Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: My Student Logbook

A few years ago, if you'd told me we "needed" a Student Logbook from My Student Logbook, I probably would have rolled my eyes and told you that they didn't fit our homeschooling style. But things change . . .

Much to my annoyance, the state we live in has extensive rules about what homeschoolers have to report to the local school district. When the girls were younger, while I still found it annoying, I at least knew everything they were doing, because we worked together on everything. The last year or so, we've discovered a new challenge. More and more of Lexie and Ashlyn's schoolwork is independent. Because we don't do "grades" they check their own work, as needed, and ask me when they have questions about things, but I have no reason, except for the state's regulations, to know specifically what subjects they do each and every day. I honestly don't CARE if, one day Ashlyn spends a big chunk of time on math and doesn't get around to handwriting, and then another day, the opposite happens. I'm perfectly content to check in every so often and see how they're progressing, which normally I can tell just by listening to their chatter :) But for whatever reason the state wants to know exactly which books we use which days, sigh . . .

After trying a variety of approaches I had settled on a small white board with each of their independent work written on it. They checked off what they did each day, and at the end of the week, I recorded it in my spreadsheet along with the non-independent work that I keep track of.

When My Student Logbook came up as a review product, and I started looking at it, I realized that it would accomplish EXACTLY what our white board was accomplishing, but also keep a permanent record of it! PERFECT! I showed the website to both girls and asked about it. For some reason, Lexie didn't want to change, she likes the white board, but Ashlyn loved the idea of having her own book to record her work in, so she perused the large selection of cover designs and chose her favorite (Butterflies and Roses). I chose to get the undated logbook so that we could customize it as needed, since we school year-round.

My Student Logbook is available for $15 and is suitable for 2nd grade and up. Personally, I feel that the value in this product is in recording independent work, which for us, doesn't start until more like 5th grade, but each homeschool family is different in that regard. As long as your child can read and write enough to know what's on the checklist, this can be a great tool.

The My Student Logbook website has great videos explaining how the logbook is set up. In the front of the book are pages to write the list of subjects/tasks that you want your child to do. Then you can cut that list out, tape it onto the back of the first (or next) logbook page, and fold over. Then the list of tasks gets re-used from week to week until you need to change your child's task, when you get another task list and start over. I LOVE that! The back part of the book, after all the logbook pages, includes some "about me" type pages, which I left option for Ashlyn to fill out as much or as little as she'd like. If she does fill it out, it will make it a nice "memory" of what was important to her at this age. That section also includes pages for recording test scores, which doesn't apply to us, and books read, which we're recording in the regular logbook pages, so I would guess at some point Ashlyn will just pull those pages out and get rid of them. One final note, I love that the back cover of these books are a nice heavy vinyl material, it makes it so much sturdier and easier to write on when you're not at a table or desk.

As I mentioned earlier we opted for the undated version. We school year round and our reporting for the state "starts over" on July 1, so the dated options don't work with our schedule. I was also glad to find that the book's copyright gives permission to photocopy additional copies of the task list if needed. Especially with all the reviewing we do, the specific list of independent tasks do change pretty often.

Another way that I wasn't sure about was how to handle the fact that I need to know specific book titles, for our state reporting. So, one of our "assignments" is that I ask each girl to read at least one chapter in a book of her choice each day, but I need to know which book she's reading from. That was an issue we'd never fully addressed with our white board system, but with this, there's a handy "notes" section that hides under the to do list flap. I simply added a note on the task list, instructing her to write the title(s) for that week on the notes section. Then when I go to record the week's work in my spreadsheet, I can lift the flap and easily see what books she used each week. You can see in the picture on the left, that she's writing in the chapter book, or books she reads (if she reads multiple books in a given week, she comes up with different tic marks to indicate which book she read each day, she came up with that idea all on her own!), and also which Life of Fred book (currently Kidneys) she's working on.

I have to admit, I wasn't sure what I'd think of this one when I first glanced at the website, but after watching the videos to get a better feel for exactly how it was laid out, I knew it would be a great fit for us! Ashlyn is loving having a "pretty" book to record her work in, and I love having the permanent record. I'd really like to get Lexie switched over to using a Student Logbook also, but for some reason she's resistant to the idea and it's a battle I'm not willing to fight when she's willing to continue using the white board method.

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