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Monica_in_Switzerland

How do you physically give your middle schooler independent assignments?

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Where do you or he/she record what needs to be done?  Do you do this by week or by day?  

Clipboard, notebook, planner, spreadsheet...

Looking for a refresh to our checklist system...  

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I have a composition book with the first 3 pages blank.  Each additional page has the date with the day's assignments including notes (review this song, do this copywork, talk to me first). He checks what he's done to the left of the red line. Any work not done in a workbook is done in the composition book after the day's assignments. Any assignment of note, such as a rough draft, is put in the index in the first 3 pages with the date.

I have a homemade "teacher's book" where I note content or skills learned (1st declension nouns, identifying 15 largest stars) and then at the end of the year I know what books have have been completed.

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12 minutes ago, Slache said:

I have a composition book with the first 3 pages blank.  Each additional page has the date with the day's assignments including notes (review this song, do this copywork, talk to me first). He checks what he's done to the left of the red line. Any work not done in a workbook is done in the composition book after the day's assignments. Any assignment of note, such as a rough draft, is put in the index in the first 3 pages with the date.

I have a homemade "teacher's book" where I note content or skills learned (1st declension nouns, identifying 15 largest stars) and then at the end of the year I know what books have have been completed.

 

So one composition book for all subjects?  How quickly do you tend to fill one up?  I am very tempted to do a similar system because I just have having multiple notebooks everywhere...  

 

ETA- And do you tend to fill out the assignments at the end of the school day, or in the AM before school?  

Edited by Monica_in_Switzerland

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1 hour ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

Where do you or he/she record what needs to be done?  Do you do this by week or by day?  

Clipboard, notebook, planner, spreadsheet...

Looking for a refresh to our checklist system...  

All assignments whether independent or not are put in an Excel spreadsheet - days across the top and subjects down the left hand side, usually prepared on the weekend for the coming week.  The week fits on one page and the student is given one week's worth at a time.  Typically I keep a copy as well so that we may both have one to work off of.  

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13 minutes ago, Another Lynn said:

All assignments whether independent or not are put in an Excel spreadsheet - days across the top and subjects down the left hand side, usually prepared on the weekend for the coming week.  The week fits on one page and the student is given one week's worth at a time.  Typically I keep a copy as well so that we may both have one to work off of.  

This is how we did it. 

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My children have a plan book like the excel sheets. I fill in assignments weekly. Usually in one subject I write the assignments for the week on the page opposite the grid and have them learn to divide it over the days. In high school we move to several subjects having syllabi with weekly work listed. 

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We use the Trello app and website.

Easy to load, color-coded for completed, need help, with mom, etc. 

Plus it saves paper!

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I've been experimenting with Google Classroom.  This semester I am using it for my 10 year old's science work.

Each assignment lists what he needs to do, and often links directly to the resources he will need.  So it might give a reading assignment, link to a YouTube video on the subject, and then have a "quiz" that guides him through outlining a summary paragraph about the topic.  The next day he might write his summary paragraph and then read through the attached instructions for a lab he will complete.  I can then go in and view his paragraph (as a Google Doc), make notations on it, and assign revisions the following day.

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Each of mine has a spiral notebook where I write all assignments for the week. Then they can check them off as they do them. I have a master sheet in a clipboard with everyone's work on it, so I just copy each kid's stuff from there. Not very exciting, but it's cheap and it works.

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In the past I've done Excel spreadsheets, printing out a checklist for them each week, I've done student planners.  I feel like I've tried everything.  Problem is, I like to plan ahead and most of those methods are a pain if you need to adjust them.    I'm trying index cards this year.

Each assignment is on a separate index card (I reuse them later), I make up the index card for a given subject as far ahead as I can.   They each have a binder with a cardstock page with library pockets labeled Monday through Friday, plus one that says Any Day.   At the beginning of the week, I take cards for each subject and distribute them through the library pockets.   If I need to adjust because they didn't get to something, I just put that card in again.  If I need to add an extra step, I make up another card and bump things back.    The binder also has expanding pockets for worksheets and thinner workbooks, plus a zipup pencil pouch.  Behind the library pockets the binder rings hold extra paper, any reference sheets they use, etc.

