Saturday, August 4, 2012

Organization - Teacher Binder

I love to hear how people organize, so I thought I'd share some pictures of my Teacher Binder.

I use this daily, and the cheap binders always wear out.  Last year's was falling apart before Christmas!  So this year I splurged and bought a 1" "Better Binder" from Staples, which has a "lifetime guarantee."  I didn't read the fine print, so I'm not sure what that means!  But the binding does seem to be extra-durable.


When I got home, I decided to look for a nice cover sheet, and found this one at Dynamic2Moms.  They have wonderful organizational pages, plus lapbooks and more.  I haven't used the lapbooks but a friend of mine has and she loves them.  I was tickled pink (er, aqua) to find a coordinating cover!  And I agree with the quote at the bottom too--there are no perfect plans, sometimes we just have to start!

One of the nifty things about the binder is that it has a pocket to slide in a title tab, which makes the binder very professional looking.  


Another great feature is that it lies completely flat.  The yearly calendar on the right is also from Dynamic2Moms.  I use that to plan out our year--days I know we'll take off, and a rough count of how many days we'll have per month.  Then I mark the actual days we school and know whether we are on track with our school year or if I need to make adjustments.  


I also like that the binder has a pocket in the front, because that's where I always keep my current week's schedule.  I don't plan every subject for the week out exactly, so my schedule is also like a journal in some ways--I write down what we did each day.  I use workboxes, so the schedule for each child lists their workboxes in order.  

Just behind the yearly calendar, I keep a daily schedule.  Don't let that fool you...I'm not a clock-watcher by any means!  But I do find it helpful to come up with a daily schedule because it reminds me what my time-goals are for each subject.  If a subject routinely goes overtime, I may need to adjust my plans or how I use our curriculum.  It's too easy to over-plan, and schedules keep me "honest" in this way!


The schedule also helps me coordinate when my kids need my one-on-one attention.  I don't think I could teach pre-algebra and geometry at the same time!  Another consideration is computer usage--both need the computer for science, so they can't do that topic at the same time.  So, even if we don't follow the times exactly, this gives a workable flow to our days.

After the calendars, I have a tab divider for each subject:  Bible, Literature, History, Science, Language Arts, Math, Japanese, and Records.  These are sturdy plastic tabs that you can write on and erase.

Behind each tab I keep any record-keeping charts for subjects I want to track grades (helpful now that my son is in high school.  I didn't track grades at all for younger grades, though I did grade some things such as tests.)  For example, Math-U-See and Mystery of History both come with a record-keeping page that you can copy/print off and stick in a binder.

I also keep any needed plans behind the appropriate tabs.  At the beginning of the year, I come up with a plan for each subject.  That plan might be as simple as, "a lesson per day for math," or "a chapter per day for Bible."   This chart is behind my "Bible" Tab, and is a place where I keep track of which books of the Bible we've read over the years.  Rose Publishing sometimes sends out newsletters with free downloads, and this chart came from them. 


For subjects like literature, I come up with a listing of books to use and put them in order that we'll use them.  Our literature often complements our history, and usually it's easy to tell the time period of the book by looking at the back cover or the introduction or first few pages.  Occasionally I might look online for this info in a book description.  

If you have used Sonlight, I make a similar 1-page guide to what they have up front, listing the week that I anticipate we'll start each book.  I keep a list of optional books as well, in case we get ahead of schedule.  We can also easily drop a book if we don't progress as quickly as I anticipated, without throwing the schedule for our whole year off.   
For history, sometimes I have additional resources that I want to include with a spine.  When that's the case, I'll make a chart showing how the lessons line up.  This is fairly easily done by looking at the Table of Contents for each book.  Here I've lined up Mystery of History 3 with the Famous Men books. 


I use the table function on MS Word for all of my charts, but you could just as easily keep your plans on notebook paper or whatever is convenient for you.

I use the "records" tab at the end for my weekly schedules that are completed, as well as things like a working transcript.  This form is from Lee Binz, who has great information on transcripts and record-keeping.  The simple charts and reading lists I keep for each subject made it a breeze to get my son's transcript started--I recorded his first year and compiled simple course descriptions with reading lists and curriculum lists in about 2 hours.  Then I don't have to keep all of my scraps of paper and everything is organized.  


