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info@OpenPathHomeschooling.com ~ 802 454-9336 ~ 180 Bartlett Road, Plainfield, VT 05667
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Sample Schedule

-11:15-11:30 arrive, settle in, get organized

- 11:30-1:00 Work Block

- 1:00-2:00 Lunch & Free Time (may take place at a local park in good weather)

- 2:00-3:30 Work Block

- Homework: Each week, there will be a few suggested activities for students to work on at home and bring back the following week. These will extend the work done in class, so making time to do some of them will maximize the learning experience. Some weeks there will be a required assignment that is related to an upcoming class activity.












(Investigating New Knowledge)

Academic Learning in an Engaging, Student-Centered Group Context

Ages 11-14
Burlington, VT

Winter Session:
Tuesdays, 1/9-2/13/07 (bad weather backup date: 2/20)


Children this age often have strong interests and are ready to dive into learning about the world around them with increasing depth and independence. Growing academic confidence and competence enable them to pursue their own questions and interests with greater power and effectiveness. Since September of 2004, this program has been providing a fun, supportive, and intellectually stimulating group environment for actively exploring knowledge and developing skills. Students take on new challenges as part of an encouraging peer group and under the guidance of an experienced, homeschooling-friendly teacher.


Winter 2007 Topic
Pros and Cons: Debating Current Issues

Debates can provide motivating contexts for exploring an issue and learning to craft a logical argument. This class offers an introduction to structured debate in a low-pressure environment. Preparing for a debate requires research, writing, questioning, and organization of information; participation develops quick thinking, reasoning, and speaking skills. Based on student interest, we will choose two controversies from a number of current social issues. Each student will debate one of these questions as part of a team, and will also have some involvement in the other debate (asking questions, evaluating the outcome, etc.). We will explore multiple perspectives on each of the two issues through discussion. Even while preparing to argue one side of a question, students will need to see other viewpoints as they anticipate what the other team will say. This class will include instruction on persuasive writing and each student will write an opening or closing statement or other short essay on his/her debate topic.

Location: Davis Studio, #4 Howard Street, Burlington

Fee: $155 for 6 weeks

Previous Sessons:
Fall 06 Session
Spring 06 Session
Winter 06 Session
Fall 05 Session
Winter 05 Session

Fall 04 Session


Fall 2006 Topics

Creative Writing

Creative writing can be a fun and personally meaningful way for imaginative students to develop and practice writing skills and to communicate their ideas and feelings. Each class will begin with an exercise, writing prompt, or other activity to inspire creativity and help students try new things. We will explore different forms of writing, particularly creative non-fiction (memoir, creative essay) and poetry. There will be focused writing time for students to work on their own pieces, and they will also be encouraged to write at home during the week. We’ll discuss writing strategies and processes, including revision and editing, and there will be time to give and receive feedback. The class aims to nurture creativity and imagination while providing the support, inspiration, and experience that will help each writer expand his/her capabilities. The class will culminate in a reading for family and friends or the creation of a literary magazine or individual bound books.


Explorations in Mapmaking

Maps are tools for understanding the world, and making maps can be a way of organizing our experiences of the places around us and developing a stronger sense of place. Our hands-on mapmaking activities will draw on and develop skills in geography, mathematics, and science. Techniques may include grid maps, depth profiling, baseline and offset mapping, relief maps, plane tabling, contour mapping, and/or use of pacing to measure distance. Landforms, map keys and symbols, scale, compass directions, etc. will all be addressed as needed. We'll map some actual outdoor and indoor places, and also make maps of imagined worlds as part of a culminating creative project.

Spring 2006 Topics

Architecture and Geometry

Students will become junior architects as they design and draw a house to scale and learn some of the skills of architects, engineers, and builders. This process will give them the opportunity to develop and practice mathematical skills in a compelling real-life context. Students will learn how to create and read blueprints, take measurements and make scale drawings, analyze square footage, and estimate building costs. They will develop visual and mathematical thinking as they move between 3-D and 2-D representations and from concrete to abstract. Solving the problems inherent in drawing house plans will exercise their creativity and problem solving skills. As a culminating activity, each student will design a house within a given budget with certain design requirements and will compute the square footage and construction costs.

A Moment in History: The Scopes Trial

To truly understand history, we must be able to view the past through multiple perspectives and to recognize the beliefs and biases that underlay what we read about past events. It is a challenging and important skill for students to be able to see arguments on both sides of a hotly debated issue, in this case those surrounding creationism and the theory of evolution. The 1925 trial of John Scopes was a highly dramatic one in which two famous lawyers faced off over this controversial case, and it had a significant impact on future generations. It provides a window through which to view the conflict between traditional and modern views in 1920’s America, and may offer insight into current debates. Through readings, discussion, writing, analysis of primary source documents (such as political cartoons and news articles), and a dramatic re-creation of the actual trial, we will take an in-depth look at this famous event. This will include discussions of the historical context and significance of the trial, as well as the role of the media (particularly radio) in bringing the trial to national attention. We will look at the nature of controversy, the First Amendment to the Constitution, and issues surrounding science, religion, and educational freedom. Students will take on roles of famous historical figures and everyday people who were involved in the trial in some way. They will also learn about trial procedure and oratory as they practice writing, research, note-taking, and speaking skills.

Winter 2006 Topic: Calendars and Ancient Chronometry

The way we measure time has its origins directly in natural systems, yet has been shaped by cultural and mathematical factors as well. The need for efficient, accurate, and useful ways of measuring and recording the passage of time has generated mathematical puzzles that have intrigued and challenged people throughout history. In this class, we’ll explore some of the astronomical, cultural, historical, and mathematical factors involved in the development of calendar systems. We’ll begin by considering the different ways we measure time and how they relate to each other and to astronomical movements. Then we’ll review the movements of the earth, sun, and moon in relation to one another and look at how these were the basis of ancient systems of measuring time. This will include constructing some devices to measure and illustrate movements of the sun and moon. We’ll evaluate various calendar systems, which involves the extensive use of mathematical operations and concepts in a real-world context. As a culminating activity, we’ll create our own calendar systems that solve some of the problems we’ve encountered along the way. There will be suggested activities to extend the learning at home, and may also be one or two required assignments.

Because of the complexity of some of the math involved in this class, there are a few pre-requisite concepts necessary to be able to fully participate. They are:
- comfort reading clocks and calendars
- basic understanding of concepts involved in long multiplication and long division and the ability to solve these problems using either manipulatives, pencil and paper, or a calculator
- basic understanding of fractional language and the meaning of fractions, including some familiarity with the relationship between division and fractions

Fall 2005 Topics

Creative Writing — Creative writing can be a fun and personally meaningful way for imaginative students to develop and practice writing skills. Each class will begin with an activity to inspire creativity and help students try new things with their writing. Some drawing, storytelling, and drama may be included as ways of exploring writing ideas. There will be focused writing time for students to work on pieces of their own choosing, and they will also be encouraged to write at home during the week. We'll discuss writing strategies and processes, and there will be time to give and receive feedback. The emphasis will be on nurturing creativity and imagination and providing the support, inspiration, and experience that will develop confidence and bring out each writer's unique voice. Depending on the interests of the participants, the class could culminate in a reading for family and friends or the creation of a literary magazine or individual bound books.

Literature Discussion — Published poets, essayists, and fiction writers can be the best writing teachers. We will share some literary examples as models and inspiration for writing exercises. There will also be at least one opportunity for students to read the same novel and participate in a book discussion group. We may read a mystery novel together as a connection to the study of forensic science. In addition, we will read short mystery stories aloud for enjoyment and to practice logical reasoning and detective skills.

Who Dunnit? Forensic Science — Mysteries hold a fascination for many young people and provide an engaging opportunity to develop critical thinking and reasoning skills. Forensic scientists are real-world detectives using scientific knowledge to collect and interpret evidence that helps solve crimes and other mysteries. Our study of the topic will bring in material from several branches of biology and chemistry as we investigate fingerprinting, chromatography (ink analysis), hair morphology, pH testing of mystery liquids/powders, and more. There will be simulated mysteries for students to solve as they participate in lab science activities, use microscopes, and practice a number of science skills including close observation, questioning, collecting and interpreting data, classification, making predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions.

Winter 2005 Focus: Build a Village

This winter, the program will integrate a number of academic skills through a creative group project. We will create a village from scratch, with the students taking on various roles and jobs and making decisions about how their village will run. The group will simulate the workings of the village, as well as making scale maps and/or models of the buildings. We may even wire model buildings with lights for a science connection. The students will be encouraged to be creative and to use their individual interests, knowledge, and talents for the benefit of the whole group.

Language Arts & Communication: There will be many decisions to make about the workings of our simulated village. Students will read background information related to these questions, present information and ideas to the group, and discuss choices and make decisions together. They will write about their role in the village, professions, activities, etc. The group will work together to record group decisions and create official documents needed for the village. These may include laws, employment contracts, birth certificates, newspapers, etc.

Mathematics: The activities of the village will necessitate a variety of financial transactions. Math lessons will support students' ability to work with with whole numbers, decimals, and percents in real world situations. This may involve calculating taxes, discounts, etc. We will also explore ratios as we make scale models/maps of our buildings. Activities will build problem solving and reasoning, mental math skills, and number sense, as well as conceptual understanding and computational skills.

Social Studies, Science, Etc.: This project could go in a number of different directions, but will incorporate some of the following topics:
- history of money, barter systems, etc.
- characteristics of different economic systems
- characteristics of different systems of government
- roles and rights of citizens and their leaders
- elements of culture
- energy and electricity
- ecology and environmental issues

Fall 2004 Work Blocks

Language Arts & Communication:

Research Projects
— Students will choose topics of personal interest to investigate, tapping into their natural curiosity. We will go step by step through the process of doing research and organizing and communicating information, with instruction and support along the way. As a group, we will prepare for a Project Fair where students display and present their knowledge to their families. They will incorporate art into visual displays and each write a report or article based on their research. The emphasis throughout will be on the excitement of learning new things and sharing knowledge with others in a meaningful way.

Responding to Literature — Many homeschoolers are enthusiastic readers. Discussing and writing about books can increase a reader's enjoyment and depth of understanding. Students will write about the books they are reading in dialogue journals, book reviews, and/or letters to authors. They will give and hear book talks and discuss their reading with each other. There will also be the opportunity for students to read the same novel and participate in a book discussion group. These activities serve to create a culture of readers, as well as to practice and expand language arts skills.

Mathematics & Science:

Games of Strategy, Games of Chance — Games have an incredible capacity to engage students' interests and can provide great learning opportunities. We will investigate math concepts and develop logical thinking skills through playing and studying a variety of games. Discussions of strategy and lessons about probability and working with data will draw mathematical and scientific learning out of these fun experiences. Students will apply and extend what they've learned by making their own games for the group to play.

Basic Operations & Number Sense — Mathematical confidence, problem solving skills, and a solid understanding of our number system are the keys to being able to tackle new mathematical topics and problems. Hands-on activities, number investigations, and games will be used to teach and reinforce basic operations and number sense. The emphasis will be on building a conceptual understanding of our number system, developing personal strategies for manipulating numbers, and applying these in a variety of mathematical situations.