Creating Individual Peer Review Forms

A colleague asked me to help her come up with a way for students to do peer reviews of projects using Google Forms.  The results had to be viewable only by the teacher and the student and all students had to have access to the links to submit the peer reviews for every student in the class.  The students also needed to be able to re-use the form.  I also added the criteria that the steps had to be easy enough that the average teacher could do it, because the things I found in my research were quite complicated even for me.

There are a significant number of simple steps for this, but it is well worth it if you will be doing a lot of peer review.  It will take you about 20 minutes to set up and about 10 minutes per class to have the students create their own forms.  You only need to do that 10 minute set up once per year per class. And – once you do the initial set-up, it’ll be ready for next year!

Essentially you create a generic form, force student to make a copy of it, then put then name on it and then submit the link to their now individualized form for others to use.

I have created a Google Doc that will walk you through all of the steps with images and links to copy examples of forms if you don’t want to make your own.  I also made a video that walks you through the entire process from both the teacher and student perspective.

Don’t let the number of steps intimidate you.  Lots of great things in life have lots of steps – like croissants and tamales and those are totally worth it.


The Great File Cabinet Purge Day 2

The Internet…

Day two of the Great File Cabinet Purge began prematurely. I had planned on taking it slowly and doing a couple of drawers a week leading up to finals.  But then on I got an email from Google who kindly suggested I click on and explore something.  I thought I was going to find geography and maybe a bit of la France I could use or pass on to teachers.  No. It led me directly to a livecam of a Great Dane Puppy Nursery.  Puppies!

That wasn’t what got me.

The puppies went outside and so I searched around for something else interesting and found the Farm Sanctuary Turkey Barn – a live webcam of a turkey barn on a farm in New York state.  I have my own turkeys and would gladly live on a farm surrounded by ducks, chickens and turkey (no geese), so I was immediately drawn in.  Then it happened…a goat, in a coat, in a wheelchair, busted his way past some hens into the frame.

The goat got me.

Realizing I needed to take immediate action before I lost all hope of productivity, I moved the Turkey Barn to its own screen and I got up and started emptying out drawers.

Image capture from the Turkey Barn webcam 12/12/2017


The purge itself was easier than I had expected.  None of it was sentimental.  Most of it was class sets of copies of textbook activities.  Not hard to get rid of.  It was more difficult to figure out why I even had all the copies.

I haven’t taught level 1 at the high school since 2011, but I have taught it 8 times at the college so everything for that is digitized.  Anything that was level 1 went into the trash.

I told myself that anything that I wanted to keep I could scan or take a picture of and so into the trash went most everything from my drawers.

Easy Peasy.

Day 2 Gems

The Oath of the Horatii -On overhead!!
When I was young I had energy to plan stuff like this….
You gotta do what you gotta do.

The Great File Cabinet Purge – #edublogsclub

It is my goal that by the time I go on Christmas vacation I will have cleaned out my file cabinets. The catalyst for this purge is the fact that my file cabinets live in an after school room and because of where they are they create a little cubby area where students like to try to test my one butt per chair rule.

On day 1 of the Great File Cabinet Purge I got through two drawers and threw out two bags of trash.

Then and Now

I started teaching in 1999.  It was fluke that I got my job as a French teacher.  I’m pretty sure after my interview they would have hired a French bulldog to teach the classes had they been able to find one.  Lucky for me they couldn’t and I stepped into the classroom, with a degree French and in Linguistics (English as a second language emphasis) and having done my student teaching in English.

As I was throwing away papers I was struck by the most significant change since I started teaching: technology.

When I was doing my studies in language acquisition, the professors emphasized the importance of our “image bank.”  This was the collection of magazine pages that you kept in labeled files:  girls, boys, weather, activities, etc.  In my first year teaching, someone gave me a book of black line masters that had illustrations of most words you would need for teaching.  It was revolutionary.

The Google Image Search could possibly be the biggest technical advance in my career.  It’s something I use daily.  Multiple times.  Need a picture of beach?  No problem.  In fact I’ll choose a French beach.  Two seconds later…done.  This is so simple and yet so impactful.  Project it on the board and suddenly the whole class can see it.  With the Google Docs, share it with students and suddenly they’ve got a colored culturally relevant image with which to use some language.

Even yesterday I was grateful for this, maybe more so because I was feeling nostalgic about what it was like before image search.  Yesterday I pulled up an image of une chaîne-stéréo which is a completely stupid word in the textbook.  I don’t even know what une chaîne-stéréo is in English.  Stereo system?  Stereo? I don’t know and I don’t care because it doesn’t matter.  I tell students it’s a like radio.  But yesterday I needed a picture and so voilà I pulled up a photo of une chaîne-stéréo.  Last week in class in one of the activities there’s an illustration of a guy who looks like Sloth from The Goonies.  A student used image search and on his slide deck inserted the image.  He also didn’t like that one of the girls looked sad, so he gave her a happy face.  We talked about it for five minutes in the target language.

