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Favorite Homeschool Planning tools, and why


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I have tried so many different approaches to planning and scheduling. I tend to be a paper and pencil planner, but I like using the computer as well. The only thing I have kept from year to year is doing planning by the week (not the day or unit or month or 36 weeks, etc). And we tend to do the next thing, allowing for faster and slower progress through things.

 

I have weekly a weekly checklist form for my kids, and a shared virtual calendar for the oldest who does some online/outside classes. I also have mind mapping diagrams in notebooks which I try to use to organize my thoughts. But as I make plans for next year, I am wondering - what do others use for planning, selecting curriculum, and scheduling? Why?

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I use a Word file to keep a list of materials I plan to use for each child for each subject ina  given semester - i call that my "curriculum overview".

I do not schedule materials or assignments; either it is a do-the-next-thing like in the math book, or I give my kids all materials and let them choose what to work on for how long (English and history, for example).

I use an excel spreadsheet to keep track of work accomplished after the fact and to log hours.

At the end of each semester, I compile a summary of materials used and work done in a Word document. This proved very valuable when I had to write up course descriptions for college applications.

 

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I use One Note, I did the free trials of a handful of trackers before I heard about One Note. One Note is basically "paper and pencil" planning in computer form. All of my files share with my iPad, PC, laptop, phone, etc. so the kids and I can see everything at any given time from anywhere. I start each week with a weekly goals list (most of our stuff is do the next thing) then I allow ds to plan his days based on that list minus what I do with them, with dd I list out daily what she needs to do. It works perfectly for us and it's very simple and not convuluted, otherwise I wouldn't keep it up.

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I use notability, which is an ipad app. I plan by quarter by making a list for each subject (list of books or list of topics/resources or list of demonstrations, depending on the subject) and then just enter them into my week schedule 3-6 weeks at a time. We take a break every 3-6 weeks, and it keeps me from getting too far ahead or behind. I like notability because I can "write" on top of PDF graphs I've created, and because its accessible from my phone- which is nice for library visits. I've also used it to have my son give narrations, as it has voice record. And to do worksheets I don't want to bother printing.

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I use One Note, I did the free trials of a handful of trackers before I heard about One Note. One Note is basically "paper and pencil" planning in computer form. All of my files share with my iPad, PC, laptop, phone, etc. so the kids and I can see everything at any given time from anywhere. I start each week with a weekly goals list (most of our stuff is do the next thing) then I allow ds to plan his days based on that list minus what I do with them, with dd I list out daily what she needs to do. It works perfectly for us and it's very simple and not convuluted, otherwise I wouldn't keep it up.

 

I also use OneNote and have for years.  I have everything in there.  Both kids' records, all of my research over the years, yearly plans, and weekly plans (daily when they were little).

 

I can plan everything the way I want it and not have to follow someone else's format.  Now that I will have a senior next year, I am realizing how thankful I am to have 9 years of homeschool history in one place.

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I love mind mapping. Mindmeister is the program I am currently using, but there are many. For me and my non-linear brain it works great, I like to be able to see all the connections between our different subjects and materials. Some programs also let you put in due and completion dates, links, have capability to export to a spreadsheet, etc. I haven't ever met anyone else that uses mind mapping for homeschool planning but I love it. :)

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I do overall planning, picking spines, etc., and make course adjustments a few times a year. We've developed an overall monthly rhythm, so I have basic weekly plans in Excel, for weeks 1-4. Like week one is more history heavy, week two heavier on science, etc. We start from spines and expand into interest areas. By week 4, we're wrapping up learning responses/projects and basically closing mini-"units" in lit, history and science.

 

Besides by days, the spreadsheet groups tasks into "With Mom," "On my Own" and "Out and About" categories. I print them off to be check off lists, and then add in by hand whatever specific info is really needed for the week - we're pretty do-the-next-thing. Things that don't get done (rarely too much) roll to the weekend... Because we're part of a charter, I also keep a monthly log of things learned in six broad categories.

