I should probably take my own advice more often. Today I’ll try.
Every time I use Google Forms, I wonder why I don’t use them more often. Ten years ago when I first tried reading workshop (inspired by Nancie Atwell‘s In the Middle) I had clipboards and several trees worth of paper charts to keep track of student reading. Looking for trends and growth was a time consuming process. Now I use a very simple form (see photo) that has several key improvements on my paper charts:
- Instead of me writing 20-30 entries on a chart, which takes 15 minutes at least, now students fill out the Form each week, and it takes a few minutes.
- The Form doubles as an open invitation for students to communicate with me.
- The data the students send through the Form are stored in a spreadsheet.
Number three may not seem like a big deal at first, but it is the most important improvement. It means I can sort the data to measure growth and trends over time. Viola! Formative assessment that requires very little time and effort in class, but provides a wealth of information about the reading habits of the class and individual students. Sort first by date and then by student name, and you have a list of each student’s reading progress. Find out which books or genres students enjoy or quit. It is a simple form, so the sorting options are limited, but the concept can be scaled up.
Recently I developed a Form to help a number of teachers and Educational Assistants support a student with an individualized education program. The Form made use of Google Form question styles such as checkboxes, grids, dropdowns, and linear scales, in order make data entry easy and consistent. Teachers and EAs could all access the Form and someone filled it out each class period in the student’s schedule as they worked with him. Once the spreadsheet was populated it offered an impressive number of sorting options that helped better understand patterns of behaviour for the student and the support staff.
- Is there a connection between optimum learning and the time of day? The subject? The teacher or EA?
- Do behaviour incidents correlate with lunch? Days of the week? Medication administration?
We are still learning how to design Forms and interpret the data, but I think the potential is clear.
Recently on Twitter, Jenni vanRees asked,
— Jenni vanRees (@jennivanrees) April 23, 2016
and I immediately thought of Forms. I teach high school, so my experience with running records is limited to my role as parent. It seems that there is a huge variety of styles when it comes to running records, but in the right circumstances, a Form that uses linear scales, checkboxes, etc. could save time when working with students and really increase the usability of the data afterward. Certainly there would be time invested in the design and creation of a running record Form, but that investment would pay dividends all year. After creating the first Form, additional Forms could be created by making a copy of the original and tweaking some questions. If there are prompts that need to be changed, the original Form could be edited and the data would continue to compile.
I think it could be done with a little creativity. Anyone out there using Google Forms for Running Records? I’d love to see how you approach the task (Jenni, too).