We have been using the same style of work plans for a very long time now, but they change many times throughout the course of a school year. I have been receiving some requests to show you all what they happen to look like at this time. It's no wonder, I posted about these extensively more than a year ago and haven't photographed any of the (many) versions since. Our work plans definitely look a different than they did then.
Kal-El's work plan is in orange on the left. Me Too's is in green on the right. It's a shame I had to edit their names off of them. Kal-El wrote the name on the top of his in Egyptian hieroglyphs. Each child's "list" used to look very different from each others, but now they have reached a stage where their "lists" are nearly identical.
About that word, "lists": I highly suggest you read Jessica's many posts on work plans. This post has links to all of the posts. Yes, our work plans look like a list. No, our work plans are not just a list. These work plans are a result of many, many meetings with my children. I've made them aware (through countless short conversations) of what society expects them to learn, what the government expects them to learn, and what I expect them to learn. First and foremost we've added to that anything that my children want to know that wasn't already included. Through these countless conversations I've given them a basic grasp of what subset of that we might want to cover this year. From there it has taken a lot of trial and error on the part of my children, with me observing and guiding, to figure out what they need to get done in a week to accomplish that. THAT is our work plan. What you see above is as Jessica stated, "simply a written form of the plans in your child's mind."
I have to make changes to these and reprint new ones every few weeks. Even then, as each week passes we make changes and just write the changes on top. Because this is the 68th version or so of these work plans, we make fewer changes than we used to, and most of those changes will be to the top "Daily" section. I just realized yesterday that a change needs to be made to Kal-El's work plan in the time since I took photographs.
Why do I bother with a work plan at all and not just let them freely choose work from the shelves or of their own making every work session? For the reason that my children are old enough now to have a vague idea of who they want to be in a year but not old enough to balance "what I want to do right now" with "who I want to be." "What I want to do right now" is important and it's engaging and you learn a lot. But, you also want to do things that help you get to "who I want to be." Last year was a year of transition with this. Last year we had "kids's choice" prominently displayed on the work plan. This year we don't. Last year the boys needed the reassurance that there was room for "what I want to do right now" during their work time. "Kid's choice" is still on the real work plan (in my kids' heads) but isn't written on this visual representation anymore. The boys are confident that it's there.
Okay, so now it's been five paragraphs since I've shown the picture of the work plans. I had better show them again so I can talk about them and give you half a chance of being able to look at them at the same time.
The work plans have three sections. The top section are works that my children will choose daily. The middle section are works that they will choose weekly. The final section are works that Mom chooses daily. The boys start the week with all of the paperclips on the left. They move the paperclip to the right when they complete a work. At the start of each day they move all of the "daily" and "mom" paperclips back to the left but the "weekly" clips stay to the right as the week continues.
About the "Mom" section: We usually do all five of the items here all together. We find that we have to do history and Spanish daily in order to make acceptable progress. WWE (Writing With Ease) is something we used to do weekly and do a weeks work all in one day. As the program has progressed, we have transitioned to doing this daily but it takes about five minutes. The final two things in the "Mom" category are "????". I have my OWN work plan that keeps me rotating through things I have to give presentations one: BFSU (Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding), Biomes (Waseca and covering the Montessori Biology, Geography, and History albums), math, music literature, etc., One of the "????" is always math. We are finishing up the divisibility section of the math album right now.
You can see from this that I am giving a minimum of five presentations each day. It is often more. I've set up our classroom so that the boys can choose and complete work in most of the daily and weekly sections completely on their own (piano lesson, from Mom, would be an obvious exception). They are trained how to know when they cannot continue in a certain category without a presentation from Mom. So, yesterday I gave eight presentations. I gave the five in the "mom" section. Me Too reached a new level of difficulty on the racks and tubes (He is recording quotient, beads used, and partial remainders and for the first time at that level he encountered an equation that required carrying when recording the beads used.). Me Too also needed a presentation on direct objects for sentence analysis. Kal-El was doing work in the "word study" category and it was practicing categorization. He needed to sort cards according to whether they were a game, artist, astronaut or inventor and he didn't know the names six of the astronauts and three of the inventors. So, he received a review presentation on research with the encyclopedias.
Those of you who have read my previous posts on our work plans already know this, but I will say it again: most of the items on this work plan are categories of work, not actual works themselves. Most have more than two different ways of fulfilling the requirement for work and sometimes the boys invent their own work that fulfills the requirement. Some things are listed in pairs. For example, spelling and vocabulary. The boys get to pick from either of those works and each of those works have multiple ways to be completed. I only get specific when I am requiring a particular work, such as racks and tubes. And sometimes the work plan is specific because the boys asked for it. For example, Me Too is going through our stack of cards for the multiplication checkerboard and doing them all abstractly on paper. I had printed the work plan and it just said "command cards" but he liked the "checker cards" as he calls them so much he asked me to reprint it and list that specifically. But then he saw Kal-El doing some "cube up" cards with the volume cards. He liked those so much that he changed it back by writing "command cards" back on that line. It's hard to see because he's going through this stage where he is trying to make his whole work plan green...green paper, green clips, green text.
These are our work journals. I originally posted about these here. The boys journal in a very basic way through moving their paperclips. I keep the work journals for them. I'm not suggesting that this is how it should be done, it's just what we do. I write down the work that the did after they have done it. I am posting some close-ups here (the will enlarge if you click on them) so those who are interested can see how one week of our work plans looks. Each child has their own journal and one week spans two pages.
Me Too's left-hand journal page.
Me Too's right-hand journal page.
Kal-El's left-hand journal page.
Kal-El's right-hand journal page.
These are not perfect. I often miss recording a thing or two (I notice I never recorded Kal-El's fraction work or word problems that week) but it really doesn't matter. What is useful here is that this format allows me to see what we are avoiding. I can see the big blank columns staring in the face asking me "is there a reason you aren't doing this?" Sometimes the answer is "yes." We aren't working on squaring and cubing right now because we are working on divisibility and I don't have room for that many threads. It's the same with geometry, but that is one that I really wish I could just add to the "mom" section of the work plan and do daily but if I did our school day gets too long. At the end of the week I did notice that we hadn't touched BFSU and that prompted me to prepare a neat study of simple machines, beginning with levers, that we started yesterday.
If anyone who is interested at that level of detail has questions about anything on the work plan or anything in the work journal please leave a comment. I'm have a lot of abbreviations in the work journal and am happy to answer questions.