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It is great to hear all these ideas - thank you! I do use (and love) Noteability, but never thought about it for narrations - great idea! And I am not familiar with OneNote - is it like Evernote (I use that also for keeping track if articles, web finds, etc to use in various subjects)? I don't use a mind mapping app (DH does), but it would probably be a stringer tool than my notepaper and pencil. There is something satisfying about putting pen/pencil to paper though - the resistance, the sound - it's all feedback to my hand and head.

 

I like the idea of shorter long term planning (6 weeks, monthly, a couple times a year). My annual plans aren't flexible enough for most unforeseen events, and take so long to do.

 

Thank you guys - please keep ideas coming!

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I arrange one note into a few different "binders", one per kid, one General planning, one household stuff. Each child has 3 tabs (recently pared down because it was too convoluted). Those tabs are "agenda" "goals" and "ideas" (I will probably add in completed work and scan samples at the end of the school year). Under agenda is every week from this school year, I was using the table function to make a weekly checklist that I printed out for them, but I changed to a list type format and go through as we do things. Under goals are gems I gather from here (like a logic stage post from not too long ago) and whatever other types of goals I have. Under ideas I put interesting looking websites, books, curricula, etc.

 

In my general planning "binder" is where I put pretty much everything that could be useful at some point. That way it's the only one that gets convoluted but still organized with tabs like web pages, note booking resources, books, output/projects ideas, etc.

 

It is a very simple, no-frills system (which is why I am good at keeping up with it) and it enables me to go back and loom at any given week and see what we did. I really do love it.

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I use a spreadsheet in my Google Drive for planning my curriculum choices and a different one for my weekly plans. It's easy to find everything, I can color-code, and I can make quick changes. I use two computers regularly and can get to it easily from both. I make myself notes to refer to certain books, Pins, etc.

 

This year I've had a paper planner (made in Publisher) to go with it. I'm dropping that for next year and working on a weekly checklist made in Excel. Rather than having a separate teacher binder, I'll put them into the student booklets I make for each month.

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I use HST+. At the beginning of the year, I input all the lessons available in a curriculum into the "Lesson Plans" tab. These have no dates attached, and they are not assigned yet, so they're easy to skip if we don't need a lesson. I just have them all there so I can quickly see what is available. Every Sunday afternoon during the school year, I go to my Lesson Plans and select assignments for the week and submit them to the assignment grid. If I won't use a lesson in the Lesson Plan, I go ahead and mark it "used" so it won't show up (it's not deleted - I can look at all un-used lessons with the click of a button). The next kid that comes through might need that lesson, and it will be available then. :) Once my lessons are assigned, I can either print out a report from HST+, or I can make a prettier Sonlight-esque table in Word. I tend to do the latter. But it's quick and easy because the assignments are all right there in HST+.

 

I've used HST+ since we started, and I really like it. It is not online, but that's ok with me. I now have the database file stored on Dropbox, so my school room laptop can also access it, and really I could access it anywhere because of that.

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Any word processing or note program works for me to keep general lists and notes -- booklists, meshing of multiple programs, noting how often I want to do each item, general plans, lists of curricula, etc. Most often I use Notability on the iPad, but the Word lookalike works fine too. For instance, right now, I am going through our earth science programs and meshing them together. I'm using the Excel lookalike on the iPad to chart which topics are on which pages in each program, and then I will use Notability to put it all together -- each topic, with the pages for each child to read, plus any extra projects and activities.

 

But then for the individual daily plans, I use the HomeschoolHelper app on the iPad; each subject for each student has a tab, with group subjects tabbed under a student named Family. Under each tab is the list of lessons for each subject. For some, like music, it's just listed as Music Practice, and under Latin, it just says Latin. A lot of our subjects are like Latin, just "do the next thing," and some days they do a lot, and other days, we might only hit a page or two of a complicated Latin lesson. Even DD's math is like that; she uses Saxon, so there's no preplanning needed, and I let her decide whether she completes a lesson each day or if she does two lessons over three days. So it just says Saxon Lesson (and I give her the tests periodically).

