Sunday, September 23, 2012

Our Essentials Student Notebook

We've made a few simple updates to our Essentials student notebook, and...
Boy!  Is it working!

So... I thought I'd share what we're doing in case others may find it useful...  (or snicker that it's taken me this long to figure out something so simple...)

And before looking at my thoughts, be sure to download the Understanding Your EEL Guide document on Classical Conversations' CC Connected Guest Library (which contains several other free resources from CC!).

For First Semester of Essentials.  At the front of the notebook we have all of our reference charts in page protectors (for durability) as stated in our previous Preparing for Essentials post.  We no longer use the blank charts in sheet protectors as noted in that post because we write all of our charts on blank paper (stick-in-the-sand approach) for a permanent record of our progress.

Reference Charts in Page Protectors:
Grammar Mastery Charts (pg. 395)
EEL Scope & Sequence (pg. 18)
Weekly Practice Sentences (pg.433-434)
Charts A-Q Masters Only (found in pgs 398-431)
Quid et Quo Charts (pg. 437 & 439)
Punctuation & Capitalization Rules (pg 457)
Spelling Rules (463-464)
Parts of Speech Definition (pg. 443)
Glossary of Abbreviations (pg. 394)
List of Question Confirmation Questions (homemade)
List of Tasks #1-6 (homemade)

(Some of these are not necessary for first semester.  But we have them in there anyway!)

And... seeing how this is a work in progress, we may end up putting our Student Resource Notebook reference lists (-ly words, quality adjectives, etc.) in this notebook. Right now the Student Resource Notebook is in a separate 1/2-inch binder.  (For those who are wondering what in the world a Student Resource Notebook is, it's the free download that you receive when you purchase the IEW history-based lessons workbook.)

Now, this is the part that's different from last year that's proven so successful for us. DISCLAIMER:  This is not rocket science and you may be amused at how excited I am that I finally figured this simple thing out, but... well, my mind does not quite function on all cylinders so it really is a big deal that I finally figured this simple thing out...

Following the reference charts, we have 12 dividers labeled Week 1 - Week 12.  (For those wanting to keep a smaller notebook, try 6 weeks at a time instead of 12.)  After each week, I have the following:
  1. A blank page for Mom's handwritten checklist of what we need to accomplish for next week. (I do this before we leave class so we don't forget anything!)  I include a list of charts to practice (and how may times for each), a list of that week's definitions to learn and recite (and review!), a reminder to practice vocabulary, and a reminder to do a Question Confirmation Drill.  I also write out how we will tackle our IEW assignment (on which days we will do what).
  2. A copy of the IEW Student Resource Notebook Grammar Rules Page (1 rule per week; repeat second semester; include an extra rule somewhere to cover all 13 rules in 12 weeks.)
  3. A copy of the EEL Editing Exercise for the week (we don't always complete this, but it's there just in case - AND it contains the week's punctuation/capitalization rule, spelling rule, and homophones)
  4. Oral Question Confirmation Drill (Download an example of a drill for Questions 1 through 4.  I was originally handwriting random sentences but finally decided to type it up.) For more information on the Question Confirmation Process, go to Shurley Grammar's website.
  5. Blank sheets of paper for EEL Chart Practice (usually 2-3 charts per day on paper using the abbreviations on pg. 394)
  6. Five copies of the Analytical Task Sheet (one for each of the Weekly Sentences).
  7. Blank handwriting sheets for the IEW Rough Draft (We use Guest Hollow's Intermediate Handwriting Paper because it's much easier for our fourth grader to write if he has the guidelines!  We will start to shift to the HWOT paper later this year, and next year hopefully he will be typing, thanks to Dancemat Typing.)
  8. An empty page protector for IEW Paper: Final Copy & Checklist, and Rough Draft.  (It's great to have all the IEW checklists copied off ahead of time, especially if you have a tutor that wants that checklist attached!)
As a list, this looks complicated.  In real life, it is not.  It just takes a little upfront copying and organization to get everything in place. Then it works on autopilot quite nicely.  And I love autopilot!

Now... why didn't I figure out last year that having a notebook with the right number of photocopies and the right number of blank pieces of paper would help us so much?  I have no idea.

My last confession is that we also practice charts orally by using an "Essentials" CD that I made with songs from all three cycles of memory work. In fact, we primarily practiced our charts out loud last year because of our then third-grader's aversion to writing.  But this year he has been able to write quite a bit more, so we've increased the number of written charts.  For those who are curious, there are over 30 songs from NoGreaterJoy5 on CC Connected's Essentials-Tier File Sharing. (There's an additional monthly fee to subscribe to the Essentials Tier, but there are several great Essentials resources available on file sharing that are not available on the Foundations Tier.)

For other posts on Essentials visit:
A First-Year Survival Guide
Preparing for Essentials

And be sure to download Shurley Grammar's free Parent Help Booklets and Student Practice Sheets!  Super, super helpful!

Especially for those preparing to enter Essentials in future years:  

Aside from the free resources listed in our post about preparing for Essentials, fellow CC homeschooling mom Mia Borojevich at the Homeschool Curriculum Company offers a couple of downloadable e-books that may be helpful in preparing your student for Essentials & IEW.

Intro to the Essentials of Diagramming:  A 10-page document with 5 lessons that take you through some of the question confirmation process.  Includes simple instructions on diagramming sentences.

Writing through the Biographies of Scientists:  A 19-page document with biographies of 3 scientists:  John Woodward, Carl Linnaeus, and George Washington Carver.  The lessons focus on the use of dress-ups to create better stylistic writing.

Visit this site to preview pages from these two documents.  And there is a special offer from The Homeschool Curriculum Company for readers of Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood.  Visit our post on Creation Science Studies for more details.

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