When I began homeschooling, the office / art / school supply obsession became a lifestyle. I have, for the past six years, been on a constant quest to find better and better ways of keeping us organized, on track, and efficient. The first home school
My husband's vote for the coolest school supply item is the (can't find one when you need one) highlighter. As he says, "It's not just a pen--It's a mark you can see through!" True. What would we do without highlighters? Molly likes them for more than just identifying the sound that she's learning...but then, she is her Daddy's girl.
The comb-binder, by contrast, can host such a variety of options for notebooks, filing, and making reports that I can come up with any number of assignments for my kids in seconds, just so that I get to use this fancy gizmo. It looks like this:
(I do not think it rates as "humble")
And makes notebooks look like this:
Look how tidy and peaceful it looks lying beside my coffee cup.
The one disadvantage to this is that it cannot easily be used as a binder in which you can continually insert and remove things, but if one wishes to make up packets of worksheets and assignment pages, or a grouping of maps, or a workbook that lies flat when it is being used, then this gizmo is for you. (I considered the Circa system by Levenger to circumvent this problem, but could not justify the price.) For other things, the pesky 3-ring binder can continue to be used, but when a quarter's worth of work is completed (say, for writing), it can be quickly bound and saved for posterity. One can take a collection of the students' best work for the year and bind together as a portfolio for the year, then toss the rest! It will serve me well for the summertime clutter-bust, when I clean out all the notebooks and files and save only what is worthwhile.
I have examined other TOG users' blogs to see how planning goes for them. Many of them do in fact make the notebooks up ahead of time, placing all of the necessary worksheets, maps and assignments into one bound workbook per quarter, and in spite of all my joking here, this is my motivation for borrowing my friends' comb binder (and consequently purchasing my own). I decided to start this final unit of Year 3 to see if it is a method that will work well for us in the future as we continue with TOG. I needed a more effective way to keep all of their weekly work in one place, as well as a way to see it all together at one time. I love having a way to quickly look back and review all that has been covered in a unit. If it works well, I will plan out the next two to four units this summer and get them ready for next school year. (Ah...planning...one of my other favorite pastimes, but that is a post for another day.)