There are lots of other important technological advances, but the image search I think is the one I appreciate the most.  Simple, yet impactful.

Yesterday I also threw out a lesson from 2002 on internet translators. In 2002 the conversation was about how crappy the translations were.  Don’t use this kids, look how terrible it is.   We can’t say that anymore because like it or not, the translators are pretty darn good.  Our conversation has to change.  How do we use them and why would we use them?  Why wouldn’t we use them?  Language is innately about human connections and nobody is going to meet, fall in love and create a family with an internet translator.

Going through the first of my files yesterday reminded me how lucky I am to have all of the technology that I do.  I’ve realized in the past few months that what I like best about using technology is that it allows me to be creative.  I can create the lesson I envision in my head for students.  The time I used to spend combing through magazines for less than perfect images large enough for students in the back of the room to see, is now spent differently.

One last share from yesterday:  The overheads from my very first CTLA statewide presentation ever.  Overheads!!


Favorite Tool #edublogsclub

I am so far behind in my #edublogsclub blogging that I’ve given up caring.  I’ve not given up blogging them, just given up caring that they weren’t blogged during the week assigned.   However,  I am determined to finish before the end of the year.

My Favorite Tool

By far, my most favorite tool right now is Trello, an organizational tool that I find works really well for me.  Here’s why it’s my favorite tool.


My work is divided between After School, Instructional Technology, teaching, World Language support, instructional coaching, PBIS, and what feels like 15 other categories and Trello keeps me sane and organized.  It is essentially a board made of lists, made of cards with all kinds of information.  Cards can be moved between lists or boards.

I have a to-do list in Trello with lists for each category that I’m working on.  I create a card with a something I need to do, add an attachment or link, label, and a due date.  With the “Power-ups” I use the calendar view to see what I need to get done.  I can add notes and a to-do list for each card or task and check them off as I go along.  I love that I can easily re-name my lists, so I can have a list based on category, or when I’m really busy a list that says “priority.”  Drag and drop to move the cards.

Trello has an option to email to board.  I try to get to “Inbox zero,” so if there is an email that I need to act on, I forward it to Trello and add a due date.  I have all of the information and attachments that I need and my inbox isn’t cluttered.  You can get super fancy in the subject line to automatically add it to boards.  Trello also has a gmail Add-on that allows you to create cards directly from gmail.  This hasn’t been turned on yet for me in my district, and I’m enjoying walking the fine line of asking every day and annoying the people who actually flip the switch.

Cards can be shared so that if you work as a team you can see who has done what and its status.  Most of my work is for my Team of One, so I have not used that feature much.

Project Planning

In addition to my To-do list board, I also have a board for the after school program that includes what needs to be done month to month.  In the case that I am no longer the after school coordinator, someone would just need to look at the after school timeline to see what needs to be done and when with all of the relevant documents attached!  So simple.  (They’ll thank me later.)

I have also planned out our Freshman summer bridge program in Trello.  Everything is included as a card with attachments and notes so that when I go to start planning in March, I won’t have to search for documents or wonder what to do next.  As it comes to planning time, I’ll create lists that say “this week”, “next week” and “today” and move the cards to the appropriate lists.


I broke up with bookmarking webpages a few years ago because I just felt like I had no good way to organize them or search for them or share them across accounts and I just wasn’t using the ones I had bookmarked.  At the beginning of the this year I even went through and culled all of my bookmarks so that they fit on the bookmark bar because I was so tired of looking at them.  Then, I had the idea of using Trello and it works magnificently!  With the Trello extension, I click and add my webpage to my bookmark bar to the appropriate list (topic) and voilà, a beautiful bookmarking system that works for me.

With Students

I’ll be blogging about my updating of the “town” unit soon, but it centered around a public Trello Board with links to various websites and maps for about 11 different French cities.  Click here to view my Villes en France Trello Board.

The best part about my favorite tool?  On Thursday I think I convinced the principal to start using Trello.

Is it…Guessing Game

This last summer I spent some time with my six year old cousin. He has some speech issues and sees a speech therapist weekly and is not, in general, a great talker…yet.  However he loves playing the Guess Who game.  Do you know this game?  You have cards with images on them that you slide into a game apparatus and then you choose one of the images and then you ask your opponent yes or no questions to try to figure out which one they selected.

I was in love with the language that this little guy was producing and hearing.   “Does it have sprinkles on top?”  “Is it cold?”  And less anyone think this game is just about language, there is also a clear strategy, as I learned after I lost the fourth straight game in a row.  Carson is a Guess Who game master ninja.

My students can do that.  I can make that.

So I did.

I’ve made a slide deck with three different games.  I had a fourth of people, but I realized that all of the people were, uh, well, all the same, uh, color.  And while it represented me, it didn’t represent my students, so I deleted that one.  I’ll try to make a better one.

It’s simple, share with students and then they drag the circle onto the image they select and the x’s onto the ones that are eliminated from the questions they ask. Repeat. Repeat.  Repeat.

Click on the image to go to the slide deck to make your own copy.