Classroom Strategies, GSuite, Technology

Peer Feedback with Forms

Class presentations are a lot of fun, and it’s essential to give students the experience of speaking in front of others. Very early on in my teaching career, I realized it was difficult to keep presentations flowing, because in the transition time between presenters, students saw this as an opportunity to chat–and they had a tough time settling down again. Repeat this 30+ times, and we have one frustrated Ms. V.

Around the same time I decided to have students start to provide peer feedback for student presentations. They would fill out a Google Form (here’s an example or make a copy) after each presenter. Yes, after. I expect their iPads “apple up” on their desks while their peer is presenting, both as a sign of respect and to eliminate other distractions.

TAG Feedback template

Unintended results! Off-task behavior between presentations was almost nonexistent! Students had something meaningful to do between the time it took for the presenter to sit down, and then next student to get up and connect their iPad.

One of the things I’m working on with students is how to write feedback. I’m realizing that I need to provide more sentence frames to help students share what the student does well, and what they can do to improve. I’ve used TAG Feedback, and it has helped!

This peer evaluation form has been such a big hit, that now I’m tasked with creating copies for all our AVID teachers when we do presentation projects.

Below are some tricks I’ve made data analysis even easier!

Conditional Formatting
I use conditional formatting on Sheets to change the fill color for each rubric level. I can glance at the spreadsheet, and see overall how peers feel the presenter did.

Screenshot of student project feedback.

Form Values
Form Values is an incredible add-on for Forms. It creates a template spreadsheet where you can create lists that can then be imported into a Form for a multiple choice, checkbox, or dropdown question. I use this for my class lists, so I don’t have to constantly type in names into the “my name” and “presenter’s name” questions.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 1.29.21 PM.png
Form Values add-on

RowCall is an add-on for Sheets that takes all the unique values in a column, and creates individual sheets for each value. The way I use it is to separate each student presenter into their own tab. Then, I can quickly see how each student did, without having to sort or filter the main sheet. In the past, I’ve printed each student’s tab. Lately, I’ve asked students if they’re ok if I share the whole spreadsheet view only with all students (via Google Classroom), and I have not had any objections. They like seeing their own feedback, and also learning from how their peers were evaluated too.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 1.30.31 PM.png
RowCall add-on

I’d love to hear how you use peer feedback in your classroom! 


Fun with Google Slides

You may have noticed a pattern that I absolutely adore and love Google Forms and use them daily in my classroom. In the last year, I’ve discovered a deep admiration for Google Slides. Not only are Slides my go-to for projecting the warm-up questions, posting instructions during class, and direct instruction (sometimes I use screencastify to create in-class flip videos!), but also I’ve transitioned quite a few student assignments over to Slides.

We are 1:1 iPad, and the Google Slides iOS app is easy to use. It doesn’t have all the features of the web version, but it has just enough that we need on a regular basis.

Slides with Students
This year, I’ve transitioned all of my science labs to Slides. Instead of giving students a Google Doc to edit, or a PDF to work on in Notability, I’ve moved everything to Slides.

I love using Slides because it chunks down the lab into manageable parts. Instead of students staring at a long Google Doc, feeling overwhelmed at everything they are being asked to do, we can focus on one slide at a time. Bonus: I’ve noticed a positive difference in my students’ lab behavior–they are more on-task because they know exactly what they need to get done!

I was using Docs last year, and we had trouble when trying to insert pictures, especially in data tables. Students had trouble cropping images or making them easy to see. Slides is an excellent solution!

If we were on Chromebooks, I would extend this by using the Screencastify extension to have students explain what they did and what they learned in the lab.

Here’s an example of a Heart Rate Lab and Paper Airplane Lab we did using Slides. On the Heart Rate Lab, you can see I color-coded the different steps, making it easy for me to quickly check that we’re all on the same slide.

Slides for Teacher Creation
A few months ago, I blogged about Virtual Vikings, my #BathroomPD newsletter I create for the staff bathrooms at school. I change the page setup (File > Page Setup > Custom > 8.5 x 11) to make it printer paper size.

I use Slides to create handouts for class, including Cornell Notes (here’s my template!), I love how easy it is to add in and format text and images. It also makes it quick to print class handouts (I use analog interactive notebooks).

Master Slides
I’ve just started diving into master slides, thanks to inspiration from friends like Michele Osinski who is a pro! I’m still figuring it all out, but I love that I can customize my Slides templates to make it easy for specific layouts and formats. Here’s a quick video (I didn’t make this one) that explains more.

