Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Organizing Descriptive Feedback with Google Forms

This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Kim Pollishuke.

Providing quality descriptive feedback is a significant part of day-to-day assessment practice. It was only a few years ago when I wrote these comments by hand. When report card time came around, it was difficult to generate comments that reflected student improvement and achievement because once I handed back their work, I no longer had access to previously generated feedback.

Later, I began to type my feedback and print off copies for my students. This gave me a soft copy but I found it tedious jumping from one word document to another to find the right information for a report card comment.

This year I found the solution!

By creating a Google Form to record students’ descriptive feedback for each subject, every single comment is in one spreadsheet and I can simply sort the sheet or filter it by name to see only one child’s feedback. This is unbelievably helpful when generating strengths and next steps for report card comments.

This is a sample of a Google Form I fill out each time I give my students descriptive feedback in reading. I type comments in their assignment and then quickly copy and paste them into this form.

The data collected in the Google Form automatically filters into a Google Spreadsheet.
Click image to view full size.

NOTE: I do not give students a level each time I provide them with descriptive feedback but sometimes I appreciate seeing the level in my own notes for formative assessment purposes. I intentionally select the checkbox question type so that I can select more than one level to show a range of ability.

As I prepare to write my report cards, I simply sort the spreadsheet so all the feedback for each student is grouped together.

For step-by-step instructions, visit How To Organize Descriptive Feedback with Google Forms.

In this document, I also explain how you can filter the spreadsheet to only see one child’s feedback. This is ideal for parent-teacher conferences.

Below is a screencast that shows the process I go through using Google Forms to organize my students’ descriptive feedback.

TIP from the screencast: Go to the Chrome Store and add the Tab Resize and Tab Glue extensions. One click evenly splits your screen so you can copy comments and paste them into your forms easily. One more click puts the tabs back together. I love these extensions and my students love them too!

With a Google Form for each subject, you’ll still be visiting multiple spreadsheets though. You can make your life even easier by linking all the forms to different tabs in the same spreadsheet. Visit How to Link Descriptive Feedback Forms to One Master Spreadsheet for step-by-step instructions or you can watch the screencast below.

If you’d like a head start, visit Links to Make a Copy of Google Forms for Descriptive Feedback. Click on the links and you’ll be prompted to make a copy of the spreadsheet. Change the name of the spreadsheet. In the Form drop down menu, click on Edit form and you’ll have access to the Google Form. Adapt it as needed.

Before you know it, all of your descriptive feedback will be at your fingertips!

As an elementary teacher for the past 12 years in the York Region District School Board, Kim has found that using a wide range of technology has proven to be an exciting tool when working with all learners. She is a Certified Google Educator and an Authorized Google Education Trainer. She has led numerous workshops on the integration of GAFE, most recently at EdTech Team’s Ontario Summit featuring Google Apps for Education. She sincerely believes that the purposeful integration of technology is the key to increased student engagement and improved student achievement. Along with Trevor Krikst and Wahid Khan, Kim publishes the EdTech blog, an online hub exploring the vast potential in the nexus where technology and education converge. She can be reached at, @KimPollishuke and +KimPollishuke.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Using Sumo Paint and PicMonkey in Elementary Art

Art by Jane, a 5th grade student.
This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Carrie Zimmer.

Andy Warhol was legendary for his work combining art and pop culture and his use of bright color and iconic images is known worldwide.

Warhol was provided as inspiration to American School of Milan 5th grade students several months back by art teacher, Julie Troyer. They chose a simple image that could be replicated and created the identical image six times in different color schemes.

Moving forward with the same inspiration, Julie and I decided to create different versions of one student selected photograph using our Dell tablets. We wanted to find programs that were web-based, free, and didn’t require registration. We selected Sumo Paint and PicMonkey as the best tools for our students. While copyright friendly pics can be found online in a Google filtered image search and several other places, this time our students used photographs that I gathered from my own collection.

Sumo Paint is a web-based photo editing tool. Registration is not required, as students are able to use the program and save files without creating an account. In our elementary program, this is key. We taught the students a few quick ideas using only the Adjustments and Filters, showing how they could change the image, but still maintain a reference to the original. Each student created three versions of their selected photo by experimenting with these controls, like Pixelate, Stylize, and Hue/Saturation.

