Five Ideas for High School Co-op Classes
Last year, my oldest homeschooler entered the high school years. This was a little bit of a daunting milestone, as keeping a transcript and tracking credits felt like the kind of unchartered territory that was going to send me running for the safety net of the high school registrar’s office. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with an amazing group of co-op moms who helped me through, coming up with these five ideas for high school co-op classes.
Keeping a class blog is like the electronic version of the school newspaper. In addition to learning the art of interviewing, reporting, and story writing, your students will learn everything about publishing a blog, from editing posts, to uploading images, to formatting page layouts. There are a few blog platforms that will let you publish a multi-user blog for free, you just have to search through the choices out there to find which one works best for your class needs.
Cat vs. Dog
This was just the fun name we came up with for our co-op debate class. Cat vs. Dog was the first topic assigned, in an effort to ease into the process with lighthearted subject matter. You can start slowly, as we did, or jump right into the bigger issues. Topics and teams were assigned a week in advance, to give students time to form a solid argument, complete with written essays and cited sources of facts to back up their arguments.
Young Adulting 101
From balancing a checking account ledger to finding affordable housing, this class gave the kids a preview of the cost of living on one’s own. To start this class, each student should pick a profession they think they would like to have. Then, look up the starting salary for that job in your area. Have them figure out gross pay vs. net pay, and create a budget based on the monthly net amount. Don’t forget to deduct student loan fees if their jobs required a college degree. Once they have their budget set, have them look through local ads for housing and a car they can afford. Calculate other expenses like food, furnishings, laundry and entertainment. Each week, throw in a “budget breaker,” like a car repair or an unpaid leave from work. Give them the option to apply for credit cards and by the end of the semester, see who comes out ahead, and who is struggling with debt.
World Geography and Culture
What is the proper way to serve tea in Japan? What kind of handicrafts can be found in Ukraine? What is Fado music, and why is it so revered in Portugal? In this class, students chose a different country to “visit” each week, and then research things, such as how the geography and climate impacts things like jobs and economy, but also how the customs of each country originated and evolved. Upon completing their research, students would discuss their findings, cook one of the traditional foods, learn something such as how to speak some phrases from the language, or how to do the basic steps to a folk dance, create a piece of art based on local artistry, and write something reflective of the customs of the country (a Japanese haiku, an Irish blessing, lyrics to a Fado song, etc.).
High School Show and Tell
Since our state requires speech as a high school graduation requirement, we held a weekly show and tell period where they would bring in something that they could demonstrate and talk about for at least five minutes. Most weeks we assigned a theme or topic, along with a list of talking points they could use to help them along, but some of the best results came from the weeks we designated as free to choose anything they wanted. This class was so simple in theory, but produced some very interesting and engaging sessions, all while helping the students gain more confidence in speaking to a crowd.
Of course, these ideas can all be adapted to suit the needs of your particular co-op group. Most of them can even be modified for younger students, or used at home with an individual or small group. No matter how you choose to use them, these classes were all designed to keep co-op fun and interesting for teens, while adding some extra academics for parents to check off their lists.
Christine Gauvreau is a wife, a mother and a writer who is ever grateful to God for calling her to homeschool. In addition to teaching her own children at home, she teaches creative writing to other homeschoolers in a co-op setting, as well as through lessons she designed for SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Christine shares some of her creative ideas, along with stories about her family’s homeschooling journey at Rubytree Academy (rubytreeacademy.com).