In 1996, we incorporated use of the Internet, a family Web site, e-mail, and computer software in our journey. We like to point out that at the time Internet connections were scarce; Google did not exist. That utilization of the then-current technology not only enhanced our experiences, it also allowed our children to attend school in Northern Michigan while we traveled.
After an ongoing battle with our local school district’s academic standards, which we lost, we had enrolled our children at Northwest Academy for the 1996-97 school year. It was a charter school for grades 6-12 with an emphasis on science and technology located in a town neighboring ours. The school was beginning its first year of operation.
That summer after we finalized the decision to make the trip, we began to consider homeschooling options and to explore curriculums. We started searching the Internet and talking to people we knew who were home schooling their children.
An unlikely turn of events occurred when we attended an orientation meeting at Northwest Academy and explained to school staff that the Blondin children might not attend school there because of our planned adventure. An enthused discussion followed that included innovative ideas about the educational and technological possibilities our trip presented.
In the next couple of weeks, the discussion turned into action. It was agreed that our journey provided an opportunity that was mutually beneficial to the school and us. We would take the curriculums and textbooks for sixth and ninth grades so our children could do their traditional schoolwork along with their nontraditional learning experiences. We tailored subjects like science, social studies, and history to fit our location and activities.
As part of our unique relationship, the school loaned us a laptop computer and a digital camera to build a Web site for students and staff at school to access and use as a learning tool and so students anywhere could tune in, share, and learn through our experiences and interact with the family.
Our adventure had transformed into a project that later would be highlighted at a U.S. Department of Education’s sponsored educational conference called “Families, Technology and Education” where the Blondin family was invited as featured speakers.
Mark Blondin, www.talesup.com