 

For things that require more preplanning or have a specific list of activities, such as DS1's math, which is Singapore and therefore has fifty books (or so it seems), I did put more detailed plans, like "HIG p. X, TB p. Y, WB p. Z. Their history lessons are marked in their history notebooks, so for history, the planner just says History Odyssey, and they just do the next thing that's marked. If a specific lesson doesn't get done on a particular day, the app lets me bump it easily. I love that I can tell the app, "Generate 36 lessons under art, only on a specific day each week, and just call them all Artistic Pursuits," and it takes just a few seconds.

 

So then each week, I look at general things -- what science items we might need, supplemental library books for history, etc. And then each night, I just call up each child's list in the app for the next day and put the appropriate materials in their workboxes.

 

It sounds complicated, but honestly, the heavy work is in the spring before the year starts, because I do a lot of overplanning, and then it's very easy each week/night. And this way, if we have a busy weekend, and I don't have a lot of time to plan, I know we can get our basic subjects done, even if we don't have all the supplies for our extras.

 

I also have a spot in the app for attendance, where I simply mark the day for each child; I also have a place for a reading list for each child.

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I use Excel. One of my favorite parts of planning for the next year is putting together the Excel workbook for our weekly schedules. :blushing:

 

I have one tab that shows our calendar. Dates for all the Mondays for the next year, with either the week number or "break" next to that. For subjects that we don't do every week, I've made a note for which week we will do that.

 

Then I have a tab with the schedule. It's set up with formulas so that I type in the beginning week and then four weeks worth of schedule is populated using data in the rest of the spreadsheet. This is our weekly printable schedule with checkboxes for what we have to do.

 

Then I have a tab for a library book list. One row for each week, one column for each subject, and one column telling me when I need to make sure my request is in by. I can type in titles of books to request as I find them, and have a record at the end of the year of what we read from the library.

 

Then each subject has a tab. It pulls in the week numbers from the calendar tab. I fill in what chapters or pages I want to have done each week. For a subject like math, where it's easy to get ahead or behind, I type in how many pages per week and use formulas to list out the exact pages. That way, if we do fewer (or more) pages in week 8 (for example), I change the "pages/wk" number for week 8 and all the following weeks update as well.

I have found that I need a paper checklist that I can keep in front of me, but I like the ease of updates that a computer allows for. My spreadsheet gives me both of those.

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I arrange one note into a few different "binders", one per kid, one General planning, one household stuff. Each child has 3 tabs (recently pared down because it was too convoluted). Those tabs are "agenda" "goals" and "ideas" (I will probably add in completed work and scan samples at the end of the school year). Under agenda is every week from this school year, I was using the table function to make a weekly checklist that I printed out for them, but I changed to a list type format and go through as we do things. Under goals are gems I gather from here (like a logic stage post from not too long ago) and whatever other types of goals I have. Under ideas I put interesting looking websites, books, curricula, etc.

 

In my general planning "binder" is where I put pretty much everything that could be useful at some point. That way it's the only one that gets convoluted but still organized with tabs like web pages, note booking resources, books, output/projects ideas, etc.

 

It is a very simple, no-frills system (which is why I am good at keeping up with it) and it enables me to go back and loom at any given week and see what we did. I really do love it.

 

The way I use OneNote sounds somewhat similar to the way SemiSweet does it.

 

I have a "Research Notebook" with tabs for every course I have taught or am thinking about teaching.  For example, if I came across a great idea mentioned in the forum for teaching high school World History, but my kids were just in 5th grade, I would copy and paste that idea into my World History research tab.  Every year when I start my planning, I would look though my research for those courses and have all those great ideas right there.  I also have lists of documentaries/films, quotes we love which I put up on a white board each week, Tea Time ideas, mnemonics, articles on homeschooling, recommended books, kid websites, mom sites, Games & fun learning sites, Legal info, special folders on dyslexia and stuttering that my kids deal with, etc.

 

For teaching and scheduling, I have notebooks for each kid (2 grade levels apart).  Every summer, I put together a very simple table for the courses I am going to teach each kid the following year with the course names across the top and the week numbers (NOT THE DATES) down the side.  (I print off an academic calendar from Donna Young online, look at weeks we would like to take off for holidays/break and number my work weeks.)  Then I plan what that kid will be doing for the year.  This is a guideline, not written in stone.  I also put any special notes in there regarding documentaries/films we want to see on that subject, supplies we will need for that week for courses such as science or art, teaching ideas, etc. This is an extremely basic, simple form, but when I get through, my entire year is planned on this one page for that specific child.

