Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
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I get the privilege of sharing lots of reviews with my readers for many great products. However, it is not often that I feel like a review product was a true answer to prayer, but for our family Experience Biology: Upper Level was just that. My husband and I were struggling to find a biology curriculum for my 9th grader that we both liked and I had been praying that God will help me because I didn’t know where else to look. In the same week I was offered the opportunity to review this course by Journey Homeschool Academy.
How Does Journey Homeschool Academy Work?
This curriculum is set up to allow the student to be very independent with the work. Each lesson includes two video lectures, a textbook reading, a quiz, and research questions. The quiz is automatically graded by the computer. Since the research questions are done short answer style they need to be graded by the parent but there is an answer key to help out. Experience Biology: Upper Level has a student notebook that can be printed (or purchased as a hard copy) for the student to take notes as they watch the lectures. These pages have fill in the blank style notes that help the student learn how to take notes and what information is important to remember. Students cannot move onto the next lesson in the course until all of these items are marked complete and the quiz has been successfully passed.
Journey Homeschool Academy Lab Assignments
In addition, each lesson includes a lab assignment. The creators suggest in the parent guide that the students complete at least some of the labs but not necessarily all of the labs to have a complete course. There is a lab notebook that helps the student go through the lab process and a video that explains the assignment for each lab.
There are also quarterly exams that the students take at the completion of a set number of lessons. On those weeks there are not lectures, labs and quizzes. The students are given a study guide to review and prepare for the exam. These exams help you see how well they are retaining information and unlike the weekly quizzes, the grades are final and cannot be reset.
When you purchase this program you have one year from the start of the program to complete the 35 week course. This allows time for breaks, sickness, and life in general while still completing the course.
When we got started with this program, I decided to sit through the first week’s lesson with my son. This was to allow me to learn more about the program and to make sure that he was understanding what he needed to do and how the process worked. We were trying it out during out summer break, so he would work on it at night after he had completed whatever he had on the agenda for the day.
I was pleasantly surprised at how engaging the lectures were, while still being solid and full of good information. The instructor had a very relatable style that made it easy to listen and pay attention. Journey Homeschool Academy has invested considerable time in production, which comes across as clean graphics, images, and sound-which provides a very ‘professional’ product. I only required my 9th grade son to watch, since it is his course, but found that my twelve year old daughter and six year old son would sometimes stop what they were doing to sit and watch as well.
I started by printing out the student notebook pages and lab pages that my son needed each week and having him put them into his three-ring-binder. After trying that for a few weeks, I decided it would be easier on me to go ahead and print everything he would need and let him set up in his binder. This way he can get started each week without needing any assistance from me. I will just need to grade the research questions and make sure he has the lab supplies.
I also appreciated that the labs started by working through what a lab report should look like and how the process works. This allows a student who many not have done any formal labs to get a better grasp of what is expected before diving into the regular labs.
My Son’s Thoughts
My son felt like he could complete the work independently and liked the video lectures. He is excited about continuing to use the microscope and complete more labs as we continue in the course. He completed the first five lessons (which would be five weeks of the course if you were using it as a year long course) and after taking a short break to finish out our summer will be finishing the course in the fall semester.
Overall, I felt like this was a great high school biology curriculum. I feel like it will help prepare my son for his college level science courses with lectures and lab reports. It covers a great deal of information but in a way that is engaging and not dry. I also really appreciate that he can do it mostly independently so that I can focus on some other areas of our home school. In many ways Experience Biology: Upper Level blends the traditional video based course with up to date distance education assessment tools.
I highly encourage you to click on the graphic below and check out the other reviews to find out more about the different courses from Journey Homeschool Academy and how they were used by the Review Crew members.
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