Monday, September 21, 2015

"The Notebook" that changed my life.

The above is a picture of the white binder that has changed my life.  Okay, perhaps I exaggerate, but I love this binder.  Even my teens agree this is a good thing. We call it the notebook of honesty.  I will tell you more.  

Last year, I felt like I never had a good grasp on what my high school students had accomplished or where they were.  I would ask, they would tell me, the phone would ring, something happened to another child, they were vague. . . you get the picture.

This year I got "The Notebook."  It may look like an ordinary white binder, but it is much, much, more.  "The Notebook" contains tabs of subjects.  

In each subject is a copy of the table of contents or syllabuses for each of their subjects.  I also keep grades there.  I had my son make the special sheet below for their  Notgrass history program. 

My notebook stays on the counter.  I ask each day: What did you do?  What you do have left?  Can I please see that?  My students say they like it, because they know I will ask and they like checking it off.  I realize this is very very basic, but it has worked for us.  I think you could do this on your phone or digitally, but I like paper and my pink highlighter.  Having it in the middle of my counter reminds me to check.  I consider it a success.  The question: will it work after Christmas?

Monday, September 07, 2015

FIIRST Lego League--Why you should join!

Some of my kids had an incredible time last year participating in First Lego League (FLL). I helped mentor a team called Guardians of the Brick.  The team did a great job and made it to District level.  During their first year as a team they learned to make presentations, work as a group, compromise, basic programming, and made great friends!

My other son was on the amazing team Lego Legion!  They placed third in state and went on to place at an international competition in Arkansas!  My son made great friends and really enjoyed being a part of the team! 

In FLL each team participates in Core Values, solves a problem through a Project, designs a robot and runs it through the Robot Game.  FLL is very open to homeschoolers.  Our teams are based at our co-op.  You can form a team with a minimum of two or three kids.  You can run a team in your neighborhood in your basement.  I found a great graphic that describes the program.  

 This is a great organization.  It is not too late to join.  

~ Becky 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Giving myself grace at the beginning of the year.

I remember going home exhausted when I taught in a brick and mortar school all through the month of August and into September.  I truly thought we would never get a routine, never get anything done, and I always seemed to forget something.  Dixie and Mitzi, who I taught with, reminded me that the beginning of the year is always bad, you just forget how bad at the beginning of each year.

It has been a hard week as we have started back on the path of more formal school around here.  I keep thinking, "Was this really a good idea?  Did I forget to get that book too?  You need what for that lesson?   How many of you are there again?"  But the good news is that soon the newness of the year will stop, I will find the correct book, and we will get into a routine.  This is what I have been reminding myself the last few days.

1.  Taking time to set up good routines and procedures is never a waste of time.  Having procedures in place on where things go, printing tests for the year, teaching a child how to be more independent with his/her lessons, and gently reminding them now will benefit all of us in the long run.

2. Beginnings always become the middle and then become the end.  I remember this when it seems like the beginning of the year will last forever.

3.  Changing routines takes consistency and time.   I have to be patient with my students as they adjust, and give myself some slack as we establish school routines.

4.  My students are wonderful people and they will not be here forever.  It really is privilege to spend my days with my kids.  After all, this is why I started homeschooling in the first place.  My three oldest are in high school, and they will be gone in a blink. I do not want to have any regrets.

5. Taking care of myself is a must.  Trying to sleep, eat right, have devotions, and exercise makes the days much better.  Getting lost in Facebook or other things. . . not so much. 

So I am giving myself grace as I start the year.  I hope you do too.  I am trying to remember that soon it will be time to put away the books and another year will have gone by.  I am making a commitment to enjoy this one.