 

Then I make a separate tab with "Weekly Plans".  I spend more time and put together a simple, but fun and colorful page with the week's date at the very top, days of the week across the top of a table and course titles down the side. There is a section for their ps enrichment program homework at the bottom and places for them to also keep track of personal reading, volunteer work, and physical education. Everything is in one spot!!!  Each one is colorful with that child's favorite color so that we can just glance at it and know whose it is. I fill these out every Sunday afternoon by just cutting and pasting from my year planner.  If we are behind I will try and adjust to catch up a bit.  Maybe I will need to cut that extra documentary or project.  If we are ahead, maybe I can add a fun field trip to the museum to see paintings from the era we are studying. 

 

I am able to make a template of the Weekly plans page when I get it the way I want it. Then, every Sunday afternoon I just hit the "add page" button and I have a clean, colorful template all ready to just cut and paste into.

 

At the same time I am planning for the next week, I gather their papers from last week and type in any comments they made regarding their personal reading, physical fitness, volunteer time, etc. so that I will have all of this on record.  I will also take anything that I want "attach" to that week and scan it in at the bottom of that week's page, such as, a pamphlet from the field trip we took or event they volunteered with, the cover to the playbook of the musical they saw or were in, the certificate of recognition for a sports achievement, etc.  I also try and take pictures of them doing experiments or making projects and insert them at the bottom of that week's page.

 

It seriously does not take that much time each Sunday afternoon to do this.  Now, with a looming senior, I am so thankful I have all of this in one place!!!  When they were in elementary school, I would make out a page for them each day, by middle school and early high school we were using the weekly form.  Now that ds is a junior, he does his own scheduling since he has so many online classes.  It is a learning experience  :glare: .

 

At the end of each year, I close that notebook and start a new one.

 

I also keep separate notebooks for:

College planning

Household - with tabs such as organization, financial/budgeting, cleaning schedules, decorating ideas, pets, goals, etc.

Cooking - meal lists, frugal, quick and easy meals, high altitude baking tips and recipes, couponing, canning and preserving, healthy sites, freezer meals, etc.

Landscape and Gardening planning

Genealogy

Travel/vacation planning

A Personal notebook for me with books I want to read, Shopping/gift ideas, goals, medical info, musings, physical goals, etc.

 

I absolutely adore my OneNote and would be lost without it.

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But then for the individual daily plans, I use the HomeschoolHelper app on the iPad; each subject for each student has a tab, with group subjects tabbed under a student named Family. Under each tab is the list of lessons for each subject. For some, like music, it's just listed as Music Practice, and under Latin, it just says Latin. A lot of our subjects are like Latin, just "do the next thing," and some days they do a lot, and other days, we might only hit a page or two of a complicated Latin lesson. Even DD's math is like that; she uses Saxon, so there's no preplanning needed, and I let her decide whether she completes a lesson each day or if she does two lessons over three days. So it just says Saxon Lesson (and I give her the tests periodically).

 

For things that require more preplanning or have a specific list of activities, such as DS1's math, which is Singapore and therefore has fifty books (or so it seems), I did put more detailed plans, like "HIG p. X, TB p. Y, WB p. Z. Their history lessons are marked in their history notebooks, so for history, the planner just says History Odyssey, and they just do the next thing that's marked. If a specific lesson doesn't get done on a particular day, the app lets me bump it easily. I love that I can tell the app, "Generate 36 lessons under art, only on a specific day each week, and just call them all Artistic Pursuits," and it takes just a few seconds.

 

I invested a lot of time into Homeschool Helper, and became so frustrated with it I stopped using it. There was too much flipping back between screens and kids necessary to plan the way I was thinking. For the effort, pencil and paper worked better for me. I'm glad you got it to work for you - it is visually so appealing I wished it worked just so I could see and use the graphics :-)

 

Are there other homeschool -specific apps? I use Noteability, Pages, Numbers (spreadsheet), Evernote, even Pinterest.

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I use Home School Tracker Online.  I used HST+ for many year but find the online version much easier to use.  The customer service is also a big plus.  I've received almost instantaneous help when I've needed it (even on a Saturday afternoon one time).  

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I invested a lot of time into Homeschool Helper, and became so frustrated with it I stopped using it. There was too much flipping back between screens and kids necessary to plan the way I was thinking. For the effort, pencil and paper worked better for me. I'm glad you got it to work for you - it is visually so appealing I wished it worked just so I could see and use the graphics :-)

 

Are there other homeschool -specific apps? I use Noteability, Pages, Numbers (spreadsheet), Evernote, even Pinterest.

It's not perfect, true. Maybe something else would work even better for me, but I guess I don't really know what I would like better, LOL. I think what I like best about it is the bump feature, and I also really like the way it puts each child's list together for each day (although I wish I could bump right from that screen). But I gave a friend a good look at it, and I think she decided it wasn't right for her, so obviously it's not the right thing for everyone.

 

I think this is the first app for homeschool planning, but I don't know.

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I use Excel to list my planned resources and budget for an upcoming year, a basic academic paper calendar to plan which dates to do school, and Homeschool Planet to implement our daily plans.

 

My scheduling plan this year has worked almost perfectly so I will try to explain my approach. I used ideas from this forum so thank you to anyone who recognizes your suggestions in my description. A key to my planning success was the realization that a significant number of our school days would not be regular lesson days when we do math, English, history, etc. We will have field trips, rabbit trails, sick days, etc. So for 180 days of school, don't plan 180 days of regular lessons; plan maybe 155 days of regular lessons. Once I decided the number of days for regular lessons, I estimated the number of days needed for curriculum that didn't come with daily lesson plans. Then I assigned priority to the subjects we would need the most days to complete. In our case the Sonlight Core and Science, math, and R&S spelling 4 would take the most days. My children were required to work on these priorities first each school day.  I took the number of built in cushion days and divided those up throughout the year so that I knew how many extra days I had available each month for field trips or other issues.

 

Homeschool Planet helps me implement my plan. I can easily (seriously a few clicks), create a lesson plan and see how it fits in my yearly plan. I can add or subtract planned lesson days by whole day or by subject. I print weekly checklists for each child and check things off on the computer as we complete them. 

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I am a file type. 

 

Time to plan:

I have a small wicker trunk that is full of file folders, cheap manilla folders.  Did I spell that right?  This is the start of organization and keeping things neat.  I print and collect during the year for the next year.  Each file folder is marked by the subject and then by the content.  I love post-it notes.  I will add a note for what I have added in terms of worksheets, tests, quizes, projects, reminders, needs, etc.  That is the start of my planning. 

 

For each unit study approach that we take, I open Word.  There is an outline of the standards, content areas, and objectives for that subject.  For science and history, I will even go as far as to list the topics of each lesson in a numbered list to ensure that I cover each and every item that I feel is important.  (In case you haven't figured this out, that would be a list of 180 days!)

 

Time to assign:

I have two milk crates.  I did have three!  There are 36 folders that are numbered, and each 9 weeks is a different color.  I have 36 weeks that are divided by 4.  Why divide?  I journal at the end of the color. (While I layout the general subject matter, I do not plan on a sheet and paper each day.  I plan a week.)  I list everything that was contained in the folder.  Field trips, photos, library book receipts, etc.  All go into the folders at the week that they "were".

 

If it is open and go or workbook format, I get out the post-it notes.  I apply the note to the inside of each folder.  I add all sheets and project instructions.  I add the lists of books and supplies.  We will go one to two weeks out to purchase or reserve items.

 

If it is not open and go, and it is unit study based, then I make a list of all assignments and reading material.  I keep a large selection of both religious and secular texts for science and history.  I do this on notebook paper or I cut the assignment sheets that I created in Word.  Yes, I get out the scissors and add my slices of paper.  I tape them to the inside of the folder for the littlest, but just toss in for the oldest.

 

Anything that can be printed or taken apart is.  I divide up the sheets and insert into the folder.

 

Time to record:

Each nine weeks (sometimes a bit later if I am busy or just plain lazy), I journal their accomplishments by week.  I keep this in the HST software.  I use it to make lesson plans as well, but less often lately.  Sometimes, I just use Word.  I keep attendance in HST as well as all resources, the classes for the school year, etc.  The only real part that I don't use is the actual lesson assignment portion.  It inhibits our freedom - OK, fine, I think it is just too complicated to reschedule.  :)  I like to adjust things and yell "unschool" when it is needed. 

 

This is also the time that we purge and take photographs of projects.  We recycle and disassemble.  I select work to include in the portfolio, which is divided by subject tabs. 

 

The portfolio also has all of the outlines for any unit-study approach, table of contents of any books for reference and spine, including workbooks, as well as the entire resource list, attendance sheet, course outline, etc.  I love HST for the reports.  I print the journal at this point too.  All goes into the portfolio.  This is a requirement for our state.  Also, I take it a bit further so that I can take in binders if I ever need to prove that my eighth grader really earned a highschool credit and that my first grader can really read, write, and do arithmetic. 

 

I assign grades twice a year.  I keep an Excel sheet that completes the calculations for me.  I print this to show them what their grades are.  I print report cards at the end of the first semester.  I record grades and insert into the pocket of their portfolio.  At the end of the year, I print the Excel sheet and turn it into the umbrella.

 

Nine weeks of fun and chaos are now purged from the milk crate.  I think this is important.  The child can see their progress and feel the end is near.  I do take summers off - June - midAugust.

 

Note:  End of the day, all items are returned to the folder.  All books to the shelf.  (OK, everything is not always put up completely.  LOL)  It's time to play.   They are required to put in their time - i.e. seventh grade is 6 hours and first grade is four hours. 

 

Now that really sounded like a lot of work, but I start the next year's work as soon as we get mid-way through the current year.  I have plenty of time!  It also would seem that purging and journaling would be terrible, but it is very quick.  I am training the now seventh grader to journal.  She will take over this task for herself.  She is to log hours and tasks in her notebook for each subject, getting ready to log hours for credits.  :)

 

I babble ... I am done.  Off to work.

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For an online planner, I have used and really liked My Homeschool Plan. http://myhomeschoolplan.com/pages/6

 

For a paper planner, if you are using curriculum that is mostly of the "do the next lesson" type, this simple planner is great: https://www.facebook.com/MyStudentLogbook?ref=profile

 

I'm not sure what I'm going to use next year (first year of high school - I'm terrified!) so I'll be following the thread with interest.

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I am old school. I create a chart in word. I print it out each week and check off or highlight the things we have done. This shows the chart I used this winter/spring!

http://trinityschoolhouse.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-week-in-life-year-one-winterspring.html?m=1

 

ETA: as for the "why"--my philosophy is to keep it simple, and I like paper! When I plan the year I create a master document in word with book lists etc. I did detailed planning for kindergarten but this year I've found that I don't need to do any planning for the 3 Rs, and otherwise it's books or a science kit--also not requiring much planning!

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I use these ruled calendars from Donna Young to plan our 36 weeks.

 

This year, we tried schooling six weeks on, one week off. I make a list of goals for the 7th-grader to accomplish for each six-week block and then put it in his binder. He uses this student planner to plan out each week, using the goal sheet as a guide.

 

With the 1st-grader, it is just do-the-next-thing. Although I wish I would have taken just a little time to schedule out some of the art/enrichment stuff. I've had too many moments like, "Oh! Tomorrow is Easter and I forgot we were going to do a little indoor garden with real grass."  :glare:

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Posted this in it's own thread, but no response:

Just started playing with One Note after reading the planning thread and so far, so good. A couple questions though. I really like that I can import excel and word files. Where is the best place to edit them from? If I go to the original, will it automatically update in ON? I noticed when I updated from the "edit" tab on the file in ON, it gave me a new file to work from. I'm not sure if it was a computer issue or not, but the files didn't seem to be connected. I'm really hoping if I can edit one, the other will update.

I remember using it before, it was very easy to clip from websites. That doesn't seem to be the case now that Windows 8 has web access on another page. Is there a way to get around this? 

