Conversations with Colleagues: Flubaroo

These are the questions I get asked most frequently about Flubaroo- a Google Sheets Add-On that grades tests.  I’ve used Flubaroo as my only (automated) test grading option for more than a year.  If you haven’t already, watch the short video at for a quick over view of how Flubaroo works.

Note:  Now you can build quizzes directly in Google Forms!  It works a bit different than Flubaroo.  For a good comparison of the two, see this post from Control Alt Achieve.

Do I just have to do multiple choice questions?

Nope.  You can do any time of question you want.

Will it grade short answer questions?

No.  But, Flubaroo makes it really easy for you to hand grade by using the grade by hand option.  I frequently have students write a short paragraph as part of their quizzes and I was surprised at how fast I could “hand-grade” them using Flubaroo.  Flubaroo even has a new option that will allow you to open up a window and add comments.  (Oh Flubaroo, where were you with this option six months ago?)

How do students get their answers?

The easiest way is to email students their answers.  You can choose to include the correct answer with their score or not.  Good tip- if you automatically collect students’ usernames in your Google Form then at the end of the quiz students will see the option to send themselves a copy of their submission which, in the case of a quiz you probably don’t want to have first period send themselves a copy to show third period during second period.  Get past this by having a mandatory question that asks students for their email.  This is a good option anyways, because maybe you don’t have email turned on in your domain or maybe students want their answers sent somewhere else.

Will it automagically put the grades in my gradebook?

Uh, non.  You still have to do that yourself, but use the Tab Resize Extension and open a separate window to do it quickly.

How do I write the key?

The “key” is made by you taking the test in Forms and naming it Answer Key.  I highly recommend you doing this first, so the answer key is in the second row of the Spreadsheet and so that you can check if there are any “issues” with the test.  In the First Name box write: Answer and in the Last Name box write: Key.

How can I keep students from cheating?

You can’t completely of course, but here are some steps you can take make it more difficult:

  • In the form itself, shuffle the question order and the multiple choice order.  To do this
  • Turn the test on and off by clicking “Accepting responses” only when you are ready for students to take the test.  As soon as the test is done, click “Not accepting responses.”  To do this click on “responses” and then the toggle


  • Make a question for a “code.”  This will keep students from logging on remotely (from home or another classroom) and taking the test.  This is an issue if you share the link in Google Classroom because students will have it not matter where they are.  Only say the code out loud and change it as soon as you say it.  (Students can be sneaky.)  To do this make a new short answer question and click on the toggle to require it.  Then click on the three dots and choose data validation.

Then choose Number/Equal to and type in the number that’s the “code” and you can edit your custom error text.  I make mine say “Sorry.  Try again.”


So basically now a student has to enter the number 1642 in order to proceed.  As soon as everyone has gotten into the test, I will change the number to 1600 (or anything) just in case someone though they might be sneaky and text the number to someone not in class.

Can students take the test after I’ve graded it?

Yes.  Remember, you’ll have to re-open it or click “accepting responses” and make a new number code (and turn it off again!)  Flubaroo now has a new option that will grade only the latest submissions since the last time you graded instead of re-grading everything.

See my blog post for more tips on building Google Form Quizzes.

Five Activities to Challenge Students Beyond Yes and No




A few weeks ago I was  about to do an activity where I knew I was going to push students to expand their answers  (Angelina Jolie is a better actress because …..) that it got me thinking about ways we can challenge students to do than just respond with yes or no; because in addition to comprehensible activities and stories our job is to challenge students to say more than they think they can because they may not do it themselves.

These are activities that you would use selectively; not every day.  Not for input.  Not for comprehension checks.  But to challenge them to expand their language.

