Thursday, September 27, 2012

Exploration Thursday - Sept. 27

This week I am knee deep in doing beginning of the year reading assessments (DRAs).  While I value the information I glean from these assessments, trying to keep the classroom in a workshop situation that provides the best environment for the students trying to either orally read with me, independently read their assessment text, or finish comprehension activities on their own, has left me with no time to have "exploration" time this week.

But that doesn't mean I've been idle preparing for life with technology for my students.  Quite the opposite.  This week, I scheduled two morning meetings with some of the district's tech PD folks for our 5th grade team, and we learned quite a bit.

We are trying to set up a learning environment that allows for learning to take place both inside and outside of the classroom.  More importantly, we're trying to use the technology we are so fortunate to have in our classrooms plus the devices students are bringing themselves, in very meaningful ways.  Last week in my post, I talked about the three apps we explored: Skitch, Popplet, and Explain Everything.

This week, we are organizing smarter ways to help us monitor student progress through quick formative assessments.  The tool we are using is Google Forms which is part of GoogleDocs.  Wow!  Through our PD and then the ability to play with Google Forms on our own, we were able to come up with some very valid formative assessments.  One of my teammates is studying place value with her students in math, and designed a 2 question form to check in on what they know so far.  Another teammate decided to use parts of the QuickCheck assessments that are already part of our district's math program and design her own Quick Checks.  After talking to a small group of online cohorts trying to wrap their heads around Evernote (a whole different conversation), I borrowed Susan Dee's idea of doing status of the class as a Google Form.  And that all happened on our first day!!

What will be so user-friendly about using GoogleForms is that our tech PD folks have shown us how to convert our forms into QR codes.  For some of you this may be old hat, but for me it was very new learning.  We will have a QR reader on each of our grade level's iPads and iTouches, so that students just have to scan with their device and it will take them right to the GoogleForm they need to complete.  The two teammates that created the math assessments printed out their QR code, hung the QR codes around the room, students used their devices to scan the code, were sent to the website, and completed the assessment in class.

And for students who don't have devices or want to retrieve the information in a different way, a fourth teammate figured out how to embed the GoogleForm onto his teacher website.

The power of GoogleForm is that it gives you all the information in a spreadsheet so that, as a teacher, the information for differentiation is right there, and you can address the needs of each student.  Beyond cool, right?!!

I'm really excited about next week as we begin to do status of the class in a different way, and I start to look at quick assessments I could use in either reading workshop or writing workshop.  I think one of my next GoogleForms will be on genre - having students correctly identify the genre of different books.  Another thought is about word study; we will be finishing a unit in word study on nouns and plurals soon; our final assessment is actually this Friday.  But, it would be good information for me to go back and take a look in the near future, and design an assessment on plurals.

I'm thrilled with what we've learned so far, and how that in turn will really benefit students.

I think our next learning will be about how to make our class wiki interactive and a place to store student learning and thinking.  Stay tuned!!


  1. Although we're not doing any of this as a school, students can access through their own devices several of the things you are explaining, Karen. Exciting stuff!

  2. Karen,
    I m pretty excited about Google forms too. I made one for my DSA data, hearing sounds in words, and now am working on one for a retelling. I hadn't thought about using it with my students, but can see the possibilities. I am also wondering about using it with parents to gather information. I have enjoyed having everyone working on it at the same. I am learning so much! Thanks for sharing the ways you are using Google forms. I look forward to learning more as you continue to play with it.


  3. Wow! QR codes for google forms??? I'm amazed at the possibilites and excited to hear more about how you are doing this. Thanks so much for sharing your thinking and ideas. I'm looking forward to learning and sharing more about this with you!

  4. ditto Mary Lee's comment. A wealth of information and so much to think about. Thanks for these posts.