WRITTEN BY: KATE PETTY - Originally published DEC• 05•11
Okay. I’m the type of teacher that assigns a lot of cooperative group work and, while I do walk around a lot, I also am caught with my feet resting on my desk while I am grading on my laptop.
In the past I’ve always wanted students to analyze important quotes at home before we discuss them in class to avoid “cold” conversations. I’ve used just about every traditional method to attempt to induce some sort of insightful thought- you think I’m ambitious, but wait, just wait.
Google Forms is a survey, of sorts. I go to my Google Docs and create a form. I create questions customized to my lesson into one survey and then link or embed the survey on my website- what the students see is a survey that asks questions and provides room for an answer (they can answer on a computer at home or on their smart devices in the classrooms: iPhones, droids, iPods, iPads, etc.). They answer the questions and click submit at the end of the form. What appears in the Google Form I created in my Google Docs account is a spreadsheet (think along the lines of Excel) with the questions in the first row and each student’s response in the columns below the corresponding question.
“Okay, so is this it?” No! It’s not!
The first two questions I pose to the students are (1) What period are you in? and (2) What is your last, first name? Why do I ask these two questions? Because in the spreadsheet form, I can sort the answers by period and then (if the students really paid attention) by alphabetical order.
“Okay, so is that it?” Nope!
It’s a spreadsheet- I make a column at the end for grades! I read the answers straight across the row (right under the questions) and assign the grade in the last cell. I then click return- read across the row, assign a grade, click return, etc…
“Do the grades automatically link to my gradebook?” Sadly, no. But I have a student aide who can enter the grades into my gradebook for me!
“Wow! This is incredible, can it do anything else?” Well- think about all the uses for this tool!
The recent Bloomberg Businessweek article “How to Fix the Education Crisis” recently complained that teachers don’t teach how to analyze data. After reading the article, I couldn’t stop wondering how I, as an English teacher, am supposed to teach how to analyze data. I teach analysis of literature and non-fiction, but how do I teach how to analyze data? I decided to give it a whirl using the Google Forms assignment. My students filled out five forms total- one for each act of Macbeth. Each form had 2-4 quote analysis, short-answer questions. Once the unit was over, I divided the class into five groups, deleted the period and names off the forms and shared the data of a different act with each group. Using the Common Core Standards, I created some “required” questions and told the students they needed to analyze all of the answers to each question in the act they were assigned. Students needed to find the most common answer, the second most common answer, the most uncommon answer, etc. I then gave them a quick tutorial of prezi.com and told them they were to present their “boring” statistics in an interesting presentation.
The results were beyond my expectations. The students took about 20 minutes to wrap their brains around the assignment overall but got right into the research and then became really enthusiastic about prezis. A positive, unexpected result of this exercise occurred when students saw the responses of other students and thought one of three things, “My responses are wholly inadequate!” or “Hmmm, I guess I’m not supposed to be in texting mode for academic assignments!” or “Sweet, my response kicks butt!” Yes, sadly, some students had two of the three responses and one of those two was not the third.
I can’t wait to think up other ways to use the data from Google Forms and I can tell you, without a doubt, Google Forms will be used religiously in my classroom from now on. Feel free to provide suggestions for using Google Forms and/or its data.