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View Full Version : Stunned. Happy, but stunned.



BakedAk
03-03-2014, 05:38 PM
So, I've been trying (that is, desperately struggling) to find something that would help make schooling/learning/teaching easier. Not necessarily less work (that would be hard, since "work" happens so rarely here), but definitely more...pleasant. My Boy is a whirlwind, who mostly wants to do his own thing, and hates being interrupted to "do school." My Girl wants me to get (and use) an old-fashioned school bell, to say the pledge every morning, and to have very distinct classes, in an orderly, structured way. I am a completely scattered curriculum junkie who can't stay foc - LOOK! SQUIRREL! You get the picture.

I decided I'd try the workbox system - more structure for the Girl, a definite end for the Boy, probably more work for me. Ok, it's only been a day. I should not let my excitement run away with me. Maybe it's the novelty. Whatever, they sat down at 8:35, did their work (and well), enjoyed the "fun" boxes, and we were done by 11 am. (We skipped history, though, because I couldn't find the book we are reading - so add a 1/2 hour). What? I keep thinking, "what did we forget?" One load of laundry's done, the ducks have been fed, and my breakfast and lunch dishes are done (!) and the kids are out sledding.

I don't know if it will continue so pleasantly, but now I have one mundane yet fabulous day that I can remember and say, "Ahhh, yes, it is possible!"

Accidental Homeschooler
03-03-2014, 08:14 PM
Sounds great!

Elly
03-03-2014, 09:37 PM
Workboxes seem to work well here, too, although we don't do them 'properly'.

Elly
But, yay!

pdpele
03-03-2014, 09:43 PM
Awesome. What a great feeling! So....what in the heck was in those workboxes? Sending good vibes for your next day...

popsicle1010
03-04-2014, 04:01 AM
Good for you! :)

jenblackwell2
03-04-2014, 09:17 AM
Fingers crossed that that is a sign of more excellant mundane days in your future. :)

BakedAk
03-04-2014, 04:50 PM
So....what in the heck was in those workboxes?

Crack lollipops.

No, actually, yesterday, Girl did German, math (Beast Academy), science, journal writing, grammar, some assigned reading, and copywork. Today she did Math, German, science, more writing (I asked for 4 sentences, she wrote 11), history, vocabulary (Vocab from Classical Roots) and a 3-D map of the transcontinental railroad.

Yesterday, Boy did a math worksheet (one of those riddle-type things where you find the answer and put the letter in the right place to get the answer - only the "riddle" is the name of a superhero) WITH NO COMPLAINT, grammar worksheet, grammar matching activity, spelling, journal writing (2 sentences - what I asked for - plus a title and illustration), played with Magnetix, and a tiny bit of assigned reading (the book was "too wordy." sigh. It was non-fiction.) I also had a box with a superhero onomatopeia (?) word search for him to do, but he wasn't interested. As that was one of the "fun" boxes, I didn't require it.

Today he did more superhero math (and wrote an "I heart math" post-it note!!!!), copywork, a find-the-nouns activity, history (listen and narrate), his own 3-D map of the trans. railroad (with added pictures of all the possible dangers and disasters), and worked on a Geography Through Art project ("stained glass" picture of...a T. rex. Of course.) We ran out of steam before finishing today, but it's still more completed work than usual, and Boy and I will be doing the science we didn't get to while Girl's at TaeKwon-do.

We went from 8:35 to about noon today. (Ducks fed, one more load of laundry and some ironing done, breakfast and lunch dishes still in the sink. Oh no!!!)

ikslo
03-04-2014, 07:35 PM
Mmmm...maybe I should give those bins a try. Might make things easier for DH when I am at work, too.

What German curriculum/program is Girl using, BakedAK? DS is doing German, but just what I have pieced together using my old high school German 1 text. I'm looking to get something more concrete for next year and haven't quite found what I have pictured in my head. :)

BakedAk
03-05-2014, 11:47 AM
What German curriculum/program is Girl using, BakedAK?

We started the year with PowerGlide German for high school, which was a goof on my part - the used curriculum I got was labeled high school, but I somehow missed it. We gave it a shot, since I had German in hs/college and thought I could help her over the deeper stuff. Doh. After 3 months of very intermittent study, I realized that wasn't working. (a little slow on the uptake) So we switched to the elementary version this semester (PowerGlide Jr.). She's motivated to learn, but she's annoyed by the voices on the tapes (they are geared to very young language learners.

