Google Forms is a component of the “Google Docs” application suite and it is an really simple way to survey your students. If you have never heard of Google Forms before, watch this two-minute video to get an idea of how Forms work and how simple they are to use.
Google Forms are really useful in the classroom. Some of the ways I have used Google Forms in the past include:
1. Surveying Students
I usually have students complete a basic “getting to know you” survey the first day we are in a computer lab. In addition to asking standard questions, like name and student number (for importing into my grade book), I also like to ask some technology access questions. I am always curious to know what percentage of students have a computer at home with internet access, what percentage of students have a cell phone, and what level of comfort my students have with web 2.0 services. It is really important to me that I do not alienate any of my students by using educational technology tools to which they have limited or no access.
2. Selecting Groups
This past semester, I had my students creating documentary videos about how physics connects to other subjects. The results were amazing for the first attempt at a new project and I am looking forward improving the assignment this year. By the nature of the project there is a strong emphasis on “production skills”, including storyboarding, script writing, dramatization, filming, and editing video. It was important to me that students did not simply form a group with their friends, but rather formed groups based on their personal interest in the topic and the complimentary skills each student brought to a group. As a result, I created a Google Form in which the students selected their top two topic choices and rated themselves on a scale from 1-5 for different production skills. When it came time to assemble into project groups, students understood that it would be a big mistake to only use “friends” as the criteria for group selection. In the end, I was really proud of how the students divided themselves up by ensuring that the production skills were shared equally throughout the class.
3. Collecting Peer and Self Assessment
Often after completing a major assignment, I like my students to reflect on their overall level of effort/contribution to the project. I am also interested in their assessment of other students (if it was a group project). Google Forms is a really great way to have students provide a concise and focussed reflection on their work and the work of others. All of the information collected in the form is aggregated into a spreadsheet, which allows me to quickly read over all of the responses in one place.
4. Late Assignment Contract
It’s frustrating when students hand in an assignment late. In the past 5 years, I have tried many strategies to get students to hand in their work by the deadline. According to the current ministry and board policy documents, teachers are not permitted to take off late marks for students who hand in work past the due date**. Strictly speaking, “marks” are intended to be a measure of student achievement, not student bevaviour – so I do agree with the policy. However, the policy also states that, as long as a students has had an opportunity to negotiate a deadline if necessary, a teacher is not obliged to mark work that is turned in late. My late assignment contract is the mechanism by which students can request an extension. I am willing to grant any student an extension permitted they fill out the contract in full. If a student requires only 1 or 2 extra days, they are automatically granted the extension. If they need 3 or more days to complete the assignment, they must fill out the contract AND have a conversation with me directly. In my experience, 1-2 days is usually sufficient for students who have lots of other things on their plate at a particular time (work, sports, other classes, etc.), and 3 or more days can be negotiated in extenuating circumstances (death in the family, illness, etc.). Without a doubt, the use of the late assignment contract has lead to a huge drop in the number of late assignments I receive, which is wonderful. The best part is that all of the information is kept in one place. It is incredibly easy for me to quickly scan down the list of late assignments to see which students are perpetually handing in work late.
**The Ministry of Education is in the process of formalizing the newest policy document on assessment and evaluation, “Growing Success.” In the document, they have left a little more wiggle room on the “no late marks” issue. It will be interesting to see how each board of education interprets the new document.
5. Choose Your Own Adventure