Monday, May 16, 2011

Getting it Done

One of the most important aspects of home learning is time management. This is a lesson that students can learn very effectively once they are old enough to take responsibility for their workload.

I was surprised to learn what a motivator it was to give my boys control over the schedule of their curriculum.

In the past we tried to adhere to a set daily schedule which mandated the subjects to be
accomplished each day. This worked for the most part, but then we found ourselves "falling behind" when exciting field trips or other events came up. These other activities were inherently educational. But, they caused me, the teacher, stress since it meant that I wasn't getting all of the "required material" accomplished in the week we set out to do it.

Enter the Quarter Planner.

The quarter planner is the perfect solution to never being behind, or being able to work ahead.

It works in a very simple manner. At the start of the quarter the teacher uses a single grid sheet for each subject and plans out single lesson blocks. This grid then serves as the schedule for the progress of that particular subject. If you plan to do a subject 3 times a week and there are 9 weeks in your quarter, fill 27 blocks with lessons; if you do it daily fill 45 blocks. It's nice to allow a little wiggle room, by filling 2 or 3 less blocks than that.

Students begin in the top left corner with block A1 and progress through the grid left to right, top to bottom, recording in their progress in their log or checklist as they go.

In this way, if a day is missed due to illness or last minute change of plans there is no erasing the "day's" schedule for Tuesday. The student simply resumes the subject in the next assignment box on the next day of work.

In our house each week Elementary age students does 5 blocks of each of Math, writing, spelling and musical instrument practice; 4 blocks of Grammar and Geography; 3 blocks of Music Theory
and History and 2 blocks of Science. During school time, students can select which subject area they want to work on as long as they accomplish all of the blocks in a given week.

My kids have discovered that by doing one block of all 9 ares on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, that they can have only 6 blocks to do on Thursday and 4 on Friday. And if they are
ambitious and want to have Friday off, they can do 10 blocks on Thursday or do one extra block per day on the first 4 days of the week.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Easing into Writing

For the past couple of weeks we've been doing timed writing assignments.

The boys LOVE it. There's freedom in writing about anything you desire or nothing at all. Spelling doesn't count, it doesn't need to be cohesive, and there are no paragraph structures to worry about. It's just what is says it

Donna Young put us onto this, and I'm glad we gave it a try. All you need is blank paper, a sharp pencil and a time. Poof!

Despite the freedom of the assignment there is a continual improvement in the quality of the writing that is produced. It's like anything else, you have to do it more to get better at it!