Thursday, March 25, 2010

How We Organize the School Year

I am currently working on lesson planning for the 2010/2011 "school year".

I made a new Scribd document of the form I'm using to make my outline for each subject. Here it is:

Title - It's pretty simple: At the top there is a blank box where you fill in the subject (i.e., "History", "Math", "Art", etc.). The box also has a place to fill in your child's grade, if you use one. I always did Hunter's "grades" K4, K3, K2, etc. when he was younger. I think I first talked about this in this post. I am now planning for K5, aka, kindergarten.

Semesters - Next is the outline. The first thing you'll notice is that the year is divided into the four seasons, or "semesters". This is because we do year-round "schooling". I like it that way because we are learning all the time anyway, and I can't imagine not having some science topic to explore or talking about a time period in history or whatever. This also allows me a great deal more flexibility. I don't feel like I have to cram everything into the traditional one hundred and eighty or so days. I also don't have to "freak out" if we miss a week (or even a month) of regularly-scheduled activities, you know, like when life happens (moving, sickness, vacation, etc.)

Units - The next thing you notice is that in this outline there is one simple line for each two-week period, which comes out to six lines per semester. The dates of the two week period are written beneath it.

This is where the "outline" part comes in. On the line I'm going to write what topic / topics we'll be exploring during that two weeks (i.e. "Jacob and Esau" or "black holes" or "fractions"). This is just an outline and doesn't go into detail about the activities to accompany those topics. Below the line I'm going to write the encyclopedic knowledge / bits category we'll be doing (i.e. "books of the Old Testament" or "types of stars" or "types of triangles").

I call these two-week periods "units". They are the core upon which all other plans are built. Why two-week units? Well, I used to make lesson plans weekly. I would write out the bits we would be learning, the math topics we would be covering, the books I'd like to read, the activities I'd like to do. And then never come anywhere close to accomplishing it all.

Now I give myself two weeks to cover a particular topic. It takes a lot of stress off of me and allows more flexibility. Missing a day when you only have five days to cover something can be detrimental. Missing a day when you have fourteen is a little less dramatic.

Gaps - The last thing I wanted to point out is that you will notice that there is a date gap between semesters (for example, the summer semester ends on August 21 but the fall semester doesn't begin until August 29). This is because I put a one-week gap between each semester. This is to make up for the days we missed during the rest of the semester, or simply as a week off, making a total of four vacation weeks per year. Again, something to save my perfectionistic self a lot of pain: built in flexibility.

I've probably over-complicated my explanation [a lot]. Which is kind of ironic, because the whole reason I chose this type of organizational style was because of its simplicity: Planning around the already-established four seasons. Then simply dividing the weeks of each season (which happens to be thirteen) into more easily-manageable sections (units). Turning that odd-week on the end into a catch-up/vacation week. Not too difficult, eh?

Hopefully this will be useful to some of you!
"All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern."
1 Chronicles 28:19
Hunter is 5 years, 0 months old

1 comment:

  1. I know I am late, but I just came upon this ans I just wanted to say thank you. I have been looking for something like this.


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