11 March 2017

Trello & High School Planning

I recently had the satisfaction of beginning something that for almost the last decade has been at the back of my mind as both something to anticipate and something to fear. Planning for high school. Yes, high school!

Although I’ve watched many homeschoolers complete their high school careers and talked with many mothers who’ve gone through the process with them, there is still a cloud of mystery surrounding what high school is going to look like for your child. Ive even gone to a few meetings and conference sessions that pertain to homeschooling your high schooler. I’ve learned all about dual credit and AP classes and “CLEP-ing out” and what colleges are looking for and how to keep good transcripts and…

But then a few weeks ago I began what usually begins around this time of year: making curriculum decisions for the following fall. What worked, what didn’t, what needs to be ditched? For H, this is straight-forward: If what you’re using now isn’t a good fit, let’s switch to what your sister used and see if it works. But K is my guinea pig. She’s the one who gets to give things a test run. Everything is a first-time deal for her. I’ve not explored her options previously. So, when I set about looking into curriculum for her freshman year, I remembered that the daunting task of figuring out all four years was finally upon me.

Of course, the first thing I needed to do was figure out how I was going to keep track of everything. For four years, no less! If I put it into a spiral-bound notebook or typed it out in Excel, I’d most likely have to hunt for it each year or semester when I had to refer back to it. Not gonna lie!

Since I needed to list out the classes required for graduation, I thought Trello would be the perfect fit. I can make separate lists for each subject, pop in the classes, and add notes to the back of the “cards.”

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Once I listed out everything I could think of at the time, I made another list titled “Freshman Year.” Since you can easily move the cards from one list to another by dragging and dropping, I was able to move over all of the classes she’s going to take in 9th grade. Language arts is still kind of up in the air as far as what we’re going to be using, and I’m sure we’ll find more electives for her to take, but this is a fairly comprehensive overview of what K will be doing for her high school career.

On the backs of the cards, I noted cost and pasted a link of where to purchase the necessary items for each class.
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If I discover more information that I’d like to keep for future reference, I can always add more links and notes to the card at a later time, including dates and shipping information when I actually order the materials. I can also change my mind as to which year a certain class takes place and move the cards around. And I’m almost positive that with how much I love Trello, I’ll keep coming up with more and more ideas of how to use it in our homeschool!

So, while I’m still entering the realm of the unknown, I feel like mapping out four years of curriculum at one time was really not so bad. My next challenge: Getting my teenager to stop digging her heels in every day! (Any pointers in the comments are greatly appreciated!)

05 March 2017

TRISMS & Trello

After struggling on several different occasions to figure out a way to sort of "schedule" TRISMS for my middle schooler, it finally hit me: Use Trello!!!

If you're not sure what Trello is, please, please, PLEASE check it out! It's a highly customizable organizational tool that you can use for virtually anything you can come up with!

I originally downloaded the iPhone app when I was going through the book Getting Things Done. It was supposed to be my dumping ground for all of my personal to-dos, but then it morphed into a great space to keep track of things for my businesses, too. I have boards that contain lists for potential hostesses, potential recruits, upcoming parties, paint colors I need to stock up on when I hit up Hobby Lobby, etc. K even made an account with her own board that she's used to keep track of chores and things she needed to pack for our vacation last summer.

Then, when I sat down to work on planning out K's freshman year, I turned to Trello once again. (YES!!! We're THERE already! I can't believe it!) Once that project was complete, I started googling different ways to utilize Trello in a homeschool setting. I was lying in bed just this morning when the idea of using it for TRISMS crossed my mind. I went to work, and viola! I think it's the best thing I've come up with.

Now, if you're not familiar with TRISMS, it's a history program that centers on research. Students are told to read about a certain topic to get a general feel for it, then they're given questionnaires for scientists, inventions, and explorers that they need to fill out by researching. It also integrates IEW as a writing component and offers many suggestions for reading selections. At the high school level, you can actually earn history, literature, writing, rhetoric, and many other credits for thoroughly going through the material. At this point, our plan is to use it for history and literature credits.

Here's how the student book is laid out:

It's quite thorough, and it makes sense once you figure out how it's meant to be used, but I feel like it's a little complicated for my middle schooler to figure out on her own. Also, it's divided up into five days, and we do history over two days, so that complicates it even further. 

So, rather than list what she's supposed to do in her bullet journal, which didn't seem any better than looking at the book to me, I decided to try it out in Trello instead. Here's what I've come up with so far: 

Each "lesson" is designed to be done over one to two weeks. Since K is more than capable, I'm having her do it over one week. She actually really enjoys the format of this curriculum, so she has no trouble doing the necessary research. Each different task that she's supposed to complete during the week has been put onto it's own "card." 

