More on One Note Planning

It’s been a few years since I posted about planning with One Note. Although I still use and love One Note, my methods have changed a little over the years.

One of the big changes is that I find it easier to plan out each day’s work, and for me it works better in a visual grid. (We might adjust from this, or at times I might say, “Well, we’re doing Thursday’s work today because of changes,” but generally our schedule is pretty consistent week to week and this works well.)

I have a rough schedule to begin with–the top row is group work, then Bible, other readings, and additional activities. Generally I want to read Our Island Story on Monday, Little Duke on Tuesday, etc.  (Note that the Bible is different from Year 2 because we are all doing the Year 5 readings together.) I create a tab for each term and then within it a page for each week. I just copy the week’s work from the Ambleside Online site onto each page and then paste the relevant readings into the right slots. Much of the work is consistent from week to week so it’s only a bit of copying and pasting. When I have the week’s schedule done, I delete the pasted-in text at the bottom and it’s ready to go.

Grid picture--year 2

My schedule for Year 5 is different–their readings are very consistent from week to week, so I am creating a single schedule for each week of the term and printing out the bookmarks with each assignment on them. They thought this would work better for them and it’s less printing. I actually created two of these schedules, since I have two students using the same materials, in hopes that they will both alternate their work better (last year they got in the habit of doing all their readings at a gulp and then all their computer or writing work) and still not fight over the materials (or, more likely, computer).

Grid picture--year 5

Almost Time

I firmly believe in school starting after Labor Day. The only trouble is, that means the very first week messes up my beautiful five-day-week schedule. So, if this week is not too intense, I’m hoping to start on Friday.

I don’t think I’m ready for this. This year the big kids move up to Year 4 (which has a rather ominous aura in AO legend as being a stage where many new studies are introduced). And the twins are officially beginning Year 1. So I’m jumping from 2 to 4 students, and at a higher level.

Meanwhile, things in life aren’t really settling down. I still need to work as much as I can, and though things have been quiet the first part of this year, I really need to bring in more one way or another. DOB’s health continues dicey, although we are hoping that things will get better when the weather cools.

I’ve simplified the schedules somewhat to leave us plenty of margin and flexibility. The new Y4 subjects are these: Shakespeare, Plutarch, dictation, written narration, grammar and Latin. No wonder people are intimidated. So I’ve worked out a way to ease us in. Duchess has already done written narration and dictation; she’ll continue with the dictation. I’m going to have both of them create “Reading Journals” in which they can record what will be written narrations of whatever books they want to use. Deux will have more flexibility if he wants to do more drawing, but he *is* starting to write more on his own initiative. I probably won’t have him do dictation just yet; we’ll see how copywork goes. Real Shakespeare is something we are all excited about; I will blend it with the retellings read to the twins. First up is Midsummer Night’s Dream–we’ll start with the Bruce Coville picture book and then I’ve purchased a graphic novel version for the big kids to follow along with the real text.

For grammar I’m going to try using Simply Grammar (on the shelf)–just keeping it very simple for now. For Latin, we’ll start with English from the Roots Up (also on the shelf)–I want to try Getting Started With Latin someday, but I’m not buying anything extra right now. Each of those should only taken 10-15 minutes a week for now. For Plutarch, I’m just going to wait awhile. If it seems feasible, we might add it in next term, or we might wait a year or two. Worst case scenario, we’ll start by the time the twins do Y4.

I purchased a good quality Robinson Crusoe on audio, so the big kids can listen to it on their own. I’m blending some of the history to give the twins a stronger emphasis on American History than Y1 usually has. That will let us do a bit more together.

The other thing that’s intimidating me is that the twins still don’t read. All the pieces are there–they know the letter sounds, they can sound out a word, they can memorize a sight word–but it hasn’t clicked yet. I didn’t have to teach the big kids, so this is new territory. We’ll be doing actual reading lessons, trying to do them CM-style with learning all the words in short passages and poems, then doing word building based off that. We’ll see how it goes. They are getting pretty eager to read, I think, and Dash is particularly interested in doing math. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do math together with them or not. Dot is going to be more excited about the stories, but Dash does seem to be reconciled to the idea of listening to stories after being very averse for a long time.

I’ve received a lot of requests to do more art. I got better watercolors and brushes and we’re going to try to take that more seriously. Nature notebooks and walks have been getting more enthusiasm. I’m really excited about the big kids doing Madam How and Lady Why–not only do I think they will enjoy the earth science topics, the way it approaches science is exactly what I have always wanted to see them taught–a great respect and joy in science, with an acknowledgment of its limits.

Almost Time

I firmly believe in school starting after Labor Day. The only trouble is, that means the very first week messes up my beautiful five-day-week schedule. So, if this week is not too intense, I’m hoping to start on Friday.

I don’t think I’m ready for this. This year the big kids move up to Year 4 (which has a rather ominous aura in AO legend as being a stage where many new studies are introduced). And the twins are officially beginning Year 1. So I’m jumping from 2 to 4 students, and at a higher level.

Meanwhile, things in life aren’t really settling down. I still need to work as much as I can, and though things have been quiet the first part of this year, I really need to bring in more one way or another. DOB’s health continues dicey, although we are hoping that things will get better when the weather cools.

I’ve simplified the schedules somewhat to leave us plenty of margin and flexibility. The new Y4 subjects are these: Shakespeare, Plutarch, dictation, written narration, grammar and Latin. No wonder people are intimidated. So I’ve worked out a way to ease us in. Duchess has already done written narration and dictation; she’ll continue with the dictation. I’m going to have both of them create “Reading Journals” in which they can record what will be written narrations of whatever books they want to use. Deux will have more flexibility if he wants to do more drawing, but he *is* starting to write more on his own initiative. I probably won’t have him do dictation just yet; we’ll see how copywork goes. Real Shakespeare is something we are all excited about; I will blend it with the retellings read to the twins. First up is Midsummer Night’s Dream–we’ll start with the Bruce Coville picture book and then I’ve purchased a graphic novel version for the big kids to follow along with the real text.

For grammar I’m going to try using Simply Grammar (on the shelf)–just keeping it very simple for now. For Latin, we’ll start with English from the Roots Up (also on the shelf)–I want to try Getting Started With Latin someday, but I’m not buying anything extra right now. Each of those should only taken 10-15 minutes a week for now. For Plutarch, I’m just going to wait awhile. If it seems feasible, we might add it in next term, or we might wait a year or two. Worst case scenario, we’ll start by the time the twins do Y4.

I purchased a good quality Robinson Crusoe on audio, so the big kids can listen to it on their own. I’m blending some of the history to give the twins a stronger emphasis on American History than Y1 usually has. That will let us do a bit more together.

The other thing that’s intimidating me is that the twins still don’t read. All the pieces are there–they know the letter sounds, they can sound out a word, they can memorize a sight word–but it hasn’t clicked yet. I didn’t have to teach the big kids, so this is new territory. We’ll be doing actual reading lessons, trying to do them CM-style with learning all the words in short passages and poems, then doing word building based off that. We’ll see how it goes. They are getting pretty eager to read, I think, and Dash is particularly interested in doing math. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do math together with them or not. Dot is going to be more excited about the stories, but Dash does seem to be reconciled to the idea of listening to stories after being very averse for a long time.

I’ve received a lot of requests to do more art. I got better watercolors and brushes and we’re going to try to take that more seriously. Nature notebooks and walks have been getting more enthusiasm. I’m really excited about the big kids doing Madam How and Lady Why–not only do I think they will enjoy the earth science topics, the way it approaches science is exactly what I have always wanted to see them taught–a great respect and joy in science, with an acknowledgment of its limits.

Out of the Frying Pan

Well, this week turned out to be an even better one to test my new independent work basket than expected, because in addition to the start of Term 2 we had our first (and last) house showing on 72 hours’ notice. So I had spent all weekend cleaning like a crazy woman and was still at it all morning on Monday. The kids found the basket, did most of their stuff (with considerable questions, especially for math, but I could answer them while scrubbing the sink). Then a very kind lady from church took them out for a few hours while I cleaned the floors and the showing happened, then we did our group time in the afternoon.

