Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A School Year Kept

As a look back on our school year, I want to share a bit of our formal keeping from this past year.

My Year 5 students kept three special notebooks in addition to their nature journals (which I share photos of every so often anyway and won't include here): their History Notebook, their Science Notebook, and their Prose and Poetry Notebook.

In my post on our School Plans for this year, I detailed the way we would be using these books -- frequency, purpose, format, and so on.  (Here are my write-ups for Year 5 and Form I.)  So I'll share a short description here, but for more information, head over there.  And then if you have further questions, ask away!

From my Year 5 Students

Their history notebooks contain their written narrations for the year in that subject (both for This Country of Ours and their historical biography in Term 3), as well as mapwork, lists, charts, and other keeping they chose to do.

The first half of the photos belong to Vincent and the second to Gianna.  As you can see, they have very different styles and their individual strengths and interests shine through in their notebooks, which is why Charlotte Mason-style notebooking is different than other more cookie-cutter, static forms.

(By the way, the pictures below feature the EcoQua notebooks I bought for our Year 5 keeping. We love them and will definitely be using them in the future.)


















Their science notebooks were simpler, holding only their weekly written narration for that subject:



Their Prose and Poetry Notebooks, which are basically a precursor to a commonplace book, are below. They wrote in this notebook in lieu of copywork for ten minutes weekly.  They were able to choose their selection.  Interestingly, both chose to include large amounts of Hiawatha, which we read in Term 2.  But the rest was a mish-mash of poetry, famous speeches, bits from Kim and Shakespeare, and more.


All three of these notebooks will continue into next year.  The History Notebook will be used in Term 1 before we move into a proper Book of Centuries with the new history rotation in Term 2.  Their Science and Prose and Poetry Notebooks are about half-full and will continue to hold their work for those subjects.

From my Form I students

Cate in Year 2 and Xavier in Year 1 had simple keeping on their weekly schedule: an entry in their binder timeline and on their current map.





They also had the option of making animal cards to go along with the Burgess Animal Book, which they opted to do just about every week, and that they did independently.  At the end of the year, we made those into a little book for each of them.



And from me!

I kept a few things alongside my Year 5 kids this year: a world map, a United States map, and a century chart. These were very educative to work on -- and also quite fun!



I also always keep one commonplace book dedicated to school readings, and Year 5 featured very prominently in that this year -- Halliburton, Kipling, Dickens, Helen Keller, John Muir...




In addition to these examples above and to our individual nature journals, we keep two collections as a family: a Calendar of Firsts and a Family Poetry Notebook.  They are both housed in the same binder.

We began keeping our Calendar of Firsts back in 2013, so this is our fourth year of data!



And our poetry notebook are all of the poems each child has learned, illustrated and added to the pile.  We began that when Gianna and Vincent were in kindergarten and have dozens and dozens of poems included now.


That is a look at our year on paper!

19 comments:

  1. How many pages are in the EcoQua notebooks? I like how they lay flat!

    These are all so lovely!!!! :) I like the idea of illustrating the poem & keeping it. Maybe this year we will actually attempt a BOC- I'm not sure why I find this so scary but I certainly do!

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    1. There are 40 sheets per notebook (and you can use them front and back, so...). One of the things I like about this kind of notebook versus a spiral one is that they can do two-page spreads, which they did for large maps and century charts. The staple-bound is also much sturdier than I expected and the paper is nice and thick. They also have lined, dot, and graph paper options. I'm really pleased with them!

      We will be starting our BoCs next year and I'm looking forward to it!

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  2. Sigh. Just soooooooo lovely. I'm quitting homeschooling and coming to live with you so I can do school all over again. You won't mind another student, right?! Ha. ;)

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    1. I think your kids might mind, but we'd love to have you! LOL

      Thankful for your inspiration and example in keeping, Amy!

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  3. What a beautiful way to document all that you learned this year! I love the Burgess animal cards idea. I'm going to file that one away for when the time comes!

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    1. Thanks, Leah! This was a new idea with this set of kids (my older two didn't make cards), and it was a fun addition. They really enjoyed it, and I liked that it required them to draw the animals rather than coloring in a pre-printed page because it required more careful observation. It was a win-win really for kids who already enjoy drawing.

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  4. I cannot believe how neat your kids handwriting is, even the younger ones! Love these examples (AND your notebooks too!) and have really inspired me to dive in and implement some things with my kids. Will you keep these notebooks forever? They are so lovely I know I couldn't bear to throw them out, but you have more kids than I so I wonder will you keep all their notebooks through all 12 years of school? Also, in your post about exams, you mentioned your son would be finishing up his map (Civil war maybe?) - does that mean for exams you don't require a new map drawn, but just the finished map within his notebook? Thanks in advance!

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    1. Yes, these notebooks are probably the only work apart from exams that I will keep of theirs from this school year. :)

      I had on their exam list for the last term to finish up their maps -- adding titles and any other information/drawings they wanted to add before they were counted as "completed." That refers to the maps I showed above, the ones in their history notebook.

