My family and I travel while I run my company Purveyor of Geekery
A little off topic from destroying Victorian English Country Houses, but this is a post I have been meaning to write, since not many people talk about online homeschool record keeping.
Homeschool Portfolios via Trello
We’ve been using Trello.com (free and web based) to keep track of our progress for official assessments. I still have to update October’s in the screen shot below…I left my phone at home while traveling has messed up my process a bit. We’re minimalist, so the thought of having tons of binders weighing us down for years to come was nauseating so I turned to what I know best: Kanban Boards (can you tell I’m a project manager?).
Each year has a board (this is US Kindergarten/UK Reception) and each month has a List.
With me so far?
Each Month’s List contains 3 cards: Milestones, Reading Log and an Activity Log.
Milestones track new skills mastered, special field trips, new sight words, etc. The Reading and Activity Logs are broken down into subjects. I just copy/paste this subject template into each new card each new month:
Then I just add the activities below each related subject. You can date them if you think your state requires it. We don’t need to keep track of things officially yet in the US since he is 4 and still 1 year from going to kindergarten, and here in the UK (where he would have finished kindergarten last year) we don’t have to keep track at all. They think our home education rules in the United States are horrid and intrusive. :).
You can add photos directly or hosted externally (public instagram, etc.) and videos (hosted on Youtube, etc.) to each card as well to document things. This is our “official” assessment portfolio.
Homeschool Planning via Bullet Journals
My personal record keeping is more visual. I use a bullet journal style system on the grid pages in the back of my personal planner as my “lesson planner” and progress tracker. I use the Passion Planner…because it breaks days down into half hour segments and I MUST HAVE ANAL RETENTIVENESS IN A PLANNER!!! If you buy one you can list me as a referrer (shellgreenier_at_gmail_dot_com)…or not. I don’t mind either way, it’s an awesome planner and an awesome company, so I would refer you either way. Their “get a planner as a thank you ” program is just icing on the cake. Moleskins would work for this, too. So would grid paper printed off the internet on a clip board…what ever fits your process.
I create a section for each skill he needs to master and when I (finally) decide on what resources we will be using, I break these down into parts and create a block for each part as well.
Below: We are using I See Sam books, Phonics Pathways, and had been using two phonic series from the local library. Of course some of the library books are missing and killing my OCD. We also started off with Story of the World 1 for history (bed time stories) but moved to Our Island Story (British History) since SOTW is an ebook…on my phone…on my counter…in Florida where I left it while frantically heading to the airport a month and a half ago. 🙁
So these two pages consist of:
Left Page, Left Column: Resources broken down into sections.
Left Page, Right Column: Skills to master (big letter names, little letter names, letter sounds, articulations, etc.)
Right Page, Left Column: Sight words (all the words) used in I See Sam…he reads these to me.
Right Page, Right Column: Dolch Sight Word’s First 100 cross referenced with the ISS list
As we get through things I mark them off (it’s like bubble wrap): boxes get outlined in a color when introduced (see 13 on ISS here, below?), colored in when mastered or completed (ISS 1-12).
You can see below ISS has one section for it in its entirety, but Phonics Pathways gets a section for each of its sections (2 letter blends above, 3 letter words just off screen/photo). The book is big and not really numbered, other than pages. I let the resource dictate how to logically track the progress. (Side note: The smaller the sections, the more you feel like you are accomplishing something.) ISS probably could have been broken down into the three sections the program is broken down into, even (http://www.marriottmd.com/sam/).
Below: Math on the left below. You can see the temporary pencil marks for the skills I need to add here… in this case 1/2 and 1/4 fractions.
Timeline on the right to be used with museum/field trip studies and Story of the World (which is an ok book. My husband and I are history buffs so we don’t always agree with everything it teaches but use it as a starting off point to have a discussion as to why we disagree…which teaches critical thinking and is more important in the end so it stays in play).
There you Have It
I like this method because we don’t need to use one set curriculum…and get stuck with something expensive that isn’t right for our family. Instead I look through books like “What Your (X) Grader Needs to Know,” “Home Learning Year by Year,” the Ambleside Curriculum and (*gasp*) Common Core and piece together the skills he needs to strengthen or learn for the next quarter to six months based on where he is in an area at the moment…regardless of grade level.
For instance in math we are on addition and place values because he rocks the math, but are still working on phonics in Language Arts. We went through a couple of different resources and learning styles when working on counting 1-100 and were able to do so because we had flexibility in our plans. We initially tried the “one curriculum to role them all” route and learned the hard way by buying a few curriculum that just weren’t going to work for our family….the pacing was off or there was tons of materials or lessons required a ton of prep time.
I use the yearly dated planners which allows me to transfer the active information over to the new planner and leave off the stuff we finished or that wasn’t working for our family at a mid way point in the year. It allows for a pause and reflection when I need it the most. Passion Planner also offers Academic planners that run from August to August…as well as undated ones.
This is how we plan and keep records for homeschool…as a minimalist family with a travel addiction.