A New School Exists

Education & Technology

It is always a little amazing to me when an idea becomes a reality.

Think of all of the things that have been created. With the exceptions of urban sprawl and beer bellies, most everything created began as an idea- a little rush of synaptic connections.

The table I am sitting at, the computer that I am working on, and the internet that connects heaven and earth were all  ideas in some little schmuck’s head.

Last year, I had an idea. It wasn’t a huge or a grand idea, but I was fond of it. I am a teacher by both profession and vocation. I wanted to be able to move from the tired little town where I had been living, travel at will, play with my kid, and have a little money. I wanted to start a new low residency school for Middle School students. My thought was to have an online learning program for local kids, who would meet monthly, while getting academic and social support from an experienced teacher. I created a web site (www.s-h-i-n-e.org) , developed my idea, created literature, talked about it with anyone, who would listen, and started my own little business.

Now, it actually exists. There are real students, who are doing real work. There are ideas being exchanged and learning is occurring. Furthermore, I was able to quit my previous job, and I am moving to a community with more opportunities for my daughter. It is pretty amazing.

The First Live Class

Last week Friday, we had our first live class. My next post is going to be a more thorough discussion of the first class, but these are the highlights:

-We played team-building games.

The students are playing a game to encourage cooperation and team work.

-We talked about upcoming trips and adventures, including our field trip to NYC.

-We launched the Utopia project. I wrote about the Utopia project here https://blog.wiziq.com/a-utopia-project-for-home-schooled-students/ but the gist of the project is that students are going to create their own model of a utopian community. The kids sketched, wrote, and talked about their ideas.

The First On-Line Class
Then I had my first on line class on Monday morning. The first class was an investigation of happiness. It followed up on some of the conversations that we had the previous Friday. I want the kids to think about how they bring happiness into their lives. They can choose to seek happiness or chose to reject the search, but I want them to consider it. It bothers me that most people do not feel like they have any control over their emotional state or their future. Despite my nervousness, the class went really well! I am busily learning  more about how to make on-line classes and Moodle work for us by taking courses on WizIq and with IT4ALL.

The Written Lessons
I e-mailed a lesson to the students, including an introduction to Laughing Yoga, sociological investigations of happiness, and a great you-tube clip about Learned Helplessness, along with a bit of analysis and some comprehension questions. All of these documents will eventually be organized on a Moodle website.

We are exchanging journal letters about the books that they are reading. I sent all the kids a letter asking them to let me in on all of the juicy details of their latest book. I want to know what made them laugh, when did they want to throw the book out of the window, and what character they would like to invite over to hang out. I received a letter from all of the students, and am about to write back to them.

What I Really Want Them to Learn
When I started a brick and mortar school ten years ago, a farmer (I am not kidding) taught me how to wire the electricity. Granted, it was a brick and mortar schoolhouse in a converted chicken coop on an educational farm, but there was, at least, a building and children. Ten minutes after learning how to wire electricity, I taught the children how to do it  and they wired the classroom. It was all inspected before the walls were closed up. Nonetheless, the technology, the electricity, the paper and the pencil are all things that any person can learn. The notion that you can create your life, starting with an idea that you pursue and develop, is a much more complicated, interesting and important notion.

WizIQ, Home Schooling


I am a teacher, hiker, mother, dancer and home-maker. I have taught pre-school through SAT prep. I am exploring ways to create on-line learning communities for home-schooled middle school and high school students. In particular, I am starting a low-residency on-line middle school. I would like to help young people explore important ideas while enjoying their lives! You can learn more about my programs at www.onlineclassesforgroovykids.org.


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