Recently, one of my students told me that he could write my blog for me. He said he’d “just throw in a few anecdotes, some teacher jargon and be done with it.”
I’ll admit, I tend to write grand, sweeping, big idea posts. It’s what I’m drawn to. This month, I’m pushing myself to write something a bit more pragmatic. In the interest of time and getting to the point, here it goes.
My TAs and Teaching Intern can attest to the fact that I am not the most organized human. But what I lack in knowing exactly where that one paper went to, I make up for in making a document with the same info on it that I can access from any classroom. I teach, coach, and enjoy my prep in any number of rooms, rooms that are the vestiges of the last building of the old Pullman High School*, which is still an outdoor walk to the back of the new school, and a bit of a trek to the front office. Needless to say, carrying papers around is not an option.
Shoot, I threw in more anecdotes and didn’t get to the point.
Here’s the deal, if you aren’t using Google Docs (and most importantly, Google Forms) to streamline information from your classroom (and dare I say life?**) you are missing out. Here are my seven ways to use them, each title contains a link to my form so that you can see how I employ these.
Forms to Collect Information from Others:
- Student or Family Surveys
- On the first day of class, I had students tell me about their likes, dislikes, how to correctly pronounce their names, and what activities they were in. Google Forms put it into a neat spreadsheet and also gave me charts to organize the info. I tossed this document into my TPEP dropbox that I share with my evaluator. Check out the easy view of my students’ math classes.
- Team Contact Information
- I coach a number of teams and I never know when I will need a parent cell number, a food restriction list, or a t-shirt size. At the first practice, I make sure that students register for my teams.
- Recommendation Request Form
- As a teacher of juniors, I am beginning to be inundated with requests for college recommendation letters. I ask students to fill out a form on my website with all the applicable due dates, formats, and a little information about themselves to help me write a killer letter. I also let it do some of the work for me, like remind students to ask me before they put my name on a recommendation form.
- Re-Assessment Request Form
- I allow students to reassess certain standards from class. This creates a metric ton of information about dates, names, and content. I let the form organize it for me!
Forms to Collect Information from Yourself:
- Parent Communication Log
- I enter information on my own form that only I have access to. This is how I track parent contacts. I used to use a paper call log, but I would always need to call a parent and not have it on me. This is very accessible. And, you know what? I plan to just put this log in my TPEP evidence. Boom.
- Lesson Planning
- This isn’t my style, personally. But I have seen other teachers use Forms as a way to write lesson plans or document their success at the end of the day.
- Collecting Student Growth Data
- Setting up a form for the metric you are using for your Student Growth Data is a literal lifesaver. Last year, I spent hours entering student responses into Excel. This year, I had students connect to a form via a QR code and answer questions about growth mindset. The responses were logged, organized, and available for me immediately. I can then use the exact same form for the next collection of data. And, you guessed it, easily turn it into my TPEP evaluator. We’ll see how the question below changes over the course of a year.
I hope that you can use some of these to make your life easier. Share in the comments if you use Google Forms in any novel ways!
*We have named ourselves the semi-autonomous region of Sci-Matica and are still awaiting recognition from an administrator.
** I also have personal forms to track when the new seasons of my favorite shows come out, and a form for presents so that I know who to write thank you notes to.
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