Inform Your Teaching with Google Forms

forms-iconIf you are a teacher who has access to technology in the classroom and you aren’t using Google Forms, you really should be! Forms can be used by any teacher who has a Google account, even those who don’t have Google Apps for Education through the school, and they are a fantastic way to gather information from students or parents.  Teachers can collect all sorts of data using forms, including:

  • daily attendance
  • quick exit survey
  • quizzes or tests
  • parent or student contact information
  • signups for volunteer activities
  • walkthroughs
  • evaluations
  • staff surveys
  • reading logs
  • walkthroughs
  • evaluations
  • staff surveys
  • choose your own adventure activities
  • applications for school programs

If you are teaching in a school that has Google Apps for Education, students also have access to Google Forms in Drive, so they can also create their own surveys for class projects.

I recently presented a session at the Ed Tech Team Orange County Summit featuring Google for Education called InFORM Your Teaching with Google Forms. The session was geared toward teachers who are just beginning to use Google Forms, and it was a standing-room-only session with lots of energy. When I present to teachers, I like to include a hands-on aspect to my sessions, and this one was no different. Teachers spent about half the time creating a new form that they can use as the school year begins.

Want to Create a Form?

To get you started, I’ve created a Google Forms Task Challenge. It’s the first in what I hope to be many, but it gives you a starting point to create a share a form. If you do create one, you do not need to share it with me (unless you want to!). The purpose of the Task Challenge is just to give you a starting point. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do or ask in a form, so this is just meant to be a jumping-off point. You are not bound to only do what’s on the challenge. In fact, many of the attendees went above and beyond in creating a form.

Sending Vs. Sharing

Usually when you work in Google Docs, you share your documents rather than send them. Forms are a bit different. You can share them with collaborators and have other teachers add and edit questions on your survey, but when you are ready for respondents to fill out the form, you have a few options:

  • send via email
  • post a link on a website
  • embed in a website
  • make a QR code for quick access

Here is a quick video that shows you a couple of steps in this process. It doesn’t include how to embed in a website, but it does show where you will find the code. It also doesn’t include how to create a QR code.

Common Core Connection

Is there a Common Core Connection here? Sure, there is. Using Google Forms as a teacher will help you assess your students’ progress toward achieving the standards, but if you have students creating forms, it’s even more of a tool to help students meet the standards. Additionally, students are improving their 21st Century Skills when they collaborate to create a form, which can be used for any subject or reason. Asking clear and precise questions, and determining the correct type of question for a specific purpose,  helps students improve their communication and critical thinking skills.

What Do You Think?

Have you used Google Forms with students? What are some suggestions you have for using Google Forms in the classroom?

Finding Documents in Drive using “Recent”

DriveI was recently in the middle of a presentation, and I had asked the teachers to complete a Google Form. The form was embedded in my website, but I wanted to show them how Google Forms gathers the responses in a spreadsheet. I went into my Google Drive… and I had a total brain freeze. I could not for the life of me remember what I had named the form, let alone where I had put it. Thankfully, being able to find the sheet by looking under “Recents” saved the day!

Recent Items

Under the red “Create” button in Google Drive is a listing of how you can view your documents. You can view the documents that are in your own Drive. If you have shared items that you haven’t moved into your Drive, you can find them by clicking on “Shared with Me.” If there are items you have starred as important, you can search for them by clicking on Starred. And if you haven’t found what you are looking for in this manner but you know you have recently created, edited, or modified a document, you can find it by clicking on “Recent.”

Drive Recent

Once you click on it, all of the items you have recently viewed or modified will be shown. You will know you are looking at your recent items because the word “Recent” on the left will turn red. Drive Recent 2

Within the Recent items, you can then filter in some additional ways to find documents. There are two filtering menus that are side-by-side, which gives you some flexibility in how you find what you are looking for.

Drive Recents 5

You can filter by the owner of the document. This is especially helpful if you know that the item you are looking for is one that is owned by another user and has been shared with you. The filter on the left works in conjunction with the filter to the far right. You will notice that both drop-down menus are the same, but you can’t have the same option chosen in both menus.

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 2.25.17 PM

What Do You Think?

Do you have a way of organizing your Google Drive so that you can easily find your documents (without having to use Recent)? Please share if you do!