So far it seems to be working.  They get things done and I can do setup pretty quickly.

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3 minutes ago, Where's Toto? said:

In the past I've done Excel spreadsheets, printing out a checklist for them each week, I've done student planners.  I feel like I've tried everything.  Problem is, I like to plan ahead and most of those methods are a pain if you need to adjust them.    I'm trying index cards this year.

Each assignment is on a separate index card (I reuse them later), I make up the index card for a given subject as far ahead as I can.   They each have a binder with a cardstock page with library pockets labeled Monday through Friday, plus one that says Any Day.   At the beginning of the week, I take cards for each subject and distribute them through the library pockets.   If I need to adjust because they didn't get to something, I just put that card in again.  If I need to add an extra step, I make up another card and bump things back.    The binder also has expanding pockets for worksheets and thinner workbooks, plus a zipup pencil pouch.  Behind the library pockets the binder rings hold extra paper, any reference sheets they use, etc.

So far it seems to be working.  They get things done and I can do setup pretty quickly.

I so wanna see a picture of this! :wub:

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My dc just look at my master schedule for the week and then do the next thing. There are some subjects we do together, but they know which those are. The others they can do in whatever order they want as long as they get covered in the day. Perhaps my 5th grader doesn't have as many completely independent subjects as other middle grade students.

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46 minutes ago, SusanC said:

My dc just look at my master schedule for the week and then do the next thing. There are some subjects we do together, but they know which those are. The others they can do in whatever order they want as long as they get covered in the day.

This, pretty much - I post the week's checklist on the fridge.  Although, unlike some, my master checklist lists subject/curricula, but doesn't give specific assignments.  (I'm a do-the-next-thing homeschooler, where "do-the-next-thing" means "you can figure out 'the next thing' on the fly".)  So it's a "master checklist" in two senses: it has the master plan for this year's hs, and it's the copymaster I use to run off that week's blank checklist on the copier ;).

I do just as much planning as it takes to find a rhythm to our days and weeks, as well as a rhythm to our subjects.  Once I've got that, I can figure out the specifics on the fly and am ready to go forth and do the next thing.  I also tend to do as much in my head as possible, only turning to paper when things get too complex and I need an external brain to help ;).  I had to start writing down our daily/weekly rhythms once my middle hit 3rd grade (my beloved general checklist), and this year looks like the year I have to start actually writing down some of our subject rhythms.

So until 7th grade, "independent assignments" pretty much entirely consisted of "go down the general daily/weekly checklist and do-the-next-thing or do-the-thing-assigned-today", where I came up with the assignments on the fly after teaching the lesson and nobody wrote anything down.  (And, really, the only specifics were "which pages in the math workbook"; everything else just followed the general pattern or flow.)  7th grade was our first year with a non-consumable math book, so math assignments now had *two* moving parts: "which problems", as well as "which pages".  But I quickly got in the habit of assigning odds, so that was easy to remember, and dd still had no problems remembering which section without any of us writing it down.  And our new writing program went from the weekly pattern we were used to, to a two-week pattern.  But it was pretty easy to grasp and turn into do-the-next-thing assignments.

But this year, 8th grade, we're starting to move from daily classes and daily assignments to twice-weekly classes and weekly assignments that have several parts.  (AKA more than dd - or I - can reliably keep in our heads.)  It's mainly just in one subject (writing, LToW), so right now I'm just writing out (on the fly) a more detailed checklist in that subject's notebook, complete with due dates, but I hope to transition to her writing that into her planner.  Or else I'll actually type up a more-detailed-yet-generic checklist for that subject, now that I'm getting a feel for the rhythm of it, and have her work off that, writing in specifics and due dates as needed. 

(I really like checklists - they're my external brain.  The making of the checklist is how I plan out our daily and weekly - and now subject - rhythms, and checking things off is both a means of recording and accountability.)

Edited by forty-two
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I used to love OneNote for planning and monitoring assignments with my oldest, but that doesn't work for how we're doing school these days. I have been looking for a better way to keep everything together before starting high school. 

Right now I'm using a simple table in Word that I make Sunday night before the week starts.

I've looked at many pre-made planners, but there's always something I want to change or ignore completely. I think I'm better off making my own. 

 

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5 hours ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

 

So one composition book for all subjects?  How quickly do you tend to fill one up?  I am very tempted to do a similar system because I just have having multiple notebooks everywhere...  

 

ETA- And do you tend to fill out the assignments at the end of the school day, or in the AM before school?  

Yes, based on the bullet journal concept. About one per quarter.

Before school. I have my own mama sheet that I pull from:

Screenshot_20191110-160446~2.png

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13 hours ago, Slache said:

Yes, based on the bullet journal concept. About one per quarter.

Before school. I have my own mama sheet that I pull from:

Screenshot_20191110-160446~2.png

 

I think I'm getting close now to seeing the big plan for me!  Thanks so much for sharing your master sheet.  I think this may be what I'm missing this year.  Last year I had a very similar checklist for myself, and this year I thought I could just do kid checklists... and nope.  I need the master sheet and then a place to delegate.  I think you're on to something!!!  

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8 hours ago, MerryAtHope said:

 I used workboxes to set up my kids work. To record what was done, I kept a teacher notebook.

 

Thank you for sharing your teacher notebook!  I've been trying to implement one for a couple years now and I've just figured out why it's not working.  Seeing your set-up was very helpful.  My issue is a physical dislike for binders.  I found a binder system though that will completely fold back on itself, I suppose similar to a spiral bound notebook but full of page protectors instead of pages, if that makes sense.  I think this will help me overcome my physical dislike for bulky binders!  

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22 minutes ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

I think this will help me overcome my physical dislike for bulky binders!  

It looks like the brand of binder she was using was Better Binder from Staples. The binder you're trying sounds good too. But if you need to go to a store and pet binders, that would be one to look for. Of course they probably don't have them in Switzerland? Dunno, lol. You send chocolate, we send binders. :biggrin:

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16 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I so wanna see a picture of this! :wub:

There's not much to see except maybe my super messy handwriting.  

Our binders look exactly like this except they don't have a zipper all the way around, just a velcro strap.   Each kid has their own color (which I then wrote their names on because I can't remember which is which).    Their workbook pages are in the expanding part.  The rings only hold the cardstock with library pockets, reference sheets and extra paper (less hole punching).  

I have attached a picture of the library pockets.  They are just generic, plain pockets.  I write their daily schedule on the outside (badly as you can see, I'll do new ones soon now that things are pretty firmly set) and put the cards for the days assignments inside. 

ETA:  The cards aren't usually numbered as you see in the corners there, but I was trying to set up 14 days worth so did that to help.  I tried having details written along the edge that sticks out but it was unnecessary additional work.  

I have to index card boxes, one for each kid, that hold any cards I've written out ahead, usually by subject but I bundled together a whole week for the next couple weeks.  

20191110_204839.jpg

Edited by Where's Toto?
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I feel like a slacker. My 8th grader just does the next thing. If there's some confusion, she comes and asks and we make the decision. But I've chosen curricula that require very little planning for her independent work. 

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14 minutes ago, alisoncooks said:

I feel like a slacker. My 8th grader just does the next thing. If there's some confusion, she comes and asks and we make the decision. But I've chosen curricula that require very little planning for her independent work. 

Nah. Just different choices. I had to choose more independent work because my tweens bickering and competitiveness was getting out of control. They also do the next thing. I just give them a list of what pages need to be completed by the end of the week. We do a couple of subjects together but most of it is independent. I am always available for questions and they both like to work by my side for their weaker subjects. It’s weird to let go of so much but they needed to separate and I had tried it different ways without much success. This seems to be working. 

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1 hour ago, alisoncooks said:

I feel like a slacker. My 8th grader just does the next thing. If there's some confusion, she comes and asks and we make the decision. But I've chosen curricula that require very little planning for her independent work. 

 

Some of our work is on auto-pilot and/or mom-led- math, grammar, dictation, writing, physics, science...  But the kids have booklists that tend to rotate and have various associated assignments (take notes, write summary paragraph, draw map, etc.) and they need to know when to do what and for which book.  The other thing I need them to have are the little bitty bits of work that otherwise get forgotten- 10 minutes typing practice, German homework form dad, etc.  These are all 5-15 minute daily tasks that *I* will inevitably forget if it's not on a checklist.  

 

Ladies, thank you so much for having this chat with me!  I've picked up some notebooks and have a new one-notebook-to-rule-them-all strategy that we'll start implementing this week!  Woohoo!  Sometimes it's not about having a bad system, it's about needing a new system to keep ME awake as the teacher.  🙂  

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2 hours ago, alisoncooks said:

I feel like a slacker. My 8th grader just does the next thing. If there's some confusion, she comes and asks and we make the decision. But I've chosen curricula that require very little planning for her independent work. 

This is how it is with my 8th grader as well. He has a checklist of subjects and he just works in each one. He likes to work independently and just ask for help as needed. He is taking a couple outsourced classes this year and is getting good practice in those with planning out the work himself for what needs to be done each day to have it all done by the next meeting time. 

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I have weekly schedules, one for me and one for him. He checks his off as he does his work; I check mine off as I check his work. This is an example. In the top row, I write the date. In the bottom row, I write any activities for that day (like Scouts, violin, library volunteering, co-op, and robotics club that he does weekly, and any field trips). In the rows for Duolingo and Typing Instructor, I record how many minutes he spends that day. For history, he has a separate binder where I’ve listed his reading assignments for the week, questions he needs to answer for our Friday discussions, maps, etc. He works independently for the most part besides geometry and introducing new lessons for writing. We did grammar together last year, but he seems to remember the lessons so far and has been doing fine working on his own.

2560D735-8BDD-4E1E-A079-B73AFBD961A6.jpeg

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5 hours ago, Kathryn said:

I have weekly schedules, one for me and one for him. He checks his off as he does his work; I check mine off as I check his work. This is an example. In the top row, I write the date. In the bottom row, I write any activities for that day (like Scouts, violin, library volunteering, co-op, and robotics club that he does weekly, and any field trips). In the rows for Duolingo and Typing Instructor, I record how many minutes he spends that day. For history, he has a separate binder where I’ve listed his reading assignments for the week, questions he needs to answer for our Friday discussions, maps, etc. He works independently for the most part besides geometry and introducing new lessons for writing. We did grammar together last year, but he seems to remember the lessons so far and has been doing fine working on his own.

2560D735-8BDD-4E1E-A079-B73AFBD961A6.jpeg

 

Thank you!!!  I LOVE seeing "into" other people's schools.  How are you liking Windows to the World?  I have a few worldview books on my to-consider list.  

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7 hours ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

 

Thank you!!!  I LOVE seeing "into" other people's schools.  How are you liking Windows to the World?  I have a few worldview books on my to-consider list.  

I definitely think it’s a worthwhile program. My son rolls his eyes at the first-person style and he does not consider himself Christian and there’s a bit of Jesus-talk that annoys him. But, overall, I think he’s doing well with it. He did Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings last year and we started this year with Teaching the Classics. When we finish Windows to the World later this year, we’ll go straight into selections I’ve made from Excellence in Literature which he should be well-prepared for by that point. 

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1 hour ago, Kathryn said:

I definitely think it’s a worthwhile program. My son rolls his eyes at the first-person style and he does not consider himself Christian and there’s a bit of Jesus-talk that annoys him. But, overall, I think he’s doing well with it. He did Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings last year and we started this year with Teaching the Classics. When we finish Windows to the World later this year, we’ll go straight into selections I’ve made from Excellence in Literature which he should be well-prepared for by that point. 

 

Excellence in Lit looks so interesting!  This is why I try not to hang out here too often, it makes me want to throw all my plans in the air and add new stuff.  😂

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For anyone still following, I found and really enjoyed this video: 

  

I would NOT pre-set up as she has done, but I like many of the tips and tricks throughout the video.  I've decided to go full-on bullet journal for my own planner, and just put things in willy-nilly order and add an index in the front.  Reworking my system regularly helps me stay engaged and motivated.  It's taken me a long time to stop looking for "The System" and just find this year's system instead.

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