Thursday, 28 April 2016

How Google Forms Saved This Teacher's Sanity

I’m writing this tutorial as I sit at my kitchen island, eating a scone and drinking a coffee.  I know what you’re thinking – this teacher has time to sit down?! Oh yeah, sit, eat and have a coffeeHere’s my secret. 
I’m an idealist.  I want to give my students everything they need for success and that includes lots of descriptive feedback.  I’m sure, like many of you, I was doing this to my own detriment.  I was spending so many hours carefully going through assignments and projects to give specific feedback.  What I was finding, for the most part, is the comments I was writing were repetitive. 


 “Be careful not to use first person when writing a lab report.” x 5


“How could you rephrase your headline to catch the reader’s attention?” x 20

Refer back to the success criteria to be sure you are meeting all of the expectations.”  x infinity

My hands were sore and I was tired.  I’m sure you can relate.

I was bringing home so many projects to mark because they just took so long to mark I couldn’t get them all done at school.  With a toddler at home and another on the way, there is no such thing as down-time.  I needed a better way.

I played with trying to solve this problem with some programming in Excel, and debated getting out my old programming books, but the answer was much more obvious: Google Forms.

If I could put all the typical feedback comments into a Google Form I could just check the ones that apply to the student’s work.  Genius!  Except it didn’t format nicely.  That’s where the add-on docAppender comes in.  It takes the data from the Google Form and puts it so nicely into a document.




What I love about this is that I can still give my students plenty of feedback.  If the comment I want to include isn't already in my form, I can always add more comments at the end of the feedback question.  Plus, once I have this done for an assignment it won't take much work to use it again for a different assignment or even for next year's class.  What a lifesaver!

It does take a while to do the first time, but the time savings when it comes to marking is worthwhile.  Now when I do my Inquiry Projects, I can mark the entire classes work in one prep period!

Here's how I do it:

First set up your folders, files and forms in your Google Drive:

Next, make the form amazing by adding in the rubric, and all the comments you'd expect to be using for this assignment.  This takes a while, but the beauty of this is when marking you'll mostly just be clicking instead of writing by hand.  Also, you can copy this form for your next assignment.

Now we need to set up docAppender.  This is the add-on that makes the form's data presentable, so you can just print out all of the comments instead of writing by hand.

Once docAppender is all set, try assessing an assignment.  There is an extra little step to remove the commas that appear between each of the comments you check.

There you have it!  Once you do this once, a lot of the work is done forever.  You can copy forms and edit them for different assignments.  It's an upfront time investment, but I can't even believe how many hours it has saved me in marking even on just the first few assignments.  Oh, docAppender - I LOVE you!

This is so great for inquiry projects.  If you want to save even more time, check out my Inquiry Project Package that you can use for ANY subject.  It includes a Google Form template you can use (with comments and a rubric) you can use to save you an incredible amount of time!


Let me know if you've tried docAppender, or if you have any other tips for giving lots of feedback efficiently!



22 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely be doing this next year.

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  2. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely be doing this next year.

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  3. Amazing! Moving to 5th grade next year and this will be so helpful. Hopefully my school allows the Add-on. It doesn't allow much. Do you have your students complete a GForm to assess their own work?

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    1. Thanks, Kim! Yes, I have the students fill out a different GForm after the presentations. In addition to having them assess themselves, here are some of the questions I use:
      -What new skills have your learned through this process?
      -What new skills would you like to learn next time? E.g. did a classmate use a program or technique that you would like to try?
      -Which topic did you find most interesting?
      -Which presenter did you find most captivating? Why?
      -What are 3 new things that you learned from other presenters?
      -What specific steps can you take to improve your presentation for next time?

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    2. Have you figured out a way to use mathematical symbols inside google forms? I'm a high school math teacher and would LOVE to evaluate students' work with forms, however I can't make fractions or square roots or powers show up. I would love any ideas!!

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    3. Have you figured out a way to use mathematical symbols inside google forms? I'm a high school math teacher and would LOVE to evaluate students' work with forms, however I can't make fractions or square roots or powers show up. I would love any ideas!!

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    4. I haven't been able to insert anything formatted mathematically directly in the text box yet. The best solution I can offer at this time is to insert a picture of the expressions or equations. I would write them up in word, then take a screenshot and crop them to size. Not the most convenient way, but it works!

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  4. Amazing! Moving to 5th grade next year and this will be so helpful. Hopefully my school allows the Add-on. It doesn't allow much. Do you have your students complete a GForm to assess their own work?

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  6. I'm not a teacher yet, but I think this would be good to track your students progress throughout the year so you can give great feedback at report card time.

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  7. I'm not a teacher yet, but I think this would be good to track your students progress throughout the year so you can give great feedback at report card time.

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  8. Having difficulty putting these directions into action. Do you have a video that shows these steps in sequence as you are performing them?

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    1. Hi there - here is a video on YouTube to help you out: http://youtu.be/DDjPreGtr0k
      Good luck!

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  9. I just purchased this from your tpt site. I would like to make a copy of your instructions given here. How can I do that? Thanks and excited to use this.

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    1. Thanks for your support! Feel free to save the images to help you make your instructions. You'll find after you try a couple of forms with doc appender it will become second nature. Good luck!

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  10. This is brilliant! Thank you for sharing! I was really stuck on a particular rubric assessment and now I am digging in with this format to figure it out. The best part is that it's so easy to tweak as you go. I imagine the first time I use it, I will think of additional comments I want to use and I can add them to the form immediately. Looking forward to figuring out the docAppender add-on. Thank you again!

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  11. You are so welcome! I always find that it works best for me to pretend I am marking an assignment and create comments in the order I would use as I mark. Then I come up with comments for excellent, good, satisfactory, poor and incomplete performance in those areas.

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  13. Can you make this work with Google Classroom file folders?

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  14. I have just recently discovered your blog, and it is just full of amazing things. I pull my hair out marking, and the constant rewriting of virtually identical comments on student papers. I have already had a play around with Google Forms and doc-Appender, and I can see this is going to be a lifesaver for me. THANK YOU SO MUCH :)

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  15. I got the Inquiry Project Package from you on Teacher Pay Teachers just so I could get the google form, I am using it to grade a project and I am so happy with the results and how it is making my life SO much easier... Just wanted to say thank you for sharing this!

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  16. This is amazing!! I'll be using this next year in 4th grade for all subjects. Thank you!!

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