Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Worksheet Trapped in a Notebook

Worksheet Trapped in a Notebook (1)
Worksheet Trapped in a Notebook

Worksheet Trapped in a Notebook (1)

What is worse than a worksheet? A worksheet trapped in a notebook. Looking at a notebook that has worksheets glued into it, I asked, “How will the student get feedback on this?” Answer: The teacher will collect the notebooks over the weekend and grade them. Teacher time is so valuable! It is important that we weigh the bang for the buck we get on how we spend our time. “If I spend hours marking these, will student learning increase? Yes… by how much? Is there something I could spend my time doing instead that would have greater bang for the buck?” Look at your ROI (Return on Investment of time).

The greater the distance from a student finishing a task and the student receiving feedback, the less they care.


High-quality feedback that is timely does help students to learn. Best is if it can be delivered WHILE the student is still working on the task, that is when they care the most. This isn’t always feasible. However, whenever possible… try to set a goal for providing feedback while students are still actively engaged in the task. Google Docs is great for this, you can jump into the document and insert feedback comments even if the student has not typed a single word yet (hopefully they have). A worksheet trapped in a notebook is going to be one of the slowest ways for students to get feedback. It’s also sketchy if the kids will even look back at the worksheet to see the scoring on it.

Use a Google Form

Google Forms are great for collecting information and saving precious teacher time. Having all student responses collect to a spreadsheet allows for quick review of student work to provide feedback faster. Now granted I am pretty fast with typing and I know my way around making a Google Form but one time a teacher was grading a science quiz and I was able to type up the entire quiz into a Google Form before she could finish marking one quiz.

Turn on the Spreadsheet

When you create a Google Form the accompanying spreadsheet is not automatic. You must manually create it. Click on the “Responses” tab while editing a Google Form and click on the green “Create Spreadsheet” icon.
click on the green spreadsheet icon

Google Keep

Even though I am fast at typing, why type it if I don’t have to. Google Keep app allows me to take a picture of the worksheet into a Keep note. On my phone, I can tap on the image and click on the 3 dots icon and choose “Grab image text.” Or, from my computer go to the Google Keep website and use the 3 dots icon to “Grab image text.” It’s not perfect all the time, but close enough. Now I can copy and paste each question into the Google Form.
use Google Keep

Control Shift Enter

One of my Google Forms tricks is to use the keyboard shortcut Control Shift Enter to add an additional question.

Always Answer First

Tip, after creating a Google Form be the FIRST to answer it with the ANSWER KEY. It’s super helpful. You want the answer key to be row 2 in your spreadsheet so be the FIRST!

Flubaroo for Feedback

One cool feature of Flubaroo is the ability to give feedback on free response questions and create a report that is either emailed to students or saved to their Google Drive (particularly handy if your students do not have email accounts.)
Add on Flubaroo

After enabling Flubaroo, and students have filled out the Google Form, choose “Grade Assignment” from the Flubaroo menu.
Grade assignment

In the setup process, change the free response questions from “Normal grading” aka Automatic grading to “Grade by Hand.” For questions Flubaroo can grade (multiple choice) LET IT! Leave it “Normal grading.”
Grade by Hand

If you filled out the Google Form with the name “Answer Key” it is extra easy to identify.
answer key is how I answered

Grade Questions by Hand

Go back to the Flubaroo menu and choose “Grade questions by hand.”
Grade questions by hand

Grade by Question

If you want to be consistent (and speed up the feedback process) grade by question rather than by student. When grading by hand, arrow through each student on a question by question basis.
Grade by question rather than my student

Student Feedback Comment

The grading by hand option allows you to give feedback per question, which is awesome. If you want to leave a student a personalized note on their entire set of answers choose “Edit Student Feedback” from the Flubaroo menu.
Edit Student Feedback

This inserts a blue column (nerdy brag, that was my idea!) Write each student a note!
Feedback for Student blue column

Share Grades

Share the grades and feedback comments with students by choosing “Share Grades” from the Flubaroo menu.
Share Grades

Choose to share the grades through email or Google Drive or both.
Share grades through email

Use Your Time Differently

Technology allows us the opportunity to use our time differently so we can impact student learning. Using technology to replace paper does not improve learning. There has to be a change in the instruction and how we use our time for there to be an impact on learning.

Need Paper?

If you absolutely need that information on paper, check out the Google Sheets Add-on Autocrat. It will merge the student answers into a Google Doc or PDF that can be printed. You may like my PDFmyFolder add on to help you print those out.

4 thoughts on “Worksheet Trapped in a Notebook

  1. What is the difference between leaving feedback via Google Forms and using Flubaroo? Seems like extra steps to use an old Google Forms AddOn. I only ask because the timestamp is fairly recent on this article. 🙂

    1. I MUCH prefer Flubaroo to Google Forms Quizzes. Quizzes is waaaay too many clicks and locks the information in the Form. I want to delete Form responses and reuse.

  2. I can’t say I agree.
    In the worksheet trapped in a notebook:
    1) students are physically writing this helps learning – several studies have shown this
    2) Not only are they writing, but hopefully complete sentences – still a problem at the high school level.
    3) Sense of ownership – my daughter brought home several of her workbooks today – last day of school.
    4) For feedback I am split on the instantaneous – a la forms – and the whole group. Not that a whole class discussion can’t ensue via forms, but possibly more likely going over notebook answers together?

    But #1 and #2 usually for me would have the day.
    I would use what you suggest above as a quick formative assessment tool.

    1. 1) Write physically, no reason to glue it and trap it into a notebook. I’m also unimpressed with strategies that marginally support memorization. In an age of Google we need to teach differently. Focus on analysis, application… that will help the info to stick better than just handwriting.
      2) Complete sentences do not need to be glued into a notebook.
      3) My daughter’s notebook was falling apart and she said her’s was one of the better looking ones in the class. This idea of carrying around every scrap of paper with you was silly when I was a student and outdated and ridiculous in 2017.
      4) This is no way around it the slowest form of feedback. Busywork. You want whole class try todaysmeet.com or padlet or https://alicekeeler.com/discussiontab or I like to use a Google Slides where students add a slide so EVERY student can actively participate rather than only hearing from the same 1 or 2 extroverts.

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