Have you checked out DuoLinguo? It's web-based and free, and there are no annoying voices saying, "Did you point to the bear? Great!" I was trying to refresh my German a bit, and got out one of my old hs German books. I am old. Lots of info about the 4 countries where German is spoken: Austria, Switzerland, the BRD and the DDR. Can you hear my joints creaking as I type?

dbmamaz
03-05-2014, 12:10 PM
btw, checklists have worked great here. My younger loved physical, printed lists for a while, but now he just KNOWS what subjects he has to do, and does them (i mean, eventually lol). My older one i still make an online checklist for him every day. He did his own checklist for his coursera courses, which is what I am hoping he'll do come fall, in college.

ikslo
03-05-2014, 12:15 PM
I had looked at Power Glide, but was leaning towards The Learnables Basic Structures Book/CD. DS definitely wouldn't like annoying voices aimed towards young kids (why do they assume all young kids want to hear that?) so I'm glad you mentioned that. Of course, maybe it is the same for the Learnables.

I'll have to check out DuoLingo.

I've been doing okay teaching him from my old book, and he is catching on very quickly, but now that I know he likes the German I think he would benefit from a structured program geared at kids.

jsaffold
03-06-2014, 09:09 AM
I think that sounds like a good idea for me for when DS comes home.... its been fine only keeping up with one childs work/curriculum/supplies etc..plus she is older and keeps things together pretty well.... but for my own sanity (and DS is a routine sort of kid) Something like this could be good....We'd need bigger drawers/bins tho.

WindSong
03-06-2014, 11:47 AM
Ok, I need to try this! I have been flirting with this for a couple of years, but I always shy away from trying it. But I need to be better organized. Could you elaborate on how you used the workbox system? I know there are many versions of the original system. I would love to hear/see your set up.

Congratulations on finding something that works!

Only
03-06-2014, 08:38 PM
crack lollipops.

lmao!.....

pdpele
03-06-2014, 08:59 PM
I need some crack lollipops - or wait were those for the kiddo?!

crunchynerd
03-07-2014, 08:34 AM
Ok, I need to try this! I have been flirting with this for a couple of years, but I always shy away from trying it. But I need to be better organized. Could you elaborate on how you used the workbox system? I know there are many versions of the original system. I would love to hear/see your set up.

Congratulations on finding something that works!

Me too! I want to know the details too! It looks like your kids did a STAGGERING amount of work all in one morning, and my DD's jaw dropped when she saw all that. She wants to know how big of an assignment each thing is, because she feels like her brain turns to mush when I've tried to have an accordion-file type of backpack homework file, with a tab for each day, with only like 3 assignments per day!

We keep falling apart on that, so I know it's not working for us. How are your workboxes different? Is each subject a worksheet? Do you pack the next day's workbox, each night? My DD9 feels like her brain turns to slush, when confronted with worksheets, even though worksheets are easiest on me.

My DD does NOT want a school bell, dislikes separating subjects into distinct classes, and hates worksheets generally, and has a dim view of textbooks, and has no craving at all for things being orderly and happening in nicely defined segments. In fact, every time we try that, she bogs down and shuts down, stars into space and doodles, and becomes a mental noodle-bowl. Groan. Ok, I was the same way, so I get it.

But I'd like to try this workbox thing if I could see how you do it. Could you share a picture of your workboxes?

sells_kate
03-07-2014, 09:09 AM
We do workboxes here my my little kids. it helps a lot to have toys/activities in one for my 3 yr old while the 4 yr old does more schoolish stuff. I find it a lot easier because im not looking through my bookshelf for 30 minutes looking for a book.

dbmamaz
03-07-2014, 10:28 AM
crunchy,if your daughter prefers wholistic learning, workboxes might not be the best for her? sounds like she'd be more of a project gal, or lapbooking, even?

crunchynerd
03-07-2014, 01:16 PM
crunchy,if your daughter prefers wholistic learning, workboxes might not be the best for her? sounds like she'd be more of a project gal, or lapbooking, even?

dbmamaz, I feel like I'm hanging onto your lapels beseeching you for more advice along those lines! How does lapbooking work? Is it compatible with a very tired mom who is feeling every bit of being pregnant and over 40, who hopes there's a way for DD to basically do most of it herself? She LOVES the idea of doing project-based learning, but I don't know how to go about that in a way that means I am not the one planning and implementing things, because I can't even implement my way to getting the floors cleared and cleaned. Our house looks like a frat house these days.

