Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Success with Google Calendar - Scheduling that is Paper Free

Thanks to lots of research and perseverance I have found success with Google Calendar for daily/weekly lesson organization for my teen!
I appreciate the support from my good friend Jen B in helping me work through what I needed to in finding what might work best.
It took a bit of time but I am sure this will work very well for us. We tried it out this morning ( we are only working the 3's this month as we are doing more delight directed learning for right now with the holidays coming up and things being just so crazy around our home at this time of year with my own work.
I found this to work very nicely. Here is how we are going to be using Google Calendar;

I plan on filling out the calendar for the month with all his studies and lessons (specific to where and what he is working on) one big reason why I am doing this is if I have appointments with clients or am not around he has everything in front of him to begin his own work for the day.

I have added his calendar to my own and can work right off of his calendar in my own google calendar ( making sure I am adding to his calendar and not mine, lol )
Anything I add to his calendar shows up directly on his own, the only difference is in the Tasks Box his doesn't say "Tracey".

Once he goes into this google calendar and sees all his class assignments he then goes to day or agenda and sees a list just for that days work. He then will go and click on the left hand side "tasks" and his task box will open on the right like mine and he can then read and list all his assignments for the day (this may seem redundant but is a great way for him to know what he is actually doing for the day and ask any questions he might have about it)

As he works the assignments on the list can then when he is done go over and click on the check before the task and it makes the task crossed out so he knows it has been done, the other thing he can do also is to go in and edit the item and mark "done" also.

We tried it all this morning and he did great and said this will be perfect for what was needed. SUCCESS!

As we work with this further I will be sure to post anymore ideas/tips I have for using this as well.

Some thoughts on "Avoiding Homeschool Pitfalls"-

I saw this blog post over on the Lesson Pathways blog just this morning and it got me thinking of a few other things I might be able to add to this list. I really like this blog post and I think that new homeschoolers or possibly parents who are struggling can really learn quite a bit from posts like these.

Here are my own personal thoughts based on my experiences with homeschooling for a number of years now:

1. Never compare your own children when it comes to their abilities and needs with their home learning.  We all have done it so getting over the "guilt" of having done this and moving ahead will not only help your learner but also will help you! ( just don't go back to doing it, lol)   Our children are all different and even though there may be similarities there is nothing to gain by comparing them at all.  * Children are smarter than we give them credit for, they know when we are comparing them how we might really feel, by not comparing them and accepting them for who they are, with all their unique qualities may actually alleviate some sibling rivalry that may be going on also*

My boys could not be more different. I can see this in just about everything they do. The way they play, interpret information, personalities and many other things as well.  In the beginning when they were first diagnosed with the same learning disability I found I started doing this more often, but then I realized just how different two children having the same disability can be!  I learned I couldn't even remediate them the same.

Both needed to be taught and helped through their own strengths and when you begin to really start thinking like this you realize that if your thinking MORE about their strengths then you really can't teach them the same because it would not make any difference to them.

I have one son who dislikes workbooks, writing and any kind of real "rote" learning. And I have the other who is diving more and more into more left brained learning, with more traditional methods, workbooks and is thriving on more rote learning. * I am planning on posting about different methods, tools and techniques I use for each of my "different" learners very soon*.

I don't even try to compare these two boys because it would be unfair and as home educators I really believe we need to move away from this thinking all together. Richard Lavoie said it well "Fair doesn't mean that every student gets the same treatment, but that every students gets what he/she needs." 

2. Don't attempt to keep up with our public/private institutions.  I think this is a huge mistake and is counter-productive of what we are trying to accomplish by teaching our children at home.  Grade levels are in most cases not helpful, since they tend to "box us in" by what we are to be teaching not allowing for us to be able to expand on the learning and reach out and stretch a bit further, which really can make learning much more fun and exciting.

3. Move away from feeling like you have to "hurry up and finish up a program" just because it is nearing a certain "term", "semester" or "season". It's not helpful, try and think back to when we were in school and we knew we had winter vacation coming and we knew things were going to "ramp up" just because we needed to meet the needs of the calendar year.  It causes much anxiety in the learning process where finishing something becomes priority over learning something. How is this real learning?

4.  Don't let programs run your home learning. YOU run them. How many times have we heard this before? I know many. BUT do we practice this?  There are lots of great programs out there, probably too many, but not all meet all our needs and the abilities of our learners. This is where we can find a program that meets our own needs as a home teacher and then alter it a bit to allow it to be flexible enough and be able to meet the needs of the person actually doing the program.  If your learner doesn't learn vocabulary by reading a word and writing down the definition why do it? Why not find other ways to learn about these new words either with discussion ( like my boys) or making a poster or playing a game. :)  I think this becomes very powerful when we re talking about children with special needs especially.  There are many ways we can alter things to meet our children where they are and not push them into a box which is what many programs can do.

I hope some of these tips help you as much as they have helped me. Following these and practicing them can really make your homeschooling much more successful and less stressful.

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