As my second full year of Genius Hour passion projects begins, I’m trying something new in order to better track each student’s progress. Last year I learned plenty from my students, including that I need a leaner, more agile tracking system in order to assess, encourage, and praise progress. Google Forms to the rescue!
The form is short and takes students only a minute or two to complete at the beginning of their Passion Project time (I schedule this period once a week on a Monday or Friday). The form can be distributed to students in several ways: email, url (I’d use a url shortener for this), or a QRcode (I use Qrafter Pro, but there are free apps). Most students simply bookmark the form the first time they use it, but some love scanning the QRcode every time because it makes them feel like they are attending class on the Starship Enterprise. If not all the students in the room have a device or access to a computer, they can complete the form on a friends device or take turns on a classroom computer. I’ve even circulated the room with my iPad so that students could complete the form.
Obviously this one is blank at the moment, but once it is full of data, the spreadsheet is a versatile and handy assessment. If you click on the heading of column A (timestamp) and organize the information in alphabetical order from Z-A, you have a list of what everyone is doing (or supposed to be doing) today (alphabetizing the timestamp Z-A puts the most recent answers at the top and the oldest answers at the bottom). I use this information to connect with each student during passion project time and to help some students manage their time. It is a great way to help students to learn over time how to set reasonable goals and manage time independently.
After several classes have passed, I click on the heading of column B (Name) and organize alphabetically by name. This enables me to look at one student’s progress over time. Are they making progress? Are they accomplishing their weekly goals? Do they seem to recognize their progress (or lack of)? This helps me to identify stragglers and strugglers much earlier than I have previously, and all the information is on one spreadsheet in Google Drive instead of a pile of paper charts in my desk.
If you’re tired of treading water in a sea of paperwork, Google Forms may be the tool for you. It is very versatile and can be used in many situations. Some teachers use it to get to know their students, others to organize events or collect information from parents. Start with a simple form, and I think you’ll quickly see the power and potential of Google Forms.