Monday, January 27, 2014

These Are a Few of My Favorite Forms! Day 7- Drop Box

If you are anything like me, when you first started with Google Apps for Education, your "Shared With Me" folder quickly exploded with students submissions. You had a powerful new tool, and you were excited to use it! However, the organization quickly becomes a nightmare.

There are many different ways to organize your assignments from your students. You can have students share a folder with you, but then you have to go through each folder individually to search for assignments. I just started using gClassFolders, which creates a specific Assignments folder, but you will have to look for different Assignments folders for each class or subgroup.

Or, you can use a Form! This is another form from the Template Gallery, and it was created by Todd Roth. Think of it as the application Drop Box- because that's what it is! Students fill out basic information such as their names and class period, along with the Title of the assignment. (As a side note, creating a specific naming convention for all assignments such as LAST, FIRST PERIOD # DATE can make your life a lot simpler, and then you won't have students asking every time).Then, students simply copy and paste the URL of their assignment. Students needs to make sure that under Sharing, they select you specifically, or Anyone with the Link so you can view the assignment.

Once all students have submitted the Form, all of their assignments will be in one Sheet, and it will be quite easy to access. Here is the link to the Form from the Template Gallery.

Thanks to all of you who have checked back each day to see my Favorite Forms. It has been a challenge to blog every day, but I have reached so many new people in doing so! In the coming weeks, I hope to dive in a little deeper into Forms and other Apps.

Is there something else YOU want to know about Forms? Any other topics you'd like to see me cover? Let me know! Until next time...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

These Are a Few of My Favorite Forms! Day 6- Reading Interest Inventory

Sorry I didn't get a chance to post a form last night! My husband and I went out on the town for Date Night. On a side note, if you haven't seen American Hustle, it's definitely worth it!

Anywho, back to the Forms! Last year when I started teaching in a self-contained classroom, I spent a while looking for a Reading Interest Inventory to give my students that was 1. easy to read, 2. gave lots of examples of reading genres/materials, and 3. was visually appealing. I ended up going with an Interest Inventory that was only one out of the three. When it was time to use one again this year, I found one  that was a little better, but getting paper responses was not very functional for me. If I had only known about this Form!

Unlike most of the other Forms I've featured this week, I did not create this one. I am a firm believer in the educational (and life) philosophies of "Don't reinvent the wheel" and "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". So I headed over to the Google Drive Template Gallery to look for a Reading Interest Inventory that fit my three original criteria. Well, this Form by Donalyn Miller, based on the Interest-A-Lyzer by Joseph S. Rensulli, does the trick and then some! In addition to what I was looking for, it also poses questions such as "When do you like to read?" and "The last three books I read are...".

The beauty of doing this Reading Interest Inventory in a Form is how easy it will be to access and review the data in Sheets. You can organize reading groups based on interest, have students who are active readers paired with those who are not to spread the book reading joy, or even pass the information along to your Librarian or Media Specialist for book recommendations.

If you would like to use it, here is a link to the Template in the gallery. Note that this template is still in the old Form format, so it will be much different that many of us are used to. Still worth it!

Tomorrow's Final Form: Tune in to find out!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

These Are a Few of My Favorite Forms! Day 5- Test Review

So it's the day before a test or summative assessment. How can you prepare your students, review key terms and important ideas, and find out where each student feels comfortable or needs more help? Easy, use a Google Form!

One of my favorite features, aside from embedding videos, is the ability to make a multiple page Form. Many of my students have attention issues, and putting too much on one webpage can be overwhelming for them. Also, doing a huge review of many different problem types can be too much. So instead I choose the 3 most important skills or concepts that I feel my students need to be reviewed. For each skill or concept, I choose a video and add questions that review vocabulary and extend the learning to complete a problem similar to the types of problems presented in the video. Each video, along with the accompanying questions, has its own page.

