This time, though, we don't mean those. We mean 3-ring notebooks, without which, &c.
If things have been quiet-ish around the ol' blog, it's because my days have been consumed with 1) trying to finish this year's school and 2) putting together ironclad plans and procedures for next year. And while we've always used binders to make sure that work got done and not lost, now we're moving to a higher plane of binder-dependence entirely.
I first ran across the idea of a 2-binder system for each child somewhere on the 4-Real Learning forums, in a conversation about workboxes. Someone -- and I now forget who -- described a system whereby each child has a binder for weekly work which, as it is completed, goes into a binder for the year, a "work completed" binder which, at the end of the year, serves as a kind of yearbook of the child's achievement. While I've always hung onto files and folders and workbooks and notebooks, this seems like a neat way to keep things ordered so that the child can go back and look over old accomplishments without having to track them down in the filing cabinet. You can shelve the "year" binders neatly, and there you are.
Of course, the key to all this is that you have to have your weekly work lined up, so that you can slip things into the assignment binder for the child to access at the proper time. As you go, you can put in a fun math puzzle, a coloring page, a form for journaling an indpendent-reading book, a page of copywork, a crossword puzzle, or whatever else strikes you as a good thing for your child to do in a given subject on a given day, but for me, at least, it's essential to have the core work planned out and ready to pop into the child's binder. For the older children, too, the assignment binder has to be set up so that the child can work more or less independently, with everything necessary to sustain life right there at this fingertips (okay, so I haven't figured out how to binderize meals yet, but give me time . . . ).
Many of our next-year's books arrived this week, and I have some ready-made lesson plans at hand, which makes things considerably easier: I could just copy off the timeline-research project which will be Amicus's history course for next year, 3-hole-punch it, and put it in his binder for him to access. For the youngers, since I'm tweaking a set of ready-made plans, it's a matter of making up daily lists which pull from the lesson plans, with space to add more activities and books as I continue to plan.
Epiphany's assignment binder is the most-nearly finished, so I thought I'd share what, specifically, is in it. It's nothing exciting to look at, but I did take some pictures which I can't post right now because the zippy computer is all packed up. Maybe later I'll post an all-binder (not binders!) photojournal, though that might be kind of boring. We're aiming for complete here, not cute.
Her binder includes, first, a contents page, so she knows at a glance what's in it and where to find things. The contents right now are:
* a daily schedule for the mini-courses we're doing this summer: math, grammar & composition, science and history review.
* a booklist for summer reading and independent reading through the year
* a daily summer-assignments syllabus
* Useful forms: note-taking, book-journaling, etc. I printed her out a number of these, with a note to make more copies as needed, whenever she reaches the last blank form.
*12th-grade course of study (scroll down for the link to the forms)
* weekly lesson plans with assignments blocked in for all the books we currently have: humanities, English, chemistry, math. I'm still putting together the half-credit economics course. I'm using the "Plan List" form (scroll down the page at the link and you'll see it), with a big box for notes (I've already put in, for example, contact info for the author of her chemistry text, who welcomes student questions). The form comes in .doc format, so I've typed in many assignments, while I'll pencil in others as I plan. I saved each page in its own file, so that I can easily go back and amend a page and reprint it if I need to.
With the weekly lesson plans I'll also include printouts of readings, where she's not using an actual book. I've made a workbox/bookshelf station in the hall, near my own work space, with boxes for both Epiphany and Amicus: their assignment binders, their "completed" binders, and their books for the year, which I'm still amassing. My goal is that no one will have to hunt for anything; it'll all be right there. At this station I've also made a box (actually a milk crate) for myself, with my big resource binder, the prepared lesson-plan binders for the youngers, our timeline book, and various worktexts whose pages I'm going to be photocopying to put in assignment binders, rather than letting them work directly in the books (for hand-me-down purposes). Meanwhile, I'm working on a similar station for Helier and Crispina in the kitchen, where we do most of our school.
I'll post more about preparations for their binders as I finish them. Currently I'm working on Amicus's year, so that he, like Epiphany, will have a detailed course of largely-independent study at his fingertips. He'll be doing pre-algebra, the World History timeline course in CHC's middle-school lesson plans, grammar, composition, a schedule of literary reading, life-science, and a course in growing in the virtues, courtesy of the Marianists.
But more about all that later. Hm, has anyone had a "planning" blog carnival lately? Anyone want to have one?
Which reminds me that "What I Learned This Week By Opening One Book" will return this Friday. Prepare!
CORRECTION: Make that next Friday. Helier's First Communion's this Saturday, I'm the First-Communion teacher . . . the book talk, she is not happening now.