How to Teach Co-op Classes

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Teach Co-op Classes. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

How to Teach Co-op Classes

How to Teach Co-op Classes

Are you teaching your homeschool co-op’s classes for teens, this year? Feel a little intimidated? That’s normal and okay. However, you can have the best years yet with homeschooling your homeschool teen co-op courses!

Remember, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. In that same way, there’s not one-right way to homeschool co-op!

So, what are the practical tips for handling teaching co-op classes for teens?

We 7Sisters have taught homeschool co-op and group classes for decades (even online homeschool classes). We have found a few tips that make teaching the teens go so much better. These same ideas will help you if your co-op is online this year, too.

Know the subject and topic that you are going to teach

I know that sounds obvious, but just in case you were told to teach “History”, you will need to make sure which history you are going to teach! Will it be American History, World History, a special elective History topic? Or will it be a Social Studies/Social Science topic like Geography, Economics, Civics or Psychology? It is so much easier to plan and prepare when that much is clarified!

Clarify the goals for this course

Make sure you are on the same page with the rest of the co-op on these important goals:

Will the class be:

  • One semester
  • Full year

What are specific goals for the course? For instance:

  • We will have completed a curriculum by the end of the (semester or year)
  • Students will have been introduced to the topic through experiences and discussion over the (semester or year)
  • Other goals or a combination

If you are clear about your goals, others can know up front what to expect (and adjust their expectations- or do something somewhere else).

Discover what curriculum or materials you will use.

One way to explore curriculum and material ideas is to bring the topic up in a Facebook group. Homeschool moms in groups are often thrilled to share about what they have used, along with what they liked and did not like. Some of our favorite Facebook groups are:

Be sure to read the descriptions of materials on the publisher’s website? You can usually contact the publisher at their “contact me” or chatbot with specific questions. Also, don’t forget to look at excerpts on their site as well as look for co-op discounts (like 7SistersHomeschool’s fabulous co-op discounts).

Be certain about the level of instruction you are aiming for

Will you be working with:

  • A group of college-bound teens who like intense academics?
  • College-bound teens who just need to get this course out of the way?
  • Career-bound teens who just need the basics?
  • A mixture of the above that will need a mixture of levels of rigor?

Write a course description

This will be something that parents will want to see. Also, occasionally colleges, college athletics or military recruiters will want to see course descriptions.

Course descriptions include:

  • Title of course
  • Curriculum and methods of instruction (text, real books, inquiry-based activities, projects, field trips or whatever)
  • Topics to be covered (you can use table of contents in textbook)
  • How the course will be graded
  • Amount of credit the teen will be earning
  • Level of rigor at which the course will be taught

    Creating & Using a Syllabus 7SistersHomeschool.com
    Click image for full description.

Create a syllabus

Email or give your homeschool high schoolers a copy. The syllabus will let your students know what to do each week for class. This helps teens develop independent learning skills. Also, for college-bound teens, learning to use syllabi is perfect college-prep skills!

A good idea to include in your planning and syllabus is to include one or more of the following:

  • Hands-on projects
  • Field trips if possible
  • Tests and/or papers

BTW- at 7Sisters we have a guide for how to create a syllabus along with suggested syllabi for many of our courses.

Field trips are fun for homeschool co-ops

When it is time for co-op to start, at the beginning of each class, include a grabber

Grabbers are a way to get students’ heads in the game for each class- it grabs their attention and gets them focused on the lesson at hand. Some grabbers include:

Encourage discussion times in the class

One way to handle this is to use poker chips.

  • At the beginning of class, give each student three or four poker chips (unless there is an extraordinarily shy teen or one with a disability that makes verbal participation difficult).
  • The students get to hand back a chip for each question they answer or on-topic comment they make.
  • When they are out of chips, they have done their talking for the day. (This slows the over-talkers down and encourages the quieter ones to speak.)

Ask for feedback through the year

Periodically during the year, ask your homeschool high school class:

  • What were your favorite topics so far?
  • What were your favorite projects, field trips or activities?

As far as covering the material in a textbook, there are several ways to handle this in your co-op class

  • Have teens read that day’s lesson ahead of time
  • Read it together in class
  • Read it yourself, week by week, and then teach it. Teens can read it later as homework.

At the end of the year, give each student some personal feedback

Don’t just give them a final grade, but also give each student a positive comment about a strength you saw in them over the year. This can have a big impact in the teen’s life.

Be sure to check out 7SistersHomeschool’s Authoritative Guide to Homeschool Co-ops. That post has SO much free information. While you are at it, check out these Homeschool Highschool Podcast episodes about co-ops:

Hey, also, don’t forget that there are other awesome podcasts here at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network. One of the most helpful is Homeschooling with Technology. You will be amazed at how much rich information and how many resources you will find there. PLUS there are TONS of episodes about Homeschool Co-ops at Homeschool CPA podcast.

Join Vicki for a discussion on teaching homeschool co-op classes for teens.

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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