Wednesday, December 14, 2011

TIES Presentation

Yesterday, after spending my morning teaching like usual, I headed over to join my colleagues in a presentation about the use of Google Docs in the classroom.  This year I've changed the way my class works and been doing more with Moodle, so I haven't used Google Docs as much.  Searching through all of my old notes reminded me how great they are.

Use 1: Warm-Ups
I used to have students write their answer to a problem I had on the board.  Then I'd walk around, making sure they all had the answer, then go over the answer.  I spent most of my time managing the scoring or trying to get students started  There was no time to work with students.

Enter Google Forms.  Students walk into class then open the form.  It looks the same way every day.
When they are finished, they hit send.  I can choose to have a response pop up with the answer I was looking for or directions about what to do next.  I can spend my time walking around working with students on the problems.  I don't collect any papers, don't have to pass anything back.

Better yet- I can have instant answer analysis.  On my screen it looks like this: 

I can see who turned it in on time, who has a complete and thorough answer, who copied and pasted from a website, and who really needs some more help on isosceles triangles (like the student who said a triangle with two equal sides).  I can scan through all the answers in about a minute.  When it comes time to teach the class or do the classwork, I can decide who to go work with first because I know they are missing the previous lesson. 

Use 2:  Pre-tests
I don't always love them.  I feel like kids know more than they show, but sometimes, when there is a topic I am convinced they know, or, one they think they know but I'm pretty positive they don't, I use them.  For me, pre-tests are best when they kids know where they are and I get a sense where the class is and individuals are.   But, that doesn't mean I love grading them (and I don't really need to, since it is just to inform my own teaching) and I always want to reduce my paper pile.  

Enter: Google Forms 
I just set up a Google Form with fill in the blanks for each question.  I still give the paper test, or a pdf of the paper test, and the kids can do work on paper, but the final answers are entered into the form.  This means I get a quick idea of whether or not they ended up getting the answer, and can look at their work if I want to. 

I can look at the spreadsheet or the summary.  I also liked letting the students see the summary on pre-tests too.  Then the one kid who put 18 instead of 17 knows right away that he was probably just making a simple error.  The student who put 34 realizes that they forgot something.  Or if the whole class gets the question wrong, then they can see that.  When I look at the summary, if I scroll over a response, it tells me the name associated with it, so forms fits my goals of knowing where the whole class is, and checking on individual students. 

None of this is revolutionary, but it made/makes my class a lot more streamlined and easier for me.  And I rarely get stuck under piles of grading. 

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