Topic | Organizer–{Sell me on it}….{How has it helped you}?

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  • kellywright006
    Participant

    Hi Everyone:
    I am overwhelmed planning, teaching, and following through with teaching 5 grades (next year starts high-school). We are on a very tight budget, so the thought of the Organizer seems out of my league. But I am very curious about how it works and what you (as users) would say it’s benefits are? What would you tell someone who might be considering it…..

    Thank you for listening.

    Kelly Wright

    Kayla
    Participant

    I love it. I have a first grader this year and will have a second and kinder next year. I would describe my self as an paper person, not an Internet person, but I also have perfectionist tendencies so paper was just driving me crazy. I always wants to erase and fix my planner if we didn’t get to something, but I also wanted to plan more than 2 weeks at a time.

    With the organizer I can sit down and seriously plan for a couple hours before the school year. I figure out what subjects on what days and put everything into the organizer, in the order we plan to read the books. Then I’m done. For the year. I don’t have to sit and plan every Sunday for an hour. I do reasses everything around midway through our year, which happens to be thanksgiving/Christmas, and then I take out or add different things.

    Ifnyou hve any questions for me go ahead and shoot. 🙂

    kellywright006
    Participant

    Thank you for responding and letting us know how you use it @Kayla.

    I am sort of a ‘ turn the next page and do that lesson’ type of ‘planner.’ I am not sure if that would help me or frustrate me. I teach 5 grades and have 2 little ones, one is ALL OVER the place.

    Does a child access it or use it to see assignments (for the older ones)? Or is there a way to print off their assignments, weekly?

    Anyone else find it a *must have* for older grades?

     

    ncmomof5
    Participant

    I totally understand your predicament.  I have five students that I am currently schooling and it IS overwhelming trying to keep up with all that they need to accomplish each day nevermind every week, every month, or every term.  I just started using the Organizer this month, and though I am still “finding my way around” with it, the Organizer has given me  great peace of mind. I can see what I need to do, and I can see what each of my children need to do, as well.

    I have 2 high schoolers, a middle schooler and 2 elementary students,  AND I switched over to full Charlotte Mason with mostly SCM rec’s over the Christmas break.  So far, the last two weeks have gone pretty well, but I don’t think I could have pulled off such a huge switch without the support of the Organizer.

    I try to be frugal with our homeschooling budget, but I feel like the Organizer is an investment that allows me to do my job better and in turn makes our homeschool better.  Now if it could just get my teenaged son to follow through on his assignments, everything would be perfect. 🙂

    cdm2kk
    Participant

    The organizer is a true blessing for me. I am a type A person. I love and require lists and spreadsheets and I spent hours making up my own spreadsheets for planning my year and then making daily lesson plans. However, homeschooling isn’t like public school where we without fail have from this time to that to complete a day. Life happens and we punt. This is where this organizer actually works where all others FAIL! This is where it is a blessing to me because I like being in control (at least my perceived control) of my day rather than me being at the mercy of my plan made months ago where I was unaware of the obstacles that the devil would throw at me OR the gifts God would bestow.

    I have 2 children, however I can conceive how this would work for multiples and/or older children very readily. It is such a custom and fluid organizational structure that I doubt any two people use it identically. Sure they have the tutorials, but once you start using it, you mold it to you and so you never work for it like you do with other guides, plans, or schedules.

    This is my backbone and I am so very grateful to the genius minds that keep it working and consistently work to improve it. As I said, I like to be in control and I rarely follow a guide to the letter. I pick my own resources and plan them out using CM methods. I have used Sonlight, Beautiful feet, and other guides and I have always tweaked them or combine them to fit us better and this organizer has never been a hindrance when I choose to change something.

    I will when the kids are older, print out their weekly assignments and then as I go over with them what they learned and completed, I will then log in what has been completed, but you can easily just print daily work too. I prefer to be able to work ahead in some subjects when they are interesting and then catch up in the others later in the week which is why I will do weekly and not daily so they can learn how to work through and prioritize on their own.

