Friday, July 11, 2008

Trying something new!

So as many of you know, I get silly for anything that has to do with organizing. This does not mean that I am organized, only that I strive for it. This past schoolyear we moved from 1 phonics and 1 math book in kindergarten (Jefferson 2006-2007) to 4 subjects, one of which (Language Arts) which has multiple facets! I found myself struggling to manage the daily lessons, paperwork and projects ..... for JUST.ONE.STUDENT.

I soon set up binders for the subjects so that we could tuck the paperwork away (can't just throw away his work as he does it - he likes to keep even his band aides!) and see his progress over the year. I set up hanging folders for each day of the week so that he could start taking part in which items needed to be completed in which day. I brought up a new bookshelf from the basement and got another one for the school room to organize our books by subject and by student.

I developed spreadsheets to meet my "Teacher's Manual" needs for the year (2007-2008). These included:

Weekly Checklist/Record of Completed Work
1st Grade Reading Log
1st Grade Memorization Goals
Chore Chart
HA Overall Goals 1st-4th Grade

These took tons of time but helped me to feel confident in our plan as we flexed due to illnesses and new baby and kept me focused as I waded through the vastness of a homeschool curriculum fair the size of a football field. I worked with them and adjusted them as we went as our school needs changed.

I soon realized that I just won't have the time to make and adjust so many spreadsheets/ documents as I add new students and more courses to our academy roll! My dh, computer geeky that he is, convinced me that I could find software that already does all the heavy lifting which would help me to organize these necessary items each year.

Sooooo..... we bought Homeschool Tracker Plus to use for our record keeping and school scheduling needs this year. Have any of you heard of this or do you use this? I'd be interested in your input before I invest too much time in the product. It seems to be easy enough to figure out and I'm hoping that it will make tracking and planning easier (once I get past the learning curve of it, that is). So far my problem with it seems to be that it has so many great options and powerful features that it is bringing out all of my indecisiveness and slowing me down. Again -I hope that this is just a learning curve. I have to remind myself that if I were using my spreadsheets I wouldn't be done yet and they wouldn't be nearly as flexible (or nearly as cooool, anyway!).

My job as a teacher is to learn and grow and find what works the best to achieve our goals for our students. Investing time on my part is fine but I just don't want to be wasting time either. I'd appreciate any input on this type of homeschool organization - what types of things works for you? And I'll let you know how it goes down the road!


Momma Roar said...

I've been messing with the basic version for about a month now. I've started getting some things in - but I just haven't figured out yet how to push things back - if we'd miss a day...I can only see going in and changing all the dates...ugh. I almost have our first 9 weeks planned.

Do you have a date set to start back up? We are actually gonna begin doing some stuff this coming week. I want to be done with 9 weeks before our CoOp starts. And I'd like to do some field trips with the kids in September...when the schools are back in session and the museums/factories are empty! :D

Happy Planning!! Oh, you can email me if you'd like to know where we are going - maybe you'd like to come along! I don't want to leave it here for privacy reasons :D