Forming Google Forms

I hope your week in remote learning is going alright. I don’t know about you, but I hit a kind of spiritual doldrums today — a feeling of slow suffocation. But on the flip side, my son is taking really well to potty training! So there’s that.

There’s also playing around with Google Forms to cheer one’s soul up. That’s what I did this afternoon, and I made another mock lesson, continuing off the flow I had from the last one. This time I tried chopping up smaller videos and embedding questions around them. I also included a Do Now with images.

This is a reading lesson for 8th grade from a Horror unit, focused on “The Tell-tale Heart.” It would follow from a first day of reading the entire text together as a class and discussing the gist.

I apologize for the poor quality of my videos and how absolutely boring I am in them, but I figured this is all in the spirit of learning so these are all first takes.

A note also on the approach I’m taking with this mock lesson: I’m attempting to set up a lesson that is fully asynchronous, while still maintaining the main components of explicit instruction.

I included a Do Now with this one, and realized that it may be better to leave something like that off — since it’s part of one Form, students wouldn’t get immediate feedback on their responses, and instead have to complete the entire Form and lesson. So I don’t think I’d continue with that aspect. It would be nice for Forms to have a feature to grade each section as you complete them. . .

To build off of the last Forms lesson I did, I tried breaking up the videos into smaller chunks to make it slightly more interactive with questions embedded between.

Here’s the Form. Let me know what I can better refine (other than my voice–I know I’m speaking in a monotone)!

Instruction in a Google Classroom

A new week of remote instruction begins in NYC. Last week felt like a scramble to figure out what the heck is going on, while now it feels like we’re beginning to figure out a few nuts and bolts.

I’ve been sandboxing a few things in my own Google Classroom to try and help figure this stuff out, too.

Google Classroom is a simple but well-developed platform for assigning tasks and facilitating on-line interaction, streamlined with other GSuite apps like Drive, Docs, and Slides. But one issue is that merely assigning tasks—even when you organize them well as Topics—can make instruction feel piecemeal.

For example, if I want students to first watch a video or view Slides for a lesson, I’d assign that as a task. Then I might create another assignment with a Google Doc for them to write about what they learned. Or I’d create a question as the assignment, and ask students to respond to it.

What I want, instead, is one or at most two assignments that can approximate and encapsulate the primary components of a lesson—explicit instruction, collaborative and guided practice with scaffolding and feedback, and independent application.

So there seem to be three main ways this could happen within Google Classroom and GSuite, without reliance on 3rd party apps: 1) Google Forms; 2) Google Docs; and 3) Google Slides. Or some almagamation of the three, depending.

By the way, whatever I share here is not meant to be an exemplar—I am putting imperfect material out there in the hope it will help others and help me to refine my thinking. And I apologize in advance for this post being messy.

I’m trying to heed my own advice, which is to keep it simple. I picked around with all three of the above, and any one of them can be made to work for you. For Google Slides, you can add links, videos, and even embed questions via third party apps like Pear Deck. However, I’m resisting reliance on any additional apps at this point in the interest of keeping things streamlined and simple. So that factor, in my mind, makes Slides the less optimum measure.

Google Docs can add an element of synchronicity, in that all students could potentially be on the same doc at the same time, commenting or editing. I made a mock up of this to play with it. It seems to me like training students to comment on specific parts of a document, rather than all inputting on separate lines, might make it more manageable.

While I like the potentially synchronous element of it and that it’s pretty flexible as a template for adding nearly any kind of content, I think it’s too messy and has a lot of potential for confusion on a students’ part. It appears to me that in GClassroom you can either allow kids to only view a document, or to edit it, but not to just be able to comment on it. Allowing everyone to edit it is a recipe for confusion until kids are trained on how you want them to interact with the document.

That seems like a lot of unnecessary confusion and work to me.

Of course, you can also set any Doc so that it automatically makes copies individually for each student. This can work well for independent practice, but doesn’t seem ideal for tying together explicit instruction and practice.

So where I’ve landed is on using Google Forms as a vehicle for a lesson, and so far, it’s proving to be more effective than I had thought at first glance.

With Forms, you can embed either a video or an image into it, and then add questions right beneath it. What’s great there is that those questions can then be graded within forms and drop straight into your Google Classroom gradebook. That’s a pretty nice integration feature there that’s worth capitalizing on. Teachers don’t have time to waste sifting through endless Docs or PDFs grading work. And if you use the multiple choice or short answer grading function in Forms, it’s even automatically graded, thus freeing up even more effort and time.

I made two mock-ups, the first below is just an example of the basic feature of embedding media, in this case a notice and wonder activity:

In this second mock-up, I replicated the Docs lesson I had earlier, but this time within the format of Forms:

I like this the best so far because it feels clean and I love the fact that I can embed checks for understanding and some practice right alongside a mini-lesson, and that some of that can be auto-graded. The main limitation I hit is that I felt like independent practice directions needed to be put into it’s own assignment:

But if I were consistent in using this format for every lesson, I don’t think it’s a major problem.

The other hurdle with Forms is that you can’t, so far, embed Slides into it. That means you would have to record, or use, a video to provide explicit instruction. And the video you do record also has to be uploaded to YouTube in order to be embedded into Forms. I don’t get why they’ve made it like this, as it seems like an unnecessary restriction — but it’s not too hard to upload and you can keep it private in any case.

I’ll make a short video showing how to use Forms and put together a lesson and backlink it here, I just don’t have time at the moment. I wanted to put this out there first in case it helps anyone.

Let me know what I’m missing and can work to refine on any of this. The thing I’m going to tackle in my next mock-up is making my mini-lesson videos much, much shorter and bite-sized — and even splitting instruction into multiple short videos interspersed with checks for understanding.

Excelsior!