    I can not live without the organizer now that I have become accustomed to it because it works for me and not the other way around. By working for me, it saves me so much time and aggravation that I am able to concentrate on getting school done and not changing the schedule. I have more time to do what I need and want to. It is the best money I have ever spent. So much so, that I don’t even bother looking at other planners because this one works so well that I can’t fathom another working better!

    It is so custom to you that I can’t see it not working for anyone unless they can not discipline themselves enough to mark the completed work as you go. It takes a bit to understand how it works and it takes some faith to trust your plan, but once you have that, all you have to do is enter your completed work. This can be done daily (which I find easiest), but if you aren’t rigid in knowing when you did what, then you could also do it every few days. Again, you make it work for you. Some resources I enter as we do it, like our read alouds, but others such as the kid’s typing or math where they know to do a lesson a day, I mark those at the end of the week. I plan out their daily reading lessons befoer the year and enter them as such into the organizer ie. page 23-42, but if my kids like the book then they will read at night on their own. So usually I just ask daily where they left off and mark it and then have them narrate what they read. So again, they are free to go ahead as fast as they want, but I always have a bare minimum that they are required to do so that we always have forward progression and this organizer works with that too.

    The best part though is when I want to combine 2 very great guides for one resource. I can then type in the organizer whatever I wish from whatever guide so that I don’t forget it and I am not bothered with having to keep up with the guide as a resource too. Also, you can show one resource under several subjects. We are doing Minn of Mississippi for geography, but I listed any drawings under art and instead of having them draw on their maps a miniature, I have them draw in their sketch books. So they get credit for both. I could also add any science in the daily science comments if I wanted too. This is especially nice for those rabbit trails that happen because we all have them from time to time and it feels nice to have it show on the reports as well.

    I have even been known to reward the kids by letting them pick which resources we do for the day and then I get to see which ones they prefer and it is funny to see them trying to decide too. This makes for a fun day for sure with out any grumbling and I have been known to do this for what we call a sick day because they don’t seem to mind doing school while sick if they can choose what to do. Again, the organizer is right there showing me always what is next to do in each resource and what has been completed. The reports are super easy to figure out and look so great at years end. I started doing report cards simply because my kids were used to them. While I started doing 4 per year, I now just do one at year end. This will keep me totally prepared for high school when I will need to make a transcript for college.

    If you use resources that are familiar to this organizer, meaning CM based resources, then it is even easier to schedule because usually someone else has already done the biggest work for you, which is entering in the resource. Just be sure to copy theirs and not use theirs because if they make changes, then yours will change too, but your copy of theirs will be your own. I learned that they hard way, but even that was an easy fix!

    I just can not explain how easier it has made getting a resource done and not forgetting a resource. We do teaching textbooks for math as individuals, we also watch mathtacular dvd’s as a family and we do life of Fred too and this is where I don’t forget to do something because I usually have several resources per subject at any given time. A better example is my history, we are studying it chronologically and so while I am teaching American history, I have added in Texas history for that same time period and if that wasn’t enough, I have also added in Catholic church history for that same time period and locale. So I have usually about 3-4 American history resources going at one time and I have 2 catholic history resources going and 3-4 Texas history resources. This would be so confusing to try and keep straight on my own, but not with this organizer! I have found this to be a very rewarding way to teach history and it is my own. It has helped to make a time period come to life though and I love showing how our faith was a part of it all.  At the end of the year, I list different events that took place etc. and then I have them put them in order that they occurred and this is how I determine if they are getting the progression of our history and I also consider this our time line work. I have done this 3 times and so far they usually mix up two events but they have always been close together, so understandable, but has proven to me that they are comprehending. While they will not be able to tell you the exact date that something happened, they will be able to tell you a ball park time frame and I feel that is a more useful bit of information to know than the exact date. Anyway, my point is this organizer is how I am able to do this without any stress.

