Use Google Forms for Learning

Google Forms is the best thing since sliced bread. I cringe every time I still have to fill out a paper form. I’m thinking… someone has to try to read my handwriting and take the time to enter my data. Google Forms saves us from more than just doing data entry however! When we use technology we MUST ask the question “How does this make learning BETTER?” Research over the last 50 years has shown that using technology has NOT made an impact on student learning. Using technology does not improve learning. Same is same. Paperless does not improve learning. We have to use technology differently to allow for student learning to improve over paper. Here are 5 ways to use Google Forms to IMPROVE student learning.

1. Collect Data & Do Something With It

Unlike paper, Google Forms allows you to collect data. Immediately upon even one student submitting the Google Form you can see summary charts of data. Are they understanding this? Know TODAY instead of tomorrow. Tomorrow is too late. They have slept on it. Use the data from Google Forms to reteach faster.

If the data shows the students didn’t get a concept the first time, remember to reteach it differently than you taught it the first time.

2. Redo

Grit is good for learning. Quit and give up is not. Why did I not let my students retake until they learned something? Not because it’s good pedagogy, not because of some perception of fairness to other students… because there is no stinking way I am going to grade something over and over again! But the computer doesn’t get bored with regrading. If the data shows a student did not perform well, technology now allows us to ditch the “here is your low score, good luck next time” way of doing things.

“There is no research that supports giving a student a low score as motivating. In fact, the opposite. They are likely to quit and give up.” – Thomas Guskey

Use Google Forms or Quizizz or whatever digital tool that will allow students to redo. Don’t just fill this out… get it right!

Click the Settings cog in the upper right of Google Forms.

Settings cog in google forms

On the Presentation tab, select “Shuffle question order.” This way when they retake it isn’t the same order. Tip: Create sections in your Google Form. The questions shuffle within the section. Make the first section their name and other information like this. That way “What is your name” does not show up as question 7.

On the individual questions, click on the 3 dots in the bottom right to “Shuffle option order.” This way they can’t simply memorize that the answer is B.

Shuffle option order

Tip: For question 1 ask for a retake password. Set the data validation to not allow them to move to the next section unless they enter the correct value. Students should do something for learning between retakes.

3. Reteach with Branching

I prefer, for low critical thinking questions, that students get immediate feedback question by question rather than a summary at the end. If a students does ONE question incorrectly get help before they practice doing it wrong.

Create sections in your Google Form. Put one question per section. If they get the question incorrect, send them to a section that has a video or tutorial to help them learn what they do not know. Create a redo question in the next section where hopefully we see they improved.

question 1 redo with a video on how to reteach and a redo question.

Remember, there is no such thing as an average student. Each student is different. “Being fast is not the same as being smart” – Jo Boaler When we make branching Google Forms that give students feedback immediately it makes it easier to allow students to be at different places. Not every student needs to be learning the same thing at the same time on the same pace.

4. Spend YOUR Time Differently

Simply taking DOK 1 and DOK 2 worksheets and turning them into Google Forms does not improve learning. Teaching critical thinking is time consuming. Creating a feedback loop where students think, get feedback, and think some more is very good for learning but crazy time consuming for the teacher. By offloading YOUR paperwork duties for lower critical thinking tasks to tools such as Google Forms you can spend your time giving high quality feedback that requires a response. Actionable feedback is significantly more effective than comments on a paper.

I do NOT use Google Forms for critical thinking questions. If it is critical thinking it will require feedback. The problem with Google Forms is feedback is not a back and forth interaction. At best, it is the equivalent to a comment on the side of a paper. I use Google Slides for my critical thinking questions. Slides are multi-media. This allows me to record videos with Screencastify which save to Google Drive. I can insert these videos right into Google Slides. I can add my own slide for feedback. My trick is I change the background color on a slide to let students easily find my feedback slides. Students can add new slides to update their response or edit the old response. Version history in Slides allows me to see student updates in response to my feedback.

5. Students Create the Assessment

Check out the T3 Framework by Dr. Sonny Magana. His research based approach to using technology shows that when we use technology in certain ways, student achievement can be doubled. There are 3 tiers to the framework: T1, T2, and T3. One of the elements of T3 is that students create their own assessments. Google Forms can be a part of this. While it’s important to remember that an assessment does NOT have to be a test or a quiz, Forms can be one way that students demonstrate what they have learned.

As Catlin Tucker says “Have the students do it.”

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