Faster, No Math Required Feedback

I am on a quest this semester to make feedback as fast and effortless with the least amount of mathing.  I hate trying to math by myself.  Give me four numbers and unless they’re all 2, I’ll have a different answer each time I add them up.  It’s mind blowing how terrible I am.  I’ve pretty much decided that from this point on in my life, I am going to math only with the help of a spreadsheet because it’s just less frustrating for everyone.

In the past, I’ve never used Google Forms as a way to “grade” (give feedback) on student presentations because I couldn’t figure out how to have it automatically add up the points.  Then, my friend told me about Form Publisher Add-on.  And I thought, how did I not know about this??!!

Form Publisher is a Google Form Add-on that allows you to publish your form entry to a doc or an Google Sheet.  (And the Google sheet means no mathing by yourself!)  Add-ons are amazing little programs that help you do great stuff in Sheets, Forms, Docs and Slides.  In Forms, to get an add on, click on the three dots then choose “Add-ons.”  Search for Form Publisher and then click add.  To run it, go to the puzzle piece and chose it. (You’ll run it after you set up your form. )

The Why

For as long as I can remember, I have always had intermediate students do a two minute oral exposé once a month or once a chapter.  I give them the topic:  Research a store, a country, a famous scientist, a problem, present your survey results, etc – you get the idea.  When I had my combined level 3 and AP class, I used the topics to help the AP students prepare for AP.  (I tricked them and had them preparing even in level 3!  They had no idea.)  I continued this even with my college classes. Sometimes I have it really structured- sometimes I don’t.  This unit for college they doing some reading and comparing and presenting a thesis.  The first one was, “Tell me about yourself,  your family and friends and what role do they play in your life.” I like it.  Students like it.  It’s a nice way to have some presentational speaking on a specific topic that goes along with your theme.    I needed a paperless way to add up these points.

The Set Up

There are two things to set up for Form Publisher.  One is the form and the other is destination document.  For my form, I took the student email addresses from my Google Classroom and entered this into the first question.  This way I could click on the student and populate the column that Form Publisher would use to share the document.  (You won’t see this in the example.)  Next, I added the names of all of the students in the class along with my own.  I have always had students peer grade for oral exposés.  A student would get two reviews: One from me and one from the reviewing student.

The Rubric:

I really like the presentational speaking rubric for AP.  It’s easy to follow.  It’s clear enough without being too wordy.  And I’ve used this for years in the high school as well in my college class.   (Note: When I had the combined 3/AP class, I used the same rubric for the 3s.  Only “appropriate structures” has a different meaning for level 3 and AP.)  I wanted the rubric to add itself up, so I made one question with a number  for the points (5,4,3,2,1) and one with the comment for that point value.  I wanted them to be side by side, but without fancy coding in your sheet you’ll need to have two questions.  I repeated until I had all of the criteria.

The Destination Sheet:

I made a template sheet in Google Sheets.  Form Publisher had a pretty picture in their example, so I tried to mimic that idea with relatively little success.  Because the destination sheet pulls information from the form, you have to have “markers.”  These are marked by << >>.  (I don’t know what their English name is, so I refer to them as “French quotation marks.”)  These have to match EXACTLY what is on your form questions or it won’t work.

I used a basic formula to have the points add up.  Here’s an example of what it looks like for the student.  (This was a test one.)

Each time you submit the form, Form Publisher creates a new document (or sheet) and can share it with the student.  It’s brilliant!  No paper!  Instant Feedback!  I have a section on mine for the students to do a little reflection after their exposé and after they review their feedback because if you give feedback and you don’t have them do something it’s a waste of your time.

You can make a copy of my form here.

You can make a copy of my destination sheet here.

Form Publisher has its own really easy to follow tutorials here.

Google Forms Test Security

I get asked all the time how to make Google Forms secure for test taking so students don’t cheat.  Whaaaat?  Students want to cheat?  Whaaaaat?  This technology…now all the sudden kids what to cheat.  They never did that before.

Here are some ways you can make your Google Forms tests more secure.

Walk Around and Supervise

If you’re unable to walk around and make sure kids aren’t cheating then assume they are.  There’s nothing that will ensure test security better than the teacher walking around.  That said, sometimes you can’t walk around and supervise.  (Like when you go back to work after back surgery and have to teach in a back brace for three months.  I did no walking around during those tests. ) One of my colleagues says if you walk around you can tell who is trying to cheat because they are very concerned where you are while everyone else is focused on the test.

Here’s some other things you can do:

Use Sections

Sections split your test up into “pages.”  Then you can shuffle everything on that page.  If you have a picture with questions about it the picture may appear at the end of the webpage, but I’ve given hundreds of Google Forms tests and as long as students know that they might have to scroll up or down to find the image there has never been an issue.  In general, I try to limit the number of questions per section to less than 10.

Click on the equals sign to add a new section and shuffle the questions in the gears.  Questions are shuffled within each section.

Add a Code

You can add a code by using data validation.   The first section of my test is name, and the code.  I usually make my code a number and as soon as everyone is “in” the test I change the code.  This way, students can’t log in unless they get the code.  Require the question.  Pro-tip: Check your test before you pass it out.  I’ve had teachers say that the correct code showed up when students typed in the wrong answer.  I always use the “number” “is equal to” and then add “Sorry try again.”  I add the code in the first section so that students enter their name and then wait for me to give them the code then they start the test.  

Stop Accepting Responses

As soon as the last student is done, turn your form off.  This will prevent anyone from accessing it when you don’t want them to.  When I begin a test, I keep the form off and make everyone click on the link and get the “This form is no longer accepting submissions” page, then I turn it on and then I have everyone refresh and then they start.  I just like for everyone to be on the same page.

Remove the Link

In Google Classroom you can add the form directly by clicking on the Drive icon and adding it.  This will allow you to import grades (if you want.) One of my colleague doesn’t do this and instead posts the link to the form in Google Classroom and as soon as student have taken it, he deletes that post from Google Classroom.  If you do this you won’t be able to post your scores in Google Classroom.

Establish Test Taking Procedures

A long time ago I got some advice that was revolutionary: establish test taking procedures and if someone doesn’t follow them you don’t get accused them of cheating- they just haven’t followed the procedures.  I had a student log in from home and take a quiz once.  I was highly annoyed, but fair play to her because I hadn’t explicitly said they couldn’t.  I add to all of my assessments now “Only assessments done in class and supervised will be graded.” And then I establish these procedures:  “You can have these tabs open:  Google Classroom, the form, and a tab with the accent codes on there.  If you have any other tab open you will earn a zero for not having followed test taking procedures.”  I add this in Classroom and I say it.  You could also add it to the form if you felt like you needed it.



Week in Review and a Bonus Flipgrid Self-Reflection!

This past week Kicked. My. Butt.  Nevertheless, it was quite a productive little week.


Because I don’t know how to stop giving myself more work, my massive effort to visit every teacher in his/her classroom to find out how I can help them integrate technology thoughtfully kicked off and I visited 20 teachers. #tired.  I began to have feelings again for my iPad.


I am lucky enough to be considered part of the CAMP (Computer and Media Pathway – a CTE/CPA Distinguished Academy) Team and Tuesday we spent the day team building with students as a disguised method for teaching these kids about college.  It’s called the Ropes to College and is an model example of why academies and pathways are good for kids.

I also submitted my workshops (2) and interest sessions (2) for the CLTA Conference “The Quest for Proficiency” in Ontario in March.    You’ll be there right?  Right?


Full-fledged, 100% fell back in love with my iPad.  I was giddy.  I was so crazy in love that I bought my iPad a stand so it can take it’s rightful place on my desk.

I also took 19 seconds of a different video and turned it into another fifteen minute activity, using Google Forms.  Why had I never done this before??  Instant data!  Click on the image to see the slide show.  (Is it still a slide show if there’s only one slide?)  And click here to see the accompanying form.   (You’ll be asked to make a copy.)  My next step is to add these little video gems into EdPuzzle.


And then we talked about the data which was a great way to practice numbers.  Because there’s never not a good time to throw in a little number practice.

I also played around with Flipgrid, pretty much having the same experience as Colleen at Language Sensei. Except, today when I was listening to the responses,  I had what I hope is going to be a brilliant idea: I think it will be more effective if they listen to their responses for the things that I heard over and over again.  Instead of me giving feedback, they could hear it themselves and hopefully correct it.  Jo Boaler said that your synapses fire when you realize you’ve made a mistake and when you correct it, so I’m hoping this will cause some synapses to fire twice which will in turn have some effect the next time they talk.

Today I made a Google sheet, which I’ll pass out in Classroom so they each have a copy and here’s the brilliant part, I used a formula so if a student answers “Non” to any of the things they should be listening for a message pops up telling them to re-record!  At least I got the formula to work on the first try making me feel like my formula skills are improving.  Click on the image to see the form.  You’ll have to make a copy to see the down arrow (and my fancy formula skills.)


Confirmation that the House voted to restore funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers.  This is a good thing.

At my Technology Leaders meeting the meeting leader said he wants to do a book study of The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros and he was so excited about the idea that I’m going to participate just because he was so enthusiastic about it.


Continued classroom visits with my love, iPad and catch up day for everything I haven’t been able to get to including starting the catalogue of the performance based assessments the World Language teachers will be giving in a couple of weeks.

Despite being beat up by the week, I can’t complain because I have the best job(s) in the world!

Grade Short Answers in Google Forms

Grading has never been ____.

Yesterday Google quietly announced a new Forms feature that allows you to grade by question and allows for streamlined short answer grading.  Now you can create short answer/fill in the blank questions and grade them in Forms itself.  You provide an answer key (currently case sensitive) and if the student puts that exact answer, Forms grades it automatically.  All other answers can be graded quickly with clicks.

With this new update you can easily add short answer and fill in the blank questions to your Forms quizzes.

Feedback is best when it is ____.

The new forms update also allows for individual feedback for questions and even allows you to post a link and test in your feedback.  For example you could link to a video or screencast re-teaching the skill.  Alternately if the student showed mastery to a video that would challenge them to do more.


#edublogsclub – Assessment

Student Reflection with Google Sheets

Ok- so I actually started this post in February.  February!

What had happened was:

My principal came to me last semester with a copy of John Hattie’s Visible Learning into Action and said that it was a book he wanted all of the instructional coaches to have.  I thought it was adorable that he thought that I had time to read the book, but I did try and carried it around in my backpack for months.

What I did get to was that self-reported grades have a huge impact on student achievement and so I set about trying to implement some kind of goal based reflection/portfolio/tracking system.  I wanted to have students submit samples, so we could see growth over the course of the semester and on which they would reflect and grade themselves and I could get an idea of where they were.

What I did:

I decided to use Google Sheets and Google Classroom because I thought it would be easy to track and while I know there are many sites out there for portfolios I did not want one. more. login or platform.

I created a Google Sheet called Weekly Reflection and shared it in Google Classroom as the only assignment with the “Weekly Reflection” topic label.  Students could find it easily in the Stream by clicking on that. Obviously from the title, I had planned that students would do this at the end of each week, but I quickly realized that once a week was too frequent to show any growth, so it ended up being every 2-3 lessons.  In the spreadsheet the students chose either Recap or Writing (I told them what they were doing) and then they evaluated themselves based on the rubric on sheet 2.  Lastly, they set a goal and made an action step and turned the sheet in through Google Classroom.  They did this several times during the semester.

Here’s a short video that shows how it works.Weekly reflection

Once they had turned it in I went and read or listened and then evaluated them based on the rubric as well.  Sometimes these were way off.  The very first time I had several students that gave themselves a 7 or 8 and they were writing “je suis mange.”  I don’t know if they didn’t read the rubric or if they felt like they “had” to evaluate themselves high.  Either way, after the first time their evaluations were closer.

The Google Sheet also has tabs for the language goals to see where they are and what they might do to advance.  Someone shared this somewhere and I don’t know who it was, so if it was you, thank you!

Some things I did:

I gave them these assignments with only 10-15 minutes left in class because I wanted to see what they could actually do and not what they could look up or plan.  It was pure sneakiness on my part.

Students had a paper rubric to refer to so they didn’t have to go back and forth between tabs because that gets annoying.

In the column labeled “notes” at the end of the sheet and I responded to their goal setting and writing or listening sample.

This was not given a grade.  It was purely for reflection purposes.  If students didn’t do it, nothing happened except for they didn’t get the benefit of my feedback and comments.

Goal setting language was not part of the Student Learning Outcomes I was given to use, so I had them do the reflection and goal setting in English.

What went well:

Using conditional formatting to color code the numbers was brilliant because their progression was represented visually with color.

Students asked me questions about their writing.

Students wrote some great goals and ones that I would never have guessed for them.  They saw weaknesses where I didn’t.

What didn’t go well:

Sometimes students only wrote 2-3 sentences and it was difficult for me to evaluate.  In these cases I wrote that they didn’t write enough for me to evaluate.  That didn’t happen when I gave a Recap to do.

Students didn’t always write an action to do to achieve their goal.  This is my fault because I didn’t give examples and non-examples.  Easily fixed next semester.

I didn’t have a system for them to reflect on their previous goal setting.  #nexttime

I didn’t give enough time.  Honestly, I wish I could have them do this at home, but I was too afraid that the Translators and the Internet would cause too much interference and not give me a true sample.

A note on the rubric:

I used the rubric our district is using from our trainings on performance based assessments with Kara and Megan from Creative Language Class. Why I didn’t have students evaluate themselves as NL, NM, etc. instead of numbers?  I can’t really say.  I’m sure at the time I did it, it made complete sense.  I’m going to leave it.

The semester isn’t quite over yet, so I will ask students their thoughts about the efficacy of the rubric/reflection in their end of the semester survey.

Click here to see the Weekly Reflection Google Sheets.   You’ll have to make a copy in order to see the fancy down arrows that will color code once you choose a number.  Note: Number 1 has no color.



Time Saving Hacks with Google Form Quizzes

Google Forms is a quick and easy way to give an assessment, but it can be time consuming with all of the clicking necessary to make quizzes.  Here is a short video that will walk you through some time saving tips.  (Last week I actually wrote out a post with these directions, but decided on a video instead.)

You can view all of the Tech Bytes on YouTube.


Yelp Template

Write a Review

I made a French Yelp template for Google Slides for an assessment last week.  It has a place for students to write two reviews.  I wanted to design a prompt that would have students using the past tense and wouldn’t you know it-that’s what you do in a Yelp Review!  Quelle coïncidence!!  ( even made it easy by asking “Êtes-vous venu ici?” and “Vous êtes allé dans ces commerces?”  Merci Yelp!  It also fit in nicely with our class discussion of why French people come to visit our desert area.)

french yelp templateIf this weren’t going to be a formal assessment, I would make it a collaborative slide by duplicating a whole bunch of slides, sharing it as “students can edit”and then asking students write a review and then to respond to a another student’s review.  There are stars off to the side to drag in to make it more “official.”  It’s also in 8.5 x 11″ format in case I wanted to (gasp!) print.  Share in Google Classroom as “make a copy for each student.”

Click on the link or image to view the template.

Yelp Template


2016 Reflections

I should just call this semester reflections since I only teach semesters now.  The biggest “change” to my teaching this semester is how I graded my French 101 class.  First, I ditched the weekly lesson quiz.  Did I care?  Nope?  Did students care?  Heck no.  Do I think it had any impact on student achievement?  Nope.  Students still achieved.  I still knew what we needed to work on from informal assessment daily.

The next change was in my unit tests.  I’ve always had a writing and speaking component, but this semester I did something completely different and I loved it.  Loved it!  In love!!  Here’s what I did.  First, I used Alice Keeler’s Rubric Tab Script to make a rubric for the unit test.  Depending on the unit I had four or five tasks: a “prepared” speaking, an “on the spot” speaking or conversation, a multiple choice quiz and a writing task.  Sometimes I had two writing tasks.