  1.  5 Finger Sentences – Students respond to a prompt by using five sentences and count them off by their fingers. Example:  Tell me about your family.  Answer: My mom is Sally.  She is 40.  She likes apples.  My dad is 42.  He likes football.
  2. Combining Sentences- If you’re like me, after listening to the above sentences 30 times in class period you’ll want to reach for the nearest dull spoon to stab in your foot, so teach students to put those together.  Take ones student’s example (or use your own) and show students on the board how those sentences can combine.  Then ask them to do themselves. Then exclaim wildly and repeatedly in the TL, “Wow, what an amazing, beautiful sentence!”
  3. Sentence Challenge- I love this next activity and it works best for review.  I’ve usually used it after some kind of reading.  Pull out 20-30 words from the reading.  Any words will work, but make sure to have a good mix of words; that is words that are easy for students and some that are more difficult.  Put the words randomly on the board.  (Maybe using a slide in Google Slides) Next, in pairs tell the students they will have 1 minute to try to make as many different sentences as they can.  You can require the sentences to be in some kind of order, but I usually don’t.  While partner A is talking, Partner B is counting the number of sentences.  Once you’ve done it as partners, ask for volunteers and see who in the class can do the most.  At the end, ask a student to time you as you do it.  I have never beaten a student at Sentence Challenge.  Working on a specific structure?  Tell students to use that structure.
  4. Sticky Sentence Challenge- You can use stickies or Jenga pieces or Legos or paper or a digital tool or whatever is easiest for you.  Write a one word on each one of the stickies.  (Which words? Oh I don’t know, maybe the same ones you were working on in the previous activity.  If you did it in Google Slides, print out that page and presto done!)  You’ll need one set per group.  Have students lay out the stickies on a desk or wall to see who make the longest sentence.  They will have to add in their own words to make sentences.  Usually I give parameters like, “10 points extra credit if your sentence is so funny it makes me cry.”  Non-digital might be better for this activity because they can see around the room to see who is making longer sentences.  As you’re walking around you can exclaim wildly, “Wow, what a beautiful sentence! What else can you say?”
  5. Sentence Expansion- Taking the example from #1, show students how to expand those sentences using the words they already know.  So instead of “There is a dog.” Show them how to expand that sentence.  “There is a big, brown dog who is eating in the classroom.”  Wait class, can we add more?  “…in the small classroom at XYZ high school in California in the USA.”  Ask them to rewrite a short sentence in the same way.  As you move into higher levels, you’ll be teaching students how to combine sentences and write in a rich varied language.

As we move students from Novice to Intermediate proficiency levels, short intentional activities like this will help students practice using varied language and keep your feet free from dull spoon marks.



Screenshot on a Chromebook

In addition to the keyboard shortcuts below you can use Awesome Screenshot Extension for Chrome- This is exactly what it says-awesome.  It allows you to annotate images and add boxes.  Sometimes when I choose “selected area” it crops it funny, so I choose “visible part of the page” and do the cropping myself.  You can then save the image to your computer or copy it to use directly in another application.

Note:  On a Chromebook to save the image to the clipboard, click “save to clipboard” on the pop-up screen in the bottom left hand corner before you navigate away from that page.

Post Chromebook Screenshot Ninja


Screenshot on a PC

In addition to the keyboard shortcuts below you can use Awesome Screenshot Extension for Chrome- This is exactly what it says-awesome.  It allows you to annotate images and add boxes.  Sometimes when I choose “selected area” it crops it funny, so I choose “visible part of the page” and do the cropping myself.  You can then save the image to your computer or copy it to use directly in another application.

If you’re running the latest version of Windows you can use the Snipping Tool.  Click on the start button and then Snipping Tool.  Follow the directions to take a new “snip.”

Screenshot on a Mac

In addition to the keyboard shortcuts below, you can use Awesome Screenshot Extension for Chrome- This is exactly what it says-awesome.  It allows you to annotate images and add boxes.  Sometimes when I choose “selected area” it crops it funny, so I choose “visible part of the page” and do the cropping myself.  You can then save the image to your computer or copy it to use directly in another application.

Keyboard shortcuts

For a partial screenshot saved as a file- use command+shift+4

For a full screenshot saved as a file – command+shift+3

For a partial screenshot copied to the clipboard (the only one of these I’ve memorized!)- command+shift+option+4

For a full screenshot copied to the clipboard – command+shift+option+3

Screenshot Ninja

Learn to be a screenshot Ninja!

