Selfie Challenge helps students prepare for life after high school

March 12, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Everyone knows you have to learn to read, write, and at least be able to do basic math to get through life. 

Learning scientific principles, chemistry, and biology, will help with problem-solving both at home and in many job situations. Studying literature and history, at the very least, will help you have an intelligent conversation at a cocktail party or at work and may lead to a rewarding career. 

However, for many students, the transition from being a student to having adult responsibilities can be both daunting and challenging.

At Orangeville District Secondary School, Student Success teacher Anne Thomson  provides her students with assignments that get them involved in many facets of life they may soon encounter but have not yet started to take on as teenagers.

The “Life-Skills Selfie Challenge” was the final assignment for the grade 12 Learning Strategies course. The course prepares students for life after high school.

“The goal is to have students gain confidence by tackling simple, yet key, life skills,” Ms. Thomson explained. “Many young people leave high school feeling ill-equipped to care for themselves independently.”

Ms. Thomson had students doing such chores as cleaning, ironing, cooking family meals, changing furnace filters, and doing basic car maintenance – all while taking selfies to prove they were involved in the assigned tasks. 

“This is a life-skills focused class called Advanced Learning Strategies,” Ms. Thomson explained. “The course is preparing students for life after school. I try to go beyond academic skills and incorporate a lot of life skills as well. The first semester was focused more on life skills and the second semester we are in right now is focused more on mental health coping skills.”

Many students dream of going off to college or university or finding a dream job away from home and getting their first real taste of independence. However, many find that once they are on their own the thrill wears off when they realize they have to do their own laundry and cook their own meals. Not being prepared means many students return home rather quickly.

“Leaving home, life after school, and transitioning into adulthood is stressful for both students and parents,” Ms. Thomson said. “I try to equip the students with the skills and confidence to be successful. On Canadian campuses there is a mental health crisis right now. A lot of students are struggling. Here, we are trying to help them prepare for that transition to adulthood.”

The final exam for the Life Skills class replaced a traditional written exam with home assignments.

“I had students ironing clothes, doing laundry at home, doing basic car maintenance and taking on these tasks as a final project in lieu of writing an academic exam,” Ms. Thomson explained. “It was a selfie challenge. They had to do these things and prove it by submitting certain photos I had asked for.”

The car maintenance task included simple things like checking oil, topping up fluids, checking the tire pressure, and filling up the gas tank. 

Ms. Thomson said she had met 18-year-old students who had never filled a car’s gas tank. 

The class, which is available to students in grades 11 and 12, is considered an ‘optional’ credit, meaning it is not a mandatory class to attain your needed high school credits. Students who complete the course do receive a credit toward their high school diplomas. 

The course also included study skills which help students learn how to take notes, study for an exams, and how to be organized. 

At the end of the semester the response from both students and parents was overwhelmingly positive. 

Many students realized that the chores they have never tackled were a lot easier than they anticipated. 

A few mentioned that their parents were so impressed with what they learned they incorporated their newly leaned skills into regular household chores. 

The Learning Strategies program will help students get ready for whatever challenges they face when they finally receive their high school diplomas and move on to their next stage in life.

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