Friday, March 13, 2009

Our Re-revamped School Plan – Part 1 of 2

Ok. So a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had restructured our curriculum and the way we get things done. This was a major necessity as things were NOT going well as they were.  We have been going strong for about a month now and I have had enough time to tweak things here and there so that they work for us.  First off, I have to share with you how I have finally tackled organizing, planning, and recordkeeping! I cannot, however, take the credit for all of this myself, as I first got the idea from a blog I came across. Sadly, when I changed laptops, I lost that bookmark. If I come across it again, I will post a link!
We now have a loose “routine” that we follow, rather than trying to adhere to a schedule, which has never worked for us. We basically just have a certain order we complete things in and this is posted on the wall so that there is no confusion..
  1. Prayer, pledge, Bible
  2. Math
  3. Isaiah does Phonics/Reading while Drew does Spelling
  4. Drew does Phonics/Reading while Isaiah does Copywork or journaling (he doesn’t start spelling til next semester)
  5. Science or History (depending on the day)
  6. English/Writing
  7. Specials (Art,music,PE)
I also allow time for one break somewhere in the day. We have been getting everything finished within 2-3 hours since we changed things up. Now on to how we plan and organize our school time….
To start off with, I purchased 2 items for each child….
Notice these are 2 pocket tab dividers. Two pockets are a necessity, and I will explain why in a moment….

These are 1/2” binders with the clear insertable covers.
Ok, after getting these items home I gave the boys some paper and crayons and told them to decorate covers for their new weekly binders. While they were off doing that like good little boys (HA!) I proceeded to make 1 tab divider for each day of the week and place them into each child’s binder. When they finished their pictures, I placed them into the covers and VIOLA! we had our weekly binders!
“Ok,” you are probably thinking, “and that means what?” Well I will elaborate!
As I plan our lessons for the week (usually the weekend before) I take each page from their workbooks or worksheets and place them into the front pocket of the proper days divider. The front of the divider is the “To-Do” folder. Then when we sit down to do lessons each day there is no scrambling around to make copies or printouts or figure out what page to do in their books. You would be absolutely AMAZED at how much time this has saved us! Once we implemented everything and got used to it, our school time was reduced by 1-2 hours a day! Which basically means we actually get things DONE! I know, amazing right?
So, you have probably already guessed by now what the back pockets are for….that's right, completed work! This is also a huge timesaver for ME when I grade, record, and file everything at the end of the week. So when the week is over, I go through and grade each paper I have not already graded and write the date completed on it. Once everything is graded, I then go back through and group the papers by subject..Math, Spelling, phonics, etc. Then I enter grades into each subjects printed gradebook page.  (I will share more about that with you in a moment.) Once recorded, I add that week’s papers to the paper-clipped stack (one per subject) in each child’s current term file folder, and place it back into my filing cabinet. Now the weekly binders are emptied and ready for the next weeks pages! And the process starts all over again!
Now there are a few minor details I have neglected to give you that I will elaborate on now. I mentioned lesson planning earlier. My lesson planning consists of a little more than just ripping out workboook pages and sticking them into a binder  folder. I also type everything out for each day on my own custom-made lesson plan sheets….
imageI love making my own forms and tweaking them as my needs change! Any how if you want an example of a filled out form click this LINK. I also mentioned that I use a printed gradebook. Actually, I use an excel form from called Grades and Attendance. I use weighted grades for most of our subjects, so naturally I used the weighted version. I print off a copy off each subjects page before I add any grades to them.  That way I enter them in by hand before I ever put them into the excel version.  I am really bad with excel and this way if I mess something up, I can just erase! I only enter grades into the excel version from my written copy at the end of the grading period for report card purposes.
So that pretty much wraps up how we have reorganized our schooling so that it works for us! Stay tuned for part 2 where I will discuss why I have changed curriculum AGAIN and what I chose!

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