Here's a back page I printed out on cardstock from Dynamic2Moms.  I enjoyed the quotes!


Short answer keys also go into my teacher binder, but for longer ones, worksheets, and other materials, I use my Teacher Box, which I'll post about next time.  How do you organize your materials?





18 comments:

  1. Your binder is lovely! Thanks for sharing. :)

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  2. Thank you for sharing. I always enjoy learning how others manage and organize. Thank you for posting pics and links, too!

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  3. very nice, you've inspired me!

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  4. I'm so glad! I'd love to hear what you come up with (or see pictures if you blog!) Merry :-)

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  5. I saw this on Pinterest and was so surprised to see it was you! Good to see a fellow SL'er (though I am ex-SLer) and current Homeschool Library mom!

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  6. Hi Paula! I haven't been over to the HSL in awhile, good to see you too! :-)

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  7. This is so helpful! We start homeschooling this fall for the 1st time. I am having trouble figuring out how to keep things organized without it being complicated.

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    1. Hi Rachel, Welcome to homeschooling! I hope you have a great year and I'm glad this was helpful. Sometimes it does seem complicated until you get into things and find out what works for you. If you have other questions, let me know, I'd be glad to help.

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  8. Hi Merry,
    Thanks for sharing your organization tips! I'm definitely going to implement your ideas. This will give me a great start to my first-time homeschooling. I have 3 children and will be homeschooling my middle daughter due to some struggles with learning disabilities. I'm also going to check out your devotional. I have chronic lyme as well and have had enormous struggles over the past 5 years. Thanks for blessing others with your resources! -Kristin

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    1. You're welcome, glad that was helpful! I hope you have a great first year of homeschooling. Sorry to hear you have Lyme, I know that's a lot to deal with. I hope the devotional book is a blessing to you. Email any time for encouragement! Merry

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  9. I am going to give this a shot. I started a binder yesterday for my first year of homeschooling. My oldest child is going into the 6th grade and struggling severely. So we decided that homeschool is our best choice at catching her up and helping her learn. I could use all the tips I can get!

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    1. Hi Jennifer, What areas does she struggle with? I'd be glad to help, feel free to post again or email. I hope you have a great year homeschooling.

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  10. Very nice! Thank you for sharing... this year is our first year and our kids are very young and we used a store bought yearly Scheduler and planner... needless to say it was har to accommodate for my 1st grader and pre-k.! I think I will make my own next year! ( maybe even this year) :)

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    1. Hi Sarah,

      1st and Pre-K are such wonderful ages, I hope you have a great year! It took me some time to figure out what would work best for us, so feel free to experiment. Don't feel tied to your store bought planner if it's not working out.

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  11. Merry, I love your idea of putting all the readers on one page! It appears that the last entry on each line is the approximate amount they are supposed to read each day, is that correct? I would like to create something like this!

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  12. Yes, exactly. That was my best guess as to what I thought my kids could get done in 30 minutes (the amount of time we read). If they got less or more done, that just helped me know if we were going to be ahead or behind my guess. I kept a list of optional readers in case we got ahead; or, if we got behind, I would choose a reader to drop sometime that year.

    Sonlight's IG has a page where they list all of the history, read-alouds, and readers according to what week they'll be introduced, so that's where I got the idea originally. The number at the beginning of the entry stands for the week I think we'll start each book. The asterisks on this particular page represented higher level books that were priorities to me--so if I did have to drop, I didn't drop one of those.

    Doing this really simplifies yearly planning for me! It gives me a structure but isn't overly confining (and it's easy to swap out a book or add something new if I want to). HTH! Merry :-)

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  13. Lots of great ideas here, thanks again for sharing, Merry! Quick clarification if you don't mind (in reference to the Daily Schedule) - During your Bible time together, do you use the Bible section of SL by any chance? I asked because I noticed that the subjects don't include Bible anymore. Thanks, Merry, as always :)

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  14. We've usually done our own thing. We've used some of the resources SL has, but always did our own scheduling of it and took it at our pace. Many years we simply read a chapter a day from the Bible and prayed, sometimes sang. But, I thought Bible was back "in" with the cores now? (It's been in and out over the years, I can't keep up, LOL!)

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