You’ll excuse me if I mop my brow when I consider the imposing presence that is a Google Form. Even when used in the most basic way—collecting names, phone numbers and lunch choices, for example—a Google Form can do a lot. It can turn the collected data into a pie chart, graph or actual spreadsheet, which a Google Forms expert can then arrange into many other different charts and graphs. I’m an English major, not a math major, and I used to tread lightly when using this app.
However, years of experience working with Forms, teaching others to use them, and watching educators break them out for all sorts of occasions has made me more confident. Now I’d like to share some of my favorite ideas with you. The best part is, you don’t need to dabble in the world of add-ons…everything you need is ready and waiting in your basic Google form. Let’s go!
1. Require complete sentences
R u, 2, a victim of ur students using text speak n their wrtn wrk? Reinforce good habits by requiring professional language for everything learners submit in class. Here’s how you can set up your Google Forms to only accept answers written in complete sentences.
- Create a short-answer question on a Google Form. Then go down to the three dots at the bottom of the question box and choose “Response validation.”
- Choose “Length,” then “Minimum character count.”
- Add the minimum number of characters you’ll accept for an answer.
- In the space that asks for “Custom error text,” write a quick error message that your students will see if they try to submit a one or two-word response
These parameters are not a foolproof way to ensure your students write properly worded and punctuated complete sentences. But at least they’ll receive a reminder if they try to skate by using only a word or two!
Add it to Hāpara Workspace.
- If it’s low stakes and not a summative assessment, link to the Form from a resource card on your class Hāpara Workspace. You won’t see on your Dashboard that it’s completed, but you can check for missing names by going to the Form’s spreadsheet (alphabetize the results for faster checking!).
- If you’d like to use the material on the Form for a grade, link from a resource card in the “Evidence of Learning” column.
- When you add the link to a resource card, however, don’t grab the Form via the Google Drive logo. If you do, you’ll create document-sharing confusion. Get the link by clicking the “Send” button on the top of the Form.
- Writing complete sentences, even for quick responses, may be new to your learners. It’s never a bad idea to include a sample or two of a “good” response at the top of your Form.
- You can include the samples under “Form description” at the top. Or you can include a link to a class handout where paragraph expectations are outlined.
2. Differentiate learning with student choice
Allow students to choose from several different digital resources for learning a concept—video, informational text, audio, images, etc. You’ll create a branching Google Form that will take students to the type of resource they choose. Add your reflection questions to the Form under each resource.
Here is an example of a branching Google Form that I used in journalism class.
- Create a Google Form.
- Add your assignment title at the top.
- Create a question to offer students a choice of resources. Make sure it’s multiple choice.
- Now add a section to your form using the vertical menu on the right.
- This action forces the top of your form to become “Section 1” and your new space “Section 2.” Create a title for Section 2 that reflects the resource choice. My title is “Video:” and then the title of the video I’m linking.
- Add your video using the vertical menu on the right. No questions yet in this box, just the resource!
- Now add a question. You may use multiple-choice, short answers, anything you’d like, and as many questions as you’d like.
- Repeat this step for each different resource you’re offering.
- When you have all of your resources in their own sections, go back up to the first question in Section 1, where you listed a choice of resources. Click into the question.
- Using the three vertical dots at the bottom right of the question box, choose “Go to Section Based on Answer.”
- You’ll see a dropdown arrow next to each of your resources. Click it, then choose which section the options will take you to.
After students complete viewing the resource and answering the questions, they’ll arrive at the end of the Form. You can provide further instructions there.
Add it to Hāpara Workspace.
- This is another assignment that can be placed in the “Evidence of learning” column on your Workspace, or in the Resources column, depending on how you will treat it.
- To avoid asking students to go back to the Form should they wish to look at the resources later, create resource cards for the links or videos you shared in the Form (you can list more than one resource on a card!).
- Make sure that each resource you choose will take students the same amount of time to read or view. Your questions should also require the same level of effort to complete.
- Questions should be designed specifically for each resource but should focus on the skill you’re teaching.
- Make sure you turn off “Limit to 1 response” under “Responses” in the Form’s settings. This allows students to view more than one resource.
3. Provide exit tickets with custom responses
At the end of class, share a Google Form with students to record how they’re feeling about their progress towards the skills you’re teaching. You’ll receive the data via the spreadsheet of responses, but students will instantly receive resources they can use to support their learning. This process requires some set up ahead of time, but it’s a great way to provide students with targeted support outside of class.
Here is an example of a Google Form for K-12 that I used in English class.
