During our Friday Unschool program, children of all ages are welcome to attend Ology Assembly. This group adopts an unschool approach to learning — with a facilitator following the desires of the learners. To accomplish this with a multi-aged group, the students apply a democratic process to suggest and select the topics they desire to learn. We teach the learners how to articulate what they want to learn. We then create a program year plan based on survey results that help us to aggregate, weigh, and prioritize interests. Parents have the option to volunteer as a class assistant or to pay a buy-out fee.
The facilitator summarizes each week’s experience for parents. Here’s a sample of a typical day as summarized by the facilitator:
“We extended our study of tornadoes by using homemade marker tops to simulate the storm’s spinning motions. We covered the tables with paper and students went to town experimenting with the spinners, which were made by pushing markers through the holes in CDs and securing them with tape. Some students took to it right away while others experimented a few times before getting the hang of it. Hoots and hollers could be heard when individual children noticed the paths that were made by the markers. I encouraged them to experiment with different techniques and to switch spinners or locations to see if these factors changed their results. When it was time to move on, one of the students exclaimed, “No! I don’t want to stop. I could do this all day!” Luckily, I told her, she could make a simple and cheap top at home with a marker and a CD.
Numerous students asked if they could take the spinning tops home because they did not think they had spare CD’s. I took out the markers and handed the CDs over because I would love for them to continue this process art (with an educational twist) at home.
Next, we continued our exploration by reading and discussing the appropriately-titled Tornadoes by Brian Cassie. A student brought this book in from her personal library; I love when students take initiative and offer to bring materials or supplies from home that connect to what we are studying. We had a small OA group that day, so I gathered them on the purple couch (Have I ever told you how much I love the purple couch in my room? I really do love it!) and read the book aloud as they drew and took notes. This text was the first source to differentiate between Tornado Warnings and Watches, so we added that information, and more, to our class KWL chart.
This Friday, we will watch a few clips from a documentary that has footage of real tornadoes. This will be the last information-gathering day before we use our newfound knowledge to create a class book about the current OA topic: tornadoes!