Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints – – Google Apps Part Deux

fridays hardwired homeschool hints pic

So in last weeks HHH post, I kind of gave you a glimpse of how Google Apps could help increase productivity and organization in your homeschool. 

Today, I thought I would get a little more nitty gritty and outline some of the specific ways you can use Google Apps…

First off, you will need to sign up with a Google Account, if you haven’t already. You will also need to sign each of your homeschoolers up with an account. They are free, and relatively painless to register for. Here is the link to get started.  One Google registration is all you need to get signed up for ALL of Google’s many services, including Google Docs, Gmail, Google Talk IM, Google Calendar, and Google Sites. If you have a Blogger account, you are already covered.

One of the first things you will want to do is explore the Google Docs interface. Like I said last week, this is the keystone of the Google product line.

If you have worked with Microsoft Office at all, Google Docs will be a breeze, because it has most of the same capabilities – – word processor, spreadsheet, and presentations.  It will even upload and download in Office file extensions! For a full tutorial on how to use the Docs interface, go through this edutech lesson.

My favorite homeschool use of the program is as a lesson planner/calendar.  I create a spreadsheet grid that I use to keep track of the boys daily assignments.  The great thing is that once I share the sheet with their google accounts, they can access my spreadsheet from any computer, make changes to it, cross things off when they have completed them, etc.

(click to view in full screen)

google docs

The daily assignment sheet, in essence, becomes a collaborative effort.  Even if you are unschooling, and aren’t anally retentive like me, Google spreadsheets are still a great way to track what your kids are accomplishing, and a place for you to provide resources and suggestions for what they are currently interested in.  You can both access the spreadsheet in real time from two different computers, which is the true cool feature.

I have started having my boys submit all their written assignments in Google Docs as well.  There just isn’t a better way, in my opinion.  When they finish an essay, for instance, and share it with me, I don’t have to print it out, or worry about losing it, or anything.  I can just access it on my computer, make comments, notes, and highlight any areas that need more attention.  Then they go back in, see my notes and make their changes, and voila!  I file it in a subject-specific file and can keep it until infinity.  This is a great way to store items if you live in a state that requires portfolios of each student’s annual work.  Instant access from any computer, and you have saved several trees in the process. 

Next week, I will cover some of the even cooler, creative ways for using Google Apps in your homeschool.  Stay tuned…

To see all of my Friday’s Hardwired Hints posts, go to my HHH page!

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6 Responses

  1. This is awesome! I am not that familar w/ Google Docs, but I have used it a bit…is there a template or did you set up your own? Did it take long? (do you want to send me your template??) I like the idea, but I spend too much time on getting ready to do vs. actually doing. Is this more of the same?

    By the way

    Tag, You’re It!

  2. thanks for sharing that — I’m going to check that out!

    Much Love
    Anissa

  3. Your articles motivated me to spend some time checking Google Docs out. As it turns out, you’ve done me a BIG favor because I’m going to have to change the site that hosts a web form I use for people to sign up for a service. Now I can host it myself on Google Docs! Thank you for that!!! I really didn’t understand how many different applications Google offers. I’ll be going through the tutorial, just to be sure I haven’t missed anything.

  4. TLC – – I emailed you some more deets…

    Anissa – – have fun getting Google fever!

    Laura – – glad you found some good uses for it! It is a wonderful application, IMO.

  5. Thanks so much for talking about how Google accounts can be used in homeschooling. I’m working on the same….And I’m obviously very late to this discussion, but here are a few quick thoughts that may help others reading comments:

    “Google Apps” is technically the name for the use of an integrated set of Google Accounts typically involving your own domain name. So if you search Google for info about “Google Apps,” you’re likely to find lots of stuff that you don’t need in order to do the sort of collaboration mentioned here; that might be a little confusing. You can “share” Google Docs (word processing docs, spreadsheets, presentations) between Google accounts without having “Google Apps” setup. The fault rests with Google’s naming of “Google Apps,” since obviously individual Google Accounts (that are not part of “Google Apps” are still using “Google Applications.”

    Additionally, there are some great templates out there now for teachers and students. When you’re in Google Docs, click to “Add new from template…” and then search or browse through the category for Teachers/Education and you can find some useful ideas.

    I personally use Google Docs for my own planning and record-keeping, but my kids are young enough that I prefer them to write things out by hand rather than sitting in front of the computer. It’s still enormously helpful, though, and I do, of course, let them look at the lesson plans to see what’s coming up next.

    Thanks again….

  6. This is great! LOVE IT! Thanks! Rhonda

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