Create a Google Form using the following settings:
- Make it a quiz (even though it’s not a graded assignment).
- Release grades immediately after submission.
- Turn on “Missed questions” and “Correct answers.”
- Because it’s a check-in, turn off point values.
- Click on “Answer key” at the bottom of the question box.
- Choose the “correct” answer, which is the one that indicates they understand the skill. A green checkmark will appear next to it.
- Stay in the answer key box, and click on “Add answer feedback.” This is where you’ll provide resources for students to use on their own. You can use a link or a YouTube video.
- Under “incorrect answers,” you can share two levels of materials for students to study from: one that’s more basic and one that they’ll need some understanding to use, like an online quiz or game.
- Under “correct answers,” you can provide extension learning for those who feel comfortable with the skill. This could be a challenge, a fun video, or anything they’ll find engaging.
- Under “Settings,” go to “Send responders a copy of their response.” Choose “Always.”
- Change the default confirmation message to say, “Click on ‘View Accuracy’ to find resources that will support your understanding.”
- They’ll see the “View Accuracy” button after they hit submit, which will take them to the resources. (They’ll get a copy of the Form in their email as well.)
Add it to Hāpara Workspace.
- Because it’s a formative assessment, not graded, it will go under Resources on your class Workspace.
- Be sure you share the link you grab from the “Share” button on Google Form (do not select the Form via the Google Drive logo).
- Play around with the support resources you share with students. They can be links to documents you’ve already shared in class, or to Slides presentations you’ve given. I used to share online grammar quizzes that I’d find through a quick Google search – yes, sometimes we need to do the dirty work for them. Students also respond well to examples – both good and bad!
- Videos are great for visual learners as long as they’re short and targeted to the skill at hand. Consider setting a specific start and end time to eliminate the fluff.
- When students scored below an 8/10 on my grammar quizzes, I’d offer additional learning opportunities. If students completed this work, they could retake the quiz. This form would be a great way to give the quiz and immediately offer a link to the additional work in one spot!
4. Allow students to show what they know
Students learn in various ways, so why not let them show their learning in various ways? As long as they meet the criteria for mastery that you set, give them room to experiment. I once had a student so terrified to give a short how-to speech in class that I let him create his using VoiceThread. The only restriction was that he had to let me play it for the class. He was overjoyed, and so many students asked him about using VoiceThread that I began to include it as an option for future assignments.
Add it to Hāpara Workspace.
- Share the Google Forms link to your Hāpara Workspace resource card to collect the assignment.
- You may ask why you’re building a Google Form when you can just collect student work through a resource card on your class Workspace. The beauty of Google Forms is that you can specify the types of files you’ll allow students to submit. I used this Form to collect the pieces of a large project, and each piece required work using different file types. I was able to specify what file type I would accept for each step, which saved time when opening and reading student work—no PDF files when I was trying to give feedback on a Google Doc, etc.
- For questions that could be answered using any medium, I allowed students to submit responses using any file type. The resulting Google Form spreadsheet let me quickly sort their responses based on how I planned to use them.
- Students who are not typically asked to show their learning in their own way sometimes struggle with the vagueness of the command. They are trained to follow specific instructions and may feel disoriented when asked to produce something that’s completely their own. Prepare for an assignment like this by varying your instruction and shifting the responsibility for learning from you to your students.
- If your students are excited about the idea of open-ended projects but aren’t sure where to get started, remember that, as long as it’s on topic, if they’re talking, they’re thinking!
5. Take a quick temperature check on learning
Have you ever stood in front of a classroom full of teenagers and lip-synced to Taylor Swift as you tried to teach metaphors? Well, I have. The more I tried to get a little vibe going by singing along with “Red” while fist-pumping when she compared her feelings to colors, the sorrier my students began to look for me, and I still had no idea if they understood what a metaphor is when they stampeded from my room at the end of class. Google Forms are an easy tool to use for taking a quick survey of student understanding and they don’t make anyone look a fool.
Add it to Hāpara Workspace.
- In a previous article, I wrote about how to add social and emotional learning (SEL) support to your lessons. I suggested adding a general check-in form that students can complete each day. (See the one this teacher posted on their Workspace for a unit on rural poetry.) When you pair the form with the day’s agenda, you can ask students to gauge their understanding at the start and then at the end of class. This type of metacognitive thinking is an essential building block for assessing your own learning.
Ask your students where they’re at in a variety of ways to keep them engaged and laughing at you, not with you (my specialty). Also, be sure to leave room for creative expression (see the second question). You’ll get results in minutes, and you can use the Form you’ve created over and over again.
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