I have a slight obsession with Google Forms. I’ve already written two blog posts about things to do with Google Forms. The first, Using Google Forms for Walkthrough Observations, is specifically for creating a workflow for informal walkthrough observations. The second, Google Forms in my Classroom, is examples of how I use Forms regularly in my classroom and with my students.
This post shares an excellent strategy for scaffolding paragraph writing. Total transparency, I got this idea from the one and only Mark Rounds at the Copper Country Summit back in August! Thanks Mark!
In science, we are focusing on writing Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) paragraphs based on labs and phenomena. Our students struggle with writing in general, and especially with CER. We provide many scaffolds, such as graphic organizers and sentence frames, which helps not only our students who are English Learners and/or RSP, but also those who struggle with writing, or are just having a bad day. This particular scaffold uses Google Forms + Autocrat (Sheets Add-on) to create color-coded paragraphs, and has worked well for all of my students.
I set up the Form with a separate paragraph responses for Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning (extra Evidence + Reasoning for longer paragraphs). Then, I created a template Doc with <> that exactly match each question on the Form. Using the AutoCrat Add-on within Google Sheets, I set up the mail merge to turn the form responses into a paragraph.
Here is a Claim-Evidence-Reasoning example. Feel free to fill out this Form to see what the final product looks like! I also created an Autocrat how-to screencast.
After designing my lesson, I sent the Form out to students via Google Classroom. Once they filled out the form, they were instructed to go to their shared with me on Google Drive (or Gmail) to view their Doc. They made changes and corrected spelling and grammar. I was able to click on links to their Docs from the Sheet, making grading easy.
I am amazed at the improvement in my students’ writing. When I looked through the most recent submissions, I was amazed at how much more my students wrote, and not only quantity, but also quality!
Example #1: This student is RSP, and is frequently lost during class. If I had asked her to write this without scaffolds or with simple written instructions, I would have felt lucky to get two sentences! Obviously, her spelling and grammar (and academic writing) are not perfect, but this is a giant leap.
Example #2: This student is mild/mod special education, and is mainstreamed only for science. I am very impressed with how he supports his claims with evidence, and writes in complete sentences. He often gets overwhelmed with writing tasks, so breaking it up into tiny chunks allowed him to work independently.
Example #3: This student is a Long-Term English Learner (LTEL). She is a hard worker and is conversationally proficient in English, but lacks strong academic English, reading, and writing skills.
In my 8th grade AVID class, we have read, analyzed, and discuss multiple articles and sources relating to a single topic. For their writing, I included counterclaim and rebuttal components.
Example #4: This student is one of the top readers and writers in our school. While she did not necessarily need these scaffolds, she reported that this helped her organize her ideas as she was referring back to the articles and resources. She was thrilled with the color-coding too.
As I try to slowly remove writing scaffolds for students, this will remain a useful tool for students who either need extra support or opt to use it. It’s easy to have a generic Form handy, and even one they can use for other classes or in future school years.
When you try this with students, remember to share how it goes!