Wednesday, August 16, 2017

High School Lesson Planning and Record Keeping

I've been using Homeschool Tracker to organize and document our school days since the very first week we began homeschooling back in January 2012. A couple of years ago I moved to Homeschool Tracker Online, despite some misgivings about it. Thankfully, we love it this version and the online service has provided me with expanded options to access our information, including a login for Amber that makes her more independent.


How I Plan:
I tend to be a planner. I like to have lesson plans set out for all of Amber's subjects before school starts. This means I give up some time in June or July, but the whole school year is ready and I simply load up what we need each week and assign it to Amber. While this method is a bit of a pain during the summer, it keeps our school year moving smoothly when I get busy later in the year.

Planning out our lessons in advance also lets me see if I'm planning too much in any particular subject, especially in those courses where I've combined multiple curricula or where I've designed the course myself. I can select my lessons and see how they would fit on the schedule. Occasionally, I need to prune a little, although rarely do we need more lessons added.

Scheduling: 
Every year I create a daily schedule for us through Homeschool Tracker, but more and more we tend to go by our own schedule each day. It's hard to plan for the many appointments that come up between us all, or the sick days that one or both of us need to take. Still, I create the schedule to ensure the subjects and classes we have planned are actually feasible to complete. It also gives me a way to automatically move my lesson plans to various days each week. I just love how I can pop those lesson plans over to the schedule!


Independence:
Now that Amber is older and in high school, she is fairly independent. I schedule out her lessons each day and she can use her Homeschool Tracker login to see her assignments. If I've done my work properly, Amber has all the details needed to complete most of her lessons independently; she simply marks them as complete and turns in her work for review by me. In the case of subjects we work on together, she can see what is assigned and come to me when she is ready for those lessons.

Reports:
Along with being a planner comes the need to know our current status each week (hey... at least it isn't each day anymore). Because we keep Homeschool Tracker Online updated as we go, I can simply check the current hours report or the other tracking reports to see how we stand for the school year. Are we working enough each week to stay on track or have we fallen behind with sick days and relaxation days?

And although I'm not fond of the transcript formats with Homeschool Tracker, all of the data is there and transcripts are easily generated. I really won't have to do much to come up with a high school transcript for Amber when the time comes, because Homeschool Tracker tells me how many credits Amber has earned, in which subjects, which years, with the descriptions I entered while we were in the thick of the course.

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While yes our method takes work up front and we need to keep it updated, our homeschool days really do run smoothly for the whole school year with just the little bit of effort needed to use our tracking software.

Please visit the other members of the Homeschool Review Crew to read how they plan for their school years.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Must Have School Supplies for High School?

The topic of today's blog hop post was supposed to be school supplies you can't homeschool without. I think maybe I should change it to be "How to homeschool high school with minimal school supplies" or "Homeschooling high school with a pencil and paper." 

When I think about school supplies, having a high school student, there really isn't anything that we must have. At least, nothing stands out immediately. It is very unlike me or Amber to be minimalists, which boggles me even more on this particular topic. We used to absolutely love school supply shopping.


Now days, Amber uses your standard mechanical pencil, some random pens, lined paper (she prefers college ruled, I like wide ruled), cheap folders, an occasional spiral notebook, maybe an eraser, and quad ruled paper for math. I like gel pens and tons of printer paper. But all of these are pretty standard items, and I have no insights into secret ways to use supplies. Seriously, we are the most boring school supply shoppers you will ever meet. 

We have a full art supply bin in the closet, and honestly, none of those are earth-shattering either. Since Amber likes to sketch and draw, our art products revolve around sketch pads, drawing pencils, and colored pencils. She even has some special art erasers, yet we don't find them essential for school - just for her hobby. (Wait... she's taking a co-op art class this year, so they qualify as school supplies now!)

We actually wandered through our Target's school supply section looking for something fun to buy, and there was nothing that we needed. Nothing that jumped out at us as something we would purchase. Granted, we have more pencil boxes than a family with one child should have because I organized younger Amber's school supplies in her under-the-desk-cubbies with them. We have all of the math gadgets, rulers, highlighters, markers, science supplies, and decorative erasers that one student could ever need.

I already have the requisite comb binding machine and laminator. Admittedly, I've enjoyed owning them, but I don't use them terribly frequently. I think I actually use them more for the co-op classes I teach than for home use. Amber has too many backpacks to count, and she only uses them for co-op days.

So those of you who are looking at the school supply section of your local store wondering what you need for the coming year, remember that some of us find simplicity to be the easier path, especially for older students. You actually can make it an entire year without using a single 25 cent glue stick. (Is that still the sale price?)


If you want to read great insights about school supplies, check out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are using this year!

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Curriculum - 10th Grade Summary

This week I am participating in a back to school blog hop with other members of the Homeschool Review Crew.  Today our topic is Curriculum, however I've already written in detail about Amber's curriculum for our new school year that started earlier this month.

Unexpected Homeschool 10th Grade Curriculum Summary

If you're interested in all of the details of the why and how we are making everything work, check out Amber's 10th Grade Curriculum post.

High school can be an amazing time that allows our students to use what they have learned in the past and pursue their strengths and interests for the future. We are excited for Amber to finally be able to work on subjects that intrigue her and feel like the path she wants to take in college.

Here's a quick highlight of what she is working on this school year:

  • Math - Life of Fred Geometry
  • English II - IEW Writing, Fix It! Grammar, Lightning Literature (Shakespeare and British)
  • Creative Writing - One Year Adventure Novel
  • German - Portfolio Deutsch
  • Greek - First Form Greek (Memoria Press)
  • Latin - First Form Latin (Memoria Press)
  • History - Notgrass Exploring America
  • Government -Notgrass Exploring Government

You can probably tell Amber is interested in languages and writing, given the emphasis we have put on those subjects. You also might have noticed a few missing subjects; those are being taken at our homeschool co-op, although I am teaching her science class and selecting the curriculum. The details of the co-op classes are also listed in our expanded 10th grade curriculum post.

Check out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are using for curriculum at all ages! (Click the graphic below)

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