What are your favorite ways to use Slides?


Daily Check-in With Google Forms

I love teaching middle school, especially 7th grade. The kids are goofy, energetic, and super squirrels (…squirrel!). They’re also pre-teens, and trying to fit into the limbo world where they’re not quite kids, but not quite teenagers. Many of my kids have faced challenging family situations that preoccupy their thoughts while in school.

Knowing things are sometimes distracting outside of class, whether it is friends, family, or both, I start my class with a warm-up. This is usually a silent individual activity that activates prior knowledge, or asks students to review what they learned last class.

In April 2015, I changed the way I did my warm-ups. And I had major positive results. Immediately.

I implemented the Daily Check-in Form. I still called it a warm-up, but the purpose expanded to ask students about their day.

Before we continue, please fill it out here.

Your warm-up questions are:

  1. Who do you teach?

  2. What made you interested in this blog post topic?

  3. How do you currently start your class periods, meetings, or workshops?

Ok, now that you filled it out, let’s continue. (If you didn’t fill it out, go back and do so. It’s good for you to actually go through the experience, not just open up the link!)

When students arrive for class, they line up in 2 silent, straight, and smiling lines outside. I invite them in, and they walk in silently (we don’t do it right, it’s back outside to do it over), and begin their warm-up on their iPad. I have a set of Slides for each lesson, and the first Slide is always the warm-up questions.

I reuse the same Form everyday and for all classes. At the end of the week, I hide the previous week’s rows on Sheets.

The three questions I ask my students to check in with them daily.
Three check-in questions with running averages.

I know some of you are asking, why are you SO strict on coming in silently? Two reasons: First, it helps my students settle in and make the transition to class time. Second, it helps me setting in and make the transition to teaching. I use that time to take attendance, quickly check in with individual students, and skim their warm-up answers.

From this daily warm-up, I have learned many essential things about my students, from death of family members or arguments with friends, to excitement over weekend plans or their deep love of tacos. These are things my students may have been too shy to tell me, or I likely would not have taken the time to listen to their needs.

I use conditional formatting to make it easier to skim how students are feeling. It's a color gradient where 1 is red, and 5 is green.
Screenshot of the Sheet. I use conditional formatting

to make it easier to skim how students are feeling.

If there’s a concern, I’ll pull the student aside during class and chat privately about what they shared. If they rank their day as a 1, then I’ll make sure I make it over to their desk more frequently, offer a friendly smile, and start a conversation. (I don’t take them aside, unless they show additional signs of being upset or stressed in class.)

The day I first implemented this warm-up, I learned that my student’s uncle died the week prior. Over the next three weeks, she lost three more people close to her. Because she willingly shared this with me, I was able to support her emotionally in class, and refer her to our counselors for additional support. I am 100% positive this prevented serious behaviors in my class, because she had struggled all year with attitude and off-task behavior.

When I present at conferences and workshops, I often start my session with an identical Form–I ask about participants’ prior knowledge on the topic and goals for the session. I feel like this helps me connect to my participants in the limited time we have.

I’m grateful for this simple tool that has helped me build community in my classroom!

Love this idea? Here’s the Form template.

Have fun with the Form, make it work for you, and please share!

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike [CC BY-NC-SA]


Classroom Strategies, GSuite

Virtual Vikings — tech learning made convenient!

