Sunday, June 27, 2010

Planner 2010

Well, it's that time of year, isn't it? When the new planners arrive and we begin to put things together for whenever schooling will begin again. It seems to be independent of whether people school year round or not. Somehow, the excitement is in the air no matter what.

I'm all about the planning. It's one of the things I do best. Even as a public school teacher, my planning notebooks were immaculate (and they had to be for the curriculum supervisor I had). Over the years I've tried various planners. The first year and a half I had a spiral notebook that I wrote everything in. Then I graduated to more complex planners for FIAR that I had made or others had made. Then, of course, FIAR came out with their own set of digital planning pages. Last year, I reviewed the TOS planner which is huge. I made my own Morning Meeting Planner. Very cool idea, but in reality too much to keep up with for a 15 minute slot of the day!

Let's not forget other planning posts I've done- this one details lots of the things I use to plan. And let's not forget the preschool planner. Of course, in addition to the planner itself, I have a file crate system going too. Still like it, but I don't always use it to its fullest potential.

If you aren't a link follower, that's ok. The links above show you various blog posts I've done about my planners over the years. Gives you the backstory on what I've done before.

This year I had a nice planner set up with sections for all the kids like the ones linked to above in a lovely binder. Guess what I found? I didn't have time to keep up with all those forms. Somewhere around January of this year, I gave up. I gave up trying to have a fancy planner. I gave up trying to keep up with all the forms.

I made a decision. A new mantra. I cannot make planning an idol. Dan laughed at me this afternoon when I told him that, but it's true. Planning is not the thing. Doing is the thing.

So, here we are. Behold...the spiral notebook.

A Lisa Frank polka dotted spiral notebook from the dollar store. With a purple coil. And recently I added the clip from Staples. Mostly for fun.

A snapshot of the inside- notice the top line has the day and date. So clever.

I list out the subjects for the day and the assignment. I list what each child is doing for math and language arts separately. I put reminders and notes in the margin.

I put check marks beside those things we finish and an X beside those things we don't. Those things usually carry over to the next day.

When I want to brainstorm a unit or write down a new idea. I do it. I just turn the page and write it down. Then when I do my daily plans, I go back to that page and reference it.

This was my unit planner for The Salamander Room. I planned for the things in the FIAR manual and I planned for the unit within that I chose to do on amphibians and animal classification. We didn't get to everything here, but this was the outline I used for making daily plans. Nothing fancy. On the next page are the plans for the next day.
So, this is it! Nothing fancy. But it's all there. I do still have all my forms and have you all ever noticed how you go through seasons with planning and homeschooling and life in general? This is definitely the season of the spiral notebook for me.

I may try to use a binder with forms this year. I'm working on our Individualized Home Instruction Plans- NY State requires a yearly plan for each school aged child. I get to write it, with just a few requests from them, but I do need to look ahead and make decisions. I may find that using forms makes things easier depending on how many units are together vs. individual, etc. My friend Cindy is a form making queen and she actually made a cool one with some of my input. Still like that one a lot.

But still as I grew busier with our schooling this year, I would always refer back to the days of planning entirely in a spiral notebook. In those days, I had one for E11 and one for R10 who were 2nd and K back then. Even that's too much!

The advantage of using just one book is that it's all there in one place. Every lesson for every child is on the same page. It is simple. It's not time consuming. But it's all there. And when it comes to writing quarterly reports (and right now is that time!), it's so easy to refer to.

I reserve the right to return to more structured planning.

But for now...planning is not my idol!


Rachel said...

Have you seen TOS planner? If you have, is it a good one?

I just skimmed your post right now but I will go back and reread it and your MOTL post later.

I'm trying to decide between getting the TOS planner, Susan Chrisman's CM planner or the FIAR planner. In the past, I've gotten the FIAR planner but I am adding other things in now, too like HSS and AO to our FIAR stuff.

Heather said...

Too much stuff for me in the TOS Planner. Though you can look at my review from last year by just putting the name in the search box.

I'm more electronic oriented with my to do list and calendar so I don't have a need for all those home organization forms.

