Google Docs in the Classroom

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I’m trying to convince myself that it’s time to get to know Google Docs, and I’m using the excuse that it’s time to revamp my classroom.  I’m starting my 10th year of teaching this fall and it is time.  It’s easier to remain stagnant, but if humans were meant to stay the same their entire lives, I wouldn’t be buying regenerist serums by the gallon.

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Anyway, I have started fiddling around with how to make Google forms with my personal account.  I am going to be meeting weekly with my department members and I want to streamline the process as much as possible.  Here is the final product:

Meeting Minutes

I can open this form on my iPad during the meeting, fill it out, and then have the results accumulated in a spreadsheet for my convenience.  I also figure out how to have the results directly emailed to me for easy sharing with the individual teachers.

It was a little tricky getting used to the format and platform, and because I’m still working the kinks out, I won’t attempt to explain the process.  I’ll leave that to the experts.

It got me to thinking about how I can use Google Docs in the classroom.  I am completely envious of teachers who work in a 1:1 school or where technology is more consistently accessible.  What I do have control over is the use of my iPad in the classroom.  I can also provide Google Docs/Forms for students to use at home if they cannot access them on their smartphones or tablets.  So here is a list of uses that I intend to implement this year:

  • Behavior Logs
  • Individual/Group meetings with students
  • Surveys
  • Spot Checks
    • This has become the nomenclature at our school to replace the term “quiz.”  It will ensure me that students have read their assigned reading.  Through our PLN, we have decided that the first question must always be, “Did you complete the reading assignment?”  At first, we thought students would automatically respond, “yes,” but eventually as students became more comfortable, their honesty improved.  It helps the teacher know if there is a comprehension problem or if it’s Christmas treeing.
  • Lesson planning
  • Rubrics – I’m still new to this usage, but I definitely plan on getting better acquainted.

Question of the Day: If you use Google Docs/Forms in the classroom, what is your favorite method?  If you haven’t started, what is holding you back?

 

Pros and Cons of Final Exams

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Tuesday marks the beginning of Finals Week at my school.  I’ve been teaching for nine years, and each year I change the way I have administered and developed my midterm and final exam.  I have rarely been required to follow a particular format by my administration, which was a joy but also could be taxing.  I have utilized objective assessment formats: multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and matching; subjective and project-based have also served as my culminating assessments.  I have reflected on the merits of the multiple formats and have determined a list of pros and cons for each.

Subjective Assessments (Multiple Choice, Fill-in-the-Blank, Matching, etc.)

Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

Pros:

  • Easy to grade
  • Relatively easy to create
  • Trends in comprehension (number correct/incorrect) efficiently identified
  • Format can parallel standardized tests which allows for students to be more familiar and comfortable when assessed (ACT, SAT, state tests)

Cons:

  • Only assesses one type of learning/interpretation
  • Creating questions that truly align with objectives/standards can be difficult
  • Leaves little room for students to express themselves and their understanding
  • Little-to-no creativity or individuality allowed

Objective Assessments (Short Answer, Short Essay, Essay)

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Pros:

  • Students able to express themselves and their understanding in their own way
  • More room for individuality
  • Questions can be more easily created because they can encompass more ideas/skills

Cons:

  • Takes longer to grade
  • Some students are not strong writers
  • Addresses one learning style
  • Usually there are fewer questions (sometimes only one), therefore if it is interpreted incorrectly, students’ responses may not fully encompass their full knowledge
  • ESL/ESE students may struggle
  • Extensive rubrics required

Project-Based/Presentations

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Pros:

  • Allowance for multiple interpretations and approaches to answering the prompt
  • Creativity is encouraged
  • Application of classroom content to a real-world issue
  • Students are allowed to connect to the content in a real way
  • More learning styles are addressed
  • Collaboration is an option

Cons:

  • Requires outside of class time – teacher has little control over if it is completed
  • Developing the project requirements is more complex
  • Multiple aspects need to addressed when grading
  • Students need strong support in developing presentation skills; scaffolding required
  • Multiple days required for presentation
  • Extensive rubrics required

Conclusion

Ultimately, there is no one proper way to assess students; all formats present their advantages and disadvantages.  A good teacher who wants to truly assess their students’ complete understanding and skill level will not choose just one format, but will allow for multiple assessment formats.

Get Rid of It

Just when you were starting to expect me to be a real human and begin to take life seriously (see my resolution to start flossing daily), I am going to introduce you to one of my favorite Youtubers/Podcasters: Grace Helbig!

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Here is a link to her Youtube page: Grace Helbig

I am most consistent with listening/watching Grace via her podcast, Not too Deep.

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I first became familiar with Grace when she did a vlog for John Green while he was on his paternity leave for his 2nd child entitled, “50 Ways to Pretend to be Smarter.” She had me hooked and I’ve been trying to step up my cheese game ever since.

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While getting caught up on missed podcasts on one of my favorite Christmas gifts, the Creative Woof 2 bluetooth speaker, I became inspired for today’s posting from her interview with Mark Douglas of Barely Political, a Youtube show I have yet to see, but will mostly likely in the future.  Grace plays little games with her guests that are both thought-provoking and totally ridiculous #RunningThemeOfMyLife.  The game Mark played with Grace was called, “Get Rid of It” where she gave him a series of categories and he was required to get rid of one thing from said category.  I decided to play along and share my answers with you.

P.S. – Choose your own categories that correspond to a text or character, and have your students complete their own responses to help them demonstrate their understanding.

Get Rid of It…

  • A holiday
    • Columbus Day.  Sorry, Mark, but I am stealing your answer.
  • A state
    • North Dakota
  • A human being
    • If can I get rid of a group of people (keep reading, this isn’t going to be racist) I would get rid of hackers.  If I can only choose one person, I would get rid of James Eagan Holmes, the man responsible for the “Dark Knight Rises” 2012 Aurora shooting.
  • A song
    • “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” because I never do when I hear this song.
  • A color
    • I wanted a more specific name other than “Yellow Green” so I Googled it.  Even if you were a fan before, the suggested search terms provided should solidify why my answers is the correct answer:

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  • A TV show
    • I really shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion on this topic because I am an avid Bravo/Real Housewives obsessed fan, but I would like to get rid of the show, “My _00 lbs Life.”
  • A historical event
    • All of World War II, just for the efficiency of saving lives.  If that’s too broad, then the Bubonic Plague.  If THAT’S not specific enough, 9/11.
  • A feeling
    • Misplaced Anxiety
  • A food
    • Raw onions
  • *A word
    • The “F” word that is the derogatory term for homosexuals
  • *A social norm
    • Shaking hands/fist bumping/hugging/air kissing when you greet someone.  It’s always awkward and I never choose the appropriate response.
  • *A body part
    • Under eyes.  I don’t understand why the skin is so different there as opposed to the skin that is adjacent to your eyes.  I also dislike how easily wrinkles and dark circles form there.

*My own categories