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We’re in Week Three of COVID19-related school closures and social distancing. And I’ve been on the verge of losing my mind more times than I care to admit. However, as the “suddenly homeschooling” experience continues, I’m finding support through online course offerings for “gifted” and twice-exceptional kids. (or, as I call them, kite kids; here’s why)
Here are three distance-learning resources that I recommend. In addition to great content, the courses are live and interactive!
Sunnyside (which specializes in the academic, social and emotional needs of kite kids) is typically an on-site school. However, as closures spread throughout the country, founder Jade Ann Rivera and her team decided to offer a handful of free online courses. The classes took place last week via Zoom meetings, which was awesome because students got to interact with their teachers, and share their ideas and final products with the group.
Both of my kids loved their courses. The interactive element was especially important to my extroverted nine-year-old who, the morning of his class, was really in a funk before it began. (I think the isolation was starting to get to him, but the interactive class did wonders for his mood.)
Jade and her team will offer more sessions starting the week of April 6; they’ll be pay-what-you’re-able courses. The suggested donation for each class is $5-10, with no one turned away for lack of funds. Donations will go directly to the teacher hosting the class.
For more details, visit the new Online Learning with Sunnyside website.
Bridges Academy, which focuses on the unique social, intellectual and creative needs of twice-exceptional learners, is offering week-long online courses for students in grades 4-12. (The age range varies by class, so read the course descriptions carefully.) See the current list of online courses at Bridges Academy.
My children are enjoying Outschool’s online courses, as well. As I mentioned above, real-time connections with other kids are so important.
And these students are joining in from around the world! (Today, my 2e son had a kid from Germany in his Virtual Field Trip to Mount Everest, which he thought was cool.)
Here are other examples of Outschool courses that would appeal to bright and quirky kids:
- Think Different: Celebrating Uniqueness that Changed the World – A four-week course that analyzes divergent thinkers who changed the course of the world, from Beethoven to Banksy and Mandela to MLK. Who changed the status quo? What did it cost them? How were they viewed in their current time and how does/will history view them? Explore the impact of people like: Ghandi, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Nikola Tesla, the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Mozart, Andy Warhol, Monet, Yanni, John Lennon and more. “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
- Louis Braille: His Life and Legacy – In this two-week online course, students learn how 15-year-old Louis Braille modified tactile military code into a way for the blind to read and write, and how his invention is still in use today.
- Think Like an Engineer – A 10-week introductory engineering course that begins with a big-picture introduction to the engineering design process. Kids then zoom in on each individual component of the engineering design process before looking, again, at the process as a whole. Each class affords learners many opportunities to discuss, think about, and reflect on how engineers do what they do.
Each live class meeting includes student-centered discussion, video case-studies and opportunities to reflect. This course is intentionally designed to meet the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional learners between the ages of 9 and 14. (Amazing, right?) Additionally, students ages 12 to 17, who are highly motivated to consider an engineering career, would get a lot of out of this course. Every week features an engineering challenge where students will work to brainstorm and prototype their ideas. By reflecting on professional engineering practice and tackling their own design challenges, students will gain a lot of experience in thinking like an engineer.
- Titanic by the Numbers – In this two-week class, students study the Titanic using numerical facts about different aspects of the ship to solve mathematical word-problems. The problems use various math skills, including all four basic operations.
- Weird History: The Bizarre, the Insane, and the Worst Decisions Ever – History is full of examples of people doing really strange things. Each class focuses on an anomaly of past human behavior, that usually didn’t make it into classes and textbooks. The class also takes time to empathize with these figures; trying to understand what made them do what they did, even if it seems confusing and self-destructive to us.
- Fractal Finders: Fractals are SMART (Science, Math and Art) – In this course, students learn that they can learn about science, math and art by observing nature and communicating the patterns they find.
- Harry Potter Dragonology – In this one-time, live class, kids study and research 10 types of dragons from the Harry Potter series. Perfect for Potterheads!
- Novel study of Frindle: When Words Have Power – This seven-session course focuses on the young-adult novel Frindle. It’s a story that teach readers that words can have enough power to change the world, and sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for!
- STEM: Bone Density and Muscle Stress in Space – Learn what happens to astronauts in space and how it affects the human body.
- Gifted and Talented – An ongoing course that supports “gifted” children (or, as I prefer to say, kite kids) with projects to enhance creative thinking, logic and reasoning skills, and teamwork.
- Symmetry Origami – Students learn three origami folds by following the teacher’s instruction via live video. Students then use radial balance to arrange multiple folds on a two-dimensional surface. The course includes some use of division and symmetry. (The instructor is a graduate of Pratt Institute who has helped high school seniors prepare for advanced-placement art exams and develop portfolios for college entry.)
- Jedi Arts and Crafts Summer Camp – A three-day, camp-style workshop for Star Wars fans who want to craft and geek out over everything Star Wars! On Day 1, campers do a watercolor painting of “The Child,” on Day 2, they’ll create a BB-8 felt keychain, and on Day 3, they’ll paint various Star Wars images on rocks.
- Star Wars Creative Writing and Storytelling – This one-time class will focus on creative writing and storytelling from the perspective of Star Wars. Students look at different character archetypes (e.g., hero, orphan, good vs. evil) and allegories (hidden meanings). The instructor also provides creative-writing worksheets that students can do after class.
Want to teach a class yourself?
If you think you might like to become an online instructor, Outschool says it has a growing need. Here is their Become an Outschool Instructor page.
Watch their videos and look around at what types of courses they offer and where there may be gaps, either by topic or a specific age range for a topic.
You also may like these other “suddenly homeschooling” ideas, and my online enrichment opportunities for grown-ups 😉
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