Wednesday, October 3, 2012

First Day of the Huckleberry Hill Project

The Huckleberry Hill Project is a new project-based model of homeschooling education I am exploring. Eight families including seventeen children meet one Tuesday a week to work on projects they are passionate about.  It started on the staircase at Escape to the Arts in Danbury, when a few of the mothers at our homeschooling coop talked about how amazing all of this technology is and how it would be great for kids to work on projects that they were truly passionate about and through that acquire all of the technological skills to express themselves in any way they choose to.  It turned out that many of our children already had ideas, great ideas just waiting to be brought to life.

Then I thought we needed to role model how to make a greater change in our community and reach more people.  I came up with a group project.  As individuals we are one but as a group all pulling for one big idea who knows how far we could go.

I started thinking about things we could do that would empower us to go out and reach for our own personal visions and give us the necessary skills to do that.  I came up with making a documentary, as it is a way to show how ordinary people can come together to fix the problems we see in our communities and make a difference.  Video is a way that people will be communicating in the future.  A picture tells a thousand words, a video...millions and across cultures too.

It is hard for a group of kids to come together and materialize a big idea.  We as educators need to role model how we can do it, and use our collective skills to make something happen, so that they will be empowered to make their own dreams come true.

So, yesterday this project started.

It went well although not without glitches.  I believe in our process 100%.  This is a new concept.  Change is difficult.  There are teething issues.  But I am seeing great things wherever I look. The skills and empowerment the children are gaining from this type of experience are tangible and transferable into every facet of their lives.

The children worked hard on their projects.  Two of the children presented impressive powerpoint presentations to the group about their motivation for their project and the project they have made so far.

It rained over lunch. We talked about how difficult it is to fit all of the children's activities into the day. How hard it is to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner before a long commute to an activity and to be out all day.  I thought how different our lives are compared to how homeschoolers are generally perceived.
I thought about how we could make our lives simpler.

In the afternoon we had a documentary making workshop.  How do 25 people make a documentary?  1t is not an easy thing to be "in charge" of this event.  I take my role seriously.  I am prepared and nervous at the same time.  I am sailing in unknown waters, leading people in the dark. Yet I am confident in my process.  I want children to be able to do this alone after I am done.  I want them to understand what it takes to make something like this happen.  I want them to learn the skills involved and be empowered.  I want them to reach for the sky and get somewhere close.

Luckily I am not alone.  I have enthusiastic supporters, people providing skills and tech help, motivators and facilitators, kind friends, listeners, caring mothers and people I can lean on.

I decided to use fish as a metaphor for our wonderful individual contributors to the documentary.  We are going to try and work together, swim as a group yet branch out into areas of interest.  We are going to pull together when there is a deadline. (This is a strange concept for a homeschooler!)

We all made a fish and placed the fish under the heading where we are most interested in working.  Stars are second choices.  We have some very excited documentary makers!

We talked about documentaries we have seen, their messages and that documentaries are a way to research a topic, to explore something we care about.  What do we care about? Our documentary is going to be about how we are going to ensure a safe food supply in our future.  Our IT specialist modeled using mindmapping software as a way to record a meeting and a groups thoughts.  Later I went through different roles and thought about how children could use this mindmapping app (Simplemindsfree) to work out how to move forward in their group.

Later in our day, one of our participants, who had earlier presented to the group how he is setting up a youth film festival, gave a 30 minute seminar on how to make an iMovie.  IMovie is very similar to Final Cut Pro X.  My Final Cut Pro Instructor suggested the children make movies first on iMovie before embarking on Final Cut Pro X.   We saw a cool iMovie that Kaya, one of our participants, had made about the difference between a free range egg from chicken with a varied diet including bugs and an egg that is the product of a hen in the industrial food system. By the end of the day making an iMovie seemed quite doable, and as we had filmed the children working on their projects, we even had footage to get started with.

I was so happy to become acquainted with these new skills, especially mind mapping.  I feel we moved forward in our process.  It is wonderful for the children that time is set aside every week for them to concentrate on creating something that they dared to dream.  It is exciting to see the children engaged  and busy, working on their own unique projects.  I am proud of them.

1 comment:

  1. Any new venture is weird and wonky at the get go, but it becomes a habit, and mostly routine. Routine is where the comfort lies. We'll get there! By the way, kaya's video can be found right here: