Lesson Planning With the Lesson Planner
- 2011 23 Mar
For the past eleven years I have been the homeschool coordinator for my county. One of the things I recommend to new homeschoolers—and any homeschooling family—is a good teacher's planner/record keeping system. Whether it's on hard copy in a notebook or on a CD-ROM for your computer, it is one of the most important tools a homeschool mom can own.
In states where one has to keep records of every little thing, a planner fits the bill; in states that permit you to have a choice about how to assess your children and the assessor needs to see all that your students have done throughout the whole school year—every book read, every field trip taken, every DVD watched, every CD-ROM and learning resource used—a lesson planner fits the bill. When your family uses tons of different books and takes several field trips through the school year, you can't exactly re-check 100+ books and plop them in your assessor's lap and then take her on a whirlwind drive to every field trip destination you've gone to!
But . . . you can show the assessor your complete and thorough records from your well-used lesson planner.
If you prefer an interactive planner for use on your computer, Homeschool Tracker can be a real lifesaver! It is so easy to set up; just upload it onto your computer and go. It is so easy to follow; just click on a tab and add, subtract, or read whatever you need to know.
There are nine tabs/sections to work with: Main Menu, Overview, Assignments, Attendance, Reading Log, Field Trips, Daily journal, Maintenance, and Reports.
Main Menu: This is the "Title Page." This is where your school's name and public information are shown, plus your school motto (ours is "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me!") and a summary of your children's attendance records to date (with columns for each of the following designations: sick, present, hours, and average). Not every state, including mine, must account for hours or attendance, but it is always nice to have that information. One never knows when things might change in regard to state law, and it is always nice to have your records on hand should a problem arise.
Overview: This is a handy page; it has columns labeled as follows (with sample entries here):
Assignments: I have to tell you, maybe it's just me, but this was the hardest part for me to figure out—and it's just a calendar!! Once I figured out that I was required to set up the calendar to show the dates for our school year, it was easy. I had begun to think that I had to go get one of my teenagers to show me how to figure this out! But the Lord is good, and I began to put it all together. Actually, this was one of the most fun sections to use after I got the hang of it. On this calendar you can show whether your child was "present," "sick," that this was a "holiday," or that the day was designated as "holiday/present."
Reading Log: Here you can list: Student/Resource/Type/Started/Finished. If you are like our household and use lots of books and other resources, this can be one of the most gratifying pages. It is incredible to look back and see all that was read and used throughout your school year. Assessors love those lists!
Field Trips: This section includes the following column titles: Trip Date/Time Spent/Subject/Description (location). The only thing I think I would change would be to add a place to record things that were accomplished or objectives learned at each location.
Daily Journal: This is in the teacher's section, but I give my students access to it. On those days when one student's activities take your time away from the others or if some of your other students are in their junior high or senior high school years and are more independent workers, in this spot you may leave notes to them (or to yourself) concerning lessons that need more attention or work they can do on their own. You also can use it as a reminder that you will need to find a map of China for this Friday. This is a very useful "free" page, and you can make it what you want!
Maintenance: Just as the title suggests, this is the place where you can add/enter/delete any type of information. Subject areas covered include Activities/Resources/Resource Types/School Info/School Years/Students/Subjects/Terms.
Reports: Here is the handy-dandy page that allows you to print off any or all reports from the previously mentioned sections. If you really wanted to, you could make your own hard copy lesson planner from the printed pages.
Overall, this is a very easy record-keeping system. It would be a great system to use to teach your students, at any age, how to record their own work. This even could be included as an ongoing homeschool assignment if you are working with them on computer skills or record keeping; it's easy enough that they could manage their own records for you!
Tried and True—The Homeschooler's Journal
There are those of us who do not have access to a computer or who simply prefer to have something tangible in our hands. Those families may be interested in The Homeschooler's Journal and The Homeschooler's High School Journal, both offered by Ferg N' Us Services.
The Homeschooler's Journal is the blessedly simple planner that is excellent for grade school ages up to junior high level. This planner is specifically made with the homeschool family in mind and is set up for two hundred days of school with a subject log based on seven-day weeks. That way, you can include weekend activities on your planner.
This planner has all you need within its spiral-bound pages. There are calendars for the previous year, this year, and coming year, which are great for long-term planning. There are many places to record your plans and inspirations from brainstorming. This planner has pages for field trips, a check-off list of requirements, resource pages and semester objectives, and tracking for all those books, CD-ROMs, and videos/DVDs that you have used throughout the year.
The Homeschooler's High School Journal was my best friend for many years. Again, it is a blessedly simple planner, but this one is geared toward the special record keeping that we need to do for our high schoolers. As before, they have given us calendars that span of several years, as well as a Linear Schedule of Home Schooling Events. This is a great feature, especially if your children are involved in sports, music, clubs, service projects, or other extracurricular activities; the whole school year is spread out on two pages for your perusal.
One of the most helpful parts of the whole planner, to me, is the page of Yearly Requirements. This page is laid out for all four high school years (freshman through senior) across the top, with the subjects listed down the left-hand side (English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts & Humanities, Computer Science/Business, and two elective areas). On this one page I can keep track of (depending on my child's high school year) what my child has completed, and if I pre-plan, what he or she needs to complete by graduation!
There are also spaces to keep track of total credits earned. Speaking of credits, when my oldest (a homeschool graduate of 2006!) began her high school years, one of the questions I had was, How do I determine how many credits to assign to each subject? Once again, this planner gave me the answer. They suggest 1=1 year, ½ = ½ year. Wow, who knew it was that easy?! I extended that for our own school to include a subject done for one quarter (a short unit study or project) or one day a week (gym/P.E. or band/music or dance) to receive ¼ credit.
There are other great sections besides the two hundred days' worth of course work pages. One is the Lending and Borrowing Resource List. How many times has someone borrowed a book from you and just when you need it, it's nowhere to be found and you can't remember whom you loaned it to? Problem solved here.
A handy page to have before you run off to your state's homeschool convention or make that online order at TOS's Schoolhouse Store is the Resource List page. There's even a column in which you can keep track of the costs. Then there's the Objectives and Resources page for those long-range research projects.
For those of you who live in a state that requires you to keep track of attendance, Ferg N' Us has covered that for you too. Also, included on each regular journal page is a section where you can keep track of hours spent on each subject, denoted by quarter-hour marks.
Two of our most used sections were the Field Trip Log and the Educational Supplements tracker. The Field Trip Log, as you might assume, has space to record where you went, the host's name, contact/phone info, date, and objectives of the trip. By the end of the year you will have a diary of memories and fun! Anyone who still thinks that homeschoolers are stuck at home needs to have a look at my planner!
Another most-used section of our planner is the Educational Supplements pages. I am a firm believer in recording everything that can remotely be deemed as having educational value, including books we read, books on tape, videos/DVDs, learning games, activities with educational value that take place while on vacation, and some television. The Educational Supplements pages are where we record those things. There are sections for the Date, Title/Web Site Address, and Author/Composer/Date Due/Classification. The Classification section is great, because you can record whether your supplement was a book, tape/CD, video, music, or a resource from the Internet and if it was nonfiction, fiction, biography, or reference material. On this I wish they had added T.V. (which we added ourselves), because our students are required to watch such things as the President's State of the Union Address and certain programs dealing with history or historical figures.
The Crème de la Crème—The Schoolhouse Planner!
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's publishers have just released one of the most helpful resources I've ever used! Parents, if I had had this planner sixteen years ago, when I first began homeschooling, I would never have had to use anything else.
Right off the bat, the most unique thing about The Schoolhouse Planner is that it is an E-Book. It's 247 pages of unique and much-needed help! This planner also contains some of the most aesthetically pleasing page designs I've seen: easy on the eyes to read and encouraging to use.
It's exciting to see the things that are included in this planner that are nowhere to be found in any others: articles by experienced homeschoolers, calendars, recipes, and web links! Oh, my!
Not only does this planner begin with a calendar, but also each month has a theme and recipes to try during those months! To give a little splash to each month of the planner, each month has a theme along with an article by a noteworthy homeschooler and many web links and learning aids to go along with it! August's theme is "Celebrate," complemented with a great article by Martha Greene on "Lessons Learned Around the Table," several web links for related resources, and recipes for Cheeseburger Pie and Tropical Chicken Dinner.
December's theme is "Science," with a presentation of the Periodic Table and an article on "Solving Your Science Struggles." Web links for related resources and yummy recipes for Mild and Savory Black Bean Chili and Easy Chicken Casserole are also part of December's package. Wow! Won't those dishes be great on a cold winter's night?
April's theme is "The 7 Wonders of the Ancient World and of the Modern World." This month's article has great advice for "Chore Training Tips," more Web links and recipes for Homemade Cornbread and Linnie's Six-in-One Casserole! All of the recipes in the The Schoolhouse Planner are easy enough for anyone in the family to make, even a younger child (with just a little help from Mom or an older sibling) and will be enjoyed by your whole family. As many of you who read The Lesson Planner on a regular basis know, I am a big proponent of learning life skills; these recipes will be just the thing to add to your home economics or life skills assignments!
Now, just so you know, we have only touched the surface of what's in this exciting planner! This planner is jam-packed with Homeschool Forms and complete instructions. Here's a peek at just some of the planner pages included:
• Yearly Goals
• 12-Year Planner Pages
• Course of Study
• Educational Objectives
• End-of-Year Evaluation Form
• End of Year Report Card
• Yearly Grades
• Test Score Recording Sheet
• High School Hours Tracking Log
• Weekly Planning Pages
• Progress Report Sheets
• Bible Memory Record
• Audio/Video Log
• Books Read Log
• Sheets to record Crafts and Field Trips
• Nature Journal sheets
• Unit Study Form
• Unschooling Record Form
• Co-op Information Page
• Support Group Information Page
• Outside Lessons Page for so many of us who have kiddos taking piano, dance, martial arts, etc. (This is a good way to remind ourselves that those things count for school too!)
And that's not all that's in this planner, believe me, there's more! There are chore charts (for all ages), pages for all your household information, including:
• Our Budget
• Personal Financial Inventory (mortgage, credit cards, phone, internet, life and disability insurance tracker, car and home info, checking and savings account info, Christmas Club, etc.)
• Gift Wish List (so those loving grandparents will know the correct sizes for each child!)
• Gift Budget
• Prayer Journal
• Bible Reading Schedule
• Important Dates to Remember
• Garden Planning Checklist (don't forget to count gardening for school credit!)
• Loaned/Borrowed List
• Our Pet's Health Log
• Address Book
• And so much more!
Here's an idea: while teaching your students about finances, budgeting, household maintenance and such, you can just run off these pages for them to use.
Here's something else that makes this planner really special. Since this is an E-Book, you merely print off only the pages you need, when you need them. Isn't that great? There's no worrying about losing the master copy of the page you need, because you simply can go to your computer and print off the page you want. No carrying around a bulky planner with pages not only waiting to be used but waiting to be ripped or spilled on—simply go to your computer and print exactly how many you need.
There will never be any record you can't find for your assessor or for your own personal reminder. This planner has it all! My only regret is that we did not have this one around sooner.
As a mom who is going into our sixteenth year of homeschooling, and as an assessor, a good lesson planner can be a lifesaver—a secure, concise place to manage your records and preserve school memories. Whether your needs are simple or you want to use one planner for all of your children, one of these products will fit your every need and the lifestyle of your family.
Where to Find These Resources
• Homeschool Tracker: http://www.homeschooltracker.com/
• The Homeschooler's Journal and The Homeschooler's High School Journal: http://www.fergnusservices.com/. Ferg N' Us Services, P.O. Box 350, Richville, NY 13681. Phone number: (315) 287-9131. You can also visit Christianbook.com® (http://www.christianbook.com/, 1-800-CHRISTIAN, 1-800-247-4784)
• The Schoolhouse Planner is available through The Schoolhouse Store: www.theoldschoolhousestore.com/index.php (always free shipping!)
Published January 13, 2008
Kim Wolf loves living in a small Ohio town with her husband of twenty-one years and their two teen daughters. They have homeschooled since 1993 and are very active in the music ministry of their church. She is a Miami County homeschool coordinator, a freelance writer, speaker, and Ohio coordinator for TOS. www.HomeschoolBlogger.com/BuckeyeBlog
Copyright 2008 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC
Reprinted with permission from the publisher.