Any other cool OneNote tricks and tips to know? 

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I like the SCM planner.

 

-it has lots of resources already entered so I don't have to waste so much time typing out how many chapters are in a book

-it's easy to schedule resources--you can choose a date to start something, start after you finish another resource, or start at the same time you begin another resource

-it automatically pushes assignments forward if you haven't completed them

-OTOH, if you forgot to mark assignments as completed, it's easy to go back and mark the assignments complete, and the planner will automatically pop up with the next assignment for you to do.

-you can see both the big picture overview and detailed, daily plans

-I can print out daily plans for independent dc

-it can generate reports on what books I've used, assignments completed, daily attendance, etc.

-it's pretty ;)

 

I went back and forth using the SCM planner for a long time, because it's a relatively expensive subscription. A few months ago, dh and I were discussing my inability to stay organized with homeschooling and how it was affecting our ability to be productive during the day. DH started talking about writing a program for me, and listed off all the properties I needed. I told him SCM already had all those things built in. He asked why I wasn't using it and I told him the price. He was like, "For goodness sake! I'm willing to spend $10 a month if it will help you get everything done!" So this is one of those guilty pleasure splurges for me (and I don't feel guilty about it anymore). :)

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I use a spreadsheet in my Google Drive for planning my curriculum choices and a different one for my weekly plans. It's easy to find everything, I can color-code, and I can make quick changes. I use two computers regularly and can get to it easily from both. I make myself notes to refer to certain books, Pins, etc.

 

This year I've had a paper planner (made in Publisher) to go with it. I'm dropping that for next year and working on a weekly checklist made in Excel. Rather than having a separate teacher binder, I'll put them into the student booklets I make for each month.

 

Whitehawk, I am drooling over your spreadsheets.  And I'm realizing that I really need to learn Excel. Once upon a time I knew a few basic formulas, but I've forgotten them all. 

 

I use Excel. One of my favorite parts of planning for the next year is putting together the Excel workbook for our weekly schedules. :blushing:

 

I have one tab that shows our calendar. Dates for all the Mondays for the next year, with either the week number or "break" next to that. For subjects that we don't do every week, I've made a note for which week we will do that.

 

Then I have a tab with the schedule. It's set up with formulas so that I type in the beginning week and then four weeks worth of schedule is populated using data in the rest of the spreadsheet. This is our weekly printable schedule with checkboxes for what we have to do.

 

Then I have a tab for a library book list. One row for each week, one column for each subject, and one column telling me when I need to make sure my request is in by. I can type in titles of books to request as I find them, and have a record at the end of the year of what we read from the library.

 

Then each subject has a tab. It pulls in the week numbers from the calendar tab. I fill in what chapters or pages I want to have done each week. For a subject like math, where it's easy to get ahead or behind, I type in how many pages per week and use formulas to list out the exact pages. That way, if we do fewer (or more) pages in week 8 (for example), I change the "pages/wk" number for week 8 and all the following weeks update as well.

 

I have found that I need a paper checklist that I can keep in front of me, but I like the ease of updates that a computer allows for. My spreadsheet gives me both of those.

 

And this sounds absolutely amazing. How do I do this? I've been playing around with Excel for the last few days, and I know there are formulas to link them all together, I just don't know how to do it! 

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About half way through this year I stared planning following the methods Chelli lays out in her blog posts...see here: http://www.theplantedtrees.com/p/homeschooling.html

Scroll down and there are links to her whole planning series. It has bee SO helpful, especially the "planning your subjects" link. I will definitely be planning this way for next year. It's so flexible and user friendly.

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And this sounds absolutely amazing. How do I do this? I've been playing around with Excel for the last few days, and I know there are formulas to link them all together, I just don't know how to do it! 

 

If you're good at self-teaching computer stuff, google "vlookup". It's one of the most useful Excel formulas for building spreadsheets that pull data from one tab into another.

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If you're good at self-teaching computer stuff, google "vlookup". It's one of the most useful Excel formulas for building spreadsheets that pull data from one tab into another.

I will definitely look that up. I checked out 2 excel books from the library yesterday. I'm determined to figure this out.

