Lessontrek has been a very popular planning and scheduling tool at Schoolin’ Swag! Our friend Jason Pessemier has been hard at work, tweaking and upgrading as he can, to make this valuable tool even more user friendly and seamless. I asked Jason if he would tell me what the most common questions about the product are, so users could find answers easily here at the blog. Here is what he shared.
1. Question: How do I add hyperlinks in a lesson? I need to click to websites for my child’s assignments.
Answer: To set up, click a lesson block, paste the URL and click save. To access, navigate to the lesson block and click the Open button, then click the hyperlink in the upper left.
2. Question: How do I print in color?
Answer: Make sure your browser’s Print Settings is set to print in color. Most browsers set their Print Settings to Black & White
3. Question: What curriculum can I use in Lessontrek?
Answer: You can use any type of curriculum or you can create your own. Lessontrek was built to be as flexible and easy-to-use as possible.
4. Question: Can I add weekends to Lessontrek? We sometimes have classes or we like to add household chores to our calendar.
Answer: Yes, make sure to click the Show Weekend check box located inside your Student Home modal.
5. Question: Can I use Lessontrek if I’m a public or private school teacher?
Answer: Absolutely! We encourage anyone to use this if it fits their needs. School teachers are currently using Lessontrek and they love it.
Here is a list of items Jason plans to add, as he is able:
Shared subjects/school years across multiple students
Report card printouts
Separate student/parent/teacher logins
There is some great pricing available right now at Lessontrek!
Extended to the first 700 (you read that right!) folks who really need a new plan for this New Year, he is offering a FREE FOR LIFE membership!!! Here are the instructions (follow them exactly):
1) Go to this link. Click the Sign Up button in the upper right hand corner of the website, then click the 14 day trial (this will enable the Referral Code text box where you enter the code), if you choose the 14 day option and not enter the code, you will not receive the Free Membership. If you click either the Monthly or Annual plan it will not work as this is a free code, so no credit card needed.
2) Enter the code exactly like this (or else it wont work): FFL15
If you don’t enter the code and only do the 14 day trial, you will not receive the Free Membership.
3) Enter the rest of your information (make sure your email address you use doesn’t have capital letters).
4) Then proceed to checkout and begin planning your new school year!
I’m a purger, not a piler. Piles make me crazy, and nothing distracts me more. True confession? Schoolin’ Swag was begun partly because I came across a ton of great homeschooling stuff I knew I’d never use, or I didn’t need at the moment…and I could not stand to let go of it! So I created the group as a place to park stuff (and in the process hopefully bless someone else who needed exactly that stuff). But that didn’t solve my compulsion to grab all things free and homeschool-oriented.
With all that free stuff at my fingertips, it was very easy to feel overwhelmed. Then it stopped being a blessing and turned into a very distracting burden. Counterproductive. I needed a “sieve” of questions to help me decide what was best. I have met people who buy stuff because it is on sale…without any particular goal or plan in mind. There may not even be a need for it. They may have never used that item before…but it was on SALE! Can you guess what the house looks like? Ever seen “Hoarders”? We don’t want to be that. We want to be good stewards of the money, time, and space we have…not to mention those few brain cells we have remaining.
So here’s the 5-question sieve for printables and downloads:
Does this material jive with our learning style or can it be easily tweaked?
Is this material going to necessitate additional purchases (supplies, etc) for it to be useful? Am I able/willing to invest in those?
Does this fit in my lesson plan currently? Do I have a place to put it so I can readily find and plug it in?
If this is something to save for the future, do I have a logical, usable, accessible way of storing it?
Does grabbing this material obligate me to sign up for things I don’t want (read the fine print)?
At Schoolin’ Swag, I added a little sanity to my life by beginning some Files tabs. Also, by posting items in the group with a little blurb like “great resource for algebra” I can easily find it again, simply using the search tool with key terms. What else do I do with my stuff? Here are some things I’ve found helpful.
First, I think it is good to ask why. Why do I think I need to do something different? Is it because what I am currently doing is not working? How do I believe this new thing will help me accomplish my goals? Don’t change for the sake of changing. Be purposeful.
