Your suggestions are excellent. The difficulty? TIME. That kind of teaching is the BEST but it takes more time each week than I am able to give each student. No two kids here work at the same level and there are a lot of needs in numerous categories .... My oldest needs so much hand holding and structure. And, if I don't limit or structure his time and assignment requirements he hits one of two extremes: he either doesn't do the work (hits the lowest mark) OR he takes so long that it derails the school day.
Writing is a high priority and we are failing. This is causing loss of sleep for me as I am pondering what can and should be done. My deepest desires for my kiddos don't always mesh with reality .... Maybe note booking is too open ended for what time and skill level restraints we have.
Praying a lot today over the writing and history note booking questions.
<hugs> on a discouraging day.
When I get overwhelmed, I try to remember to do less and do it well, and let go of the rest. Can you begin with something small?
For example, kind of like the 1st grade Bible notebook begins with one (large) line for writing, can you have your older son begin with one good sentence (or writing one new fact) each day, and you begin with one 15-minute feedback/editing session on Friday, discussing his facts, having a book open on your lap to prompt him if needed? He could do any needed corrections on the weekend or evenings, which can be a motivating factor to do it well the first time. Then once it has been going well for say a month, you could raise the bar a bit, say to two sentences daily, still with a 15-minute parent editing session set in stone each week. Meanwhile, you could work on oral narration as a family, which prepares him to have something to write.
Or, begin with group review and narration on the marker board, sort-of modeling ways to summarize as you talk through different ideas. There are other ways to begin small, I'm just throwing out random ideas.
Also, can you limit the time your student is allowed during your school day. After a reasonable amount of time, I usually took away the assignment and moved on. The assignment would be completed in the evening, without as much help from me since it was past school hours.
Most of all, you need rest. Everyone will benefit from you taking care of yourself. I am a big fan of setting school hours and non-school hours so you all get a break, but whatever you need to do, let go and just do what you can each day and it will be far more than it might have been without you there. I'm not saying that because I've never beat myself up over my teaching inadequacies, but because that's what I see while looking back. Sadly, my kids (and most other kids I know) don't remember all that many details about what they learned over the years. Sometimes I think that I simply educated myself, becoming an educated parent who could enrich my children's lives. For the rest, God uses each day in surprising ways; we don't have to do it all.
What kids do remember tends to be more about how to figure something out, how to keep going until you get it right, how to turn to prayer, things like that, and it sounds like you are doing well at teaching those lessons!
There are a lot of threads in the "Other Subjects Archive" that start with the word "Encouragement," because you are not alone in your worries. For instance, here's one about not fitting it all in: http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2673
More hugs to you, and apologies if my posts don't make as much sense as I hoped, since I have a LOT of thoughts about such things these days LOL
P.S. I'm not sure what grades you have, but MFW has added an additional writing component to 7-8th grades (Writing With Skill). I wonder if that would be helpful to you?