I’m always surprised how little teachers use Google Sheets (or Excel) because it has so many features that help make all the little tasks we need to do as teachers less time consuming. One of these is Data Validation.
Data validation is a neat little feature that adds a drop down menu to your cell so that you have some pre-set choices. You set the choices. Highlight the cells in which you want the drop down menu to appear, then in the tool bar choose Data>Validation. From there, I generally choose “List of Items” and list what I want my choices to be. (You can also require that the cell be filled in with a number or a certain text, but I never use those.) Click to view a video that walks you through the steps.
Applications for Education
When I give an assignment, I have a general idea of all of the items I may need to comment on. For example, I know I want to give at least one positive comment, at least one “work-on” comment and then tell them what to do next. I’ve used data validation to give feedback faster, by setting up data validation with the most common comments I think I’ll use. Then I don’t have to type them in one by one, over and over for each student. It makes the mechanics of giving feedback much faster. I can still type in a unique comment if needed, but I don’t waste time typing in the same thing multiple times. I use a Google Sheets Add-On like Autocrat or FormMule to send or share the feedback with the students with a few clicks.
Students who can’t produce their own language just yet, can create stories using data validation. Here’s an example I made with vocabulary from the first hours of French. Click on the image to make your own copy and to see all of the choices. It’s like structured sentence creation.
You probably keep attendance in your classes in your school’s student information system (SIS), but data validation can be a quick way to keep track of attendance for clubs or extra curricular activities or anything else you might need to “check-off” over a period of time.
I use a spreadsheet to grade my end of unit assessments. I have four columns for each of the four sections. I use data validation to put in the possible scores and then as I’m listening to students or reading what they wrote I use the drop down menu to input their score. I set the spreadsheet up to automatically add up the points. It’s much easier to click as I’m walking around with the iPad listening than to type.
Go ahead, open a Google Sheet and see how Data Validation can save you time!