What is Google Classroom? It is a (free) Google tool that allows teachers to manage classwork. It can be used for regular classwork, homework, special projects, or any combination of learning tasks. It’s a type of LMS- Learning Management System, that continues to grow in usage and popularity. So how can homeschoolers use Google Classroom?
Homeschool parents can use Google Classroom for an online learning platform for one or multiple subjects to create classwork and assign lessons to their students.
One misconception is that Google Classroom IS an all in one curriculum. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is an option in the future, but as is, it’s more of a blank canvas where teachers build classes and assignments. It’s also used among adults for professional growth and training courses.
Even though there’s not any content built into the platform, you can find some activities and lessons on Teachers Pay Teachers that are built to be easily integrated into your Google Classroom.
Google Classroom is essentially a platform that organizes content in a way that makes it accessible for students and teachers. This option would work best for the homeschool families who build their own curriculum OR those who want to use it for a supplemental course.
My family currently uses Google Classroom as a platform for supplemental materials to support new concepts. I use it mostly to find safe and relevant videos. There’s much potential to expand on that in the future, but we’re still in the elementary years and exploring different types of learning resources and formats to find what works best.
First, let’s go through where to find Google Classroom and how to get started with Google Classroom.
I should add that you need a Google account and your child needs a Google account (Gmail) to use Google Classroom. It’s an application that’s housed under Gmail along with Drive, Docs, Sheets and all of the other Google tools. From my understanding, it used to only be available to education accounts but is now available to anyone with a Gmail account.
From your email account, click the nine dots in the right corner to launch Google Apps and scroll until you see the Google Classroom icon that looks like a green chalkboard with a yellow border.
You will click the [+] sign and choose CREATE to build your classroom. Remember, that you are using all the functions of a teacher… your homeschoolers will join the classroom later as a student with a classroom code or a link.
Next, you will go through some prompts to name the school and choose the subject.
You may have to agree that you’re not using GC for a (public) school… they want to make sure all classrooms for public schools are managed under the school system’s education suite for security reasons.
Next, you will see the main dashboard and functions to build content and classes for your homeschooler.
The essential parts of a Google Classroom dashboard are the headings across the top:
- Stream- All of your posts and announcements are shown in the stream, or feed of activity.
- Classwork- Where you build assignments and students access the assignments.
- People- All of the students are listed here and you can also add a co-teacher if a spouse wants to add assignments or perhaps another homeschooling parent.
A note on co-teachers- This would be a great opportunity for collaboration! Imagine if a few families with children of the same age/grade level joined in creating a Google Classroom. Students could work together on projects and parents could assist each other with creating assignments.
- Grades- Google Classroom has some features that keep grades for complete assignments. You can adjust the settings for grading preferences. You can select a due date or a grade or assign it to a particular topic or subject.
Now you are ready to create your topics (subjects) and then create assignments for those topics.
Creating topics is a way of organizing content- it could be a subject area, a student’s name or the day/week… whatever will work best for your family’s schedule and how you are using Google Classroom.
Google Classroom to Build Your Own Homeschool Curriculum
The sky’s the limit to build a curriculum in Google Classroom!
You have a lot of options for assignments including pdf attachments, Google Drive documents (that your homeschooler can edit), images, YouTube videos and links to other websites. You can search directly with YouTube from Google Classroom since Google owns YouTube, the two are seamless.
You can also create and schedule assignments for future dates.
Let’s say you are using GC for upper elementary science and your homeschooler is studying the solar system. You could create an assignment that resembles the following:
1- Watch this Youtube Video on the Solar System. (Links to YT Video)
2- Use the circle shape and text tool in Google Slides to create and label each planet. (Links to the blank Google Slide… this assumes they have used it before for basic presentations.)
That sounds pretty simple but would be a great activity with science and technology integrated.
One of the neatest features of Google Classroom is that you can assign each student their own copy of the task… so instead of several students working on a slide together (great for group research projects and tasks) each student would get their own copy.
This makes it easier to manage multiple students. You would select this option before you assign the task as shown below.
There are also options that allow you to show assign content to only certain students.
Google Classroom to add Supplementary Homeschool Materials
Let’s say you already use an all in one packaged or comprehensive digital curriculum, but you want to add in a supplementary study of (for example) “Financial Literacy.”
You could create a classroom and your topics may be components of Financial Literacy, such as “Saving” “Investing” “Earning” then each topic could have your assignments and materials.
You could use Google Classroom to build Fine Arts units or as a place to really dive deep on a homeschooler’s area of interest.
I know of one mom who uses it to supplement her daughter’s middle school science classwork. She curates videos and questions to support the text.
There’s really not a right or wrong way to use Google Classroom for any special area of study. It’s providing a robust way of organizing any kind of information or materials for your homeschooler.
Google Classroom for Multiple Homeschool Students
If you are using Google Classroom for supplementary activities, you could consider having each of your student’s names be a “topic.” Then each student would have their assignments under their name.
Some homeschool families who have used have tried to create classrooms for every student under different e-mail addresses and every subject. That’s could get difficult to manage, but it’s always an option.
Topics are key to keeping this manageable and organized. Topics could look like the list below for multiple students and subjects… then each of your kids would click on their name/subject and you could build everything in one Google Classroom.
- Caden- Social Studies
- Caden- Science
- Cassie- Social Studies
- Cassie- Science
- Cate- Social Studies
- Cate- Science
Doing this would mean one classroom with one code to manage but it would still be organized for each student’s assignments.
The best way to decide if Google Classroom may be a fit and help with your homeschool situation is to create a classroom, a topic and an assignment. Then test out the different options to see if there’s added value for any area of your homeschool curriculum and routine.