    BTW, they let you try for 30 days free and you can’t beat that although I know it seems silly to enter just 30 days worth of schedule, but it is the only way for you to see how differently it is from all the other planners. I did just that. I decided to use some resources through the summer and I tested it. I knew that come August, it was the organizer for me.

    Best of Luck!

     

    Jordan Smith
    Keymaster

    Wow! Thanks for the great review, cdm2kk! (And everyone who answered!) 🙂

    they let you try for 30 days free

    Just a note that we changed this last June so that the free trial is limited by the number of resources you can schedule, rather than a time limit on the number of days you can use it. We wanted to offer a free version of the Organizer that you could try out without the pressure of a deadline.

    cdm2kk
    Participant

    Oh wow, Jordan! That is even better because now they can really get a feel for it without feeling a deadline.

    Also, you are very welcome on the review. I’ve been AWOL around here for awhile, but I really try and give credit where credit is due.

    I am a tweaker and am rarely happy with the way things are, but I do have to say that I do not find myself wanting to change the organizer at all. It works just like my brain apparently! LOL

    Regan
    Participant

    Okay, all you SCM organizer users…can you please tell me… How does it work if you don’t get everything done that was scheduled!  How do you adjust it? Also, we will be doing school more year round and we have plenty of weeks that we do school 4 days a week,  is it easy to work around this type of schedule?  I am so glad you ladies are sharing your experience as I have been curious about the organizer.  I have also been trying to decide how to plan and get organized for next year!

     

    bethanna
    Participant

    I have been using the free version of the organizer since Christmas or so for family subjects and for my daughter’s resources. This was for me to figure it out and to train my dd  how to use a print-out of a week’s worth of work. My daughter is 10yo and does very well completing and checking off the assignments each day. I usually wait until the end of the week  to mark work in the organizer.

    There are family resources that we haven’t begun or gotten very far along in for various reasons. They show up on the next scheduled day and I include them on our weekly printout hoping  to get it all done. Some of these resources will roll over into our next school year. I had to do that even when using a paper planner. And it’s ok. 🙂

    I really love the organizer because it has taken pressure and stress off of me! It took so much time to maintain my paper planner/journal and I would get so behind. Now it takes 15 or 20 minutes to check off a week’s work and to print the next week’s assignments.

    cdm2kk
    Participant

    It will absolutely work for a 4 day week and once you have your resources entered and scheduled, then you only check off what you completed and then those assignments are gone but any you didn’t complete just stay waiting for when you do get to them. Now there are 2 different ways to schedule your 4 days and this is where only you will know what you like best. Normally, you know which 4 days you will school, such as Mon-Thurs. So then when you schedule a resource, you mark which days you will use that resource and then when it is a Wednesday, only those resources you scheduled for Wednesday will show up on that day’s schedule making quite clear what you ideally want to cover for the day, but if you don’t get to a resource, well then that missed assignment will appear on the next day that resource is scheduled for. For instance, if you do poetry once a week on Wednesday then the missed assignment will show up again next Wednesday and you just continue on as though you really never missed anything. If the resource is one that you will do tue, wed, thur each week, then if you missed Wednesday’s assignment, then it will be there ready for you on Thursday and you just mark it off complete when you do it. No harm no foul. As you near the year’s end, you will finish off resources and some you will have 2 or 3 lessons to complete these will be those missed lessons and here you can choose to just have light days until they are finished OR since some resources are complete, you can double up your lessons on the single resource and finish it up too. This is how most people use it, but it seems my life always has a quirk to throw at me. LOL    The second way is my way and this is how I had to tweak the organizer to work for me and what I like. I schedule every resource for Mon-Sat (my husband works a rotating shift work and so I never know what days we will be schooling) I refuse to school on Sunday though. Anyway, so when I open my schedule any given day, it shows every resource, however when I enter how I want the resource done like “read together” I put something like this {day1}, {day3} 5 chapters per week – I then just keep track as to what day we are on for the week, day 1, day 2, day 3 etc. and I go through all the resources closing or clicking the little triangle button which closes up that resource until I’m left for which ones I am going to do that day and I can print this out, but I usually just mark off as we complete throughout the day. My way is way more complicated, but I like it because like the kids, sometimes I may have music set for that day, but I’m not in the mood and would rather do art and I can easily pick and choose giving me more control. None of our days are the same, but all our assignments are short and we move through fairly smoothly.   When kids are sick, I will even let them pick our daily resources. Just know that eventually everything will get done because like I said once you start eliminating resources, you can let your days get lighter or start doubling up on other resources to finish them quicker and then have more full days off. You make it yours.

