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looking for forum for student discussion

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I looking for options for homeschool students to be part of an online group discussion related to school content. Recently, I have been studying about the benefits of group discussion for student learning. Not everyone has a local coop of like-minded families serious about doing a good job with school work. That is part of the beauty of homeschooling is that we can have an individual educational plan for each of our children that is a good fit. But, the group interaction skills and just sharing with others who are studying the same content is an option I am looking for.

Any suggestions?

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Pistachio mom:

I suspect that you will find such a forum only with live online classes specifically designed to foster such discussion.

Also, I'd like to second your instincts here: I think such discussion is vital for our teens. The fact is, when they're first trying to articulate their ideas, they usually stumble and fumble; they discover that what sounded brilliant in their own minds doesn't always come out right the first time. — In other words, they need practice, and lots of it. 

For my part, the only activity I know of that provides such practice is live discussion — and preferably on topics all the participants are reading or studying, things they have in common. A course that features such discussion is difficult to beat.

Here in Connecticut, by the way, I've found a way of fostering such discussion for local teens — by hosting regular movie nights. (Here's an example of one of my movie series.) — If that doesn't sound intriguing to you, feel free to skip the rest of this posting.

For our movie nights, what I do is host dinner for all the participants, so that every evening begins with dinner & hang-out time (another thing teens need). Then, when we need to get started watching the movie, I give them a 5-minute warning: they move into the living room, where I've arranged our couches theater-style in front of our large-screen TV (we can pack in up to fifteen or so teens). When they're all assembled, I introduce the evening's film with background information on the movie or on its director or writer, sometimes giving information on the historical setting of the film, etc. We watch the first half of the movie, and then I pause the film and open the floor for discussion. — Over time more and more of the teens come out of their shells to join the discussion. 

I then give the teens more hang-out time, and after a half an hour or so, we reconvene to watch the second half of the movie. When the credits begin to roll, I turn down the volume, and we have our second major discussion of the evening. In the past, these post-movie discussions have often run to nearly an hour. — The teens discover, first, that there's a lot to discuss, and second, that they themselves have a lot to say. Carpooling parents have reported to me that at the end of these evenings, when the kids pile into the car, they often continue discussing the movie, sometimes for the entire ride home.

One final point: These movie nights would never work without the heroic efforts of my wife, Diane, who knocks herself out preparing dinner for the teens. She makes them feel welcome and nurtured in our home.

—Roy Speed

Edited by royspeed
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That sounds like a great activity for this type if thinking. I have found the same thing you said. Most online forums for students are for those already enrolled in a class. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that we can make an individual educational plan for each of our children. But one of the weaknesses is that we have to work to find the right groups for the right subjects in an affordable way for our families.

I like your idea of a movie night. You and your wife give the teens who come an opportunity to think more deeply and practicing articulating their thoughts.

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