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I have tried so many different approaches to planning and scheduling. I tend to be a paper and pencil planner, but I like using the computer as well. The only thing I have kept from year to year is doing planning by the week (not the day or unit or month or 36 weeks, etc). And we tend to do the next thing, allowing for faster and slower progress through things.

 

I have weekly a weekly checklist form for my kids, and a shared virtual calendar for the oldest who does some online/outside classes. I also have mind mapping diagrams in notebooks which I try to use to organize my thoughts. But as I make plans for next year, I am wondering - what do others use for planning, selecting curriculum, and scheduling? Why?

 

First, I roughly plan out our 36-ish weeks with Excel; this is my Year-at-a-Glance.

 

Then I roughly plan out how each week will play out with another Excel spreadsheet; this is my Week(s)-at-a-Glance. I use to just insert a new worksheet—one for each week—within the same workbook of the current year, until I came across OLLY.

 

Finally, I plug it all into OLLY (for Mac only), which I use to schedule and manage all of our studies, attendance, breaks/vacations, accomplishments, etc. throughout the rest of the year. My little man is able to check off his daily assignments one by one.

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I downloaded the 30 day trial of OLLY today - thanks for the suggestion! - and so far it is fairly simple and much more intuitive to my way of thinking than Homeschool Helper (though not as "good looking").  I will have to keep playing with it to see if it will meet my needs, but so far so good.  I entered in about 20 resources in 15 minutes because of the Google books look-up function, and was able to create a book list (of already read books) for oldest's upcoming assessment/portfolio review no problem (except formatting - please bold or underline titles, OLLY!)

 

I still think I will do a lot of my "thinking" with pencil and paper.  I like to ruminate on things, and thoroughly research before moving ahead with anything, and this organic and evolving thought process is probably best captured, for me, on paper.

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For recording what we are doing I use a large 2 - page per week planner. I write down the subjects worked each day, along with notes on books/resources used.

 

This has been our first year of homeschooling, and we've been feeling our way through several unexpected interruptions and alterations. Planned progressions fell by the wayside. However, the kids became a lot more self - sufficient in several subjects, so I posted a list of "daily work" -- subjects I wanted them to cover on their own each day. I let them choose what to work on and when (as long as math is in the earlier part of the morning), and they have been working a lot more quickly and with fewer problems.

 

As it is, I need to look at lessons learned and come up with the plan for our summer and next school year.

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Posted this in it's own thread, but no response:

Just started playing with One Note after reading the planning thread and so far, so good. A couple questions though. I really like that I can import excel and word files. Where is the best place to edit them from? If I go to the original, will it automatically update in ON? I noticed when I updated from the "edit" tab on the file in ON, it gave me a new file to work from. I'm not sure if it was a computer issue or not, but the files didn't seem to be connected. I'm really hoping if I can edit one, the other will update.

 

I remember using it before, it was very easy to clip from websites. That doesn't seem to be the case now that Windows 8 has web access on another page. Is there a way to get around this? 

 

Any other cool OneNote tricks and tips to know? 

 

 

When you click edit for an Excel spreadsheet within OneNote it will open the actual file in Excel and it will automatically update. When I really want an Excel spreadsheet then I use this formatting but most of the time for my homeschool planning all I really need is a table and you can insert that just by clicking on Insert and then Table. I usually click Insert Table after that so that I can tell it how many columns and rows I want. It can do sums so I use it for calculating how much I expect to spend on curriculum for the next year and it can insert check boxes which I love! For instance, within my notebook for the year, each child has their own Section and then each week has a different Page. Each page has a table for the week and I can fill out the subject and then the assignment under each day which has it's own check box. It's much quicker to set up than an Excel spreadsheet and when you want to check the box you just click it instead of opening Excel. If I used an Excel spreadsheet it would take longer to set up and I'd have to save each week's seperately  and open it every time I wanted to check a box.

 

I love being able to cut and paste from anywhere on the web and dropping it into OneNote and it links to the original page. So handy for researching curriculum and being able jump straight to the page to order or see pricing. With a microphone and webcam you can also record video and audio, or link to them. 

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