Saturday, January 2, 2010

Virtual Workboxing?

Sue Patrick's Workbox System seems to be really picking up clout in the homeschool popularity circles these past many months. I googled "workbox homeschool" recently and was very inspired by all the cool bloggers out there who have adapted her system to suit their individual needs.

I've been sorely tempted to use it too, believe you me. She seems to have really thought it all out and has obviously put her system into good practice in her own home over a number of years. But somehow it doesn't feel like I will stick to something like this. For one, the kiddo is obviously loving the freedom I'm giving him these days over what materials to use and when. For another, although I do have a lot more floor space now than previously, I'm not sure I want to go through the hassle of buying metal drawer carts and 12 drawer organizers/ bins/ folders. Hmmm...but my itchy fingers have been itching for a little more organization around here.

One possible alternative I have in mind is Microsoft One Note 2007.

I received the MS Office 2007 suite as part of my Christmas gift this year and was very intrigued by One Note. Last year, I had blogged about how I keep records of our lessons in order to prepare a monthly learning record for our charter school. This year, I have been relying on The Busy Body Book's cousin, The Busy Body Wall Calendar (the extra space feels good). It's a great planner. But spurred on by what I understand about the workbox system, I want something that will gradually replace verbally assigning him work to a visually appealing screen that will tell him everything he needs to know in one glance. With colorful Free Time icons strategically laid out as incentives (evil grin)!

This is what I've designed in One Note for now. There's a virtual notebook for our Year 2.5 with specific sections. Each section tab on the top has its own pages on the right. One section with DS's name (blacked out portion on upper left corner of screen) has four page tabs on the right for each of our four school days of the week (he has a coop on Wednesdays) plus an extra page for links to his favorite websites to play with during his free time if he so wishes.

All he has to do is click a page to see what's lined up for the day. Online class boxes for the day (e.g. EPGY which he usually completes independently) have their web URLs and his user ID and password (blacked out) included underneath.

For texts and workbooks, I will type in the assigned chapter or pages under the box and leave the relevant books or worksheets in a neat pile on our work table and we'll work on those together. I can use One Note's pen tool to circle or cross out the boxes we've completed. I can then type what we've completed into his learning record and also know what to reassign when I update the pages for the following week.

I hope to be implemeting this the coming week and hope to update on how successful this is :). Meanwhile, if you have One Note 2007 and would like to do something similar, or have suggestions for me, feel free to ask questions/ comment. I'll try my best to answer your queries.

Please note that I designed the rectangular boxes using MS Power Point 2007 and also copied and pasted clip arts from the same.


  1. This looks intriguing. I'm trying to develop my own version of the workbox system that also allows more freedom for my daughter to choose her materials. I'll have to check out One Note.

  2. Wow, Suji--what a smart concept! I love the idea of virtual workboxes, and wish you all the best as you try them out this week. : )

  3. I'm really interested to see your next post on this topic. I would love to have some sort of system like this in place that removed me from the taskmaster role of doling out one assignment at a time. And I think for the system to really work in our house, the boys would need something on a computer that they needed to check into, almost as if it were not coming from me at all.

    So, please, tell us more! :)

  4. Hi Sarah! I strongly believe we really have to tweak systems to what works for our respective DCs so here's hoping you find what you're seeking! But I must say I wouldn't have thought of One Note unless it was given to me (it was hubby's gift to me, bless him!). I'm really cheap when it comes to buying software!

  5. Thanks Christina, Annie :) Yup I think having the "computer" give out assignments is a lot less stressful isn't it? Hope it works. Keeping my fingers crossed. Actually I already have a tweak in mind (eventhough I haven't even used this on DS yet) so I will definitely update you on how it goes!


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