None of the schooling forms hit it for me.

If you read the post carefully, you'll see what I think about forms. Just not for me right now basically.

My favorites are homemade and the FIAR planner forms specifically.

More posts on MOTL to come.


Tracey said...

Great Heather! Thanks for posting all of this. It is nice when the most simple things work out so well.

Shonda said...

I. Love. You! This is EXACTLY what people need to hear!! I'm serious. This could change lives. :)

Heather said...

Shonda I love you back!

Do it. Then tell us about it!!!


Katie said...

We both must have planners on the brain. I just posted a planner post, too & I swear I didn't see yours first. HA!

I love the notebook idea. Like Tracey said, it's a breath of fresh air to have simple solutions be so effective. Great post & reminder for all of us as we start planning for next year.

The Mom I Want To Be said...

"Planning is not the thing. Doing is the thing" needs to be my new Mantra!! Thanks for the reminder :)

The Mom I Want To Be said...

Sorry for the double comment- a little too excited ;) I wanted to let you know that I added your great quote-
"Planning is not the thing. Doing is the thing" to my tumblr site :)

Heather said...

Stacy thanks! Maybe I should take my dollar store spiral gig on the road. :) Tumblr...that makes me feel very...relevant! thank you so much.

Katie- I keep up with this planner and it doesn't exhaust me! ha.

I love to plan, but how I record the plans needs to be simple. One sheet for the day. Let me at what I'm gonna DO!

Thanks for commenting ladies.


dstb said...

Hi Heather,

This was just what I needed. I forgot to order the planner I wanted with my last Rainbow Resource order and was kicking myself. I'll give the plain notebook (with the pretty cover!) a try.

One question, how far out do you plan, or at least write out, in your notebook? I find that if I get too far ahead of myself and something unforeseen comes up, my plans are in a shambles.


Ernestine said...

DO you have a membership card for this club? This seems to be my summer beast that has come up a little too early.

looking forward to reading more.

Any good tips for highschool planning?

Tracey said...

Heather, what did I tell you? I knew this idea would be a hit! Now if you do not mind fill out a notebook for me for the next coming year and send it to me. LOL!

Jenny said...

I totally know what you mean. I much prefer planning over doing. I just told my husband (we're both former elementary teachers) the other day I wish he could stay at home, too; I'd do the planning, he'd do the doing. :)

Melody said...

Just wanted to say thanks for sharing this! I have used spiral notebooks for planning for a couple of years now, and I love it. Mine aren't quite as neat as yours because I scribble all sorts of things in the margins, but it works for me. I've tried to use other planners but I've always gone back to the notebook. Simple is sometimes best!

Heather said...

Thanks for all the spiral planning support!!

This does work for me right now anyway and I'm at peace with my methods.

Ernestine- I'm approaching grade 7 this year so no fail proof high school tips. I mean I can give you great ideas on planning public school high school classes! But I have a feeling that's not what you need. : )


Anonymous said...

I"ve been homeschooling for 12 years now - oldest is 16, and I've flip flopped and flop flipped like you about what works. Each year is different. For my oldest two, I write their assignments in their own notebooks that they keep by their computers. For the youngest two (ages 5 and just because the littlest one will want to do it too at age 3.5), I will keep a spiral notebook, much like yours. That is what I did when my older ones were younger. As they grew I started to use colored pens for differentiation (one for son1, another color for son 2, and the third color for what they'd do together). Helped for the end of the year report! I'm back to FIAR this year and this is how I found your blog. We used it years ago and I loved it then and am excited for the new bunch!


Lori said...

I have been saving this post to read before I start planning, and today I am breaking out the notebook(mine is not as cute as yours:)). I love that you show your actual notebook pages-that is so helpful. Your "Planning for FIAR" and "Morning Meeting Time" have been helpful too! Thank you for sharing. :)

Mrs. Mandy said...

I know this is older post but I started to do this myself recently. I was thinking of using it to plan for next year as well. I wondered how far out you plan, or do you plan the work you want to accomplish in a year and then just write it out as you get to it?