Middle School Earth and Space Science, Time4Learning
Earth and Space Middle school science is one of the latest offerings from Time4Learning. It is part of the recently added middle school science courses which include Earth and Space Science, Life Science, Physical Science, and The Nature of Science Supplement. When signing up for the middle school science courses parents have the opportunity to decide the course order.
My daughter had the opportunity to work through the Earth and Space Science course in the 2013-2014 school year for 8th grade.
Earth and Space Science is intended for middle school students and would be considered a complete year course. The majority of the course, eight of fourteen chapters, deals specifically with the Earth. The remaining chapters contain an introduction to astronomy, solar system, and the universe.
Course work is primarily lessons by animated characters, though some of the course material is delivered by live actors. While the information is being delivered, there are lists and other information presented. Pictures and colorful graphics help present the visual portion of the lesson; the lecture presents the audio portion of the lecture or lesson.
While the delivery of the information is colorful and light-hearted, the material is thorough. Within each lesson presentation are questions for the student to answer, just to double check their understanding of the section. There are also what I would call “note pages”. These are pages that would be the high point notes a student might have taken during a presentation by a teacher. If a student were to copy these pages, they would provide great notes to study from for the quizzes and chapter tests.
In addition to the basic lesson, there are additional activities including Odyssey Writer assignments. Odyssey Writer assignments generally go more in-depth than the multi-media lessons. The basis of the Odyssey Writer lessons is a word processor. Within this word processor questions are presented or ideas that the student needs to research further to complete the assignment.
There are lessons listed as Authentic Tasks which provide additional information and often that lead either to other Time4Learning lessons or to outside sites that specifically deal with the information at hand. On example might be a link to the Kitt Peak National Observatory Virtual Tour in the Authentic Task entitled Observatories and Telescopes in the Introduction to Astronomy chapter.
My daughter is a visual learner so the multi-media presentations of course material were a real plus for her. She liked the format where a small portion of the material was presented, then a review page or question section breaks up the delivery of information. She thought it
kept the material in manageable and memorable segments. The Odyssey Writer activities allowed her to practice not only research skills and critical thinking skills, but also provided practice in organizing information and presenting well thought out writing assignments.
She also does not like to repeat anything and the different ways that information is presented within a chapter prevents the material from seeming like mindless repetition. My daughter really does well with the multiple choice format of the quizzes and chapter tests.
As the parent and teacher, I really appreciated the fact that the lessons are planned for me. I feel like the Earth and Space Science Course presents a reasonable depth of information for middle school students. Like other Time4Learning courses, the quizzes and chapter tests are graded for me, and the records are kept in a format that allows sortable reports.
Cons (Not really, but things to be aware of)
The biggest thing my daughter complained about is that she could not control the speed at which she went through a lesson. My take on that is that she was required to listen to the lesson and not just skip through or skim over a reading assignment. I did not find this to be a negative from a parental point of view.
I don’t mind grading the Odyssey Writer assignments but the parent/teacher should be aware that the program does not score these assignments. It is the responsibility of the parent to make sure that the questions asked within the Odyssey Writer portion are answered correctly. To assist with this the Time4Learning program does have resources that assist parents in knowing what to look for as they grade the Odyssey Writer assignments.
My daughter enjoyed the Earth and Space Science Middle School course. It was in a format she is familiar with, since we do use Time4Learning as our core curriculum. I feel like the information is quite adequate for middle school students, in general. The program particularly works well for visual learners.
If I were to add or change one thing in the course it would be to add the ability to print the note pages from within the lessons. Overall, I would definitely recommend the Earth and Space Science course. Though we have not gone through the other courses, I would also recommend them. I will have her complete the other middle school science courses because I believe they provide information for students to build upon as they continue their science education.
I would give the Middle School Earth and Space Science course from Time4Learning a 2 thumbs up!