One of my hats at school is .2 (one class period) as a Blended Learning Specialist. I work with teachers to do purposeful integration of technology into our classroom. As I try to encourage my colleagues beyond simple substitution with our 1:1 iPads, I’ve found that we’re all sort of stuck in the swamp of so much to do, and not enough time to implement everything.
Virtual Vikings Newsletter
Virtual Vikings Newsletter
I had to really sit down and consider what will work best for my teachers. They don’t need more PD or expansion of Tech Tuesday lunches. I post resources and ideas on Google Classroom, initiate discussions, and try to be present in classrooms as much as possible. We attend local conferences, such as Edcamp619 and the San Diego CUE Tech Fair. However, they didn’t need more of any of that.
It took me the better part of a year analyzing this challenge, talking with colleagues and mentors, and observing how our teachers go about learning.
When I visited Google Boulder for the Innovator Academy in June 2016 and the Googleplex in Mountain View in August 2016, I noticed they had newsletters in all the restroom stalls. This made for some very interesting and technical reading. (Sorry, didn’t take any pictures. Google’s rules!) And, it reminded me of freshman year of college when our RAs would post the weekly newsletter in the bathrooms–it was impossible to ignore.
Text from my friend!
A lightbulb went off, and Virtual Vikings was born.
I used Google Slides to create the monthly newsletter template (see template & example here), then added in new content for each month. When I see cool tech tips, ideas, or lesson spotlights, I add them to a list on Google Keep. My featured sections include: Tech Tip, Classroom Highlight, Spotlight, Monthly Challenge, Viking Tech Crew, and Upcoming Events.
The hardest part is getting classroom spotlights, since I can’t be in every classroom every day. I’ve recruited my Viking Tech Crew (tech club) students to share what they’re learning, and take pictures of lessons and activities they’d like to share.
I’m thankful my dear friend Deb, guardian of the color printer, happily prints me 12 copies each month.
In each staff bathroom plus the copy room, I used 3M Command Strips to hang up plastic sheet protectors on the wall or back of the stall door. Each month, I do a Tour De Bathroom and slip a new newsletter into the sheet protector.
I’ve intentionally chosen not to also email out a copy. I want to preserve the magic and excitement of the physical newsletter. In the future, I’m not opposed to posting a digital archive of past newsletters.
Missing...where did my Virtual Vikings go?
Missing newsletter!
Since starting this in March 2017, I have received extremely positive feedback on the Virtual Vikings newsletter! Each time a new one goes up, friends text me, email me, or stop me in the halls to share what they learned. They like that it’s short, colorful, visual, and convenient.
In fact, a few people love Virtual Vikings SO much that newsletters occasionally disappear from the sheet protectors!
I can’t wait to post our next Virtual Vikings newsletter when we go back to school in July!

Claim Evidence Reasoning with Google Forms

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.

Form Set-up
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 #1
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 #2

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.
Example #3
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.
Example #4

Now what?
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, please tweet me or comment and share how it goes!


Google Forms in My Classroom

We’ve established that I have an obsession with Google Forms. It’s easy to connect & manage data from students, parents, etc. Last week, I posted on how to use Google Forms for teacher walkthrough observations–targeted at either administrator walkthroughs or peer walkthroughs. This week, I’m going to share how I use Google Forms in my classroom and school.

Daily Check-ins & Warm-up
This is by far the most impact I’ve had with a single Google Form. Every day, students come to my class and complete the check-in & warm-up on their iPad (make a copy). First, students answer the check-in questions on how they slept, how their breakfast/lunch was, and how their day is in general. Then, students proceed to answer the three content-based questions I have projected. The content questions are either review of what we learned the previous day(s) or prediction questions to think about prior knowledge on a topic. Sometimes I throw in fun hypothetical questions, such as “if you had one million dollars, what would you spend it on?” As a class, we discuss the content questions, but never the check-in questions.

We use the same form every day for the entire school year. I ask students to add the Form to their iPad homescreen for easy access. On my results spreadsheet, I hide the rows from the previous week to make scrolling easier.

As students come in, I am taking attendance and monitoring their check-in responses. If I use a conditional formatting gradient to turn 1’s red to 5’s green.

Screenshot of check-in questions with conditional formatting gradient applied. 

I am admittedly jealous of my elementary teacher friends who have 20-25 students in their class and can spend more targeted time with their students. We’re on a block schedule, which means I see my science students for 100 minutes on Monday & Wednesday, and 32 minutes on Friday. It’s always tough to get around to everyone to have personal conversations.

This daily Form has changed my teaching and my relationship with my students. Many have revealed personal stresses, family tragedies, or moments of joy that they may not have otherwise shared with me. With a few students with major life stressors outside of school, I strongly believe I have been able to prevent classroom behavior challenges simply by having a conversation with the student, and letting them know I’m on their side.

Formative Assessments
With our shift toward mastery/standards-based grading, formative assessment has become even more important for both myself and my students. I often use Forms as exit tickets ( > templates > exit ticket) and formative assessments. Now that Forms has an embedded quiz feature, I can quickly make formative assessments that show students their score and include feedback.

As I get deeper into the school year, I plan to include quick tasks or review activities for students to complete for questions they answer incorrectly. Unfortunately, the quiz feature does not yet allow for grading of short and long answer questions. A potential workaround in the meantime is to have a short/long answer question, then add in an extra column in the response sheet for teacher feedback. As I review each response, I can give students targeted feedback. When I’m done, I can use Autocrat to share students’ feedback.

