Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: My Student Logbook

This year is bringing lots of change in our lives. My daughter, who as most of you know has Down syndrome, has entered the 6th grade! This transition is exciting, but also a little frightening. I am always trying to find ways to give her more independence and responsibility when she needs it, but I also need to be on top of what tasks she is doing. Thankfully my latest review introduced me to a tool that works beautifully to meet both of those needs.

My Student Logbook has come up with a simple, but thorough system of tracking your students work and activities throughout the day. This will not only help you keep them on task but it will allow you to track their progress and hours spent in each subject. This will come in handy when you have to make those transcripts that are necessary to get your child into college one day! Having all this information at your fingertips makes homeschooling record keeping a breeze! It also just helps you keep your child accountable in the day to day work, which is exactly what I used it for. For the purpose of my review I received the undated version of the My Student Logbook.

These actually have several colorful cover styles, but Gess is really into dinosaurs right now so she chose this one. There is a clear plastic outer cover to protect it from spills and tearing. Gess actually thought it was the cover and wrote her name on the plastic. I had to show her how to move it and actually write on the cover. It was too cute!

As I mentioned these are a great tool for tracking information and in the front of the book you will find directions on how to actually create a high school transcript. In the back of the book there are also sections to track other important information such as information about the student, prayers and goals, books read through the year, test scores, and a page for other related activities like field trips and presentations.

The middle section of the log book is for tracking when a lesson, chore, or other task has been completed. It's a simple check box system. When the task is done you mark it with an X or whatever mark you would like. I tried doing a check mark but Gess struggled with that. She had trouble making them to her satisfaction so we used an X. You can also have them record scores or other information in the box.

Since I am using this to give Gess more independence I only use it to track her homework assignments, chores, and a few other activities. The bulk of her schoolwork is tracked elsewhere. I had tried other methods of getting her to do unsupervised assignments but she would always forget and not get them done. With the My Student Logbook she has the accountability she needs in a format that is easy to use.

The set up is fairly easy. You make a check list that you can use for an indefinite period of time. I really like that because it saves you from having to rewrite the entire list week to week. The list is assembled as a flap and each week you just place your page under that flap. While it is handy to have the list stay consistent there are several master list pages so you can change it periodically. What is nice is that all the pages you used with each list remain under that list in a very organized fashion. It's hard to explain with words so let me show you.

When Gess completes a task she marks it in her book. Since several of her independent assignments are on the computer she keeps it on her computer desk.

The page will look something like this.

Now, when I am done with this week all I need to do is turn the page and place the new week under the flap on the left.

You can also see that under the flap is a place for notes. Monday of this week was labor day so I didn't have Gess do any tasks that day. I explained in my notes why. You can use that for all sorts of information.

Since our homework tasks sometimes vary I came up with a sticky note solution to help Gess remember what each assignment was. Over the homework worksheet blank, I will write specifically what subject that is.

If there is no assignment that day I color the box in rather than mark it with an X. However, I did catch Gess coloring boxes in when she didn't want to do her work so now I make sure we use different colored pencils. That way I know if it was really not a task or if she just didn't do it!  To make it fun, Gess chooses a different colored pencil each day and I stick with pens if I can.

Here is a short video that explains it really well.

This system has been a tremendous help and is very easy to use for both of us! When you have a child with special needs, easy is always a good thing. To make sure that Gess does not forget to check her list we have a system in place where she is not allowed to use any media until her work is done. She can take breaks from school work and play outside, build with legos, color, read, or many other fun activities but she gets no television, video games, or computer time until her work is completely finished. Whenever she asks, our first question is to check her log book! She pretty much knows to just do it first by now and having this visual reminder helps her keep on task without getting upset with me when I do say no. She sees that the reason the answer is no is because she has not completed her work.

You know, as mothers we have our own lists to remind us of tasks. I live by my calendar book and utilize chore and grocery lists. I think this logbook is a great way to introduce students to the same concept. As they say on the video, this system is automated because once you fill out the actual task list it pretty much just runs itself. That claim was pretty much proven to me because Gess adapted to this system fairly quickly and easily. The key is to have a place where it is kept in sight and have some accountability to make sure it is implemented.

While Gess has the system down you can see from some of the pages that she didn't always do every thing, every day. There are days where that happens and this book helps me to know when that happened and why. Sometimes it was not her fault. There were days spent at the hospital while my mom had surgery and other various activities that sometimes pulled us away. Other times though, Gess just didn't complete her list because she forgot or didn't care. It is nice to have this tool to know the difference so we can work on those goals. If she did them all the time anyway, we wouldn't need the book!

The My Student Logbook costs $15.00 each and comes in 3 different formats. They are dated by the school calendar from August to July, dated by the yearly calendar from January to December, or undated. I chose the undated version. They also offer dated versions in PDF. While you can use them with any grade they are geared for grades 2 and up. They are an excellent tool that I plan on using year after year.

To learn more about My Student Logbook visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about them by clicking on the banner below.

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