Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Using Google Forms Instead of Worksheets

Using Google Forms Instead of Worksheets

Google Forms FTW

As a follow up to my post on not posting PDF’s of worksheets for students to annotate, here are directions for providing students feedback via a Google Form.

Create a Google Form

Instead of asking students to annotate a PDF, type the short answer questions into a Google Form. This should be quicker for students to fill out than annotating a PDF. The turn in process for students is much easier as well. When the student is done answering the questions they simply click on submit.

Link to sample Form


What is wonderful about Google Forms is they connect to Google Sheets. Each students response is organized into a single document. This eliminates having to open and mark 30-200 different documents. The teacher only needs to view the spreadsheet for all student responses.
Grading Bliss

Conditional Formatting

There are several tricks to quickly assess student work. If you have a multiple choice question you can use conditional formatting to highlight the right answer for each column. Click on the column indicator to highlight the column of the question. Choose “Conditional formatting…” from the Format menu.
conditional formatting

From the drop down list choose “Text is exactly” or one of the other choices.

Type the correct answer into the box. Click on “Background Color” to highlight the cells with the correct answer green.
Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 12.09.46 PM

The spreadsheet reads the answer in the cell and highlights the background green for you to easily identify if students answered correctly.
Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 12.10.16 PM

Click Here for my other formative assessment tricks.

Text Contains

For short answer questions use “Text contains” for your conditional responses. Type in the keyword you are hoping students used in their response. This will highlight the questions that might be correct.
Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 12.13.48 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 12.14.11 PM

Summary of Responses

Under the “Form” menu is the option to “Show summary of responses.”
show summary of responses

This will automagically create graphs summarizing how the students performed on the questions.
Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 12.15.17 PM


Flubaroo is an add-on that will grade multiple choice questions for you. Go to the Add-On menu and choose “get add-ons.” Find the Flubaroo add-on and enable it. Running Flubaroo from the Add-On menu will give you the option to grade your worksheet. Skip grading any free response questions, Flubaroo does not grade these well. Flubaroo allows you to choose “Edit student feedback” from the Flubaroo menu. This creates a column to give students specific and individualized feedback. Return to the Flubaroo menu to email the students their grades.

YouTube video

Feedback Column

For each short answer question right click on the column indicator to insert a column. Choose “Insert 1 right.” This is grading bliss since I simply need to press enter to start giving the next student feedback. Write a note to each student based on their response. You can also insert a column for their overall grade or overall feedback.


Word Wrapping

For short response the answer is probably clipped, meaning you can not see the full student response. Click on the column indicator to highlight the entire column. Choose the word wrapping icon in the toolbar. Choose the middle icon to wrap the text.

YouTube video

Mail Merge

There are a few ways to return student scores and feedback. One is to use a mail merge to email students. Suggestion to rename the column headers a single word to make the mail merge easier.

Go to Add-On’s and install the “Yet Another Mail Merger” Add-On.

In Gmail compose a draft of an email. Anywhere you want to place information from the spreadsheet use a merge tag in the format of <<column header>>.
Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 12.36.57 PM


Using the Add-On menu run the “Yet Another Mail Merger” to send an email with the students feedback.


If students do not have email, merging the answers to a Google Doc and sharing it in the students Google Drive would be a good alternative. Autocrat is also an Add-On that can be added to the spreadsheet. Create a Google Doc with the merge tags instead of an email. Run the Autocrat Add-On to merge the students information with the Google Doc template you created. If you collected student Google Apps usernames (email address) the merged Google Doc will be shared with student. Note that a document is created per student so that students can not see the responses of other students.

YouTube video

3 thoughts on “Using Google Forms Instead of Worksheets

  1. Love this idea (and your whole site!) – thanks for sharing it! I tried this for a class and found a little issue I can’t seem to solve; wondering if you’ve had the same problem or know the solution. What happens to kids who don’t finish the task and want to come back to it later? It seems like no matter what I do (allow them to edit responses/allow multiple submissions) they always get a blank form when they come back to it. Ideas?
    Thanks again!

    1. If the students are logged into their GAfE account and if you turn on the ability to edit responses…. they can come back to edit. This is probably more hassle than it is worth. Google Forms is a survey tool not a quiz tool, it does not have features you may find in quiz tools. One thing you can do is create a question that says “continuing” or something as a checkbox. Do not require the questions then the student can come back and do the second part. You can sort the spreadsheet by student and see they have multiple answers. Copy and paste to merge their answers together.

  2. Thanks! I actually did end up just merging the cells together. It was only a handful of students, but it was enough of a hassle to make me change my thinking for next time. 😉

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