Tag Archives: passion-driven learning

Virginia Homeschool High School Symposium

 Symposium Full

I’m excited to share a symposium for homeschooled teens that I’ve been working on conceptually for a long time. Teens (14 and up – “high school age”) will come together November 4 for an advanced “show and tell” where they’ll share their projects and passions across all fields of interest. The aim is to create a social and academic peer experience for teen homeschoolers and recent grads.

UPDATE: The Symposium has filled with homeschooled teens from around the state, and registration is now closed. If you would like to be placed on the waiting list in case of a cancellation, please scroll down to the bottom of this post. Looking forward to seeing all the great kids at the Symposium! 

The event will be held beginning at 12 Noon, Wednesday, November 4, at Passion Academy (3921 Deep Rock Road, Henrico, VA — this is on the northwest side of Richmond).

So I’m putting out the call for homeschooled high schoolers and recent homeschool graduates from Virginia and beyond to participate in this symposium with an original project, paper, video or audio production, performance, creative response, experience, service work, game, experiment, design, journal, observation, invention, solution, business plan, travelogue, code, or composition related in some way to the theme, “Power.”

Students will gather to present, demonstrate, display, read, or perform their work and participate in discussion about its implication, craft, and connection to the theme – POWER.

Works are welcome from any area which can touch on the implications of any aspect of “Power” – including the arts, history, social science, technology, engineering, media, geography, science, math, politics, sports, writing, current events, or other areas.

Don’t let the theme throw you – power exists in many forms, and your presentation, reading, performance, artwork, model, or display may be about power or may depict power or may explain power or may demonstrate power or may show your personal power. Think of all the possibilities – solar power, wind power, the power of music, political power, the power of athletes, the physical power it takes to dance, the power of photography, a paper about the power of Martin Luther King (the power of nonviolence) or – simply – the power of an animation or video you create or a dramatic scene you enact. There are power plants, powerful poems and songs you’ve written, and power chords. We have horse power, water power, brain power, and fire power.  And there’s always the question, what’s your super power? If you’ve got a passion, you can fit the theme of power into or around it.

Students are welcome to adapt existing projects they have created previously or use material they are currently working on for a class or current study, or they can develop something new for this gathering. Jeanne is available by email to dialogue with students and parents about their work or about the theme.

Basically — to the students I say this:  come sing for us,  tell us about your favorite novel, read us your story, show us your scientific research, demonstrate your tech project (robotics? animation? app? code? hardware?), present your ideas on history or politics, play your instrument, do your stand-up, show us your photos and artwork, make us the perfect smoothie, read us your poetry or short story, tell us about your passion (does not have to be academic) – and so on – and see what other teens are working on.

It’s all about what you are engaged in.

Each student will have up to fifteen minutes for presentation followed by up to fifteen minutes of facilitated discussion, review, and guided appreciation. Students are asked to participate in the discussions (but no one will be badgered).

A maximum of twelve participants — ages 14 and over — will be accepted to the symposium. A minimum of six participants will need to be registered to hold the symposium.

Participants will be expected to be open to a wide variety of viewpoints, similar to discussion, presentations, and performances that might occur in a college seminar.

I’ll be leading the facilitated discussion myself. For those who have been in my writing workshops, co-op classes, or conference workshops — the feel will be similar, with respect and support for kids who “are where they are” with their interests and their comfort in sharing their work. We’ll make it relaxed and fun.

I’ll be glad to correspond with teens about their work prior to the Symposium, to give them ideas and support.

And yes, if this idea sticks, I’ll expand it — adding capacity for more teens and also adding similar programs for middle schoolers and late elementary-age kids. Basically, I just want kids to have even more exposure to what their homeschooled colleagues are doing, venturing beyond their usual co-ops, classes, and communities to share the cool things they’re doing and learning.

If you have any questions, use the contact form below, and I’ll get back to you within a day or so.

Pilot program discount registration $30 (available for 11/4/2015 event only; prices will vary for future events). Ask about sibling discounts. (All participants must be age 14 or over).

UPDATE: The Symposium has now met the maximum number of registrants. 


Interests Create Engagement

Periodic Table of Cupcakes . . . from the birthday celebration of a young homeschooler whose passion is chemistry

Periodic Table of Cupcakes, at the birthday party of a young homeschooler whose passion is chemistry —                                                                       EngagedHomeschooling.com           

Guess what? Allowing students to follow their interests creates engaged learning.

The power of interest-based learning is one of those things that is so intuitive, so obvious, soooo clear — that in most of today’s public education system — we ignore it. 

We used to ignore interest-based learning less in schools, but now that we know more about it, we ignore it more in schools.

Scott Barry Kaufman, writing for Scientific American’s Beautiful Minds blog last month, has one of the best umbrella-type articles I’ve read explaining the current research on the power of interests, in which he concludes:

. . . for educators and business managers who value deep, meaningful productivity, emphasis should be placed on cultivating emotional interest among students and employees, and increasing the personal relevance of learning and projects. (Read more)

Kaufman traces the educational approach of taking interests into consideration back to John Dewey, and follows interest-based learning forward to the findings of current researchers, who find that:

. . .  interest is characterized by deep processing of information, effective learning strategies, academic and professional career choices and achievement, positive emotions, and a sense of being energized and invigorated. Also, when students are allowed to explore their interests and engage their natural curiosity, they expend more effort as an automatic consequence of their engagement. (Read more) 

Read Kaufman’s entire article, “Interest Fuels Effortless Engagement,” and click through on the links to read the details for yourself. My summarizing them here can’t improve on Kaufman’s synthesis of the evidence about the effectiveness of interest-based learning.

However, despite the evidence, despite Dewey’s convictions, only a small percentage of educators today have the autonomy to infuse an interest-based approach into their teaching, because political and corporate stakeholders have dictated otherwise. This has resulted in a pervasive teach-to-the-test mentality in public education that serves other purposes, but certainly does not take students’ interests — or their best interests — into consideration.

Among those educators who can use an interest-based approach?

Homeschoolers. Specifically, families using an Engaged Homeschooling approach.

We can take what the research says and live it — facilitating engagement by allowing our children to develop and follow their interests, using interest-based learning as a tool of engagement. 

Are you making the most of your autonomy as a homeschool parent? Have you explored how interest-based learning can work in your children’s education?

If you’re not a homeschooling parent yet, have you considered what it would be like to use your children’s interests to help them learn —  what Kaufman calls “fuel” for effortless engagement?

Kaufman points out that this fuel, interest, trumps persistence (defined as “time spent on task”), which is a welcome notion to those of us who have witnessed fourth graders labor over far too many ill-designed homework exercises, until the will to learn anything is pretty much wrung out of them and they wilt over the kitchen table.

So, how? How do homeschoolers harness the horsepower of interests? 

That’s the subject of my next post.