Screenshot (1)

If you learn one skill this week it should be how to take a screenshot on whatever device you use.  This is one of the most versatile and simple tech tools you can use.  On any given day I will can take endless screenshots for all types of different reasons.

There are two types of screenshots:

Copy to clipboard– You would use this for anything that doesn’t require a file.  For example- if you found a portion of a website that you want students to focus on.  Here, I found a brief summary of an article at that I could add to a Slide deck or to a Google Doc for an assignment.  This is the quickest and easiest way to take a screenshot. You don’t have to have a bunch of files sitting around of stuff you don’t really need.

Screenshot 2016-06-15 at 4.16.02 PM
Example of a screenshot capturing only certain information from a webpage.

I’m a big fan of narrowing what students are looking at, so they know what to focus on and taking a screenshot can help.  Often, I use screenshots to divide longer texts or pdfs into different sections.  This can help improve reading comprehension be limiting what students are seeing.

Save as a file: You only need to use this option if need a file for some reason, like you are going to import the picture into a Google Form, or Kahoot,  or any place where the only option would be “upload file.”  This is the least common of the two and the great part is if you “copy to clipboard” and then need the file you can just go back and redo it.  The file will most likely end up in your downloads file.

Also, for either of the above you can take a picture of the entire screen or choose to take just a selection.

Choose your screenshot tool

Just like when you have to screw in a screw you choose a tool, you have to do the same thing with taking a screenshot.  Do you want to annotate it?  Do you want to add text?  Do you need it to show the right click option?  Do you want to show the whole screen and not just your browser?  Just like you don’t choose a screwdriver to put up drywall, you wouldn’t choose the most basic tool for something that requires finesse.  For any given task, I might use two or three tools to take a screen shot.  Additionally, how you take a screen shot depends on what device you are using.

Click on the device you’re using to learn how to be a screenshot Ninja.




Tips for Saving and Curating

Situation: You find the most absolutely beautiful, perfect image/text/cartoon/advertisement to go with your unit on [fill in the blank].

Now to save it so you can exploit it!  Don’t end up with a hot mess of saved images/texts/cartoons and advertisements.  Here’s some tips.

  • Try to locate the original or the source with the best quality.  There’s nothing worse than finding the perfect image and then realizing when you project it on the board it’s so pixelated it’s awesomeness is diminished by the cries of “I can’t see it!” and “What does that say?”  This may mean a few extra clicks to find the original resource.  It’s worth it.
  • Use the “Save to Google Drive” Extension.  This is one of my favorites because you can right click on the image and choose save to drive as a link or image.  But wait- you’re not done.  Go immediately to your drive and put it in the folder to which it belongs.  Even if you’re not going to use it immediately. Don’t let it hang out un-organized.
  • While you’re at it, if it fits into more than one lesson use shift+z and move it to a second folder so it’s ready to go when you need it.
  • Google Save (or Save to Google) is a new Google feature that allows you to save websites and photos and tag them like Pinterest.  I don’t use Google Save a lot because it’s one more place to look to find my stuff.  I prefer to have it live in my Google Drive with all of my lessons and slide decks, etc.
  • If you save something in Pinterest on the mobile app you can save it directly to your phone or device and then upload it to your Google Drive through the Google Drive Android or iOS app.  Click on the three dots and then save image.  Then go to the Google Drive App on your device and choose File>Upload and find that picture.  If you’re viewing your Pinterest page on the Internet follow the above steps.

But wait, what you want to save is a website?  No problem.

For websites for which I am going to make a long and involved lesson I like to have a PDF copy of it so that when the website changes, I don’t end up with a beautifully crafted and engaging lesson with no website content or even worse, different website content.  (I’m talking to you,

  • If you only need a portion of the website, you can take a screenshot.  (See my post on screenshots for more information.)  I would do this for the weather report or a title of an article.
  • You can save the entire website as a PDF by using Control + P and changing the printer.  Click on “Change” and then choose “Save as PDF.”  This will download it to your computer and then you should immediately upload it to your Google Drive so that it lives with all of your other information for that unit/lesson.