    There are 3 things that I try and not let kids (my kids are 4&5th grade) miss more than 3 days of simply because it is too hard to get them going again…. reading, math, and writing.    They always have a reader going and for math, we currently use Teaching textbooks and so I will have them do half lessons or if they finished for the year, I will go through and delete all the ones they missed and have them work through those again and we also do life of Fred math as a family, they write in a personal journal daily. I never grade the journal and I will just flip through it to make sure they are writing in it. I do this because I found that my early writers would forget how to form certain letters or when they learned cursive, they would forget if given a break of more than a few days and it was like pulling teeth to get them back on the daily habit. The math I noticed that they would loose or forget so much with a month off for summer and then they would need to pretty much learn those new concepts taught at the end of the year, so now we do really light math days during those off times and they do not have to re-learn or really review much to get back going full steam. You won’t see this until they are around 2-3 grade though. You work so hard to get those concepts down and it really hurts to have them forget a concept it took you 8 weeks to get mastered! LOL

    Sometimes I have a resource cover 2 years and so that resource won’t end at the year’s end and will sit until I start back up for the next year and I love that I don’t have to do anything, but mark it complete. If you decide to stop a resource, you jut click remove resource from schedule and it is gone from your schedule but the unfinished lessons are still waiting for when you schedule that resource again OR you can remove it permanently from your library. That is what is awesome about this organizer is that you can add resources you are thinking about to your library so you don’t forget you have them, but until you schedule when you want them to start, you won’t see them on your daily plan.

    You don’t have to have a date for each resource to start, just mark that you want to start this resource when that resource is done. This is why it doesn’t matter if you miss a reading because the next resource won’t start on a certain day, but only when a resource is complete. For instance, I like to have 3 history readers going at one time. So I take all my history reader resources for the year and add up their pages and divide by the # of weeks I want to read for….I shoot for 34 usually. Then I get how many pages per week I need to read. Let’s say it is 90 pages, so then I know that if I am going to have 3 readers going that I should read 30 pages per reader per week. This is what I write in my schedule [day1],[day2],[day3] 30p/w and I use little skinny post it note flags to mark that week’s 30 pages and then I will either read 10 pages a day or may read 20 if the story is good and double up another reader the net day.   If you are nervous about making those decisions daily and want a set plan, then you can schedule the resource for 7 pages Mon-thurs.  Anyway, I place the resources in the order that I want them read and then I make 3 stacks then when I enter them in I enter the first three resources and then mark which resource needs to start when that one is finished and I continue through all three stacks that way. Just those first three resources will start on a certain day, which is your first day of school. If you prefer to only have one resource going at a time but read more per day, that can be done too. That is why I am such a fan of this organizer. OH! I always do an advent book and so I have it start December 1st. So there are time when you may start a resource later in the year at a certain date to. Have a springtime fieldtrip or book you want to read, have it start at the appropriate time as well.

    I promise you will forget what all you schedule until it pops up and then it is just so exciting and such a relief that you didn’t have to keep track of it.

