do you want to say? How can you say it clearly? How can you prove you point of view? College is important because…. 1) 2) 3) Does this makes sense? Let’s talk about this in a private meeting this week so that we can really hone in on how to organize an essay from the start so that you end up with a clear final product."
This is all fine and great, but the problem that I have is that it came by email at 9:15am (while I'm typing up this review), class starts at 12:15pm, that is just not enough time to look this over and fix things for class and be ready to discuss it. As he is working on this right now he finds that the link for today's homework does not work regarding the "Transition Words."
The homeschool young man has other classes that he is doing and he can't just scrap the day and start working on Easy Essay. I know we homeschoolers are suppose to be flexible, but once you get into the high school years, you have a different schedule than you did when the kids were in lower grades. My main dislike of this review was the turn around time on homework.  Also there was no grading of the grammar/spelling in the essays, to me that should be included, I even correct grammar/spelling in other subjects in my homeschool.
We did run into a homework glitch while we were on an out of town trip. I made sure everything was in my email account and ready to go. We left on our trip, got to our hotel and the homeschool young man went to open up the emails to start his work, only to find out that our email server at home is not like Yahoo or Hotmail where you can access your already opened emails from another computer, so we had NOTHING to work with. Homeschool young man contacted Bridgeway Academy right away. Mrs. Kulp was great in emailing the info to our Yahoo account so we could access it. She was always quick to get back with us via email.
The homeschool young man really liked the content of the program (though he wished that the videos had all worked because he wanted to go back and watch them over again.) He liked being called upon in class and reading things out loud for the teacher. (do I have a teacher's pet or what?  LOL). He did learn a lot and has actually put it in to use in real life already. He has also applied to a medical program for high school aged students and he had to write an essay as to why he was interested in the program. (cha ching! Easy Essay to the rescue!). I was freaking out thinking, "How on earth is he going to write an essay?" He just piped up and said "Oh, mom that will be simple, I learned how to do this in my Easy Essay class with Mrs. Kulp." Let's just say there is one excited Homeschool Momma here, because he did so well on the essay that he was invited to interview for the program. And I will tell you it's a highly selective program as they only take in 10 kids total, 7 kids from the public school and 3 kids from homeschool/private school/parochial school. So he was up against some stiff competition I am sure. So yes you can learn a lot in just 8 weeks of 1 hour classes (class that the TOS Review Crew received, paying students will get 9 weeks and 90 min classes).

Here is a quick overview of the program works with Easy Essay. Before classes started we got an email explaining how to get hooked up with the video chat called Jigsaw Meeting, it's FREE. The homeschool young man was able to get this all set up himself. We had some concern since we do not have high speed Internet (we have low speed country Internet lol), so we called Bridgeway Academy right away and tech support told us that if we could view the videos on the website we would be fine. They do have a test button to check to see if your connection is good enough. Sure enough no troubles. We have a web cam, but no headset with a microphone, so I found a decent priced one online at my FAV store. Mrs. Kulp then sent out an email with all the details of the class, syllabus, list of assignments that were due.
The first day of class Mrs. Kulp showed up about an hour early for class so that everyone could test out their equipment. We were totally stumped by the TALK button...(lol...at least for this household) on using the talk button, but we got that figured out right away.

I did like that fact that Bridgeway Academy and Easy Essay are taught from a Biblical worldview. Easy Essay works on teaching listening skills, verbal skills (talking back and forth to the teacher) and class participation. The teachers are licensed instructors, Mrs. Kulp is a licensed teacher of secondary education in the state of PA. I did not care for the fact that I could not hear what was going on in the class, so that made writing that portion of the review hard for me, I had to get a lot of info from the homeschooled young man. I will say this much, every time I walked by the screen and Mrs. Kulp what up there, she had a smile on her face  :O) I also liked the parent letter that she sent out very early on in the class. Here is what it said. "I have an assignment for you! Please respond to this email stating your child's name, grade level and the biggest struggle you see, as their teacher/parent, with their writing. What is one goal that I can help accomplish over the next 7 weeks? Also, please identify what type of language arts curriculum you are using."

I personally think that Easy Essay $275 for a homeschooling family to spend on a 1/2 credit hour class is a lot of money, considering that in my area of the country a homeschool student could take a college class for $25.00 more and have 3 college credits and 1 high school credit. But as you can see taking the class has already helped my homeschooled young man in life. So you decided.
Moe
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