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Technology in the Classroom: Using Google Forms

Jordan Catapano

Google Forms has been around for years, and is a useful technology in the classroom ally in organizing sets of information into handy spreadsheets. Now, its recent upgrades have tremendously boosted the value it brings to the classroom.  Forms is a convenient technology in the classroom tool for bringing together information from a large set of individuals and displaying that information in a way that makes it easy to use. Here are ten technology in the classroom methods for using Google Forms that have transformed many aspects of learning.

Technology in the Classroom Surveys with Immediate Feedback

Ever wonder what your students are thinking? Ever just want to ask them how much they are helped by certain class activities? Ever want to ask what students are doing that works, or what they need to help them more?

Google Forms is at its heart a simple survey tool. All you need to do is ask the questions you want, format the answers in a way that gives you the best information, and let students answer those questions for you. Google Forms does the rest: Depending on the type of question formats you choose, it will automatically generate graphs and charts to visually depict student responses.

In a recent survey I gave to students, I asked students to rate on a 1-5 scale their agreement with statements, like “I look at teacher feedback,” “I procrastinate,” and “I feel like I’m respected and welcomed in this class.” I asked students 30 questions total, and within a few minutes I had a great sense of what the whole class was thinking and feeling!

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Surveys can remain anonymous, or you can put a “Your Name” question at the beginning of the form. Either way, you’ll have lots of immediate feedback you can incorporate into facilitating class.

Formative Assessments

We know that formative assessments are critical for understanding how well students are learning core skills. Google Forms offers a convenient option for quickly and accurately assessing student understanding. Teachers have a range of multiple-choice or open-form options through which students can be assessed. Teachers don’t have to strictly create a quiz or test on Forms – they can even include questions that ask students directly how well they feel they understand something, or report how much reading or effort they’ve put into the current task.

If teachers do want to create quizzes or tests, they can use the helpful “Make this a quiz” option under settings and input an answer key that automatically scores students’ answers.

Just-In-Time Teaching

Just-In-Time Teaching (JiTT) is a method for gathering information about student understanding prior to class, then using that information to guide that day’s instruction.

If you’re interested in knowing what students understand so you can better organize class time, then have your students complete a Google Form in conjunction with the assigned reading or watching a video. After Forms organizes student responses, the teacher will be equipped with information about what students understand and what they don’t.

Students Create Their Own Surveys

Why should Forms be the sole domain of teachers? Students can create their own surveys using Google Forms to poll their peers. If they’re conducting original research, looking for ideas, or seeking feedback, students can practice collecting this information from peers by creating and disseminating their original forms.

Supplies and Appointments

Need students to order class t-shirts or school supplies, or make an appointment? Ask students to complete a simple form detailing things like shirt size or color preference. Or consider how Forms might be a convenient way to set up an appointment to see you outside of class. In some cases where I’ve known students’ families might not be able to afford supplement books or supplies, I’ve taken an anonymous poll using Forms to see how much of something I would need to bring into the classroom.

Debating Issues and Starting Conversations

When bringing up controversial or debatable issues in class, consider starting the conversation with an anonymous Google Form survey. Before students begin crafting talking points for a debate or engage in a sensitive conversation, they can have a chance to see how the class overall feels about certain issues. The class poll results might be surprising and lead to an opportunity for students to more effectively articulate their perspectives.

Entrance or Exit Tickets

In addition to just doing a raw survey, consider how you might use Google Forms to assess student understand before or after class – or both! Asking a few quick questions about what students know or what they have learned helps teachers have greater insight into the next steps for instruction. Forms will organize student responses into an easy-to-read format that allows for quicker reading and decisionmaking. Plus, entrance and exit slips provide a great reflection tool for students!

Student Self-Reflection

Instead of conducting a survey with the purpose of you learning more about your students, create a self-reflection tool on Google Forms that helps students learn more about themselves and one another.

In “Settings,” make sure you check “Edit After Submit” and “See Summary Charts and Text Responses.” These settings will allow students to both review what they wrote for their personal reflection and also see what classmates wrote as well. As you help students reflect on their learning habits and outcomes, Google Forms is a convenient way for students to have their reflections stored, viewed by the teacher, and perhaps shared with classmates as well.

Peer Reviews and Feedback

Instead of just having students share ideas and learning with the teacher, they can also bypass the teacher entirely and create their own peer review or feedback forms for classmates.

When sharing their work with peers, students can compose a brief memo in the Google Forms description detailing what it is they’d like feedback on. Peers can then read that description and complete the form tailored to suit each student’s feedback preferences. This could also be used for feedback on speeches or presentations.

Compare and Contrast Rankings

As individuals or in groups, students can vote or rank various ideas. For example, you want to ask students, “Who is the most immortal Greek god?”, “Who was the most successful U.S. President?”, they can use multiple choice or scale responses for voicing their choice. When all students’ subjective votes are viewed by the class, they can compare and contrast their rankings and find meaningful ways to defend their choices!

Which of the ideas do you like above? How else do you use Google Forms to transform your instruction? Tell our community about it in the comments below!

Jordan Catapano is a high school English teacher in a Chicago suburb. In addition to being National Board Certificated and head of his school’s Instructional Development Committee, he also has worked with the Illinois Association of Teachers of English and has experience as a school board member for a private school. You can follow him on Twitter at @BuffEnglish, or visit his website