Thursday, August 2, 2012

Homeschool Planning for the Year Part 3

This is part 3 in my series of posts about how I plan our school year. If you missed the previous posts, they can be found here and here. This post will focus on the online aspect of my planning.

Our homeschooling has an online component that is fairly important to us. We utilize the internet a lot for school. We use it for research, games for review, spines for some courses, etc. We also have an online portal for our school, EDU 2.0. It is a free online Learning Management System. I don't use all the features of it, but we've been enjoying it so far.

It has a calendar that we use to remind us of birthdays of important people, school year/term start & end dates, holidays/breaks, and our birthdays. Each class that you set up also has it's own calendar for things specific to that class. In a class, you can list offline assignments as well as create online assignments & tests/quizzes. I also lists all the links required for the class in the lessons & assignments. It makes it much easier to get them the links to sites I want them to use. Of course, as they get older and more capable of doing online research, I provide less links & they do more searching themselves. Using this allows the kids easy access to see all the assignments for each class. I set up some of their assignments as online assignments, but not many.

First, I set up a course. Then, I set up the Lessons. Next, I set up the Assignments for each lesson. These are mostly offline assignments, telling them what pages/lessons/chapters they need to do. In each assignment, I list links to any online resources needed for that assignment, as well as listing offline resources. I also set up any online assignments/tests/quizzes at this time. Each assignment also tells them the time expected/allowed for the assignment and/or due date.

For Jay, it is mostly just a way for him to see his assignments and an easy way to give him the links he needs for each subject & topic. Since he is in elementary, I'm not having him do many online assignments/tests/quizzes. For Dea, however, I do utilize the online assignments/tests/quizzes, since she is older & doing high school level work in all subjects. Only sites that are required are listed in her assignments, as she is old enough to research on her own. Basically, we wait until they are a little older before having them do online assignments & classes. I just don't think my 8 year old needs to do large amounts of his school online. We prefer to add in online work more gradually.

So, once they are planned on paper, I set up the courses, lessons, and assignments on our school site. I keep the site on private, so only those we invite can see it.

After that, I also have to set up classes in Homeschool Tracker Plus. I only use HST+ for Dea right now. Since I only use it for keeping transcripts. With the kids being on different schedules, it would be too much hassle to use it for both of them. Besides, I don't bother with 'grading' assignments or giving tests & quizzes in many subjects at this time, for Jay. The only tests/quizzes he does are ones that are included in the curriculum for certain subjects. In LOF, he has the Bridges that he needs to do after every 5 chapters. In LFC, each chapter has a quiz/test at the end. When doing an assignment, whatever he gets wrong we read over, see where his mistake was, and fix it. I feel assignments should be for learning, not getting a grade. At the high school level, more gets graded, but he's not there just yet. So, HST+ is being used just for Dea. Luckily, getting her courses & assignments set up in HST+ is pretty quick & easy. Actually, getting them set up in EDU 2.0 is quick & easy, too.