The rest of the week was punctuated with meetings, but the new system held. Deux still doesn’t do it all alone, but he is pretty enthusiastic about doing the math and grudgingly cooperative with the copywork. He really prefers to read out loud or listen; for the Heroes I finally dug out the little MP3 player and that worked very well for him; he gave a stellar narration.

Some mornings the full planned group time right after the independent work is too much. I need to learn when to quit and start again after lunch. The twins have been doing mazes and super easy word searches, as well as just free drawing.

We are putting a bid in on a house today, so we’ll see how that goes. (It has space for an actual schoolroom/office! AND a playroom! AND a hideout for DOB!) Regardless, it looks like the next couple of months are going to be very hectic.

It only takes me about 10 minutes or so to tidy up the clipboards and ready the basket for the next day. The assignment sheet pages get really battered by the end of the week, but I suppose that is not important. I’m a little aghast at the quantities of paper and printer ink consumed.

Planning: Done, To Do

I’ve not done what I wanted to on school planning, nor on any of the cleaning and sorting I wanted to do this summer, nor have we made much progress on the free reads. (This is partly because the children insisted on Tanglewood Tales and I hate it.) Dealing with debilitating medical issues has a way of taking over life like that. I don’t think the summer has been wholly wasted as far as the children go, as time spent playing outside, reading for fun, and building legos, is hardly wasted, but I certainly do not feel at all ready for school. And I do want to start school, and in early September, too. It may be more streamlined than I was hoping for, and we may not do as many extras as I would like, but we will do what we can.

Done:

I printed out the art prints and made up grooveshark lists of the composers. This worked very well last year and I am glad to be all set to continue it.

I have bought all the core AO readings. I have finished Duchess’s schedules but still need to make minor modifications for Deux. I have not gotten as far on the second and third term, but I think it will be better to wait and see how they are handling the workload so I can make adjustments.

I have scheduled out Marco Polo, drawn up a map to use, and made some simple but I think fun assignments to allow them to create a scrapbook as he travels along. Duchess is enthusiastic about doing some kind of project.

We had to get new tires for the wagon, and while we waited at Walmart we got the school supply shopping done. A lot of notebooks this year–I hope that works well.

The first term of Y4 of MEP is online, so I will have them do that, but we will also have math notebooks for doing some of the group activities and to give Deux more practice writing.

I got my sister’s MP3 player working and downloaded The Heroes and This Country of Ours onto it. If these readings prove too long for Deux, he can listen instead.

Must Do:

I must finish making the memory selections (Spanish, poetry, and Bible–I have hymns and folksongs) and get them printed out. I don’t think I’ll change our setup this year. No sense trying to wrap my brain around something new–it may not be perfect, but it does work.

I must schedule out the variations for Deux (he wants the Bible selections broken into daily readings, and his biography is different.) And print out the weekly schedules, and the geography pages.

I must prepare the timeline notebooks to be filled in. Also, I’d like to have a Calendar of Firsts ready to use with the twins.

I must still put away *last* year’s work. Sigh.

I must put the poetry on my Nook. And, if possible, the math lessons.

Hoping to do:

I still hope to order Spanish curriculum and squeeze it in. I’d hate to lose our progress and I think we’ve exhausted what I can teach informally or through free videos.

I’d like to go through Their Majesties’ old National Geographics for ones relevant to Marco Polo. But I forgot about it when I was over there last week. Bother.

We have, intermittently over the summer, been working on very basic singing lessons, and I have been heartened to see some hint of improvement. I would like to make this more regular.

I might try printing out some fun handwriting preparation papers for the twins, although I might just have them work on whiteboards.

Probably going to postpone:

I’m probably going to put off the expense of acquiring all the science equipment until we find out what the medical bills are likely to be like. Maybe I can plan some lessons that we didn’t give enough attention to from the last book, plus some ones from the new book that don’t require specialized equipment. If not, I’ll try to be really intentional about nature study.

