Tuesday, September 19, 2017

High School Assignment Tracking

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High School Assignment Tracking on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Every school year, we spend the first few weeks adjusting to the routine and figuring out how to organize our days and keep track of all the work. We didn't think we'd have to change much from last year to this, but since we still struggled with sticking to the schedule and staying current on grading, I knew we'd have to fine tune something to make that better. We definitely needed a couple of tweaks to make it easier for Kennady to know exactly what she had to do and when, and to keep track of it all herself. Here are some of the ideas we came up with to (hopefully) stay on top of assignments this year.

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I have been using Homeschool Tracker Online for many years to keep my lesson plans, assignments, grades, and records organized. We used to print out assignment lists by subject, and for about a month at a time. This year Kennady requested an assignment list that included all her subjects, and we decided that one week at a time would work best. I print it out with all the page numbers and instructions included, and there are checkboxes for her to mark assignments off as they are completed. The only issue we have to work around is when something is assigned with a future due date, because it will only show up on the date it's assigned. 

High School Assignment Tracking on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

My lesson plans cover the entire semester or year, and obviously Kennady knows that she'll have to complete the entire Algebra textbook over the year, but by having only one week at a time of an assignment list, it's more manageable for her to see what she needs to accomplish. And fewer papers to keep track of, since the one week assignment list is usually just two pages long.

Since I need to print a new assignment list at the beginning of each week, it also forces me to make sure her work is graded at least once a week. Adjusting due dates when necessary is also a little easier when working with smaller chunks of time. For instance, this past Friday wound up being a shortened school day because of our weekend plans so she didn't work on Algebra that day. When I updated the assignment list I could easily decide whether she could catch up that assignment this week or if I should push all the Algebra due dates out one day. For the record, she is just going to catch it up by doubling up one day this week. If she'd had to take several days off due to illness or something, then it might make more sense to push due dates out.

High School Assignment Tracking on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Kennady has been working through a college prep program called GATE for an upcoming review, and in so doing she is learning a lot about how she learns best and how to tackle her schoolwork in ways that are efficient. Taking responsibility for developing good study habits on her own is a big help! Not just for right now, but for the future when she may be in college and shouldn't be relying on me at all for keeping up with her assignments. Good habits we're working on specifically include:

Starting on assignments right away, not procrastinating! Now, I'm a procrastinator myself, so I totally get this temptation, and the idea that we work better when we're up against a deadline. There may be a little bit of truth to that, because we have to work faster and perhaps be more focused when the paper is due tomorrow morning, but that doesn't mean better. It usually means it's rushed and not our best work. And what happens if something unexpected comes up and we can't knock out that English paper on the night before? Turns out "procrastination is detrimental to physical health. College students who procrastinate have higher levels of drinking, smoking, insomnia, stomach problems, colds and flu." according to a study by Tim Pychyl, Ph.D. Well, we certainly don't need that, so we are focusing on starting sooner and spreading out the work so we don't wind up doing it in a panic.

Breaking bigger assignments into smaller chunks. We're really hitting this hard in our co-op writing class, and it's a surprisingly difficult thing for kids to figure out. By doing our assignment list week by week, I'm hoping to reinforce this idea. Just the fact that Kennady is taking classes in a co-op setting and it's not negotiable for her to have the assignments and homework done for Thursday each week is making the point. She can't leave the reading and homework for three classes until Wednesday and hope to get it all done on time. She has to follow the instructions and work on it a bit each day.

High School Assignment Tracking on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Learning how to learn most effectively. Do you know your student's primary learning style? Knowing whether their learning style is visual, auditory, or kinesthetic will help students figure out how to study in the way that work best for them. Kennady has figured out the kind of study setting (which room of the house, what kind of background noise, length of study sessions) that helps her be most productive, but it requires her to be disciplined enough to choose that setting!

High School Assignment Tracking on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

We have other obligations on our time besides schoolwork too, and most of those things are weekly commitments. For example, youth group is every Wednesday night, and every other week it's followed by worship team practice. Sometime on Sunday, I try to run over the week's calendar with Kennady, noting the days I plan to go into town, and anything that is unusual on the schedule. That way she has a bit of advance notice as to which days she might want to go along to hang with friends or do some shopping or errands with me. And obviously, if she wants to socialize on Monday evening or Thursday afternoon, she has to plan to have her schoolwork caught up or there's a good chance I'll say no. Social media distractions are still an almost constant temptation, but so far she's keeping the majority of her socialization until 'after class'.

Have you found the best way to keep track of assignments and allow your students to take responsibility for their own schedule? How do you manage it in your homeschool? Different methods work for different families, so share what works for you in the comments!

This post is part of the Planning, Planners, and Preparing for the New Homeschool Year Round-up on the Homeschool Review Crew blog. See what other Crew members are sharing on this subject! (August 10, 2018)

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Joanne said...

What a great system.

Unknown said...

We love Homeschool Tracker!

Annette said...

so, if you don't get an assignment done... does homeschool tracker bump it up for you to another day or do you have to do that manually? Is it hard to list everything by the lesson as opposed to telling your daughter "just do the next thing"?

Kym said...

Annette - Tracker does not bump incomplete assignments automatically, but they remain showing as incomplete or past due. If it's just one or two things that we didn't get done, I leave it as is and mark them complete when they are done. If we have a big interruption, I will move up all the due dates on assignments so there isn't a backlog.

It's not hard to list by lesson, and I keep the instructions I put into the Tracker to a real minimum. Kennady likes to have a checklist to go through and with some of our courses, "the next thing" isn't always obvious, especially when we substitute one novel for a different one or pause our regular curriculum in order to use a review product etc.

Harsh Singh said...
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