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Thursday, August 12, 2010

School Year 2010-2011 Part 1

OK, we're a little late in getting this out… We actually started about a month ago. ;) But, here's how we're organizing this school year.


I've already mentioned we're using Tapestry of Grace for our core curriculum this year. What's nice about TOG is that they explain how to set up everything from the get-go! They have a whole article called Out of the Shrink Wrap that takes you step by step through what you need to do to be organized. Of course, you can tweak it to fit your needs, and I'm thinking most people do. Here's what we did:


We start with my binders. You can buy one unit (9 weeks worth of curriculum) at a time through TOG. That's what we did, to save money. We'll buy the next unit when we're done with this one. You can buy the curriculum as a Digital Edition (DE), as a printed hard copy, or buy both. I opted to buy both. It's slightly more pricey ($45 for DE only, $58.30 for hard copy, plus shipping, and $65.80 for the DE plus print copy, plus shipping), but it was worth it for me. I couldn't see me printing out the whole thing, and I like having it all printed out for me when I started. But, I like having the DE, so I can simply print off the kids' pages when I need them.


SO, you get a BIG binder, I use a 3", and you have the option of either just putting it in the binder as is (it's pre-punched, as the print edition), or putting it in page protectors. I opted for the page protectors, to protect my investment. This curriculum can be used through high school, and you only have to buy each year once. That took TIME, but I really think it was worth it. In the Loom, which you get access to when you buy the curriculum, they have spines and covers for your binders, which look really nice. You'll need one binder per unit, with four units in the year. You can also buy tabbed dividers from them, which has the week numbers on them. I also put my Map Aids keys, and my Evaluations keys with the corresponding weeks.


Then, I go through the activities. Activities are big deals in our house, mostly because Mommy tends to forget to buy the supplies, and we never get them done. ((blush)) To avoid that problem, I make a list of things I'm going to need for each week. I list all of the activities, their supplies, and what book or where to find how to do them. In that page protector pouch, I also print off any extras we're going to need, and stick it in. (For example, one week we're making lentil soup as our project. I printed out the recipe, and put it in the pouch.) This way, I have everything I need at my fingertips.


The other thing I did is order Pop Quiz. Basically, this is a CD and card set that's specifically for Dad. He can listen to the CD in the car on his way to or from work, or wherever he goes, whenever he has time. Then, the cards give him idea starters and questions to ask the kids on Friday, so that he knows exactly what they're learning. I laminated my cards, and stuck them in the pouches with the activity sheet, broken down by week. The CDs I keep in a CD holder sheet in the front of my binder.


So, that's step 1. Step 2, is making my weekly binder. Basically, you're going to work with three weeks at a time. You're going to need three "pouches" or folders, where you store the kids' paperwork for the week. Then, you just take out the pages you need from your big binder for the week, and put them in the weekly one. This way, I'm not sorting through stuff I don't need. We're only doing Upper Grammar this year, so I don't need the Lower Grammar, Dialectic, or Rhetoric pages. By putting them in my weekly binder, I don't have to sift through them.


In my binder, I also have some CD holders, to hold the Pop Quiz CDs we're using. We're also using Teaching Textbooks this year for math, which is all on CD, so we keep our CDs for that in there, too. The kids always know where they are that way, and there's no looking for them. When they're both finished with a CD (there's about 30 lessons on each CD, with a total of 4 CDs), they go back into the Teaching Textbooks folder that they came in, and get put away.


Behind the CD holders, I keep a monthly calendar, letting me know at a glance what I have to do, and my weekly master assignment sheet. This is typed out, and I save it both to my computer, and as a hard copy, so that I know and have a record of exactly what we did each week.


OK, one more thing to go over with this post. I print out in advance ALL of the pages I'll be giving the kids ever week (you'll see more about their organization next post) in advance. So, I needed a way to organize those, too! I simply bought a file folder bin, along with a box of yellow file folders. (TOG is color coded for each level. Yellow is Upper Grammar, which we're working on this year.) I labeled the bin for the school year, and labeled each folder for Week 1 through Week 36. As I print off the pages they'll need, I stick them in the corresponding week. At the end of the year, they'll put their work in the bin, by week, so we'll have a record of what they did this year.


OK, so that's how I organize my teaching supplies. In the next post, we'll take a look at how the kids are organized for this year!

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