This Monday we begin the 2009-2010 school year. The day inspires eager anticipation in some and dread in others, but either way it is coming! I've been preparing for it off and on all summer long.
We are going back to the beginning with Tapestry of Grace. After teaching all four years of Tapestry of Grace's Classic version of curriculum, we are going back to the ancients with Tapestry of Grace Redesigned Digital edition. I still have my beloved Classic edition in notebooks, so I choose the digital redesign instead of the print edition. I have mixed feelings about digital, but in the end think it is a good option if you have a way to cheaply print off pages and pages of valuable curriculum. Plenty of blogs and websites have commented on the differences between TOG print and digital, classic and redesigned, so I won't do that here.
Edwards Academy students are in grade four, grade one and preschool this year, which means I'm still teaching TOG upper and lower grammar levels. For the most part, I'm in a very good groove using TOG curriculum and don't plan on major changes to how we implement this in our family. I did, however, change the way I record my lesson plans and made some minor changes to the kids' notebooks.
I've used handwritten lesson plan books before, but last year I made my lesson plans in Word document assignment sheets that I then printed out for the kids. It worked well for me, but took a lot of time. Although I tried to do it nine weeks at a time, tweaking was always in order and sometimes Monday mornings rolled around and my lesson plans/assignment sheets weren't ready. This year I have gone back to handwritten planning, using lesson plan templates from DonnaYoung.org. Using the ProClick binders (that we use for TOG student notebooks as well) I decided to make my own lesson plan book. I used the two-page per week lesson plan grid and inserted between the pages of a week the TOG reading assignment pages, the TOG weekly overview pages, and the TOG writing assignment page for our two writing levels (1 and 4). I trimmed the margins of the TOG pages so that it is easy for me to flip around within the two lesson plan pages of any given week.
Also, I trimmed the writing assignment page even further, keeping the most essential column, but trimming off the other side so that the other pages are more visible and accessible.
As you see below, the three TOG pages are sandwiched between the two-page per week lesson plan sheets. This is exceedingly handy for me. We'll be using the TOG vocab list this year for handwriting copy work and so much of the info on these three pages are essential to refer back to throughout the week that I wanted them very handy, without having to re-type or re-write lists and details.
Last year we began making student notebooks for each unit of Tapestry of Grace (one notebook per quarter) using the ProClick binders. ProClick bindings can be re-opened so it is very easy to add pages in later. You've probably seen student workbooks like this before, if you are a TOG user, since it has become a very popular way of using TOG and Charlotte Mason-style notebooking.
Our student notebooks are separated into week-plan sections using colored card stock. The week's section begins with a blank cover sheet from Notebookingpages.com. These free pages, made specifically for Tapestry of Grace, give space for jotting down vocab words, pasting in our Homeschooling in the Woods time line images, or even pasting in lapbooking-style flaps and pockets. On the back side of this cover sheet, I printed blank assignment sheet forms.
This form (shown above, click to enlarge) is a revised version of the assignment sheets that I made last year, completed in advance for Academy students. Tapestry of Grace actually recommends that students keep their own assignment sheets and this is a typical expectation of traditional school students, to be sure. A friend of mine suggested creating a boiler-plate assignment template that would make the process of the "Monday morning meeting" a bit easier and quicker. I loved her idea. With this form, we should be able to quickly go through the week's assignments as the kids fill in page numbers where possible and write longer items when necessary.
The rest of the student notebook has the TOG student activity pages for their level (including literature worksheets), the TOG maps for the week, the TOG writing helps needed that week (such as clustering diagrams, etc.), blank writing pages for writing assignments and dictation, as well as dictation grading forms, and any other supplemental material. For instance, I often pull extra things from sites like Homeschoolshare.com that go along with the literature selection. In the picture above you can see that I place the blank TOG MapAids map for their level opposite the Map Aids teacher map. I've found that the kids are best able to color and label their maps using the teacher map. It is the process of copying and coloring that helps them remember the places.
Below you can see reproducibles that we are using from Reproducible Maps, Charts, Time Lines and Illustrations: What the Bible Is All About Resources.
Below you see blank lined pages for writing assignments as well as a report grid form (from Writing Aids).
As Mr. Edwards might say, we're locked and loaded, ready to fire! It is easy to get wrapped up in the details, the methods, the curricula, but may we never lose sight of the target:
The Edwards family lives to serve Jesus Christ and train our children to live a life in His service.
Note: I'm updating the sidebar with our current year curriculum choices, if you are interested in comparing notes. I love reading what others are using and thought I would return the favor.