On the final page, I ask the students to reflect on their level of preparedness, as well as what, if any, topics they would like me to review with them. This allows me to create flexible groupings for review, or create collaborative groups where students can "teach" the concepts to each.

How could you use this type of Form in your own classroom? Click here, "Make a Copy", and adapt it to your needs!

Tomorrow's Form: Reading Interest Inventory

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

These Are a Few of My Favorite Forms! Day 4- Embedded Videos

I have to say, of the many different uses of forms that I have shared and will share, this is the form type I use most frequently. This form has so many different uses, I will first explain how I use them, and then explain some different ways you can use them for your own classroom.

If you're familiar with my blog, you know that I am a self-contained Special Education teacher. Teaching 3 grade levels at one time in a subject like Math is nearly impossible, so 90% of the time we do station work. My three stations usually include direct instruction with me, independent practice and cooperative review games at our back table, and a Google Form followed by some online Math games.

Depending on the rotation for the day, students will complete a form with an embedded video that reviews the topic from that day's or a previous day's lesson, or introduces a new topic. Because I am teaching students who typically preform below grade level, I tend to keep questions to a more basic comprehension or knowledge level.

It's important to note that you can only import videos from YouTube, so if your school blocks YouTube this will not work for you. If you do have access to YouTube, then you have access to a lot of great resources! I plan on doing a future post about some of my favorite YouTube Education channels, but here are some that I use for my math videos: Khan Academy, Learnzillion which offers over 2,000 videos that correlate directly to Common Core, and eHow Education.

So how can you use this form in your classroom? If you're already using Blended Learning or Flipped Classroom, this is perfect for you! You can also use this as a Do Now or Exit Ticket if your students don't have Internet access at home. Forms also lend themselves perfectly to differentiation! Some students may need the prompting of multiple choice and select from a list questions, while others can handle fill in the blank, and still other need more challenging, application or synthesis questions. Using the same video, you can differentiate to all your students. Just "Make a Copy" and differentiate as appropriate.

Here, you can access this form. Make sure to "Make a Copy" before playing around.

Tomorrow's Form: Test review

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

These Are a Few of My Favorite Forms! Day 3- Pre and Post-Assessments

Today's form is an idea that my friend and co-worker +Stephanie Travers came up with. She teaches 7th and 8th grade ELA, and found at the end of Unit 1 that there were some grammar standards to cover that weren't explicitly taught up to that point.

No matter what subject, we all come to that one standard that just doesn't fit the unit, but we know we have to cover. This is an example of a quick assessment that you can do before and after a lesson to demonstrate mastery of the standard.

This particular form we gave when reviewing the difference between active and passive voice. Though this is something that gets touched on here and there throughout the year, we decided to use this form before and after a lesson where we explicitly taught active and passive voice. Nearly 100% of students mastered the standard as measured by the form.

Want a copy of your own? Click here, and make sure you "Make a Copy" before you start playing with the form!

Tomorrow's Form: Youtube videos and comprehension/application questions.

P.S. Want to make your life easier? No need to have separate copies of the form. After your students take the pre-assessment, follow these simple steps to put their post-assessments answers on a new sheet in the same spreadsheet.

First, go back into your form and select "Responses" and then "Change Response Destination".

A new window will open. It will automatically select "New Spreadsheet". Instead, select "New sheet in an existing spreadsheet".

Next, select the name of the spreadsheet from your original form.

Finally, open your original spreadsheet. You should notice a new tab at the bottom, which will house the responses of your students when they retake the assessment.

And that's it! I might make a video demo of this later on, but for now I hope the pictures are helpful!

Monday, January 20, 2014

There Are a Few of My Favorite Forms! Day 2- Group Work Survey

In an age that encourages collaboration, teachers need to be realistic in their expectations for group work. Is every group going to split the work evenly between each group member every time? No. Are there going to be kids who end up doing all the work on a particular day? Possibly. So how do we see these challenges, and then do something about it? Well, ask the kids!

