Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back to School

After a full summer break, it is time to start school again. We had a marvelous summer, although I didn't get everything on my summer to-do list completed, I made a dent in it and we did many other things I didn't anticipate.

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 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 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 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 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:

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.


Anonymous said...

Love this post. It's always helpful to compare notes with others. I'm going to come back later and read it again in more depth. I really like what you've done with your student planner as that's an area we are still tweaking with our TOG studies.

MOHeather said...

Wow! I am impressed, Amy. You are quite an organizer. We are using Heart of Dakota this year (Bigger Hearts for His Glory for Ben and Sam and Little Hands to Heaven for Joshua). One of the reasons I love it so much is it's all planned out for me (but not in a scripted way). It gives me the time and freedom to incorporate art, logic, author studies etc. Things I know I would not attempt if everything else wasn't already organized for me.

We're starting Monday as well. I wished I felt everything was "locked and loaded". I know I'll never feel fully ready, so I'm just going to jump in and tweak the schedule and so on as the weeks get started. I'm looking forward to starting a bit earlier this year and having more freedom in taking more days off during the year.


Meredith said...

Thanks for this post which I found really interesting. I'm not a home schooler - but I was a primary school teacher before the children were born - so this is really fascinating for me to read.

Have a great year. I shall pray for you today for a wonderful year ahead - learning, growth, harmony, contentment, serving Christ and training your children to love and serve Him too.

God bless.

Mrs. Edwards said...

It is good to hear from you. Will you blog about your co-op this fall? I'll be curious to hear how it goes.

I'm locked and loaded, but not too set in stone. In prior years I've worked out detailed daily schedules only to be frustrated with myself when we didn't stick to it. This year I'm following a rough order of subjects, but not going to be too strict on the clock. Whatever daily schedule we aim for, it has to be flexible.

This probably is a bizarre post for anyone who doesn't use Tapestry of Grace curriculum. I knew that it would be confusing if readers didn't.

Thanks so much for your prayers. Harmony and contentment--exactly what we need to fill our home!

learningatourhouse said...

I am so excited that you are starting this year with year 1! As we are new to TOG, we are also in year 1 AND we are lower grammar! I am looking forward to reading about your ideas and experiences. Thanks for posting about the student notebooks. I am feeling very lost here. I did not make them for my boys to use. Only for me to file away their work.

We started back this week and are LOVING the TOG program! We finished our first project which was making paddle dolls. The boys and I really enjoyed it. This coming week we are looking forward to making pyramids with clay.

Sorry for the rambling... I am just ecstatic that you will be in the same realm as us so I can learn even more from you!


Sharon said...

Okay, this post has officially confirmed in my mind that we are really twins, separated at birth. Our brains just work the same! I love all this sort of thing. Thanks for the link to the pro-click binders. I spend heaps on binding at my local office works and I was thinking of asking for a binding machine for my bday... is that sick or what?

~ Sharon

Mrs. Edwards said...

I know, Sharon! So funny. I think the same thing often.

The pro-click punch is a bit pricey at first, but it pays off quickly.

Anonymous said...

I've come back as promised, checked out all the links and photos you posted and thanks so much for sharing them! Such wonderful, creative, unique, and useful ideas.

Mrs. Edwards said...

After our first day, I already learned that I didn't make the blanks big enough for the kids to fill in page numbers! I have one child in particular for which handwriting is a trial and the assignment sheet form doesn't leave enough space.

The good news is that overall it is working well!

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