Sunday, January 24, 2016

Going Digital with Google: Google Classroom

This is my 2nd post in my Going Digital with Google series. Check out my first post to find out how I use Google Forms to assess my students.

This post is all about Google Classroom. This is my first year using Google Classroom with my 4th graders. Last year we used Edmodo, which I liked. There are some pros and cons to Google Classroom that I'll share with you below.

If you're brand new to Google Classroom, I'd suggest searching YouTube for some videos that explain what it is and how to set up your classroom and get started. This is a great video to help you get started.

Pro #1:
Classroom works *almost* seamlessly with Google Drive. One of my favorite aspects of Google Classroom is that I can create an item in Google Drive - using docs, slides, or sheets. Then I can create an assignment in Google Classroom and upload that item. There is the option to have Classroom automatically make a copy for each student. Y'all that's amazing. No more having kids mess up your original document. Classroom even names the document with what you titled it and the kid's name. AND it's automatically added to their Google Drive.

Con #1:
This goes along with what I love about Classroom. If your students use iPads, like mine do, they will encounter some glitches. My kids access Classroom through safari, as opposed to the app, per district request. They also have the Drive app and the apps for Docs, Slides & Sheets. Let's say I uploaded a Google Doc for each student to edit, the kids will click on the link for the doc in classroom. Then the ipad inevitably freaks out because it's unsure of whether to open the drive app or the docs app. At first, this made us freak out too! Now the kids - and myself - are used to the fact that they need to be patient and let the ipad do it's thing. If it doesn't do it's thing correctly, they can still find the doc in their docs app. I know this sounds a bit confusing, but if you try it out on the ipad you'll know what I'm talking about.

Pro #2:
When I make an assignment, the kids are able to virtually turn in the assignment. There are some cool features here. I can quickly see who is done & who isn't. I can enter a grade & return the assignment to students. I can view the grades in a Google Sheet. I can also open a Google Drive folder with all of their assignments in it. No more lugging home giant bags filled with papers to grade, I can do it all from my laptop!

Con #2:
When I used Edmodo, I was able to create groups within my classroom. I was also able to assign things to a select group of students. As of right now, that's not an option in Google Classroom. I've been able to work around it a little bit. For example, during my RTI time I have students working on some independent study projects. I created a google doc for the different independent study groups. Then I shared the doc with the students in that group. They went to it straight from Google Drive, instead of going into Classroom. I've heard rumors that this con is on Google's radar, so hopefully an update will be coming soon.

Pro #3:
Sometimes I just need to share a link with my students, but it's not anything they'll need to turn in. Classroom has assignments & announcements. Assignments have a button for students to submit, announcements don't. I use announcements to share links, directions, or anything else that doesn't require students to turn work in digitally.

Pro #4:
When students turn in a Google Doc/Slides/Sheets/etc. they lose the ability to edit it. This means that they are no longer able to make changes to the assignment after they've turned it in. I like this feature. I've also discovered that if they unsubmit, they can go in and make changes and then turn it in again. This comes in handy when they turn it in, then realize they messed something up.

All in all, I've been really pleased with using Classroom. My 4th graders have figured it out very quickly and it's become our 1-stop place for all things in our class. Stay tuned to this series to find out more about how I use Google Docs, Slides & Sheets in my classroom. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Going Digital with Google: Google Forms for Assessing

Have you caught the Google Bug?? I have! We are using Google in new ways everyday in my 4th grade classroom. This is the 1st post in my Going Digital with Google Series.

Read on to find out how I'm using Google Forms for quick math assessments.

In the past, I've used Google Forms for surveys, but that's pretty much it. Then I discovered Flubaroo - a free Google extension. Flubaroo will automatically grade your Google Forms. 

I like to use Google Forms for quick, formative assessments.You could use them for any type of grading assignment - they work best with multiple choice questions or questions where there is only 1 right answer. I prefer to have the kids answer with a number so I don't have to worry if they spelled it wrong.

I'm going to walk you through how I create a form and use flubaroo to grade it. I made a quick, sample quiz - you can check it out here:

To get started, you need to be logged into Google Drive. You're going to want to create a new Google Form. As of right now, the add-ons are only working in the old version of Google Forms, so you'll want to stay in that.

Once you create the form, you'll be able to add your questions.

Some tips:
  • Make sure that your questions are all required so they don't accidentally submit the form before they're done. 
  • You can reorder the questions by dragging them around after you're done adding.
  • Make sure to have a question for the students to type their name. 

When you're finished, you'll want to share the link with your students. I copy the link into Google Classroom, but you could share it anyway you're already sharing links with students (including QR codes). 

Next, you're going to need to "view live form" and complete the form yourself. This will create the answer key. I always put "Answer Key" for the name question.

Once the form is finished, click on the option to "view responses". This will take you to a spreadsheet.
  • It bothers me when the text runs over the boxes - to fix this, select the boxes, then go to format -> text wrapping -> wrap text

Now you're going to add Flubaroo. This next step you'll only have to do the first time. You're going to click on add-ons -> get add-ons

Type Flubaroo in the search box & click free to download. You'll also have to click "allow" on the next screen that pops up. 

Now go back to the spreadsheet, click "add-ons" -> Flubaroo-> Grade assignment

 Flubaroo will walk you through the next steps. You can decide if you want to grade every question and if you want to grade them equally.

Then you'll select which response to use as the answer key. This is where naming it "answer key" comes in handy : )

Once you're done, Flubaroo will create a new page in the spreadsheet for you. Here's an idea of what it looks like (with fake entries). Not only does it show you the grade, but also how the students do on each question & if there are trends. You can even create graphs to go along with your data!

Another option is to have Flubaroo email students their grades - for this you'd have to include a question where students type their email address. I've used this option with kids, and they love being able to get such quick feedback!

I know this seems like a lot of steps, but once you get the hang of it, it's very quick - much quicker than grading 40 (or more) papers!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Solving Word Problems in a Digital Classroom

Last year I spent a couple of weeks teaching my kids how to analyze word problems. You can read all about my lessons here .

This year I did the same lessons, with a digital twist. I am really trying to incorporate more digital activities now that I'm in my second year of going 1:1 with students to iPads. 

The first day of our problem solving unit, we created a key words chart. Last year, I had the kids write on a a recording sheet like this:

This year I created the recording sheet in Google Docs and shared it with my student in Google Classroom. In Google Classroom you are able to make a copy of a Google Doc for each student. As we acted out word problems using manipulatives, we added to the Google Doc. The students each added to their own chart - this kept them more engaged than if they watched me create the chart. Now instead of having a copy in their math journals, they have a copy in Google Drive. 

On the second day of the unit, I had students sort word problems by the 4 operations. They had to write a number sentence and an explanation for each problem. Last year it looked like this:

This year instead of using paper/pencil, the kids took pictures of the word problems and put the number sentence and explanation into a pic collage. So now it looked like this:

Now, not everything lends itself to a digital activity. Sometimes I still need my students doing paper/pencil activities. However, when I'm able to make something digital I see an increase in engagement and ownership. The reduction in copies and paper is an added bonus. 

How do you incorporate digital activities into your math block?

Interested in my word problem lesson plans? The first 3 days are available in my Teacher Pay Teacher store: