Classroom Strategies, GSuite, Technology

Stay-at-Home Mad Libs!

My goal for my blog over the next few weeks is to share out as many resources that will keep education light, fun, and easy on everyone involved. Mad Libs is one of my favorite classroom activities. It’s a goofy review activity that sneaks in parts of speech skill-building too.

Therefore, I’ve created some super fun Stay-at-Home Mad LibsBefore you continue reading, stop and play the Mad Libs 🙂

These will surely be informative and give you a good laugh! Shoutout to the CDC for the content (no spoilers on the info, link is provided with your Mad Libs).

How to set this up for your students:

  1. Make a copy of the Stay-at-Home Mad Libs Form to use with your students
  2. Create your Sheet and install the Formule add-on.
  3. Open Formule (watch this video for Formule help) copy and paste this text into Formule at the “build/preview templates” section.
  4. Test out your form!
  5. Send it out to your students using a link shortener, Google Classroom, or other messaging platform.

If you want to customize this activity with your students, here are the complete Mad Libs instructions. For additional Google Forms help, start here.

These Mad Libs can be played asynchronously or synchronously. It’s a perfect lighthearted just-for-fun activity or a good review of part of speech. If your students are already using Flipgrid, have them record themselves reading their Mad Libs to each other!

Let me know how it goes in the comments!

And, if anyone translates this into another language, please send it my way and I’ll link it in the post!

GSuite, Technology

Getting Started with Google Forms

My most popular blog post is my Daily Check-in with Google Forms post, which includes a force-copy template of my daily check-in Form. Since then, I have received multiple emails asking questions about my Form, including: how to customize it, how to analyze the results, and how to share it with students. I realized there’s a need for a Google Forms basics post. For each of the skills below, I created screencasts

How to create a Google Form

Getting started with Google Forms can seem a little overwhelming. Don’t worry! After a few minutes of practice, you’ll find it much easier to navigate. Here’s a video walkthrough for getting started with Google Forms and how to change the theme and preview your Form.

Start by going to your Google Drive > New > More > Google Forms. Then, play around with the question types. Remember to add in a question for “name” (unless you want anonymous results). When you’re done, preview your form (eyeball icon, top right corner) before sending it out to your students.

Sharing your Form with students

There are two ways I share Forms with my students. I either use a link shortener (bitly is my favorite; make a free account and you can customize your link ending) or share the Form on Google Classroom. When I post on Google Classroom as an assignment, the “turned in” count updates once students submit the Form. I’ve created a screencast to show you how to send out a Google Form with a link shortener and Google Classroom.

Analyzing the results in Google Sheets

After you create your Form and share it with students, it’s time to think about analyzing the data. Google Forms (purple icon) sends submission data to a Google Sheet (green icon). The great thing about Sheets is that it immediately updates with new submissions. And, if you edit or add questions to your Form, your Sheet will automatically update too.

This screencast gives you an overview on how to look at your Forms data in Sheets.

Other ways to use Google Forms in your classroom

I’ve blogged about Google Forms quite a few times. Here are some more ideas for using Google Forms in your classroom. All of the posts include templates! Please remember, if you’re going to share out these ideas beyond your classroom (e.g. at a staff meeting, at a conference, or on your blog), please point back to my blog.

Google Forms is a very versatile and fun tool!

Questions? Other ideas? Please share them in the comments below!

Classroom Strategies, GSuite

School Closure Check-in with Google Forms

School closure is stressful! This first week at home, I switch between worrying about my students and all of the what-if’s, and relaxing and enjoying time at home. My brain can’t figure out if I’m working or on break. I’ve been doing a little bit of both.

One thing I miss is feeling connected to my students. I’m following district guidelines and not assigning work; however, I have created some optional science home exploring resources for my students, if they want something fun and academic to work on. But, it’s just not the same!

By far my most popular blog post is Daily Check-in With Google Forms (October 2017). This post is consistently reshared; multiple people have told me how using this check-in routine has been a big classroom boost. When I was running a workshop in New York (I’m in California) in March 2018, a participant was customizing my daily check-in Form template at the beginning of my session. When I asked them where they got it, they said they learned about it in their last session. How cool is that? A presenter across the country found my blog and shared this resource! I tell you this because I strongly believe in the free sharing of educational resources that make our classrooms better.

There are so many different ways that teachers are checking-in with their students. Some are using district messaging platforms, Google Classroom, Flipgrid, or live Zoom video chats. There’s no right or wrong way to connect with your students (please first check with your district’s guidelines)–it’s important that they know we care through all this uncertainty.

School Closure Check-in

I created a school closure check-in (make a copy), loosely based off my daily check-in Form. I posted it on Google Classroom for my students to fill out. Even if students choose not to fill it out, they will still get the Google Classroom notification on their iPad, and they will know I’m thinking about them. I chose Forms because it is a familiar platform and routine for my students.

Additionally, my friend Ashley Prevo created her own quarantine check- in Form (make a copy). She regularly uses the daily check-in Form in her class, too. Ashley says, “I am currently teaching three sections of PE as well as ASB at the middle school level. I wish there were a better way to say this, but we are living in unprecedented times and, maybe now more than ever, our students need to be reminded that we care.” I love the questions Ashley asks her students, especially “name one thing you have done for yourself this week” and “name one thing you have done for someone else this week.”

Family Check-in

I know this time is stressful for families too! I created a family check-in Form (make a copy) to check in with my students’ families too. I sent out this Form through our gradebook’s messaging tool. In my message to families, I also included information about free student meals during the closure and over spring break. A couple parents thanked me for checking in and asked for regular updates with regards to district decisions.

There are so many great ideas out there. Remember, you know what your students need the most!

How are you checking in with your students? If you have a resource or idea, please share it in the comments!

 

Classroom Strategies, Science, Technology

Digital Learning Resources for Middle School Science

On Friday, we received the official announcement that our school district will be closed as a preventative measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Our district is considering the closure as a weeklong extension of spring break with the intention of returning to school on Monday, April 6th. Teachers are not expected to provide work for students for the week of March 16-20. If the closure extends beyond spring break, the district will reevaluate this plan and possibly incorporate distance learning.

I am not requiring my students to complete any home learning activities because I realize that there is an equity issue with internet access; not all of my students have WiFi at home, even though they all have a school-issued iPad. However, I do know that I have some inquisitive students who have access and who would enjoy some guided home exploration. Additionally, some of my students are responsible for their younger siblings and are interested in easy science activities to keep their siblings engaged next week.

I polled my students via our classroom Instagram account and asked them the following questions:

  1. What science topics do you want to learn about? (Free response question)
  2. Where do you want to learn? (Poll: Instagram or Google Classroom)
  3. Do you have younger siblings who you need to watch next week? If so, do you want fun/easy science for preschool and elementary kids too? (Poll: Yes or No)

As of writing this post, 65 students and parents have viewed my Instagram story. Of the students who responded to the questions, 22 of 28 students preferred learning on Instagram and 11 of 20 wanted resources for younger siblings and friends.

Home Learning in Science

Since the only students who would see these polls are students who follow our classroom Instagram account, I decided to create a Google Classroom titled “Science Home Exploring” and I messaged the join code to students through our online gradebook. I explained to all students and families that this learning is optional and ungraded. Moreover, I shared the join code and message with the rest of my science department, in case they were interested in sharing it with their students.

Science Resources

Over the next week, I will be sharing fun science resources, games, videos, and easy experiments with my students each day on both Instagram and Google Classroom. For planning purposes, I am adding ideas to this collaborative resources Google Doc; anyone is welcome to contribute their personal favorites. Not only will these resources be helpful for the next several months, but also these websites will be great in the future for early-finisher activities.

Additionally, I created a duplicate Google Classroom (join code: nbq3rjt; make sure to join with a personal Google account) for other teachers and administrators to see how I am facilitating this optional online learning. Each time I post on my class’s Google Classroom, I will share an identical assignment with this class. Plus, I have included a section for teacher resources and discussion.

Furthermore, I created five days’ worth of digital science exploration resources on Google Slides. I recognize that most of the resources here require a device and internet access; with libraries and local businesses closing, it may be increasingly difficult for some students to engage with these activities.

Additional Resources

Finally, many other educators have created resources to support distance and home learning. For example, Google for Education has curated resources for distance learning. Additionally, this Amazing Educational Resources website lists every educational company offering free resources or subscriptions during school closures. There is also an Amazing Educational Resources Facebook group that is a very active discussion place for sharing and requesting ideas.

No matter what happens in the coming weeks and months, we will all do our best to support our students with our resources and knowledge. How are you facilitating learning while your school is closed?