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From: mdmt (
Subject:         Re: Unschooling High School.... I DON'T GET IT!!!!....
Date: April 23, 2008 at 8:39 pm PST

In Reply to: Unschooling High School.... I DON'T GET IT!!!!.... posted by Lori on April 16, 2008 at 12:11 am:

The advice so far has been excellent.
I might add that sometimes a new spark is needed.
Perhaps some area they haven't explored in the past.
If they don't know it exists, they won't know to explore it. I'm not sure what that would be, but perhaps museums/exhibitions in your area could be a spark. I was surprised one year that my son became very interested in entomology. Perhaps if they look in the want ads or encyclopedia (anywhere) and find a career that they didn't know about. Not sure what the spark might be--but for me, I love to learn and field trips often spark a new interest.
Deciding to enter a contest might get their creative juices flowing. I know many contests are ending now, but if you go to see the winning entries, they might decide "I want to do that". Then they will have a long time to think about it. Some that come to mind are the National History Day project, Botball or other robotic construction competitions, Brainbee (about Neuroscience)etc. As long as your reviewer will give you credit for these types of activities, you can go this route.
Many teens gravitate to the ones with monetary prizes.
Not a competition, but the Veteran's History Project at the Library of Congress could count for writing and history. (Can be done from any state)
Webquests--since they like the internet.
Another idea might be to go off the textbook track to a project oriented approach. Or an on-line collaborative project. I don't mean an on-line class per se. Some that we used in the past were the Jason Project, Monarch Watch, Around Alone (around the world boat race that you follow via the internet), Iditarod, Journey North, or any other similar program that you can follow as it is happening. They get interested and read books about the subject and participate in any hands-on activities provided. Other examples: instead of textbooks--say, for Biology--cover it via projects. Gardening for the botany section. If that is too mundane, or you have done it before, or there is no land area, alternative gardening such as hydroponics or the "plants in space" program from NASA. Planting a colonial garden at a nature center with the type of plants they would have grown in the colonial era. Victory gardens to go along with 20th century history. Historical approaches to plants, if their love is history.(Admiral Wilkes' Exploring Expedition which occurred about the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but on the seas) Following his journey would include geography and culture. Plants he collected became part of the National Botanic Garden and many items for the Smithsonian museums. Well, I could go on about this, but perhaps it is nothing you need.
Anyway, project approach, or intergrated approach is still interesting in junior high and high school. Maybe some group activities in drama, music, art,karate, band???
Since summer is coming--maybe participation in the county fair: getting some projects ready to enter into the competitions in art, baking, sewing, carpentry, small engines, etc.
I highly recommend 4-H for interesting hands-on projects. And it is not just agricultural anymore.
They have computers, citizenship, electricity, aerospace,photography,and a host of other projects. The meetings are usually only once a month, but they have the chance to work with other kids. Kids run the clubs, so they may learn about being secretary, treasurer, president etc. of a club and all the "parliamentary procedure" that goes into deciding things for their club. Many clubs do community service.
Community service projects with other groups such as Habitat for Humanity or just local stream team cleanups/water quality monitoring might be of interest. Volunteering in the parks/nature centers, whether historical type, foresty/trail type, or indoor positions. Below is a link to park volunteer opportunities.
Take their interests, create a curriculum around it.
Or challenge them to create one!
I even heard of someone who used movies/documentaries as a curriculum. Comparing books to movies in writing. Learning history through movies. Our library now has many videos for borrowing that are educational. This is especially good for the auditory learner or those that are not avid readers. Of course, they must do something else besides just watch the videos. Some sort of synthesis/analysis.
Have fun learning--textbooks not necessary!
Even in high school. However, if they plan to go on to college, some traditional type work may be necessary, so they will not be in some sort of shock when they get to college and not know how succeed in that type of learning environment.

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