Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Homeschool Notebooks

My printer is good and warm right now, constantly humming as I print and photocopy to build notebooks for my two students! I thought I would describe what I do and how I do it. :) 

We have three master notebooks, one for each student and one for me (not counting my teacher's manuals). 

In each student notebook:
~A page in the very front for them to record their grades for each subject.
~Then the notebook is divided by weeks; we homeschool 35 weeks here in Maine. 
~At the front of each week is their daily assignments and daily household chores.
~After the schedule, is their maps, discussion questions, literature analysis sheets, timeline info, composition checklists, grammar sheets, lab sheets and anything else I can provide for them for each of their subjects.

Their notebook is their Center of Operations. They may also have a ring bound notebook for each subject but anything they need that is not a book should be in their Master Notebook.

In my notebook:
~My notebook has two sections, one for each student.
     ~Once they complete a week of assignments and they are corrected by me, then they can put that week's worth of loose papers from their notebook to mine in their section.
     ~Also transferred is their schedule for that week, with each completed assignment checked off.

I have some notebook rules as well:
~They must not ever have loose sheets left outside of the notebook. They remain either in their notebook or mine but never loose.
~They must not take sheets out for me to correct. I correct them in the notebook. 
~They must NEVER trust mom with loose sheets because I will certainly put them down somewhere and lose them! They can request that I correct something but never take the paper out and hand it to me. 
~Papers only go from their notebook to mine after being corrected and after they have recorded the grade in the front of their notebook.
~Ringbound notebooks stay in tact. I can correct anything in there and they can record those scores as well. 

I create these notebooks for a few reasons:

1. I like to copy and print ahead of the school year so I don't have to worry about running out of ink or the printer not working the day we need the page.

2. Being 14 mos. apart, they share too many reproducible resources and it's just easier if I make them a copy and put in under the week it is assigned.

3. I then have reproducible resources that I can pass on to another homeschooler and thus save them some money to buy other resources. 

4. It encourages me to have their schedules and lesson plans set ahead of time because once the school year gets going I really can't face creating lesson plans. Life is just too busy. 

5. If I choose to do a yearly portfolio, it is so easy to grab samples from the beginning, middle and end of our school year. It's all handy and never lost.

Speaking of lesson plans, I do set the whole years worth of lesson plans now. Now, I do know that something will likely happen throughout the year to throw us off of our plan. But I like knowing how much we must do each day to complete the curriculum in the school year. Though the schedule can get messed up, I can either change dates or make a plan to catch up.

Last year, I tried to schedule as little as possible on Fridays. If we are a bit behind we use Fridays to catch up. If we are not behind we do something fun like get together with friends or catch a movie or sleep!!   
If they are caught up and only have a bit of work to do on Friday, I let them sleep in. This is quite a motivator to teenagers!! Normally they must be sitting at the table ready for school at 7:30 a.m.

So, you can picture me sitting at the computer printing away. The notebooks are behind me open and ready to receive what comes out of the printer. I am so thankful for a swivel chair so I can print, swivel and place in the notebook, then swivel and repeat! LOL!!

And just so you know, I am NOT an organized person by nature. After 12 or so years of homeschool though, I have learned how to "hem myself in" and prevent the loss of books and papers and other important items!! The fact that I am not naturally organized is why I have to be so strict with the kids as far as them not trusting me with loose papers and such!

(The orange notebook is my Teacher's Manual from Tapestry of Grace.) My dog, ever my trusty side kick, keeps me company laying like a cat in the bow window ever scanning the yard for intruders!! 

To my Non-Homeschooling friends: I promise to write about something ELSE very soon!! But right now, school organizing consumes me!! 

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