Bright and colourful!
Our Academy of Free Range Learning resources are super bright! colourful and fun! with easy-to-understand language, and university-level concepts that are set out in a way that will make you want to read more.
Research indicates that our brains learn better when something is attractive, and interesting to look at.
For example, when you have trouble learning a concept, and you draw a mind-map made up of colourful , squiggly lines, memorable and interesting pictures and diagrams, your brain (or the part of your brain that was busy sleeping all of the way through high school chemistry class) sits up and takes notice! We have taken this concept and applied it to all of our projects.
Notes for parents, for reporting
If you are doing your own reporting (we also have a report-writing assistance service) there are pages of notes, throughout the projects, on what your teen is learning and how you can report this to the Education Department (if necessary) in your state or country. This can be an invaluable resource if you are homeschooling or unschooling and struggle with getting reports together at the end of the year.
In some projects we will suggest certain documentaries or books that your teen might like to use for that particular task (especially if it is research on a topic where there is a very clear expert on the subject, who is open to critical debate!). However, if you are travelling, living with no internet or limited access to a library, as long as you have either a library OR internet access at some point in your journey, you will never have to buy other textbooks on the topics that we cover. Information is everywhere, and we are guiding students in how to go out and find it, and then report what they have found. This is something that can save thousands of dollars in homeschooling expenses each year!
All of the projects are designed to be done independently. This means that instructions are clear to follow. There are pages with checklists, which are followed with clear steps, and then further reminders on every page, of what needs to be done, and also prompts to help them to go back and complete their checklists!
The checklists are just to make sure that the steps have been taken. The research is all their own -we just show them how to organise it, and why.
The feedback that we have from students using our materials is that it feels just like they have a tutor right there with them, and that is something that we aim for all of the way through!
Step by step thinking process guidance
Prompting anyone to think critically, is a process, and we take our teens through this process step-by-step in each project, with questions that prompt them to; think about what they have seen or read, why it was significant, what they learned, how they felt, and how this information compares to other information on the same topic. This is where real learning happens! And these skills can be applied all of the way through from grade 8 to Phd level study.
Self-assessment is a tool that builds resilience, confidence, self-esteem and competence in completing tasks independently. Using assessment rubrics similar to those used in university, self-assessment tools have been expanded for a younger audience, and also included in every project, for the use of the student. This is intended to help your teenager to:
1) become familiar with marking rubrics, for any future study
2) to understand that the marking criteria is an important tool for lecturers to check if you have understood the requirements of projects
3) to build your teen's confidence in being able to fulfil their own responsibilities without worrying about being graded by other people
4) to assist teens who have been bullied or felt demoralised in school environments in the grading process, by passing the power back to the student.
Parents are, of course, welcome to help students in this task. But the rubrics are included to guide the teens through their own research projects.