Lessons from Cohort 21 – some uses for Google Forms

I see that the new round of Cohort 21 has begun. Although I am not involved this year, I find that I am appreciating last year’s experience more and more as time goes on.

I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the Ministry’s Growing Success Document and thinking about gathering evidence of observations and conversations with students. I would not have dedicated so much time to this had I not been a member of Cohort 21. By spending time with the document and trying to implement some of the ideas, I have actually developed more respect for the process and the fact that I see value in it has helped my students see the value too.

One as learning assessment that I have found very valuable is a test reflection. When a unit test (of learning) is returned, I want students to spend some time digesting the feedback received from the assessment, and I want them to make corrections and ask questions such as “why did I lose marks on this question? What were you looking for?”. Ideally if students had studied the for learning assessments and paid attention to the feedback such as posted solutions, they wouldn’t wonder what I was looking for by the time they wrote their of learning assessment. In fact sometimes when they as such a question, I suggest that they look at the posted homework or quiz solutions and see if they can figure out what was missing.

Last year I used Blackboard Journals as a place for students to post their reflections. They would address a number of prompts in a written portion of the journal entry and then scan their corrected test and attach it to their journal. I like that the journals were a private place for students to post (only the student posting and the teacher see a journal entry — different from discussion board). It was also a simple, one stop place for students to find all of their unit tests as well as advice for revisiting the unit for their June exam. What I did not like about using Blackboard Journals is that there were many clicks involved to get to each students journal and the reflections were so narrative in nature that it was hard to pull out specific trends from student to students. Students also mentioned that they found the reflections a little tedious and requiring more work put in compared to the value that they received from doing them.

This year I’ve decided to use Google Forms (which I was exposed to in Cohort 21 but hadn’t used until last month). I created a form for one class, and then I could change it slightly to use with different classes. I’ve made sure that I spend time going over the multiple choice questions with the students either in class or before school (I don’t want to lose any time from my Advanced Placement Chemistry class time – 21 out of 25 students showed up for the 7:30 am test take up).

I’ve included an excerpt of the AP Chemistry Test Reflection Form here (click to enlarge):Excerpt from AP Chemistry Unit 1 Test Reflection

I really liked that all of the responses were in a single spreadsheet. I could easily check to see who had finished on time and email those who were overdue. Once all students had submitted their reflections, I exported the file as an excel spreadsheet. When I was writing report card comments, I read each students reflections as I went (just using the tab button to move through the excel spreadsheet). It took very little time. Only one student said that they preferred using Blackboard Journals to using the Google form. I was able to see at a glance that there were no students who felt that test reflections were not at all useful. On average students ranked the usefulness as 3/4. I also liked the quick reference for how long it was taking students to complete the reflection — most students said 10-30 minutes.

One thing I’ve implemented from the feedback across all of my classes, it that I have scheduled a specific extra help time for each class every week rather than varying it from week to week based on upcoming assessments. Students stated that they wanted a time they could plan for. I’ve also used the test reflections when students have come in for extra help to focus on specific areas for improvement that they identified in their reflections. I will consult this file again during parent – teacher conferences. Students are remarkably honest in these reflections. From reading the section on their feelings regarding performance, I was able to send an encouraging email or talk to someone after class.

I have also used Google Forms to create my own marking rubrics for assessments. It was very slick to use as I marked, and again I have all of the feedback for the assessment in a single excel spreadsheet now.

Thanks again Garth and Justin and Cohort class of 2013 🙂

2 thoughts on “Lessons from Cohort 21 – some uses for Google Forms

  1. Melody,

    I LOVE that you are continuing to blog and reflect with C21. Once a member, always a member. Great thinking around forms and grabbing student feedback! Hope the year is going well.

  2. Hi Melody,
    Thanks for this post – I am implementing very similar tools of reflection in my own classes, so I’m glad to see that you are as well.

    We’d love to get you involved in some of the hang-outs that are coming up, and get you commenting on some of the blogs. So jump right in, and follow us on Twitter to stay involved, and to hear about upcoming Google Hangouts!

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