Although students don't necessarily want to "rat" on each other, they are probably more likely to mention how work is being split and how their group is functioning when they are given you written feedback. This Google Form is useful in those instances. Not only does it ask students to evaluate their personal contributions, but the contributions of others and how much work was actually completed.

This is a rather generic Form, and could be easily modified to ask more specific questions and get more in-depth feedback, but it's a place to start! Click here to get your own, just make sure you "Make a Copy"! Let me know what you think.

Tomorrow's Form: Pre and Post-Lesson Assessments

Sunday, January 19, 2014

These Are a Few of My Favorite (Google) Forms! Day 1- Simple Exit Ticket

I am challenging myself in this New Year to keep on top of my blogging! Things have been hectic, with Google Teacher Academy in December, finishing up my 5 Google Apps tests to become a Google Certified Individual, and starting my Supervisor/Principal program at NJEXCEL. Oh, and teaching every weekday!

Tomorrow, I am giving a presentation at our in-service day, which will feature teachers from Belmar, Spring Lake Heights, and Avon, as well as writing specialist +Nora Hyland , and our keynote address and sessions led by +Rich Kiker . With a theme of "Personalized Learning", my thoughts immediately jumped to Google Forms and how I use them to differentiate in my own classroom. So over the next week, I will feature one of my favorite Google Forms every day.

Day 1- Simple Exit Tickets
When I first learned how to use Google Forms, the easiest thing I could think to make was an exit ticket. Easy to make? Yes. Powerful? Definitely!

Many of us use exit tickets every day to collect formative assessment data from our students. Did they understand what I taught today? Were they engaged? Do they have an misconceptions about the topic that I need to clear up? We can learn a lot from these simple tickets out the door.
3, 2, 1 Exit Ticket

This Exit Ticket is one of my go to's. If I don't have specific content questions to ask, or if I just need something on the fly, this is the Exit Ticket I push out. It gives me data about what my struck my students the most, as well as where I might have lost them.

Like it? Make a Copy and use it in your own classroom!

Tomorrow's Form: Group Work Rating

Friday, January 10, 2014

Google Teacher Academy, or "The Two Days That Keep Me Inspired EVERY Day"

This post has been a long time coming- over a month already! Coming back to New Jersey and getting back into the swing of things here at school, with progress reports and benchmark testing, followed immediately by the holiday season, it's nice to be able to sit down and reflect back on what was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. 

Back when I was first accepted to the Google Teacher Academy, I thought I was being Punk'd. I couldn't believe that I had actually been selected! But nothing was as surreal as walking into Google headquarters in London, surrounded by such intelligent, savvy, and inspiring educators from around the globe. That first morning, we all met in the lobby of 123 Buckingham Palace Road and you could tell right away we were all teachers from the way we lined up, one behind the other, waiting for our "golden ticket" and entrance into the Google headquarters. Google occupies two floors in the building and we got to visit both daily. 

The first morning, we were handed our ID badges and headed up the elevators to our first meal of the day. This would be the first of many! Most people know that Google has a reputation for treating their employees well, and we got to experience some of the perks firsthand. There was always food and beverages available while you were working. The environment itself was very inviting, and there were many rooms and areas with couches and tables to foster collaboration among employees. 

There was a section of the office that was reserved for our use for our two days at Google. We sat with our teams and began introductions, 'Miss America Style'. "Hi, I'm Melissa Murphy from Belmar, New Jersey!" 

After some introductions, we saw a video that would set-up our thinking for the next two days- Moonshot Thinking. The video begins with a quote- "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."- Margaret Mead. This quote, and all the sentiments expressed in this video, got us energized and ready to take on the rest of our day with open minds.