Once their versions were complete, students used PicMonkey to collage their photos into one image. PicMonkey is an online photo editing and collaging tool. Again, registration is not required to use their site or save finished images. I find that this site is really easy for almost any user to understand as well. Users can drag and drop photos into collages and move them around as needed. The size and shape of the collage can also be customized to fit your needs.
Art by Nicole, a 5th grade student.

This project was completed in two 40 minute class segments. Written directions that can be modified for your situation can be found here.

A well deserved thanks goes to the amazing technologist, teacher and colleague, Tamara Wolpowitz, who shares her ideas and knowledge with me every day and provided the idea for this project. You, too, can find inspiration from her @tamwol.

Carrie Zimmer is a Technology Integration Specialist and Coach at the American School of Milan in Italy. She’s a Google Certified Teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator, but more importantly, a lifelong learner. Make your plans to come to ASM for Learning 2.016, the first Learning2 conference in Europe. Outside of the classroom, you can find Carrie reading, baking and blogging about life and travel in Europe at You can also find her online at or @carrie_zimmer

Chromebook Rollout Through Teacher Leadership

This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Todd Samuelson.

As the administrator responsible for technology in my school I had the opportunity to facilitate a Chromebook pilot project. Every grade seven student was loaned a Chromebook (CB) for the school year. The goal of the pilot was to determine the effectiveness of utilizing one-to-one devices to enhance learning in the classroom and to improve technology capacity among teachers as we move towards an eventual B.Y.O.D. school.

In early October nearly 200 Chromebooks were deployed and the journey began. Eight months later and the project can only be described as a success. One of the first steps in the process was to get CBs into the hands of teachers. We had an evening of professional development for teachers to receive support, but because CBs are so intuitive it did not take long for the majority of the teachers to become somewhat proficient. We created a google classroom that we used to communicate information, thoughts, concerns and tips. We sent a letter home to parents explaining the project and hosted an information night with presentations and an opportunity for questions.

For the students, in the beginning, a great deal of time was spent on building capacity regarding how to care for their device. Students were given formal lessons on proper care and respect for the device being loaned to them. This paid off tremendously as students took ownership for their CB and we were fortunate to have very little damage or issues related to misuse. Knowing that a goal would be to allow students to transport a device home, our teacher-librarian, Lisa, collected resources and created an extensive “Chromebook license.” The license required that students reach certain benchmarks regarding general care, responsible use and cleaning before being allowed to take a Chromebook home.

The teachers and students were amazing as they learned side by side. As much support as was requested was provided from our central office who were actively involved in the initiative. The Chromebook pilot team provided support throughout the year and organized PD time embedded into the school day. Teachers took ownership for their own learning and developed and shared lessons, strategies, struggles and challenges.

As I reflect on the project I feel the biggest influence of its success has come from the lead team that was formed. This team was composed of two “lead teachers,” Jen and Michelle, the school’s teacher-librarian, Lisa, and myself. These three guided, reflected and made decisions in every school-based aspect of the initiative ensuring a process that was ultimately best for students and most effective for teachers. They spent countless hours organizing, supporting, learning, taking risks and creating. The team shared a common belief, vision and passion for integrating technology into the classroom in a meaningful way to enhance learning.

By surrounding myself with people with skills and knowledge superior to mine in many areas and by encouraging and supporting these teachers to lead, it made for an extremely rewarding, transformative and powerful project.

I live and work in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada as a school administrator in a grade seven to 12 school of just over 1200 students and approximately 65 teachers. I am a supporter of challenging the status quo, innovative thinking, creativity, positivity, taking risks, technology in the classroom and wellness.
Twitter @todd_samuelson

3D Printers in Elementary School

This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Terri Eichholz.

We were recently gifted with a Makerbot Replicator (5th Gen) to pilot in our elementary school library. Our librarian, Angelique Lackey, and I knew that time was short before the end of the year, but we wanted students to experience the power of creating with this device.

If you search the web for 3D printing curriculum to use in elementary schools, you will find a sparse number of appropriate resources. Most of the “curriculum” turns out to be instructions on using a 3D printer like this, or lists of manipulatives teachers can make on a 3D printer. Angelique and I were looking for something that would be more transformational for our students, however.

As we researched, though, we came across the CityX curriculum. Written to teach students about the design process, this free curriculum was exactly what we wanted. The downloadable Toolkit includes an instructor’s guide, printable student workbooks, Common Core alignment, and videos. Angelique immediately found a group of students who could meet with her each day to test it out before the end of school. It has been exciting to see how the steps of the design process unfold and the confidence, collaboration, and creativity this project has engendered.