I rarely bookmark anymore. It doesn’t really organize things in a usable manner for me, and it is too TOO easy to click to bookmark every little thing that seems appealing for that “rainy day”.
Pinterest? I’m personally not a fan. Many at Swag really love to use it, so I started Pinterest boards for our group. To me, that venue is totally sensory overload and it can be a certifiable time waster for me. I click one thing, which leads down the path to something else like a winding path through a dark forest. I get lost. I start out looking for lapbooks on George Washington and end up watching videos of dolphin rescues. Educational? Maybe. Productive? Not really.
I use Evernote (free) which allows me to do save pages (or portions or articles) in folders I can create in a way that makes sense to me. Just download the little toolbar button, and simply click the little elephant when you are on a page with something save-able. Here is a screen shot with the options at upper right for how you want to save and where. I create folders like “Michael’s School” (for things I know we’ll use this year) and “2016-2017 School Year” (for something I’m looking to use in the future). Subfolders can be set up for particular subjects and projects. That way things are not saved just as arbitrary bookmarks, but are categorized in a way so that I can FIND them!
So I don’t “print and forget” those great freebies that are time sensitive and won’t be free later, I have plastic milk crates with hanging folders to organize things I’ve printed. Since they are open and available, the likelihood of my actually filing things is much greater. Just make folders for each grade/subject, paperclip your projects, and plunk ’em in. Go through the folders at least every 6 months. Pull stuff you have realized has lost its appeal and see if you can find a new home for it. If not, flip the paper over, and you have scrap for sketching, math problems, etc. I keep a box of scrap. 🙂
As far as free samples, I find I rarely use them unless they are substantial or it is a handout I need very SOON. So, I usually don’t bother with these and it uncomplicates my life.
Books? I’ve been guilty of grabbing some off the free cart at the library just because they looked cool. We flipped through it once, and off it went to Goodwill. Why add that stress? Check it out from the library if it is cool to look through but not something you’ll make good use of. If you have books that are just gathering dust, set them free! Sell them on Ebay, Varagesale, or even via Amazon buy back. Or, if you are feeling philanthropic, you can give them away on Facebook pages like this.
What about YouTube videos? We love to use those for school! Here is how to create playlists of your very own!
And how about those humongous downloads you grabbed? Those things that are 200, 300, 700 pages? Yikes! Here is what I’ve done with those, because I keep forgetting I have them! I started pulling up the cover page on my laptop, taking a screen shot (on my computer, I click the “prt sc” button at top right, then open Paint and click “paste” and then save the image). Then I save the images to a folder I called “Homeschool Downloads”. At a glance, I can see what they are, and what they are called if I want to open them.
Got some great organization tips for curricula? A 12-step program? Tell us in the comments! 🙂
My sweet friend Leslie Josel, sent me a couple of her beautiful Academic Planners to take for a test drive this school year. I was going to wait until we were actually using them to post a review; but I’m so excited about them that I wanted to jump right on it and get the word out, so folks could get theirs ordered before August rolls around!
The planner is available in four different styles, to suit your taste. I loved the blue kaleidoscope design! The front and back are beautifully colored vinyl…very durable! I love the size of this planner, too…a generous 7″ x 11″ which gives plenty of space to write, as compared to impractical “pocket” planners. It is also 3-hole punched to fit into a binder, if you so wish!
I’ll post some photos here to show you the inside (click to enlarge). This is a great, intuitive organizational tool that is easy to use, without a lot of flipping around…and it teaches the student how to own their school planning!
Here is a nifty video, explaining the perks of this great tool:
As a perfect accompaniment to the planners, Leslie was gracious enough to include her new book, “What’s the Deal With Teens and Time Management?” What a great pairing! The handy little book covers everything from procrastination (oh boy!) to homework strategies. These are important life skills for your teen! Click here to preview!
Speaking of teens managing their time, while you’re at it, sign up for the FREE Back to School Webinar (Monday, August 17, 8pm EST), targeted specifically for middle and high schoolers, titled “Have You Done Your Homework Yet?”–click here!