      Sometimes I have them label and annotate a similar map from memory during exam time -- like they did with the United States map on our exams for Terms 1 and 2 of this year, where they charted the journey of Lewis and Clark and of Jessie Benton Fremont. For those, I usually provide a blank map and have them write information onto it rather than starting something from scratch.

      We also do map drills, and I did have a question on our exam in Term 3 that tested this: they had to label a map of Canada, which is what they have been memorizing this year.

      Hope that helps!

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  5. Lovely notebooks. How did you have your kids draw their maps? Do they have maps to trace or are they learning to freehand maps? They look so great, I would love to know how you had them do them.

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    1. For the big ones in their history notebooks, we blew up blank maps (world and US) to stretch across two pages, and then they traced it. We also did a smaller one of the Eastern States for their Civil War keeping. They then worked on labeling those throughout the whole year. I'm hoping to incorporate some freehand maps next year because they have expressed interest. But tracing a map or even just filling in a blank one (like I did for mine!) is perfectly fine and works really well for yearlong keeping! :)

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  6. I want to know about the maps as well. I was thinking of having my kids learn to draw maps.

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  7. I found this post to be incredibly helpful. THANK YOU for taking the time to include the photos and so much commentary. Knowing "how much" is always a delicate balance, especially as it pertains to writing and keeping, and it is encouraging to see how other families pace and record progress. We are not new to homeschooling or to living books (we are wrapping up our 18th year!), but now with my youngest I am finally giving way to an entirely CM approach to our schooling. It is lovely to find inspiration here.

    Also, I have searched in stores for something exactly like the notebooks you have referenced and have been unable to find them. I hesitated until now to order online because I really wanted to FEEL them....weight of paper, stability of spine, etc. before randomly selecting and ordering. So, thanks for including that little recommendation. I am going to order a few!

    Lastly, I love your century chart and maps. I love any ONE thing that we re-visit, again and again, because I truly believe familiarity breeds mastery. Mastery is not the goal necessarily in creating such a record, but it can hardly be avoided when we take care to follow through over time. I also think it instills a discipline in our kids. I have abandoned far too many projects, curriculums, assignments, etc. over the years......staying true to something like a Century chart or map is a practice in habit forming!

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Brooke, I am so glad this has been helpful to you. Even with methods I feel comfortable and familiar with, I always appreciate reading about fresh ways of running things that I might not have considered -- as well as inspiration and solidarity. So I totally understand what you are saying about seeing that delicate balance take shape in other homes and getting ideas for your own. I love that about the online CM community!

      I too haven't really seen notebooks like this in store, so I had to just try them and see how we liked them! Thankfully we do and now have a go-to resource for these kinds of things. (Dick Blick also carries them and sometimes runs specials, by the way!)

      Yes, mastery really does build through, like you said, these long-term keeping habits. Little by little, week by week. They are both a joy and a discipline and the fruits are many!

      Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments!

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  8. Thank you for doing this sort of post, Celeste, I know it's probably time-consuming to put together, but it's so helpful! Do your children have some other spot where they keep daily work (like copywork, dictation, written narrations, etc), or did you just train them to do their very neatest work in these notebooks? We've used spirals to handle everything for the past couple of years, and I think that might have encouraged my older kids to be sloppy. I'm wondering if the nicer paper and an exhortation to make these books worth preserving might help...

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    1. I just followed your link and found the answer to my question about where the narrations go! Thank you! :)

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    2. Hi Catherine,

      Their written narrations are in these (they did one in history and one in science weekly this year), but most of their copywork and dictation are on looseleaf paper in their binders and are not "kept." Their Prose and Poetry Notebook does house some of their copywork -- they write in these once weekly instead of on copywork paper.

      I do think having nice notebooks with specific expectations encourages care for one's work. Not only are quality materials easier to use, but they also instill an extra level of responsibility. I know that's the case for me as an adult ;) and I have found it to be true for my kids also! :)

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  9. These are so lovely, Celeste, and as others have said so helpful and inspiring too! So, each child keeps three notebooks as well as nature journal too? Do you keep them just for this year and then purchase separate ones for next year to keep them separate? They really are cute little notebooks and seem to work well too! This may help my boys who fight me on doing written narration to do it this way instead. As always, thanks for the inspiration! I would love to quit homeschooling and come live with you so I can do school all over again :)

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    1. For my Year 5 kids, yes, three notebooks plus their nature journal. (Well, and they have their reading log too, which is just ongoing and not year-specific.) They will continue in their science and P+P notebooks next year -- those probably only fill about half way. For their history notebooks, they will continue through Term 1 of Year 6 (so one term of next year), which is when we start the new history rotation, and then they'll start a new one. So it will end up being a 4-term notebook, just the way I happened to set it up. But it really just depends how many pages you use and such -- you could stretch these to last two years each or start new every year. Hope that helps!

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