Classroom Strategies, Technology

Mad Libs get Googley

Growing up one of my favorite games to play was Mad Libs, I would play with my friends during recess, or with my family on car trips. I still have a giant stack of half-used Mad Libs books in my classroom waiting for some more love. I can’t remember a time I laughed harder than when playing Mad Libs.

I love using Mad Libs with my students. When playing with my class, it can be tough to keep all students engaged because only one person contributes for each part of speech. I started using Google Forms so each student can play: each student fills out the Form and receives their copy via email. Then, a few volunteers read their examples out loud. It’s a great activity as part of a lesson, as a review, or just for fun at the end of the day.

First, let’s play!

Fill out this Form then check your email to see your Mad Libs.

Next, let’s build!

  1. Create a Google Doc with your story. This works great with short fables, primary source documents, or informational texts.
  2. Replace parts of speech with the tags. For example, “Replace <<plural noun>> of speech with the tags.” For duplicates, use <<plural noun 1>> then <<plural noun 2>>.
  3. Create a Google Form with short answer questions for each tag. Remember to also ask for email address.
  4. Create your Sheet, and install the Formule add-on.
  5. Watch this video for how to set up Formule.

If your student don’t have email set up, but do have Google Drive, then use Autocrat instead. You will still need a question for email/Google account. It will use the Form and a Doc, then share the merged Doc with the student. Watch this video where I show how to use Autocrat.

Also, Formule does limit to 100 emails per day. If you have 100+ students, either spread the fun over a couple days, or use Autocrat.

Last, let’s teach!

Send out the Form to your students and get ready to laugh!

We’d love to see your examples. Create one and share it below in the comments. 

Classroom Strategies, GSuite

Student-Created Games with Quizizz

Quizizz is quickly becoming one of our favorite class games. My students enjoy the memes between questions and appreciate that they can work at their own speed while still being competitive. They’re always asking, “can I play again?” Of course!

As a teacher, I like that I can make a Quizizz “homework” — I don’t actually assign it for homework, but rather make it asynchronous and push it out through Google Classroom.

One of the best parts about Quizizz is that I can use it during stations work or for early finishers.

I’ve had students create Kahoot and Quizizz games in the past, but I’ve found it a bit cumbersome when they’re working in groups. Inevitably, one person does the majority of the work creating the game, while everyone else sits around doing nothing.

I have a solution for you!

Did you know you can upload a spreadsheet of questions and answers to Quizizz? This makes the process 100x easier for all of us! And, I’m making it 1000x easier for you by creating handy templates.

Creating Crowd-sourced Quizizz Games:
It’s fast and simple to have students create their own collaborative Quizizz games. As a teacher, you can either upload their questions or have them do it.

  1. Make a copy of this Google Form (view here).
  2. Send the Form out to collect questions for your Quizizz.
  3. Delete the timestamp and name questions. Download as an xls file.
  4. Create a new quiz on Quizizz and import in the spreadsheet.
  5. Play!

To make it even easier for you, here’s a walkthrough video!

Content Review
No matter your stance on testing and grading practices, inevitably your students will have to review content at some time. Have students create their own review questions. (Best tip from student teaching: never do something you can have a kid do for you!) Divide students into groups by topic, and assign individuals or groups to create a 1-2 review questions. Early classwork finishers? Ask them to preview an upcoming topic and create a pre-assessment quiz for the class!

2 Truths and a Lie
If you’re looking for a fun getting-to-know you activity? Create a class game of 2 Truths & a Lie with this template. (Change “name” to “question” on the spreadsheet before you download, or you’ll get an error message.) The best part is you can play along with your students, but no peeking at the response sheet too early.

→ Make this content focused by creating 2 truths & a lie questions about famous people, book characters, math operations, or even organelles!

Big thanks to Meagan, Katie, Casey, Joanne, Carlos, Carrie, Aubrey, and Nick for playing along and filling out the original template form! (Want to play this game? Go to join.quizizz.com → game code: 858171 → open until April 12, 2018!)

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
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! 

Classroom Strategies

Seeking Feedback from Students

Every year, I ask my students for informal and formal feedback on what they like about our class or a specific activity. Sometimes this is as simple as a warm-up question (read about my daily check-ins here!) or an exit ticket, and other times it’s a more involved survey with Google Forms.

My two years of teaching, I didn’t survey my students until the last week of school. I quickly realized that was silly because it didn’t benefit my current students, only the future students. The next year, I did a fall and spring course evaluation survey. In the next few years, I’d occasionally throw in a mid-semester survey too.

In addition to these surveys, I also have my students complete a reflection in their Interactive Notebook, and I include a question on their favorite and least favorite activity from that unit.

This semester, I decided to formally survey students at every grading period: two progress reports and at the end of the semester. The day after each major lab or activity, I included a question for feedback (Example: Did you like the ______ lab? Why or why not?) in their daily warm-up questions.

Additionally, I took on a student teacher at the end of August. She was willing and excited to be included in the Progress Report #2 and Final Course Evaluation surveys too. For these, we used “go to section based on response” so her class evaluated her in one section, and my classes evaluated me in a different section.

Progress Report #1 Survey
On the first Progress Report, I asked students to assign themselves a grade based on how many Mastery Tasks they’ve mastered (blog post later about my adventures with mastery-based grading). I quickly learned that I needed to explicitly teach them how to reflect, how to provide feedback, and how to support a claim with evidence (+1 for science skills!). Progress Report #1 (make a copy)

Progress Report #2 Survey
With the next progress report, I did a slightly better job scaffolding this reflective process for my students. I still had students who didn’t quite grasp how to support their claim (grade) with evidence (number of Mastery Tasks mastered). In both progress report surveys, students confused their justification with their satisfaction on their grade. Nonetheless, I found their insight valuable in how I communicate information with students. One of the questions is “Do you know how to see comments on Google Docs & Google Slides on your iPad?” because in the first 12 weeks of school, I was surprised that many students did not know how to view comments I left on both Docs/Slides and Google Classroom.
Progress Report #2 (make a copy)

Final Course Evaluation

Overall, students feel supported as learners, valued for their ideas, respected as an individual, encouraged to do their best, and safe to be themselves.
Student feedback on Fall 2017 Course Evaluation. I learned I need to dig
deeper to do a better job valuing students’ ideas and providing them
a safe space to be themselves.

On the final course evaluation, I used this less of a grade reflection and more as an evaluation of the whole class. On this one, I gave students the option to be anonymous. With this evaluation, I asked students to give feedback on what they like and don’t like in our class, changes we can make, and how I support them in our class. I take this feedback very seriously, and I will compile and share the overall trends with my students at the beginning of second semester. Additionally, I asked students for their feedback on Mastery-Based grading. The majority said they like it; those that said they didn’t like it at all talked about their unhappiness with their own grade on the “What improvements can we make to Mastery-Based Grading?” question.
Final Course Evaluation (make a copy)

I really appreciate that my students are willing to tell me what they like and don’t like about our class. My classroom must reflect their needs and wants–sometimes it’s hard to put my expert ego aside, but I value their ideas and I know how to separate rude feedback (very rare! And, none so far this year) from constructive criticism.

I look forward to continuing these frequent reflections next semester!

GSuite

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]
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

[CC BY-NC-SA]

GSuite

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. 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 (forms.google.com > 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.

Sign-in 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)

 
GSuite

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!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.