All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education. - Sir Walter Scott
When Grace was in school she loved projects. However, I hated her projects. They were dumb. I really hate to say it...but they were! They were not based on anything relevant. They were not inspiring and did not require the application of anything they learned in class.
The lower grades were full of “family projects” like decorate a snowman, decorate a rainbow, decorate a gingerbread man....you get the idea. The upper grades had fewer projects but they were just as meaningless. My theory is that there was little time for fun in school and this was one way of ensuring that parents and children connected on some level. Usually the project was pushed to the last minute and then I ended up completing the bulk of the project (especially the decorating ones).
Right now Grace is working on a project and I am marveling at the differences between it and the projects she has done in the past. Just like in school, she has procrastinated and left three days to complete the work required to earn a girl scout patch. Not only must she complete the activities, she must also present it to her troop. When I reminded her time was running out, she went to work.
She choose the badge she wanted to earn. With Grace, that makes all the difference. She chose Globe Trotting, which ties in perfectly to her love of weather. Isn’t that a coincidence since my earlier post was all about how homeschooling allows us to connect their learning across content areas as well as let them follow their passions!
To complete her badge she had to choose three projects:
- read a book where the setting directly contributed to the plot. This was the case in Ninth Ward, a book set in the Ninth Ward, New Orleans. She typed out the reasons why New Orleans geography contributes to dangerous hurricane conditions. She also had to write a story where the setting contributes to the plot. She did this in her piece of historical fiction titled Trouble. She designed a cover page and printed out her story.
- Using www.ready.gov Grace designed her own emergency preparation kit. She printed out a clip art first aid kit and clip art for what the government recommends we have on hand in an emergency. She made 5 copies so that each of the Junior Girl Scouts can cut out the pictures and paste them on their own kit. Next she researched blizzard conditions, how a blizzard forms and what can be done to stay safe during a blizzard. She put all this information on a poster and titled it Extreme Weather.
- Design an ideal location for you. Given Grace’s interests in summer and winter activities where would be a good place for her to live? She designed her own tropical location, complete with flora and fauna, geographical features and local animal species. She summarized her work on a poster of her own private island, Winnieville.
The key to each of these is that SHE did it. I had little involvement other than offering her my advice, proofreading and providing access to the computer and printer. This project required hours of effort on her part. Rather than receiving a grade, she will be receiving her patch. There is a tangible reward at the end. This was one thing that is hard to replicate in homeschooling. There is little chance for presentation. At her meeting tomorrow, Grace will present her project and lead her activity in front of her Troop Leader, the Co-Leader and the four other members of her troop.
I am proud of her work. I hope she is as well.