Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Files, Folders & Notebooks - Organizing School Work

Juggling three children and their school work shouldn't be an overly complicated task, but since I'm a little obsessive/compulsive, I tend to make it harder for myself than is really necessary. I've always enjoyed organizing my files and getting ready for each school year. However, I have delayed blogging about it because I knew if I actually wrote it all down, people might think that my paper trail is crazy. Oh well, for those who want to know, here it is...

(file cabinet)

To begin with I have a two drawer file cabinet that holds my files. In the top drawer I have files for school registration (cover school forms), progress reports, transcripts, Co-op forms, 4-H, volunteer/service hours, physical & outdoor education, field trips, college info., school orders and blank files for future use.

The bottom drawer has my weekly work files. I have a file for each week of the year. I have a master work file out on my desk at all times (because I'm constantly working from it). It holds my daily to-do check lists (Motivated Moms), weekly menus, anything I print from the computer (research, etc.), coupons, and anything else I'm currently working on. Once I finish with something during the week, it is moved from the master file to the corresponding weekly file in the drawer. Then, at the end of the year, I go back through the files making sure that I didn't forget to record something in Edu-Track (for the children's progress report and transcripts) and check for items that need to be kept for the next year. (holiday ideas, menus, vacations, wish lists, etc.)

Along with my master work file, I keep a monthly at-a-glance calendar. The calendar helps me look ahead and schedule school assignments with consideration to any outside commitments we have made. (church, Co-op, music lessons, volunteer/service projects, Dr. appointments, field trips, vacations, etc.)

(calendar and master work file)

Nathan and Ryan each have a daily/weekly notebook. Here is how it is organized for them:
  • In the very front of the notebook is a pencil pouch where they can keep pencils and erasers, making it very portable.
  • The first section holds a copy of the Mastery Club list. That way they always know where it is and don't forget about it. However, they use a spiral notebook to actually record their research activities.
  • Next I have a divider with a double sided pocket. In one side of the pocket they keep copies of current 4-H project paper work. In the other side of the pocket they keep current Contenders of the Faith project/badge requirement info. I have found that "out of sight, is out of mind", so I keep this information in the front of their notebooks so that they are constantly reminded of their on-going projects.
  • The rest of the notebook has five tabbed dividers, one for each day of the week. Behind each tab, I place any daily work that I've made copies of, or that I printed off of the computer. (This is not all of their work, only the worksheets or assignments that are not in text books or workbooks.)

They really enjoy the way this is set up. If they get stuck on something or get behind on a worksheet, they can go back the next day and finish it. On the flip side, if they finish early, they can work ahead. In the end, all of the work must be finished and turned in on Friday. I go through their notebooks every day and grade what they have completed and check to make sure that they are staying on track.

(Nathan's notebook)

Since David is in high school, his notebook is set up a little differently. I want him to be more responsible for himself and his time in completing his school assignments. Here is how his binder is organized:

  • The first section contains a syllabus for each class.
  • The next section outlines current weekly assignments per subject (Word document).
  • Next I add a blank week at-a-glance calendar. This way he can work out his own schedule for the week. (school assignments, Co-op, church activities, volunteer/service hours, club meetings, work schedule, etc.)
  • Next I added a double sided pocket divider for any on-going projects.
  • The rest of the binder just holds notebook paper for him to use on his daily work. Although, he uses the computer for most of his work now and backs up all of his files on a flash drive.
Every Monday morning David and I have a meeting to go over his schedule and discuss how he plans to accomplish his weekly goals. He is then on his own to get his work started. I do schedule one-on-one time with him everyday to go over discussion questions and to help him if he is stuck on anything or needs further instruction. I grade his work as he completes it and then enter it into Edu-Track.

At the end of the week, any work that the kids still need to turn in is put in their folders on top of my file cabinet (this is my inbox). This includes worksheets, reports, essays, and any other completed projects. Workbooks and research notebooks are also turned in for grading, but then I give them back so they can continue to work in them. Once all of the grading is finished, all of their work in placed in quarterly portfolio binders. I usually end up with three portfolios per child, per year. I go through all of these at the end of the year to compile one annual memory/portfolio book for each child.

(The boys files - my inbox, is in the background. A paper tray is in the foreground.)

This may seem excessive to some (remember, I warned you), but it works rather well for me. Once I have everything set up, our school year just seems to run more smoothly.

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