Monday, September 30, 2013

eCubed Teen Scene

We are very fortunate to live near Princeton, New Jersey.  Parents in Princeton tend to be very open to different educational models and opportunities, from Waldorf and Montessori schools to community schools and unschool academies or collectives where kids direct their education to cooperatives of professors that meet weekly to discuss topics.

One of the learning opportunities that we found really intriguing was eCube - experience, explore, educate, which was started more than ten years ago by two homeschool moms for their teens to have an opportunity to develop group learning activities.  The two moms that started the program still facilitate it today, working with teen leaders to develop and implement group activities. 

Three years ago, when we began homeschooling, we heard nothing but awesome things about this program and as soon as Allie was old enough, we put her name on the waiting list.  It's a very sought after program and only one of our friends has gotten "the call" that they can come and visit at least 4 times before they make a commitment to the program.

When brainstorming ideas for the fall term of co-op, one of the co-op moms, whose children have been involved with e-cube, came up with the idea that we could start our own version.  The rest of us moms thought that sounded great.  We presented the idea to the kids and they were intrigued by the idea of running their own classes with an adult facilitator.  So, we decided that one of the four periods of co-op for the "older kids" this year will be a teen-led class (the girls are also taking classes on Rhetoric, learning about the Renaissance and participating in Destination Imagination through our co-op).

Over the summer, we met several times to "brainstorm" - discuss ideas and structure.  The kids came up with topics they want to learn about and then selected the areas they were comfortable researching, exploring and sharing with their friends. 

The format is as follows:

  • Over the summer, the kids met, came up with topics, voted on topics and were assigned topics to present on throughout the fall term.
  • Each week: first, discussion and evaluation of the previous week's presenters: the presenters go first and tell where they think they did well and what areas they could improve, then their friends share what areas they think were good and what areas could use improvement.
  • Next, current week's presenters present.  They have to use the entire allotted time and they can not go over.
  • over the course of the week, the presenters are encouraged to think about where they could have improved.

Through this approach to learning my girls will work both in groups and alone.  They are learning to share work, to delegate and to work in a team.  They have done research and are learning to present it in a way that their friends can learn from, they have faced fears of public speaking and feeling silly, they have learned time management and how to time a presentation to a certain amount of time, they have learned to take criticism from their well as learning about topics from games to movies to wildlife to Free Tibet to America's dependency on oil....  We are only at the beginning phases of this program, but I feel that not only the subject matter, but the skills the kids learn will be countless.

I can not wait to see where this goes....

When our name is called for e-cubed, we do plan to visit and we will have to assess at that time if we think we want to take on both classes, but for now we are really, really happy with our Teen-led class and the many cool teens in our group and we so thankful to Erin for facilitating!