So, how do you do project-based learning where the kid basically takes on just about all the initiative and doing, and you just come in asking how things are going and helping with problems that may arise? Just have her pick a project and say, "ok, do it!" and that's that? Boy, that sounds good! How do you make sure they still get some progress in areas of difficulty that they tend to avoid given the choice?

And what is lapbooking again? I think I saw some stuff online and thought it looked like a whole lot of work for the mom. Do you have a better way?

justabout
03-15-2014, 03:34 PM
Can someone explain to me what a workbox is? It sounds magical.

BakedAk
03-15-2014, 08:14 PM
crunchy, Windsong, Julie and justabout (and anybody else looking for more info)

Sorry I've been sorta AWOL! I forgot I'd posted about this. (Swiss cheese memory, as my college German/Russian prof used to say.)

I have looked at various adaptions of Sue Patrick's workbox system (http://workboxsystem.com/) on a few blogs, thinking I didn't have room to use the bins she suggests, or that a file box would do just as well, or what ever. I did try, when the Girl and I started homeschooling, to use a portable accordion file set up. It didn't really work. She needs a desk. Finally, I just got tired of trying to reinvent the wheel, so I bought the ebook from the link above.

The system as planned requires 8-12 clear shoeboxes and a stand-alone wire shoe rack with four shelves. I had gift cards to Wal-Mart and a Visa gift card, so I went ahead and bought 24 clear shoe boxes (anybody need 24 plastic shoe box lids?). Wal-Mart didn't have the type of shoe rack I was looking for, but I got prices on some cheap bookshelves I thought might work. Then I went to our Fred Meyer and discovered almost the right thing on sale for $16 each and snagged two, and some Velcro dots.

Basic set up
Each box is numbered, 1-12, for each kid. You put the assignments in each box - everything needed for that assignment, so there's no dawdling while looking for a sharpened pencil or some paper or the ruler or whatever. If something needed doesn't fit in the box (like the cd player for German), it goes in under the desk, or you can put a note in the box with the items location. The kid starts at the top left with box #1, does the assignment, puts everything back in the box and puts the box on the floor next to himself. Time for box #2. (You can also have them move to "centers" where they can choose 2 of 3 activities, and a science table/station. I have not set those up yet.) Because they are removing the boxes from the shelves as they complete each task, they can see how much "school" they have left (and you can put games or fun stuff in the later boxes, as a motivator, too.)

I have yet to use all 12 boxes for either kid. If either one is motivated to do more on a subject than what I put in the box, they are welcome to, and sometimes they do, even though this means they'll be spending more time overall.

Our assignments
We have done A LOT more than normal in the past couple weeks, but "normal" for us has been a dismal amount. So far the system seems to be working best by forcing consistency: We are doing a little bit of everything every day, instead of doing history all day because the kids want me to keep reading then skipping to math and arguing over that for an hour, then starting the science experiment, but where are the batteries? Oh crap it's time to leave for harp lesson....
so, here's an example of what they actually might actually accomplish in one day:
Girl:
Box 1: Journal writing. Write four sentences, inspired by a prompt picture. (She writes far more than 4 sentences - that's my minimum. She writes in a composition book, and I mark errors and explain stuff before assigning another journal session)
Box 2: German. Listen to German lesson, do activities. (PowerGlide Jr. is too light for her, so sometimes I give her written vocab practice)
Box 3: Beast Academy (several workbook pages) Teaching Textbooks (one lesson), or a worksheet from Education.com
Box 4: History Reading (a book chapter - we discuss it when were done)
Box 5: Timeline work - add something from chapter just read
Box 6: Copywork
Box 7: Geography (game, worksheet, art project)
Box 8: Science - read lesson
Box 9: Card game, Chess, Forbidden Island, Magnetix, etc. (with mom if Boy is not yet done)

Boy:
Box 1: Copywork
Box 2: Science - read marked section of Blood and Guts; write 2 sentences and draw picture (usually with me)
Box 3: Math - worksheet, Life of Fred (he likes it again! yea!) or Math in Focus (nope, doesn't like this). Working very independently now, only needs me to explain new concepts. This is HUGE.
Box 4: History reading (I read, we discuss - If one is still working, the other plays or reads quietly)
Box 5: History project (3-D map, drawing, etc)
Box 6: Grammar worksheet or Journal Writing (so far, I've asked for 2 sentences, with a picture prompt, he usually gives that plus a picture.)
Box 7: Magnetix, game, etc.
Box 8: Art project

For some of these things, I don't ask them to complete the project, just work on it, or do the next step.