If you teach multiple classes and you’re worried about students sharing out a quiz before they reach your class, create a password protected Form. It’s simple! Add a new section at the beginning of the quiz with a single short answer text question. Use data validation (3 dots, bottom right of question editing box) to set “text” and “contains” and type in your password–make sure you also fill in “custom error text” so the question doesn’t give the correct answer as feedback! This password can be quickly changed between classes for added security. (Here’s a screencast!)

Peer Evaluation
I’ve done Genius Hour with my AVID students for the past two years. Last spring, I had students present their projects to the class. During the transition time between presenters, all other students filled out the peer evaluation (make a copy); not only was this a good way for students to receive feedback, but also it cut down on the distractions during the transition. Using the RowCall add-on, I created a Sheet tab for each student presenter with their feedback, then printed a copy for each student. (Note: I would have done this digitally, but it was the last week of school when iPads were being collected, and not every student would have chosen to access their email on their own.)

Course Evaluation
At least every semester, and sometimes in the middle too, I give students a chance to give me anonymous feedback on our class. After students have completed the course evaluation (make a copy), I take some undistracted time to review the results and plan for changes. At the end of each semester, I also send a similar Form to parents to ask for their feedback. My students know I take their feedback seriously, and are candid in their responses.

Sheet
Last week we had our Open House (also called Back to School Night). Usually, we have parents sign in on paper, which is always difficult to make sure they get passed around. Instead, this year, I set out my six Chromebooks with a digital sign-in sheet (make a copy). It saved a lot of time and energy, and I didn’t need to worry about decoding handwriting.

Other Fun Things with Google Forms
Choose your Own Adventure: Use “go to section based on answer” to create choose your own adventure stories. (Make a copy)

Self-Correcting Study Guide: Use “go to section based on answer” within study guide questions. If students answer correctly, they are taken to the next question. If student answer incorrectly, they are taken to a section with review information, such as an image, text, or a video. Once they review, they are taken to the next question. (Make a copy


Using Google Forms for Walkthrough Observations

As many of you know, I have a major obsession with Google Forms. Last school year in a Faculty Advisory Committee meeting, we were discussing our district’s walkthrough evaluation form, and how it did not adequately address our school’s focuses and goals. Once I realized I could customize a Google Form and use Autocrat to generate personalized walkthrough evaluations for teachers, I literally started bouncing in my chair. (One of my colleagues lovingly calls this “Tiggering” because I get bouncy when I’m excited!) I began a semester-long project creating the walkthrough Form, iterating on it, and troubleshooting technical problems.

I personally love it when my principal and assistant principals come through for walkthrough observations. These walkthroughs are informal, unannounced, are not put into our permanent records, and admin stays for about ten minutes to observe what is happening in my class. I can understand where there could be pushback from individuals about being observed. Building a culture around learning and framing observations as admin’s opportunity to learn from teachers can help introduce this to a reluctant teacher.

Often, our administrators sit down at an open student desk, interact with students, and ask students about what they are learning. In one very memorable walkthrough, my principal was sitting at a student desk, and I called on him to answer after a turn-and-talk (I call randomly using 2 sets of popsicle sticks–each seat has a group number and color, and I pull 1 color and 1 number stick.). He eagerly participated based on what he and his partner discussed!

Once admin leaves my classroom, I receive an email with their observations and suggestions. I always enjoy following up with them to discuss the lesson further or ask for specific support.

Here is the Google Form and the Autocrat template for the walkthrough. You’re welcome to make a copy of the Google Form (force copy) and Autocrat template (force copy), and customize for your own use! 

Here’s the basic workflow of the Form walkthrough setup and implementation process: 
1. Create a Google Form with the criteria you are observing. Create the Response Sheet. 
2. Create a Google Doc template for Autocrat, using <> tags for each section header from the Sheet. 
3. Go into the Sheet and run the Autocrat Add-on. Set it to email and/or share a copy of the doc or PDF to <> and <>
4. Take your walkthrough form into teachers’ classrooms and complete it as you are observing their lessons. 
5. Once you hit submit, you and the teacher will receive an email with the observation notes! 

Here’s a video on how to use Autocrat–repurposed from our Breakout EDU Digital how-to videos. Autocrat has since updated their interface, but there is little difference on the actually set-up process. Remember, if you make any changes to the Form, change the <> tags in your Autocrat doc template to make it easier to match up. 

If you end up using this or something similar with your teachers, I’d love to hear about it!