According to Gizmodo’s Jamie Condliffe the most common passwords of 2014 were “123456” and “password.” After spending the last month attempting to use Google Forms with my students I can understand why the general public uses these simple passwords. I think it boils down to one undeniable fact; people struggle with remembering passwords. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that students have trouble remembering their passwords for any and all online log ins required for their school work.
By far the biggest frustration that I have had over the past month involves my students’ inability to remember their Google account password. At this point, I would think this would be a pretty simple task. I assume most classes are using the full package that the Google Suite provides to schools. However, students really have trouble with password recall. Maybe this is due to the relatively new use of technology at the high school. Maybe there is a disease affecting the short-term memory of America’s youth. I’m not sure, I’m not a doctor.
Password problems aside, I have had a lot of success implementing Google Forms in my U.S. History classes. I have used them across all classes and levels. However, I have only really used them as formative assessments, comprehension checks, and small quizzes.
For those of you unfamiliar with Google Forms, it is an application that is a part of the Google Suite. Google Forms on their most basic level act as information collectors. Similar to polling applications like Survey Monkey and Poll Everywhere, anyone can type in the specific link for the form or survey you created and complete it. A Google Form will collect all the data for you and organize it in a Google Sheet (Google’s version of Microsoft Excel). The creator of the form can then analyze the information. One nice aspect of using a Google Form over other applications is that it was created to sync up with your Google Drive where it stores all incoming information on the “cloud”. Furthermore, if your school has the full Google Suite, your Google Form can be made accessible to students in your network only. They have to log in to their Google Account to access your Google Form, and their name and information is automatically recorded.
Google Forms can be used to collect student contact information, gauge mood or comprehension right after an activity, as formative assessments, or on a more complex level, allow students to create their own “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories. See the attached article for eighty other uses of Google Forms.
As you may recall, I’m the guy attempting to research the best ways to integrate technology in a classroom that has no 1:1 technology. Therefore, I am attempting to use any and all technology that students have. Since our society currently delivers infants with cell phones in hand, I figured that I would begin by trying to use the technology that most students bring to class, and have at home.
The one downside to this approach is that not all students have cell phones with the capability to access the Internet. However, I have found that all students have access to a cell phone, tablet, computer, or can use our library after school to complete a Google Form that I have created.
As stated above, I have most commonly used Google Forms to create small assessments that students can take outside of class. I have often used these assessments as quiz grades or simple comprehension checks. Thus far, I have created Google Forms that covered topics ranging from the Great Depression and the Dustbowl, concepts pertaining to the Constitution of the United States, and I made a very specific multiple choice quiz about the life of Lowell Mill Girls.
The first Google Form I created asked students to analyze major concepts of the Constitution. Being my first attempt at using this technology, I hadn’t really thought of how I would grade or analyze this assignment. Therefore, I simply went through the information on Google Sheets and marked correct answers in Green, confused answers in Yellow, and incorrect answers in Red. This process took forever, and left me wondering how I would use Google Forms if it took this long to analyze all the information.
As it turns out, there are ways to set rules in Google Sheets that will apply a color scheme like the one above automatically. However, I learned about an add-on to Google Sheets through an Edtechteacher course I was taking. The add-on is called Flubaroo (I know, odd). Furthermore, when you sign up for this add-on it seems a little sketchy. Don’t worry it is completely legitimate. Feel free to agree to anything they ask (it is an add-on built for teachers, after all). Once you add Flubaroo to your Google Sheets you can activate it to grade all of your assignments for you. As currently constituted, it is best used for grading multiple choice and simple fill-in assignments. However, you can add the scoring value for open response questions on your own, and these items will blend into the students overall score.
Flubaroo has made grading Google Forms a breeze, and I think that I will make Google Forms a consistent part of my class. I like the flexibility that using Google Forms gives to my classroom. Now I can spend less time worrying about fitting in an extra quiz or “Exit Ticket,” and I can assign comprehension tasks for homework. This opens up classroom time for other student-centered and self-directed activities. With the current wave of district determined measures, standardized tests, midterms, and finals, this is a welcomed assessment that can be completed at home. Furthermore, the grading is incredibly easy.
The main downside to this approach is that students have to be motivated to complete the Google Form at home, which is not always the easiest task in some classes. Also, students can access the Internet or classmates as they answer Google Forms. I, for one, have no problem with this, because if I can write strong questions that ask students to analyze images and text or write reflective and evaluative prose, then cheating isn’t really applicable.
In the end, Google Forms have been a great addition to my classroom, which suffers from no official 1:1 technology connection. I highly recommend giving them a try in your classroom. Whether you use them for quick formative assessments or for students to make creative storybooks. In the next few months, I hope to use a more student-centered approach with Google Forms. Check back in here to see how it goes!