I have made this even easier for her to complete without using her book by adding details onto the "back" of each of the cards in each list. The vocabulary cards have the words listed, the questionnaires have the subject to study jotted down, and the writing assignments have a list of the steps to follow. I even made a card with all of her timeline items to be added to her Book of Time. 

If she has any questions about a task, she can add a comment so that later I can help her complete anything she's having trouble with. Once she completes each task, she can archive the card. She has always worked well with checklists, so I think this system will be a good fit for us! 

And the nicest thing about it is that I can copy the list onto a board for H, so the work is already done for when she starts the program next year!

17 October 2016

Back in the Saddle

Another new year is underway. I can't believe this is the beginning of our tenth year of homeschooling. That's right. TENTH!!! Where have the years gone???

K is in 8th grade, but working on her first few high school credits this year, including a half credit in Spanish! I'm so proud of her. It's like something clicked in her when the words "high school" were muttered, and she does so much more without me having to constantly remind her.

H is really coming out of her shell this year. She's taking a performance-heavy load of classes at our co-op, including worship dance, hand bell choir, and choir. She really seems to be enjoying them all, too. She's come a long way from the girl who picked gymnastics over dance because gymnastics didn't have a recital!

And then there's the little guy. J is beginning kindergarten. In addition, he's taking tae kwon do, a science class called Growing Up Wild, a music and movement class, and Lego club. Most weeks he doesn't really want to be dropped off, but he's getting better at it all the time.

 I really can't wait to see what the year brings in terms of development for all three of them!

31 May 2016

Strengths and Weaknesses

I'm always talking to people about teaching children to their strengths. Learning styles are so important to me, and I'm always striving to find what works for the students I'm teaching, whether they're mine or someone else's. No child left behind - in working form! 

But the thing that doesn't get talked about as much are the PARENTS' strengths and weaknesses. I've read about how it's just as important as a teacher to know your learning style and your strengths as it is to know those of the students.

Well, for my first Truthful Tuesday, I'm here to confess that I'm well aware of my strengths and weaknesses. And they are not all strengths, I assure you!

I am a planner. I love everything planning! My husband always tells me how I like to plan to do things, just not do them. And there is certainly a whole lotta truth in those words! I am constantly planning how I want to organize my school stuff! See Exhibit A:

I will also admit that on warm, humid, sunny days I would MUCH rather be working on the OUTSIDE of the house than the INSIDE of the house. See Exhibit B:

As far as my learning style goes, I see some traits that are similar to each of the girls. I Iike to read and watch videos and take notes. I use colors on my notes because my memory is visual. I talk to myself when trying to understand a difficult concept because saying it and hearing it helps me to get it. Sometimes having music in the background helps or I like to bounce ideas and facts off other people. Sometimes, you need to leave me alone so I can concentrate. 

Fortunately, my malleable, moldable kids have proven to me time and again that they are totally fine learning in an environment with less organization and more outdoors. The differences and similarities in our personal learning styles and strengths and weaknesses have not created too much of a hindrance. 

The girls and I just went for a walk tonight, which ended up turning into some science education about ants and chimps and research as a career. 

So while my learning style and my strengths and my weaknesses might be different than those of my children, I've become quite proficient at making it work so everyone is happy. And after all, knowing is half the battle.

05 January 2014

My Home Management Binder Project #2

Rather than drone on and on about my household binder, I figured I would do a post that was mostly pictures. My binder is still a work in progress, so I'll probably have one more post once I finish tweaking the binder to work for me the way it should. If you missed part one, check it out to see what this is all about!

Winter is a horrible time to try to find a pencil pouch for a binder! I looked around at Target, Walmart, and Office Depot. Each place only had one or two options. Rather than settle, I decided to look up how to make one with duct tape. This one was super quick and easy to make. I used a gallon-sized freezer bag and duct tape. I think it only took me 10 minutes, and if I find one that I love when the back-to-school season is in full swing, I won't feel like I wasted a lot of money on this one!

I'm still in the note-taking stage of my routines. We're going to be moving in a couple months, so I'm hesitant to solidify anything just to have it change under the circumstances of a new house. In the meantime, I've jotted down my workout and laundry routines. Those are less likely to change!

On the back of my Finance divider, I put in a copy of the all-important steps to financial freedom. I'm hoping it serves as a great reminder each month as I'm paying bills.

I've added a temporary section with all things moving. We have things we have to do to our current home as well as things to prepare for the move. The binder is fantastic at keeping it all in one place!

What are your plans for reorganizing your life in 2014?