Periods of Reflection

Just random musings from an elementary perspective. Views are my own.

Month: January, 2013

A “Semi-Paperless” Classroom using Google Forms and Edmodo

Continuing with the recent posts about my affinity for Edmodo, this post will focus on using Google forms and Edmodo.  The more and more reading I’ve done regarding purposeful implementation of Google forms in an educational setting, I decided to dive in.  To read more about Google forms, check out the links below, or just do a quick Google search.

Google Form Templates

Google Forms Gets a Refresh

80 + Ways to Use Google Forms (Huge List, but worth a quick glance)

Holding students accountable for their work is always an uphill battle for teachers.  How can we possibly correct everything? Do we really need to correct every piece of work? How do you deal with a mountain of paperwork?  I often have struggled with these questions throughout my short nine year career.

One way to alleviate paperwork is the attempt to go paperless in same areas.  I am very fortunate to have access to six iPads in my room, as well as three working computers, so having this technology is essential to my success to go somewhat paperless.

How I Use Google Forms:

The most impactful ways, SO FAR,  that I have been using Google forms in my classroom is during math centers and reading conferences.  To read how I structure math centers, click this link.  Because of the large amount of data collected daily for the Everyday Math program, it gives me powerful information to guide my instruction and use Google forms to meet the needs of my students.

In addition to Everyday Math curriculum implementation, we are currently preparing students for the Connecticut Mastery Test in March.  Because our math department embedded CMT type questions into each unit, we have collected valuable data.  If I notice a large amount of students not performing well on a specific CMT skills, I will create a self correcting ten question Google form for students to complete at a center. (Note – Directions to creating a 10 question self correcting Google Form can be found here. (Credit for creating the Google form goes to Kern Kelley.)

The link is sent to all students who need support through Edmodo.  The power of this approach is that it holds the students accountable for their learning, and gives me important data, while eliminating paper.   I can then use laser-like-focus to ensure my students are getting help in the areas that they need.  If students don’t need assistance on that specific skill, they can complete unfinished math boxes or journal pages, use the various EM apps available, or become content creators using EduCreations app.

I would be doing you a disservice if I did not mention that this does take planning, but I feel it’s my moral responsibility to give students what they need. The way I look at  it is it takes time to create a form, maybe 10 minutes or slightly less.  By the time I walk to make copies, pass out the work, collect the work, and correct the work, it is much longer.  So, viewing it from a global perspective, it actually takes less time  AND you have that form for future use to tweak in anyway you see fit.

Furthermore, I can also assign Google forms for homework, using Edmodo, to students who need assistance in certain areas.  Of course, as I have mentioned in past posts, if students do not have access to technology at home, I will provided a paper copy for them.

Reading Conference Checklist Using Evernote:

Another way that I have been using Google forms is for conferencing with students.  The photos below will give you an example of how I set up the form.  I have already made numerous changes to it, so feel free to customize it to fit your needs.


rcc 2

I have a digital portfolio for each student in Evernote and the link to the checklist in each portfolio.

As I am conferencing with students I check boxes of things I noticed he/she is doing well.  I will also type down a sentence or two in my observation and compliment box.  Collectively, the student and I set a teaching point or goal for themselves to become a better reader to revisit after a few weeks.  Additionally, once I submit this form, it automatically populates to a spreadsheet for me to revisit for future use to drive my instruction during small group time.

I realize this post only brushes the surface of what’s possible with Google form integration, Edmodo, and Evernote, so I’d love to hear from you about how you utilize Google forms in your classroom.  As always, any feedback and/or questions is welcomed.  If you’ve made it this far, feel free to follow me on Twitter @mrsapia_teach


Edmodo for “Book Clubs”

How many of you have ever felt that you were not meeting the needs of students in your literacy block?  Do you have difficulty engaging all types of learners in reading? Is differentiation a challenge? If you answered yes to any of these questions, here is my methodology to meeting the varied needs of students in my classroom during literacy.

Enter Edmodo for Book Clubs

This post will cover how I meet the needs of my higher level readers, but can be adapted for all reading levels.  The first step to a purposeful book club is giving students multiple choices of books they can read.  I usually give three options for students to review over the course of a few days and have them discuss which book might be the most engaging.  It’s valuable for students to have a voice in what book they’d like to read.  Students then create a list of rules they will follow for the duration of the book club.

SIDE NOTE: I know what you’re thinking, what if they don’t agree. A consensus must be made in a respectful way.  I’ve been doing book clubs for five years and have yet to run into an issue.

What are the jobs?

When students participate in a book club there is 5-6 main roles and responsibilities.  The sixth job, if applicable, would be the story sketcher.  They can sketch their visualizations of what they read on construction paper or using an app like Skitch of Educreations.


Vocabulary Real

Passage Rea


The next step would be to create a small group in Edmodo within the larger classroom group, so only students I assign to the book club will have access to the materials.  Then I create a folder to house all the required materials in the small group, as well as the book club job google docs.

Each job has a specific google doc the students type in.  This becomes a digital notebook, where each student contributes to when they are assigned that specific job.  Jobs rotate after reading a predetermined amount of pages/chapters.  The students, as well as myself, find it very powerful to be able to see other’s ideas ,build a true collaborative learning environment, and maintain a digital footprint.

My role and responsibility is to meet with the group once a week.  If I notice students are not comprehending what they are reading, I will meet as nessesary to clear up any misunderstandings.  During the meeting time my job is to be a participant, not be the leader.  I usually read the books with the students as a way to ensure they are understanding what their reading and for my own enjoyment.  I also question and comment, as I see fit, to deepen understanding.

My other main role is to provide purposeful feedback on their google docs.  As I mentioned in this earlier post, I can’t stress the importance of providing explicit, focused feedback to augment understanding and ensure students are reading the text “closely.”

If a student does not have access to technology at home, they can write out their responses in their Reader’s Notebook.

UPDATED: 3/23/2013 – Based on student feedback, students felt they would like to respond only 50 percent of the time because they felt they were too focused on completing their job and it was hampering their comprehension of the story.  

As with any blog post, any feedback would be greatly appreciated.  I am always looking to connect with others and learn from your perspective and experiences. I am also very open to the idea of connecting classes for a remote book club! So drop me a comment to inform me how you run your book clubs!

If you’d made it this far, feel free to follow on Twitter @mrsapia_teach