Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekly Grading and Lesson Planning

Weekly Grading and Lesson Planning

I find that our daily school times go so much more smoothly and we get a lot more done if I plan and prepare everything ahead of time.  I want their notebooks and school bins fully loaded so everything is ready for action!

I try to block out several hours of time for this process, but I usually have to do it in shorter chunks of time, starting Friday afternoon and finishing up Saturday morning. I hate to be interrupted by distractions while I do this, so I have to frequently remind everyone else to stay out of my way! I'm still breaking into this routine, but it becomes less awkward each week. I have to guard against going down bunny trails, such as spending too much time designing my own worksheets.

Supplies and Equipment:  
  • 1" teacher notebook with dividers
  • 1 "current week notebook (with subject dividers) for each child, clearly labeled with their name (I buy packs of 6 at Sam's Club)
  • 2" archive notebook for each child
  • One medium sized clear plastic bin for each child and for mom, labeled in permanent marker at each end (see Bin There, Done That) -- they cost about $5 at Walmart
  • One bin for archive notebooks and bulky workbooks
  • Computer with word processing
  • Printer/copy machine combo
  • Sturdy 3 hole punch, stapler, scissors, pens, pencils
  • School books
  • Lined paper

Each family is going to do things differently, but here are the basic steps I use each week:

1. I gather the children's school bins and make sure all of last week's work is in them. Then I grade any lessons that haven't already been graded. Next, I move last week's school work from the current week notebook into the archive notebook. I remove from the bin any books that won't be used next week. Then I move the bins over to near the computer.

2. I open a word processing document for this week's school assignments. It is easiest to start with last week's document, save it under a new name (such as Week 6 All Assignments), and then make changes to it for this week. That way I don't have to retype the basic format, names of books that are consistently used, etc. I have a group assignment page first, and then an individual assignments page for each child. Each one is clearly labeled with the week number and dates, as well as the child's name. While I have everything on the screen, I also make any updates to last week's assignment pages, taking off what we didn't finish and adding in any extra stuff we did do.

3. I gather the books and DVD's I will use for group teaching time, which we do first each morning for an hour or so. (This assumes that I have already picked out books at the library or from our own shelves, of course!) After I determine how many pages I need to cover in each on each day of the week, I type in titles, authors, page or chapter numbers, and other information on the group assignment page. When I am teaching each day, I just have to go down the list in order. I always leave science for last since my oldest son leaves the room to do his own science then.

  • Bible: Read Genesis 16
  • History: Read pages 5-23 of Francisco Pizarro: Explorer of South America by Sandra J. Kachurek
  • Historical Literature: Read chapters 12-13 of The King's Fifth by Scott O'Dell (historical fiction about the explorer Coronado)
  • Science: Read Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day (SC5th) pgs 87-89 - Fish intro and Bony Fishes
4. Next I gather the children's regular workbooks and textbooks, as well as short-term resources, such as library books on a specific topic that will be read quickly. I decide which page or lesson numbers they need to do this week. For example, if they have 30 pages in a book, I usually assign 6 per day, but I keep in mind natural stopping points, such as the end of a chapter.  For the son who has an on-line math course, I log on to his account and check the assignment chart to see where he is and what needs to be done next.  On the child's individual page, I type in the assignments for each subject, day by day. I look over the total package to make sure the work load seems reasonable. I try to leave lighter work on Friday since I usually start doing grading and lesson planning that afternoon.


Read Juan Ponce de Leon by Gail Sakurai.  
  • Mon: Read glossary on page 55-56. Read chapters 1-2 on pages 7-20. Write a paragraph.
  • Tue: Read chapter 3 on pages 21-28. Write a paragraph.
  • Wed: Read chapters 4-5 on pages 29-40. Write a paragraph.
  • Thu: Read chapter 6 on pages 41-50. Write a paragraph.
  • Fri: Read chapter 7 and Timeline on pages 51-54. Write a paragraph.
5. I print or make copies of any handouts for the children. This might include coloring pages, reproducible worksheets, spelling lists that I have created, or articles from the Internet. If we are using isolated pages from a workbook, such as Comprehensive Curriculum, then I tear them out. I do this because the books are bulky and because I am assigning pages from different sections of it (such as Spelling or Reading Comprehension) and I don't want them to have to flip through to find the right ones. I stick these in the archive notebook bin until I need them the next week. However, I leave the pages in their Horizons Math workbooks because they are doing them in order and the books aren't very thick.  For a younger child, I might label each of these pages with the day of the week they are to be completed.

6. I print a copy of the group assignment page and the individual assignment pages for each child, as well as a complete set for my own teacher notebook. Then I collate and hole punch all assignment pages, handouts and loose worksheets. I put a pile on the table for each child.

7. I move all of the school bins to the dining room table. Then I put all pages from each child's pile into the current week notebooks in the correct subject section. The individual and group assignment pages go in the very front of the notebook. I check to be sure there is an ample supply of lined paper in the notebook. Finally, I put the notebook and assigned books in each bin -- including my own teacher bin -- and put the bins back on their shelf. During the week, each child is supposed to be responsible to keep all of their papers stored neatly in their notebook and all notebooks, books and supplies (such as their pencil and scissor box) stored neatly in their bin. In reality, I often find things left around the house, but at least I know where to put them when I find them! This makes things so much easier for me.   Last year I wrote about using bins in a blog post here: "Bin There, Done That" (Or How to Keep School Clutter from Turning You Into a Basketcase)

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