Sunday, January 3, 2010

OneNote Workbox Tweak

I blogged about trying out a virtual workbox homeschool organization system here. One day before implementation, my twitchy fingers needed to carry out a little interface redesign.

Here's what I've changed:

I dropped the time slot fields. Experience has shown that he is rarely able to begin a lesson at the assigned time. So instead of time slots I have a suggested starting time (9.30am every morning). We seem to have a good routine going for length of lessons anyway: automated 20-min online lesson sessions and 30-40-min read alouds or text-based lessons. Now, the screen looks a little more streamlined.

I designed 30-min and 60-min free time icons. This way, if he really needs a break to wiggle and squirm, he can drag and drop the icon to switch places with the curriculum box of his choice.

If he wants a 30-min break when it's time for Latin, for example, he drags the 30-min icon to where Latin is and then drags and drops Latin to the last line. to complete in the afternoon. Or if he likes, he can keep the total 2 hours of free time to be enjoyed all at once in the afternoon and that way, be done for the day by about 2pm. I'm hoping this will teach him the joys of delayed gratification. I've also added a Game Time icon to be used in a similar fashion.

The traffic light icon indicates that we'll have a snack and then head out for a walk or vice versa. I'm hoping this visual reminder will help us stop being such homebodies!

The tweak also clearly indicates what's assigned and what's child-led. The first row of online class items are all assigned. The second row of reading/ writing and project items are all stuff he's chosen to try this semester and stuff I won't mind leaving aside if he wants to do something else. Then we'll have one more short assigned math practice session after lunch.

Therefore, I'm targeting 1.5 hours of assigned work a day for 4 days a week. Everything else will be "kiddo-choice".

Explained the whole thing to the kiddo today and he seems to be taking it positively. Hopefully it'll go smoothly for Implementation Week (Jan 4 - 8)!


  1. Good luck, Suji. I started using a workbox system recently too (with files), but I still find that they push to follow their own interests as much as possible and for as long as possible, and it's hard to resist when they truly are learning. It's a constant struggle, really, to find a system that they will abide by longer than a week or two, no matter how flexible.

    Let us know how your cool virtual workbox goes. If you can get your kiddo to stick with it (he sounds a lot like mine) then maybe I'll give it a try sometime too.

    Kind regards,


  2. Thanks Lisa! Actually to be honest, it's me who has to learn to stick with it :)

  3. I've been re-reading the Charlotte Mason stuff about "habit-forming" and I think that's the key to making these things work.

    Of course, the person who most needs habit-training is me. If I were somewhat disciplined, perhaps they would be too!

  4. Yeah I realize a lot how important it is for me to be the positive role model. I need habit training as well. The computer and other distractions (like cooking lunch on time) are notorious for pulling me off the schedule. I'm hoping that having a simpler system like this one will be the answer. We'll see, we'll see (big hopeful sigh).


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