Scheduling:

I think I’m going to try something roughly like this:

  • Big kids do Bible reading/I read Bible story to twins.
  • Everybody does Singing Time.
  • I do a morning meeting with the big kids: go over math lesson, do any prep work on readings for the day. Twins play.
  • Big kids work independently: math, readings, copywork; I do a reading lesson and story with twins.
  • Finish up with big kids, especially Deux while Duchess does some independent computer lessons. Twins play.
  • After computer time and lunch, one brief extra lesson (science, geography, art, etc.)

I’m still *very* nervous about how narrations will work in all this, but we’ll give it a try.

Planning, Part 2: Reworking

Now that I think about it, I don’t want to follow Y1 as written with the twins, nor do I want to do it as I did with the big kids. No, what I really want to do is coordinate their history with the big kids.

And I think the main reason I want to do that is to coordinate our art and music appreciation with the time period in history we are studying. It just makes so much more sense to illuminate the time period in history with the appropriate art and music than to just have it chosen in a random rotation. I understand why AO does it that way, but I don’t think it’s ideal. And if I’m willing to do just a bit more of the legwork myself (since I can’t always borrow someone else’s labor of gathering the appropriate pictures and music), I can have the ideal.

Also, DOB think it makes a lot of sense, and that’s a strong point in its favor, especially since he is most insightful at history conversations and every once in a while we toss around the idea of doing history as a family in the evenings. (And maybe if we could go six weeks without a new medical crisis, we would do it.) Since the twins inevitably listen to the big kids’ free reads (and vice versa) it just makes sense to be aiming for a similar timeframe. I can’t wait to do, say, Carry on Mr. Bowditch as a family. (Some people caution about the increasing maturity of the reads in upper years, but looking at the lists, I’m seeing very few things I would feel the need to wait on. Maybe my kids are just very insensitive. Or maybe they just are very used to eavesdropping on the big kids. Last week I read them all The Wanderings of Odysseus, complete with man-eating monsters and the slaying of the suitors and they all thought it was the greatest thing ever.)

As for changing the history rotation, it really will involve only a tiny tweak the first year–swapping out Fifty Famous Tales for something with a more early American focus (since that is what the big kids will be doing in Y4)–probably Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans. The existing biographies will be perfect. (I’ll probably still include a few tales of ancient Greece and Rome, especially those inspiring to the early Americans, like Cincinnatus.) Y2 will be a bit more, but I will use the same history books currently scheduled for those years, just different chapters. (Not sure if I will keep Little Duke or do it as a free read when they get back to that time period in Y4. On the other hand, Tree in the Trail and Seabird will actually fit, which may make them more comprehensible.) It will probably take the most reworking when the big kids are in HEO and the twins are still in the lower years, but once they all get to HEO it will be no big deal–the HEO years are a more “salad bar” approach, as they say, and I can easily just pick a lighter load of similar materials for the twins. The only challenge is, if I do this, I really should stick with it–it will rearrange the schedule sufficiently that it would be very hard to put the twins back in the usual sequence.

This next year it won’t change anything for the twins except that I’ll make sure to include some picture books that will go with the time period the big kids are doing. (OK, honestly I can’t think of any that will go with the very early explorers–except Columbus, which we just read–but Pocahontas and the wonderful photobooks from Plymouth Plantation will be ideal in Term 3.) And for the big kids it will mean that, instead of jumping all over, we will listen to Palestrina and Purcell and Handel, and look at Da Vinci and Raphael and Rembrandt. I also am going to include at least one folksong each term that is from the appropriate time period. (I finally discovered that folk songs by time period are listed on the HEO years, so I can take them off there.)

Another thing I am maybe thinking about changing is the way we do memory work. Since they were just preschoolers listening to me sing, I’ve done one set of memory work per month, changing to a completely new set at the beginning of each month, and reviewing one older item each day. It’s very simple for me to keep track of, which is why we have stuck with it. However, they really don’t need that long to learn most of the items (especially poetry and folk songs) while they may need much longer to learn, say, a longer Bible passage or a Spanish song. So it’s possible that a more varied rotation would be more effective. On the other hand, it’s also possible that if I try to do anything more complicated, I will lose my place and mess up what we have going, which is pretty decent. This needs more thought.