Google Tip: Shortcuts Rule!

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 5.51.27 PMHave you ever wanted to know something really, really fast when doing a Google search? I know I have! The thing I’ve been most curious about is earthquakes. My husband always feels them and I rarely do. When he asks, “Did you feel that? We just had an earthquake,” I never believe him. But now there’s a quick and easy way for him to prove himself right! Not only that, but there’s a quick and easy way to find information about many different things in Google using these shortcuts.

Give it a Try

Go to Google in your favorite search engine. My favorite happens to be Chrome. Type in earthquakes, and you should see this!

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 4.56.55 PM

Traveling soon? Type in your flight information. You can also find out what time it is in your destination.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 4.57.38 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-24 at 5.03.14 PM

Need to know money conversion rates for upcoming travel?

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 5.04.07 PM

Do you cook or bake? I love cooking but sometimes I can’t find my teaspoons. I always wonder how many teaspoons I’d need to make a tablespoon. Check this out— and the little arrows allow you to change any of the value types so you can convert any measurement (not just in the kitchen!).

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 4.58.40 PM

Type in an arithmetic problem (or the word, calculator) and, guess what? You’ll get a calculator.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 5.01.48 PM

Wondering how your stock is doing?

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 5.02.41 PM

Feeling bored? Type in the name of any celebrity and “bacon no.” You don’t need the quotation marks. I have yet to find any celebrity that has a Bacon number of more than 2. That’s insane! (and no, I won’t tell you how long I spent doing this today…)

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 5.18.10 PM

Is This All?

I could go on and on. You can use find the weather forecast, sports scores, upcoming movie times at your favorite theater, word translations, driving directions, health conditions, restaurants in the area, anything! I was reminded of these shortcuts this weekend at the Annual CUE Conference. Thanks to Brandon Wislocki, who demonstrated these awesome shortcuts at the Google in Education West Coast Summit and at the CUE conference.

What Do You Think?

Do you know of any other shortcuts that aren’t listed here? More importantly, have you found a celebrity that has a larger-than-two Bacon Number?

Safety First! How to Filter Google Searches on the iPad

Attachment-1It’s pretty safe to say that teachers want to keep their students safe while they are on the Web. We teach our students appropriate online behavior, we teach them never to share personal information on social networks, and we teach them to be good digital citizens. In addition, school districts have filtering systems that help keep students from inappropriate content when they are searching on the computers. Sometimes, though, unsavory images and content get through filters. This video shows how to set up another level of safety when using the iPads by turning on Safe Search in two different Web browsers.

 

Cool Gmail Tip: username+anything

gmailI recently rediscovered something that I had learned about a few years back and then forgot about because at the time, I didn’t really understand how it worked. I had wanted to start blogging with my 6th graders, allowing them to create their own blog attached to mine, and I was exploring using Edublogs.org. Through this website, I learned that I could use my own gmail address,  add +student1 (or something that makes sense for you) and students could use that to create their edublog accounts.

It seems like everything I recommend to teachers to do with students requires them to have an account, which means they would need an email address. Not all students have email addresses, so this “trick” seems like an easy way for students to create accounts for tools such as Evernote, Voicethread, Wikispaces, and other Web 2.0 tools. Just be sure to have obtained parent permission through an AUP or something similar for students to be accessing these tools.

From the Google Support website:

“Gmail doesn’t offer traditional aliases, but you can receive messages sent to your.username+any.alias@gmail.com. For example, messages sent to jane.doe+notes@gmail.com are delivered to jane.doe@gmail.com.”

Here are the steps you would need to take:

  1. Create a gmail account separate from any personal accounts you may have (for example, mrsgreenwms@gmail.com)
  2. Assign students a number or have them use their first name to set up accounts
  3. When asked for an email address to sign up for something, students put in mrsgreenwms+student1@gmail.com.
  4. When the website or application sends a verification email, it will come to your new gmail account. Verify all the accounts and your class is in business!

The students will always their +student1 email address to log into the account, but any correspondence from the tool will come to your inbox. It shouldn’t be a whole lot to handle, but you should be aware that it will happen. This isn’t the ideal situation, but it works in a pinch!

What Do You Think?

I’m sure there are other ideas for using this Gmail trick with students. What are yours?