We heard from Liz Sproat, Google's Head of Education for Europe, Middle East, and Asia, who challenged us to prepare our students for the jobs that don't exist yet. A very overwhelming task when you think about it! Next we heard from +Danny Silva, who explained to us our responsibilities as Google Certified Teachers, and threw in some of his favorite Dr. Seuss quotes as well! He challenged us to become ambassadors for change, by innovating, inspiring others, leading the way and changing OUR worlds. 

Then we began out break-out sessions led by our team leaders; Automating Your World using Google Spreadsheets showed us some nifty tools (my favorite being inserting a map) from +Warren Apel , Collaborating With Your World that showcased some inspiring Project Based Learning led by +Steph Ladbrooke , The Web and Your World led by +Mark Allen  who helped us organize our collective knowledge to create a "Survival Skills" table with our favorite tools and websites, Creating Your World with the bubbly and self-proclaimed "Geek Girl" +Carrie Anne Philbin and Discover Your World featuring some awesome map making tools from +Wendy Gorton. Each session exposed me to new ideas, and got me thinking about how I could bring all these awesome tools back to my classroom and school community. 

Between our sessions, we learned about the Google Cultural Institute- featuring Google Art Project, World Wonders, and Historic Moments. Although I had been introduced to Cultural Institute by +Rich Kiker earlier in the year, I hadn't tried making my own gallery until GTA. My students were working on a biography project on the life of Muhammad Ali, and I created a gallery of photos from Time Magazine that included photos of Ali and other influential people and events of his time. It was a real hit back at school!

Did I mention the food?? THE. FOOD.  I couldn't resist taking a few "food photos" while I was there, and I was definitely not ashamed to do so (because everyone was taking pictures of the food). I mean, rack of lamb for lunch? I felt like a rockstar.

After a few more rotations, it was time for some fun and games! At each table, one person was sitting in a chair with an Android sticker. If you were sitting in said chair, you were selected to play "Minute to Win It". And guess who had a sticker on her chair- yes, that would be me! My game- Face the Cookie. My mission- get a cookie from my forehead into my mouth using only my facial muscles. In 60 seconds. Did I do it? No. Did I even get close? No. Are there ridiculous pictures of me making strange faces? Absolutely. 

My typical awkward face after watching the video describing my task. I clearly do not have faith in my face-mouth coordination.

It started out well....

...and I ended up with cookie crumbs in my hair and eyes for day. But I had fun embarrassing myself!

Embarrassing? Slightly. Fun? Heck yes. 

After "Minute to Win It", it was time to become official Google Certified Teachers. Each group went to the front of the room, and we each had our name called as we received our certificates and pins, Pomp and Circumstance playing in the background. We ended the evening with, you guessed it, food!

The next morning, we came back together to for an "unconference" day, with very little on the agenda, the rest up to us and what we wanted to learn or share. We started by learning about Google Science Fair. Then we used Google Moderator to suggest sessions that we would be interested in.  Many of us wanted to learn more about basic scripts in Spreadsheets, as well as using Sites and creating student portfolios. Smaller sessions were held in conference rooms, or just started organically by a few people sitting together in the couch area.

Between our breakout sessions, six people were chosen from the group to share an "Inspiring Idea" with the group. I was lucky enough to be chosen, and talked about how I use Google Forms to formatively assess my students, and let my students reflect on their own learning. Thanks to +Afzal Shaikh for the photo!

We ended our day with working on our Action Plans- thinking about how we are going to Change Our Worlds, on whatever level we choose. I had so many ideas running through my head, and I'm still not sure I know exactly what I will end up doing over this next year with all my training. However, I know that I am going to try and share my knowledge and experience with as many people as possible.

This was a once in a lifetime experience that I will honestly never forget. I met so many inspiring people, and I am honored to be called a Google Certified Teacher.

Team Sax- we don't need no leader!


What's next for me? Who knows! The sky is the limit I suppose. All I know is that whatever I do, I never want to stop learning. Life-long learner is a title I wear proudly.

Until next time (which I promise won't be as long as it took to get this post!)