    I hope I didn’t throw too much at you, but I wanted to explain that the planning and entering is the hardest part and once you do that, then the rest of the year you just focus on teaching and life and all that is required is to mark off what you complete.  I usually give myself a month to gather all my resources and plan how I want to tackle each one and I separate them into subjects and then use a post it on each resource showing how I want to tackle it. Once I’ve done that then I start entering them in and I always do a search of the resource to see if someone has done the work for me and if so then I copy it and then tweak it to what I want it to be and then continue to the next resource.

    Here is what my religion (catholic) looks like – I set up the bible for everyday and before I read we say a prayer and then I have a daily affirmation that we do and I just post this inside my bible – kids have it memorized by now but it just seems to set the day off in a positive way (Today is going to be a great day and I thank God for giving me this day. I am going to learn things today. I am going to do things today and try and be the person God created me to be. I am going to apply myself here at home and within my community and when I am confronted with a problem or a conflict, I will think before I react. I accept the challenges of this day with a happy heart and will strive to do God’s will today.) I also do scripture memorization daily. (I use scripturebox.com for $5 a year and it is beyond wonderful. I set up all the scripture I want to memorize and then they email which ones we do each day) This is CM way of scripture memorization I believe and it works! Then day 1 I do a faith formation teaching or CCD (church rules basically explains mass why we believe what we believe) type lesson, day 2 I read about a saint, day 3 We pray a rosary or a chaplet etc. day 4 character development day 5 character development day 6 character development

    So day 1 is prayer, affirmation, scripture memory, bible and CCD lesson

    day 2 is prayer, affirmation, scripture memory, bible and saint reader(this is similar to the Protestant’s missionary stories)

    day 3 is prayer, affirmation, scripture memory, bible, longer in depth prayer (I include prayers for sick of our parish and we list family members or friends who have passed on and then I list those that have asked for prayers from me either on FB or through conversations etc. and then my kids will add those that they want to pray for.

    day4 is prayer, affirmation, scripture memory, bible, character development (I have used different things, but usually laying down the rails, readers that cover characters traits such as those lamplighter sells. Next year I’m doing Beautiful Girlhood by Karen Andreola

    day 5 & day 6 are optional and may or may not get done done but would be like day 4.

    So everyday is the same and yet different. Religion takes about 20-30 minutes for us, which for my age kids is just right.

     

    If you made it through this novel, then you are determined and will figure it all out for sure! LOL Best of Luck and I hope this helped.

    Trust me when I say that if you follow CM principles when planning your own curriculum, you will do better than fine and you will enjoy it and will be able to breathe!

     

    bethanna
    Participant

    I thought  of something else and it may have been mentioned already. The organizer is flexible and stays neat (tidy). We used a traditional math book but at each child’s pace. Sometimes we take two days to complete a lesson. I sometimes let dd skip lessons that are only general review. For the page we skip, there is “Omit this assignment” that I click on and it pulls up the next page. No erasing, no rescheduling weeks of math pages, no mess! Happy!

    Regan
    Participant

    Thank you so much for the detailed feedback!  I will try it out to finish out this year to get a feel for it, but it sounds great!  I also plan by labeling day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4 and day 5!  If we take a day off, it is typically in Friday, but we like the flexibility of it much better than Mon through Friday!  I would also prefer to do more planning up front and less throughout the year.  But, because I teach each child and go at their pace I need flexibility!  Also the freedom to linger in a subject and go more in depth if we want to is important to me!  We will start schooling year round this next year, but we will have about 6 weeks off between this year and next!  I hope to use that time to I out everything!  Right now I am working with a planner that I out together myself!  It has worked really well but doesn’t offer the flexibility of something like the organizer!  When we had to make spchanges, I would have to erase or cross out and redo the schedule and sometimes those changes impacted the next week!  I pretty much plan a few weeks out so every few weeks I was I putting everything.  I would so much prefer to just do the bulk of it before the school year.  Thank you so much cdm2kk!  I appreciate all your help:)

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