A New Ride: Member Contribution

The Scuttle Those. . . series of articles identified homeschool cooperatives as having the potential to bring about change for the larger homeschooling community. Activities in them could promote collaborative efforts and solid learning methods which could help to make homeschooling realistic for more families and have a large impact on overall sustainability.

A New Ride proposed that, as co-op members, we have options that could help work towards these ends. In the long run, doing so helps us personally and the overall community at the same time-- a definite win-win situation. The first category of opportunities to be discussed here, involves using the regular contribution we already make as standard co-op members.

The primary idea is that co-ops typically require members to propose and lead or arrange classes. This right and responsibility offers us an opportunity to add our own slant to co-op curriculum and to pass on new ideas to others at the same time.

Decisions about the classes we offer might easily follow our mood, personal interests, or current resources. But following the thoughts above, we should first consider a higher strategy. What can we teach that will help us in what we are doing at home while helping others to understand its value?

If you have undertaken projects (a la the Big6 or something similar) at home, one thing that your kids are probably lacking is an academic peer group. There are likely to be other families working with projects and all could benefit from a research presentation group. Such a class would involve showcasing, discussing, and/or assessing projects that the learners have done. This kind of effort could help spread ideas for learning activities through looking at one or two projects per week and would nurture a culture of greater learning discourse and review.

Depending on the experience of learners in any given community, there may be an additional need for some focus on presentation skills. This would not be a standard speech class, but would cover public speaking for the purpose of presenting research projects as in the above academic peer group. Such practice and analysis could help provide focus for the peer course by providing a separate venue to discuss issues upping the quality of presentations.

Further, if you are already covering individual research skills with your family as part of training for project work, why not share the opportunity? Even for families who do not work on projects, effective Internet search and other techniques are still going to have value. This could be of further benefit to learners in an academic peer group to help see that they are up to snuff.

Finally, given a conducive environment, all of these things could be combined into one massive effort covering everything research projects and perhaps even following the Big6. Doing so would introduce learners to the concept, who might turn around to introduce it to their parents. This kind of class would take a special level of time and duration, but could be quite phenomenal.

Yet another activity that could emphasize similar values could be a group project class. Learners with previous project experience could use this type of time to form research groups in order to accomplish larger projects which individual learners would not be able to do on their own. Resulting projects could include team work involving large collaborative contributions by specialists such as large video, computer programming, and game efforts.

These are some ideas of how co-op contribution could help to shape a greater learning consciousness. Isolated fragments of some of the ideas are already being used in some co-ops, though they have not been tested as a whole in this context they are worth the consideration.

Implementation should not be a matter of simply doing it. To fulfill their real goal, these concepts need to be recognized on all effective levels. Though learners will grow in their understanding and expectations about learning from the new experiences, class leaders also have another leverage point. In working with learners, class leaders are in a position where they can utilize communication with parents about class activities. This can be a great opportunity to communicate the "why's" and "how's" of what is being done in order to transmit the larger ideas behind them. Hopefully a bigger discussion about learning will come out of it all.

Though the description up to this point has only been about work within individual co-ops, it would continue to grow from there. We have seen the spread of trends such as co-op movie and performance projects go to the wider homeschooling community, and once initial development takes place, cross-pollination will happen.

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A New Ride: Member Contribution original article at learningwilds.net

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