This year, for the second year, I am teaching a high school Literature & Composition class to 15 homeschoolers at the Homeschool High School Learning Center. At HSLC, the teens meet once a week for three core classes: science, math and English. They work independently through the week and are earning high school credit for these classes.
I am so grateful for this group and highly recommend this model. It’s not something I had with my two older kids. The set up is great for my daughter – read “accountability to someone other than Mom” – and there’s the added bonus that I get to teach the subject I love and return to my first vocation as a high school English teacher! But with homeschoolers as my students – double bonus!
When we decided to incorporate some history into my Lit & Comp class this year, I knew I wanted to put together some sort of integrated project for my students with some guidelines but also with lots of personal choice built in.
I came up with the idea of an Historical Figure Fair and the students worked all semester on their projects. Each student picked an historical figure from the 20th century. We began our studies with a timeline that we have added to each week.
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A tip for studying history: I highly recommend keeping a timeline over the middle school years and adding to it as you study the different time periods.
You can find timelines as well as figures and events at Homeschool in the Woods.
Timelines are a great way to learn history. They’re easy to make, too. I made this one by taping 8 1/2 x 11″ card stock paper together long ways and then marking the years. Each page represents 10 years in this one. The students then choose events or people to add, glue a picture or description onto a post-it note, and stick it on the timeline.
The Historical Figure Fair was a huge success. This could be adapted to a family setting, where each family member picks someone from history. Or, parents could even team up with children and work on one person together.
I really think this could work for middle school and up, the age when true history begins in the Waldorf curriculum and is based on biographies. If you haven’t had a chance to read my post on Steiner’s View on Teaching History, I recommend you take a peek.
For the project, I gave each of the students two handouts: a Project Checklist and Project Guidelines. The end goal was for each student to create a project board (using the tri-fold boards for science fairs) and present a 3 minute speech.
I checked in with them about this project almost every week. One of the biggest take-aways that happens at the High School Learning Center aside from content is learning time management!
The final presentations were beautiful. Among the figures were artists, musicians, authors, and movie producers: Andy Warhol, Dr. Seuss, Elvis, Alfred Hitchcock, Picasso, Kurt Cobain, Estee Lauder, Tim Burton…One of the things I loved about the project was how much each student’s choice reflected their personality.
We had a presentation night with a potluck to end the semester and all of the parents and families, as well as the students themselves, were very proud of the work the students had done.
Here are some great reference books for studying history.
I would love to hear from you if you have done something similar or decide to give the Historical Figure Fair a try! Please share in the comments.
Hi Jean! The high school learning center sounds like a wonderful program, and I love the idea of a Historical Figure Fair. I wish I could send my daughter to your Literature and Composition class! Thanks also for the Steiner cafe post on teaching history. It was so informative. I think I’ve mentioned before how much I appreciate those cafe posts. 🙂
Hi Rachel! Thanks for stopping by. I wish your daughter could join us, too! I love my teen group. All very different, from lots of different homeschooling backgrounds. I am grateful. Maybe you can try an historical figure fair with just your family, or one other? You could scale it down or change it to suit your needs. And I have to say, I especially love it when my readers enjoy the Steiner Cafe. It holds a dear spot in my heart and is always fascinating and freeing to dig into those lectures from 1919. Thanks!
I enjoyed this post and think the the historical figure fair is a great idea. Could you tell me about the high school model you spoke about. We have some homeschooling students in our area who will be starting high school soon and we have been discussing how we might form something similar to yours. I guess the most pressing questions would be about the teachers and how much do you pay them. If they were not Waldorf trained, did that matter and if so, how did they prepare for the Waldorf curriculum? Would appreciate any advice. Thank you. Kay Sanders
Thanks, Kay. The model at our learning center is pretty simple. There are three teachers, all certified/experienced in their subject, who teach math, science and English. We have just one group of 15 teenagers (grades 8+) and so they all take all three classes together (so three periods and lunch). We meet once a week on Mondays. This is not a strictly Waldorf group. Because of my Waldorf background, I tend to teach in blocks, or units, but each of the teachers plans her own classes/syllabus and uses textbooks/resources of her own choosing as well. What we all have in common is the commitment to hands-on learning. This is where that marriage of homeschooling and Waldorf come together. By high school, teens are ready to learn from subject specialists and be more independent and do well to be exposed to different teaching styles, in my opinion. As for fees, we based our teacher fees (per hour & fifteen minute classes) on the going rate of part-time teachers in our area (check out say what teachers make who teach at the museums or other part-time venues) and added an hour of prep time to that. Our classes are held in a church and we pay a minimal per family fee for each 14 week session in “rent” on top of the monthly fees that cover the teachers’ pay. Hope that helps! Good luck, and I’d love to hear if you get something going.