Drawbacks
-Although we do have the space, our classroom/work space/play space is a mess, which limits its usefulness. I have big plans, but seem to lack the "get-started" gene.
-Girl's German can distract Boy, and Boy's antics can distract Girl.
-I have to plan. This is, of course, also a big plus. I NEED to plan, and this system, which the kids LOVE, requires a certain amount of forethought.
-I have to do something with what they are producing. Again, this is also a plus, just not something I thought of before hand, so now I have to decide what goes where.
-I can see myself letting the system slide due to lack of organizational ability and lack of sticktoitiveness.
Pluses
-They love it.
-They do it.
-There is very little fighting over math. (!)
- We are done, usually, by lunchtime.
- They can do more "project-y" stuff in the afternoons, without worrying that I'm going to have to stop them to get something concrete done for a work sample.
- We are making better use of all the curricula and supplies and games I have, because there is actual planning involved - and I can't just say, while thinking about the history topic we'll be covering, "Hey, that thingamajig I got at the curriculum fair would be perfect for this" and then forget - I have to go FIND it, and put it in the box.

Time for snacks for kiddos. I will proof and edit this in a while. Apologies for any egregious goof ups.

justabout
03-16-2014, 04:52 AM
Thank you, that is really helpful.

At the moment our stuff is written on the whiteboard, there is just a list of stuff we are going to do. There is only boy 1 at home. I am wondering how it would be adaptable to the fact that most of the stuff that we are doing at the moment is online, e.g. Time4Learning. I am thinking it might be more for when boy 2 comes out of school, probably next year. He would probably really like this system.

I do love the idea of reinforcers/games hidden in the boxes - are they allowed to look ahead?

jsaffold
03-16-2014, 09:56 AM
Thank you, that is really helpful.

At the moment our stuff is written on the whiteboard, there is just a list of stuff we are going to do. There is only boy 1 at home. I am wondering how it would be adaptable to the fact that most of the stuff that we are doing at the moment is online, e.g. Time4Learning. I am thinking it might be more for when boy 2 comes out of school, probably next year. He would probably really like this system.

I do love the idea of reinforcers/games hidden in the boxes - are they allowed to look ahead?

I do the white board thing too!..and DD erases items as she finishes them. I will have 2 at home soon also!! I have the newhomeschooler jitters all over again..("how in the worlds am I going to do this???")

I think the core concept of this will be helpful and should be able to work with our curriculum...My biggest worry is 'scheduling' things stagered enough that one can be working independantly while I teach the other as needed.... ugh.

I have already printed and laminated copies of the clip art sheets ....That alone was a awesome!!! I want to be able to 'up and go' also..so I printed and laminated mini versions of the pics for our 'Case it Binders" I am very impatiently waiting to arrive.

Melissa, Thank you so much for taking the time to post how you use the workbox system..!

BakedAk
03-16-2014, 03:44 PM
justabout - they are allowed to look ahead...and in our house, if I hear "oh, man, not Magnetix again!" I'll swap it for something more motivating before they get there. Hasn't happened yet, but I did let him not do one of the things I thought would be fun that he just wasn't into.

Julie, you're welcome!

I meant to add to that long post that part of the reason the accordion file didn't work for us was that it wasn't OPEN. The shoe boxes are very easy to see into, and filling or emptying them is easy for all involved. I am a very "out of sight, out of mind" person, so papers in files are pretty much invisible to me. Also, the amount of progress the child has made is not as obvious to the child with file folders. And of course, the redundant pencils don't work so well. I think the white board idea is great - I'd have tried that if we had more usable wall space, or less junk around for a loose whiteboard to get buried under. :)
It's really hard to lose two shelving units and 24 shoe boxes - even for me.

WindSong
03-16-2014, 09:36 PM
Thank you, Melissa, for coming back and giving such a detailed explanation of how you use the workbox system. It was very helpful. I'm mainly looking at it as a way to help me stay better organized and more on top of things. I think a modified version could really help me with this.

justabout
03-17-2014, 03:15 AM
Yes, it is. I am wondering about a modified version: leaving the whiteboard the way it is, but having a box as reinforcer/reward for halfway though. Of course, his biggest reward is "go and play on the computer game you currently adore" which is hard to pop in a box! But it could be a surprise activity or something.