If you feel like the City X curriculum doesn’t suit your needs, I encourage you to check out the #makered Twitter chat that occurs every week on Tuesdays at 8 CST. The contributors are extremely experienced and happy to answer questions or offer resources. When I asked for app suggestions for creating, here were some that they offered:
Software that you can use for designing includes:
I would caution you to try any of the above using student logins on your devices, as some may be restricted by district filters. This may be due to links to galleries, such as Thingiverse, that are great sources of inspiration, but may include inappropriate materials.

One of my 2nd grade students used Makerbot Printshop to design the medal below for our GT class.

A 5th grade student of mine, with no other instruction from me than, “See if you can design something for us to print in Tinkercad this weekend,” created the following. It is the sled from the book, The Giver, by Lois Lowry. (It was printed in white plastic, then painted with acrylic paints.)

Speaking of literature, another resource I was able to obtain through the #makered Twitter chat was a list of books that can be used with elementary students to connect to inventing and 3D printing. I have not read the following books, but they were recommended:
How to Bicycle to the Moon to Plant Sunflowers
The Big Orange Splot
Leo the Maker Prince: Journeys in 3D Printing

An excellent book that my colleague recommended, and I have since read, is Skyjumpers. I would also suggest the following books for any kind of curriculum in which creativity and invention are encouraged:
The Most Magnificent Thing
Rosie Revere, Engineer
Iggy Peck, Architect
Going Places

A 3D printer should not be purchased for the sake of having the newest technology. However, you should not discount the idea of having one in an elementary school. Teaching our students about the design process is one of the most valuable skills we can give them. In addition, getting a chance to see the tangible results of planning, problem-solving, and collaboration can be the most powerful way to make an impact.

Terri Eichholz teaches Gifted and Talented students in San Antonio, Texas. She has been teaching for 24 years, and shares resources and idea at You can also often find her participating in educational Twitter chats (@terrieichholz). Angelique Lackey is Terri’s fabulous colleague, and is the librarian at Hidden Forest Elementary. She can also be found on Twitter (@lackeyangie).

Using Google Apps in a Math Classroom

This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Bethany Mager. 

I have been teaching high school math for 12 years and I currently work to help teachers integrate technology in our 1:1 high school using Google Apps. I often find that math teachers are reluctant to use Google Docs in a math classroom, but Google Apps has completely transformed the way I teach. I will share some of my best practices and tips to get you started.

Collaborative Challenge Problems
The best part of using Google in the classroom is having students collaborate with each other on a document. I often start a lesson with a challenge problem (that two students sitting together work on) a shared google doc. Doctopus is the best way to easily share Docs with student groups or pairs. I set up a roster at the beginning of the year and put students in a group according to their table number so that they may work together to solve the problem.

I love using online math tools in my classroom, including Desmos and GeoGebra. Often it can be overwhelming to assess student work using these tools. In order to avoid an onslaught of emails with links or attachments, I teach my students early on how to take a screenshot on their device (try the extension Snagit if you have Chromebooks or laptops). This way they can paste an image of a graph, applet, etc. from another site or app into a Google Doc to share with me or submit through Google Classroom, keeping everything organized in my Google Drive.

Of course, it’s true all math students must still do most of their work using pencil and paper. My students often prefer to work out problems by hand and then I allow them to take a photo of their work with a mobile device. Even better, let them work together using dry erase markers on their desks. You have no idea how excited a 16 year old can get about being allowed to write on a desk! If you are using Google Classroom, be sure to have them download the app on their phone or tablet. It is so easy to have them snap a photo in the app and attach it to an assignment.

Students submitting images through Classroom also makes it really easy to share and discuss their or student work as a class. I will project some of the images for all to see and have a discussion on the best methods and possible conclusions.

One of the first things I used when we started using Google Apps was Forms. I use them for pre-assessments, student surveys and as a grade reporting tool. I also use them to ask questions about videos students are asked to watch for homework and often use Flubaroo to grade simple quizzes and exit slips through Google Forms. Be sure to check out g(Math) for Forms to add math symbols and graphs to your forms. Also, consider giving a pencil and paper quiz, but asking students to enter the final answer in a Google Form to get more feedback on student understanding.

Bethany Mager is a Math teacher and Director of Technology Integration at a private school just outside of Chicago. She can be found on Twitter @msmagermath

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