Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Our School Organization Binder

Update: November 1, 2013
This is a post from last year, but I still use the same binder.  The changes this year are that I have a 5th grader and 1st grader.  My older son's assignment sheet is still the same as shown below.  My middle son (the 1st grader) has a similar assignment sheet, but it's not as full.  I've tried several different ways to schedule assignments, but nothing works as well as this set-up has so I keep coming back.  You know, if it's not broke, I have no idea why I'm trying to fix it! :)

When using an online curriculum, it can feel as though you aren't as involved with your child's education as you might be if you were teaching him with textbooks.  Well, it doesn't have to be that way.  So I could stay on top of Adisson's assignments and know what he's currently learning, I've set up a School Assignment Binder.  It allows him independence and gives me a way to stay very active in his education.

(Note: In the following binder description, I refer to only Adisson's (my fourth grader) assignments.  I do currently have a Kindergartener, Zander, as well, but I stay right by him when he's doing his school work.  My older son likes a more solo approach to his online classes.)

I've made up an assignment worksheet for Adisson.  On Sunday night, I go through his lessons and write down what lesson(s) he is supposed to do in each subject on each day.  I feel at his age (nearly 10), I'd like for him to have some accountability for his progress throughout the day and week.  He's free to work ahead, but he rarely does.  :)

I put the assignment page in our school binder.  I also click through the lessons online so I have an idea of what is upcoming.  Is there a worksheet I need to print off?  Is there an experiment or project we're going to do and I need to gather/purchase supplies?  Are there books I would like to have on hand to discuss a topic further?  I do as much advance prep as I can.  It doesn't take me long (usually around 30 minutes) but this step helps keep both of us on track all week.  

Each subject has a binder tab (Language Arts, Language Arts Extensions, Spelling, Math, Science, Social Studies) and the first thing in that tab are lesson plans printed directly from Time4Learning (T4L).  This was someone else's idea and I adapted it for our needs.  Is it completely necessary?  Not really, as that information is always available online, but I'm still a hands-on kind of person when it comes to record keeping.  I check off what we have completed and record his lesson quiz scores.

Behind each subject's lesson plans there are two colored page dividers.  One is labeled "Upcoming Assignments" and the other is labeled "Completed Assignments".  If there is a worksheet provided through T4L or one that I have found online that complements the current topic, I hole punch it and add it to the "Upcoming Assignments" section.  A sticky-note is placed on the page to designate which day it is to be completed.  Completed assignments are held in the binder for a few weeks and then transferred to a separate one so as not to weigh our daily use binder.

At the back of the binder, I have a tab for Progress Reports.  At the end of the week, I print out a worksheet of the week's quiz scores.  When showing my husband what the boys have been up to for the week, I include their completed worksheets and quiz scores.  This way, even though he can't always be a part of our day-to-day schooling, he's still involved with what the boys are doing.

Time4Learning has a feature that allows me to print off a report of quiz scores for the week.

So, nothing super intense, just a way to organize the things that are upcoming and keep track of what's been completed.  It's still very early in the year but it's working really well so far.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Our Homeschool Room!

The view from the doorway.

Our bookshelves.

The "school side" of the room.

The reading teepee. :)

Inside the reading teepee.

The cozy couch and my maps!

The "play side" of the room, along with someone playing!! :)

Door organization and our boards.

The boys school table, and whatever else they need a flat surface for. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Homeschool Year

My first homeschool blog! :)  I've been blogging for awhile at my personal blog, but decided this year that we'd try a homeschool "only" blog.  I say "only" because, as you know, life all mixes together.  We've been an Army family for over 9 years and have homeschooled from the start.  Adisson, our oldest son, is entering the fourth grade this year.  Zander, our middle son, is starting Kindergarten!!  Jaxon, our little ball of energy is 2 years old and will be tagging along for the fun of it!!

What curriculum do we use?

We use Time4Learning as our core curriculum.  It's a great, computer based program that covers Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science.  Both boys will use it this year.  Adisson likes that he has some control over his lessons and that he can work independently.  I like to be nearby, especially when he's covering new topics, so I can be available for questions and so I can stay updated on what he's learning.

Spelling City
This is a sister site to Time4Learning that we use for Spelling.  Another T4L user has already set up the spelling lists by each grade so all the work is pretty much done for me.  Adisson then has to head over to Spelling City, find his list for the week, and work on his assignment.  We review orally and he will write out his list by hand at least once per week.  I don't want to skip over handwriting altogether even though we are using a computer-based curriculum.

Cub Scouts
I know what you're thinking, Cub Scouts isn't a homeschool curriculum.  And you're right.  However, we are VERY active in Cub Scouts.  Adam and I are Den Leaders for Adisson's Den so we're all busy with Scouts!  But there's so much stuff that they do, work on, learn, etc. that it has become one of the funnest parts of our homeschool.  Adisson is able to spend some time during the day to work on different activities that are very educational and also earn him recognition with Scouts, so it's totally a win-win.  Plus, it's really fun!! :)

Pianimals is a fun, learn to play piano at home program that we heard about online somewhere.  Adisson really likes it. It can be a little "baby-ish" for him now as a fourth grader, but he doesn't deny the ease of use and how it's not difficult to learn a new piece of music because of the way it's presented.  We've talked about him taking piano lessons, but right now, he doesn't seem that interested.  I guess we'll just stick with what he's already using.