Managing a roadschooling curriculum can be difficult. At a minimum you want to track what your students are doing to make sure they’re progressing. You probably want to be able to schedule activities a few weeks in advance, too. But there may be a lot more you want to keep organized; e.g., articles of formation for your school, expense-related information, or documentation of learning activities required by your home state.
Below we share our tips for a Google Drive-based approach that allows you to keep everything in one place. It is customizable to your needs, facilitates collaboration, and is totally free. To make it even easier, we’re sharing a template based on our own approach that will help you get started.
Why Do Roadschooolers Need a Tracking and Planning System?
Maybe you already have a curriculum tracking and planning system that works for you. If so, you may not feel the need to change and that’s fine. But if you’re not getting what you want out of your current approach or you’re new to tracking roadschooling activities, read on.
One of the most important reasons to have a formal system for tracking activities is that many states require it. Depending on the state you’re in at any given time, your obligations may range from ‘none at all’ to ‘a whole heck of a lot’ – those are technical terms, of course.
As important, although not in a ‘get fined or go to jail’ sense, is the welfare of our children. Regardless of whether documentation is required by your home state, we want to be good stewards of our child’s education. This means being sure we’re hitting all the educational requirements and having a good overall picture of where we’ve been and where we’re going. A logical and easy to access system makes that much easier.
Why use Google Drive?
Google Drive is great for tracking and organizing roadschooling (or homeschooling) efforts for several reasons.
First of all, it is device and location agnostic. That is, you can use it anywhere you have internet access (or even offline in some cases) and there are interfaces for almost any device – smartphone, laptop, tablet, etc.
Second, it offers a ton of services. Through Google Docs and the related apps available in Google Drive, students and curriculum administrators can create and share documents, spreadsheets, presentation slides, pictures, video, drawings, surveys, even web pages. Almost any type of assignment or tracking need can be handled with one of the services in Google Drive.
Third, it’s flexible. The plethora of applications mentioned above make it easy to build a custom tracking and planning solution that matches exactly what you need.
Fourth, it includes document histories and version control. You never have to worry about losing or overwriting important documents.
And finally, it won’t break the bank. You get all this for free. The default 15GB of storage space will probably cover any documentation and assignments you come up with.
|Benefits of a Google Drive-based Roadschooling Framework|
|Device agnostic||You can use it anywhere on almost any device.|
|Lots of services||Documents, Spreadsheets, Slides, Web frameworks, all autosaved.|
|Flexible||It can work with any type of curriculum or tracking requirements.|
|Version control||You never have to worry about losing or overwriting important documents.|
|Free||Lots of storage space for free.|
Google Drive Services
Again, one of the main reasons to use a Google Drive-based approach is the variety of services it makes available. Below is a short description of the core offerings. There are numerous third-party apps that can be added to provide additional functions.
|Service||What it Does|
|Google Docs||Word processing|
|Google Sheets||Spreadsheet editor|
|Google Slides||Slide-based (i.e., Powerpoint-style) presentations|
|Google Forms||Online surveys and simple registration forms|
|Google Drawings||'Free form' drawing|
|Google My Maps||Customizable version of Google Maps|
|Google Sites||Simple web framework for easy website publishing|
|Google Calendar*||Web-based calendar|
|*not technically part of Drive, but included with Google accounts|
What You Need to Get Started
No surprise, for this approach the first thing you’ll need is a Google account. If you have a Gmail account or an account for any other Google service, you’re already set. If not, you can join the bajillion other people across the world with Google accounts by signing up here.
It’s optional, but you probably also want to have Drive Backup and Sync (or whatever it happens to be called when you’re reading this) enabled on any device you or your students will be working on. This will keep everyone’s files up-to-date across multiple devices. It also allows access to files via ‘File Manager’ type applications on computer and laptop operating systems.
Next, you need an organizational approach that will help you keep everything…well, organized. Do some serious soul searching before you commit to an approach, since it will probably be a hassle to reorganize later. If you already have an electronic file-based system, this step may be as simple as moving things into Google Drive. If you have a paper-based system, this might take some more work, but I think you’ll find it worth it when you’re done. If you don’t have a system or are ready to chuck your old one and start anew, we have you covered. We’ve shared an empty template based on the system we use for our own roadschooling organization that you can use: Roadschooling Tracking and Planning Template
Just follow that link and copy the folders to your own Drive. Once there you’ll be able to edit and duplicate folders to handle as many students as you have. Guidelines for use are included README files in the relevant folders, but here’s a quick primer.
Using the Template
The ‘Getting Started’ template is organized into two main sections – ‘Admin’ and ‘Educational Activities’
The ‘Admin’ folder is used to store administrative documents related to your home/roadschool, such as federal or state documentation establishing the school. There is a simple expense tracking spreadsheet in the Global->Finances directory. Most of the files in this folder will be static or updated infrequently.
This section is also useful for storing information related to general roadschooling resources. Check the Global->Roadschooling directory for some resources to help you get started.
Educational Activities Folder
The Educational Activities Folder is where most of the action will happen. It holds folders for each student that help organize student-specific curricula and track each student’s activities.
The ‘Activity Schedule’ in the root directory allows educators to plan a week or two of activities in advance and have them readily accessible. Each child also has her own ‘Dailies’ and ‘Projects’ directory. The ‘Dailies’ folder is for planning and tracking small daily lessons. The ‘Projects’ folder is for tracking larger efforts.
The ‘Dailies’ Folder
Each child’s ‘Dailies’ directory includes a summary-level tracking sheet for logging daily activities. (Note, your home state may require more or less detailed documentation, just adjust the spreadsheet as necessary.)
The Dailies folder also includes a separate subfolder for each day for storing documents and media related to that day’s activities.
Each child’s summary-level spreadsheet serves as documentation of activities and provides an easy-to-reference history. The daily folder of files includes additional activity details and media that can be used elsewhere (e.g., the larger project sites).
The ‘Projects’ Folder
The ‘Projects’ folder is for unit lessons or larger activities that may span several days or subjects. Each child has her own set of project folders and each project has its own folder.
Additionally, each child has her own ‘Projects’ website which they will use to organize and publish their project work. The site is located in each child’s ‘Global’ folder. Depending on your curriculum, it may make the most sense to do a page per project or some other grouping.
The folder structure is organized by child, in part, so that you can share older students’ folders with them and allow them to edit, upload, etc. directly. To do so, just right-click on the student’s folder, click ‘Share’, change the permissions under the ‘Advanced’ tab, enter the student’s Gmail account name, and click ‘Share’.
Google Drive is a powerful tool for organizing and tracking roadschooling activities. We’ve found it to be a great option for us. It’s free and set up is simple, especially if you already have a Google account. Drive offers a ton of useful services for both homeschool administrators and students.
If you need help getting started or transitioning to a Drive-based system, the template above will help you get started.