Let’s stop and talk for a minute about the Rubric Tab Script.  I don’t like to math by myself because when I do I get disastrous results.  The Rubric Tab Script creates a rubric for each student and then automagically adds up the score.  So my rubric had a “criteria” for each task: prepared speaking, writing, multiple choice, etc.  All I had to do was put what they had scored based on the rubric. (Note, I changed the scoring for the multiple choice because I realized it wasn’t fair if a student scored 59% on the multiple choice to earn a 0.)  I used a rather generic rubric here.  I had a more detailed one that we used for assignments for improvement.


I had no paper hanging around and my points were added up by themselves.  In fact, the first time I used it I had all of my students’ work graded for the first class within an hour.  And because I was using Google Forms Quizzes for the quiz as soon as students finished, I just went to their rubric and popped in the score!  Amazing.  Additionally, I liked that it was a global score and everything counted equally.  I used an iPad to view the rubrics and the computer to view their documents.  It just made it easier rather than switching back and forth between windows or tabs.

Now let’s talk about the actual tasks.  The first was always a “prepared” speaking.  What I mean by that is that I had the students prepare a slide deck on something or someone.  The last one was to talk about their family.  I told them put some pictures in a slide deck or show them on your phone.  Don’t care.  I’m a big fan of this type of speaking because I feel like, while they don’t get to use notes, forcing them to have something in front of them forces them to think about what they’re going to say ahead of time.  And how many times do you go into an important conversation (job interview, speech, difficult conversation) when you don’t know at least the topic and have thought about what you’re going to say.  For the last assessment, there was also a component to ask questions, so while students may have thought what they were going to say about their families they had no idea what questions their random partner would ask them.  I watched as they answered the easy questions and negotiated meaning for the more difficult ones.

For each assessment we used a grammar carousel for everyone to do their speaking.  Here’s how that works:  students sit at desks or tables across from each other.  You’ll have a two long lines of students. They use their devices to show whatever they prepared and talk and then after x minutes on side moves one down and everyone has a new partner and a new conversation.  I hadn’t ever done an “assessment” this way and the first time I fell in love.  I thought why hadn’t I done it this way?  So easy!! I walked around with my iPad.  I listened to students having conversations and I marked their answers.  Did I hear every conversation fully?  Nope.  Did I hear enough of each students to make an assessment?  For sure.  Additionally, the first time we did this the students were laughing and smiling and I thought they are enjoying themselves while taking a test!

Generally I just let students talk for about 3 minutes and hope that each student talks equally.   (I tell them, “If I don’t hear you talk you get a zero”, so they are motivated to get their equal time.)  For the last assessment I gave six minutes for each conversation and gave them a basic structure for who should be doing what when because part of the grade was to ask questions.  (I had to do that in a training I went to a few weeks ago and I liked that it gave a loose structure to our conversation so I stole it. )  Then once I heard everyone I said, “Stop.”  For about 20-25 students it took about 30-40 minutes.  Imagine!  Assessing 20-25 students on a presentation about their family normally takes hours and is #boring and makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a pencil.  At no point doing it this way did I wish for a pencil.  And the students themselves were all engaged at the same time.

Next we put the chairs and tables back and did the more normal parts of the test which was multiple choice and writing.  These were “passed out” through Google Classroom.  During this I called partners up or individuals and did the other individual or partnered speaking activity.  In one of the assessments, I used these infographics to assess numbers.  (We had practiced for days with a different one each time and I chose Le Louvre one for the assessment.)  The brilliant part (I thought) was that when I had the student who had already had French AP I asked him completely different questions than I asked the students for whom this was their first exposure to French.  I used my Rubric Tab Rubrics to input their grades immediately and I was done nice and quick.

The only (minor) hiccup came when I had a students “go outside to prepare” for one minute on a random subject and I forgot the last student was out there!  He came to the door sheepishly and said, “Can I come back in, it’s cold.”

My takeaway:  I will do all of my unit assessments like this forever.  Well, probably not forever and probably I could come up with a better way.  But for right now, this hits all the sweet spots for me and was so incredibly simple that I was kicking myself for having never thought of it before.

Now that I’ve mastered assessment (ha!- if only), I’m on to decide whether or not I’m going to use a textbook for French 102 next semester.


Homework Choices

I was out wandering the Internet a few weeks ago, when I came upon’s Homework Choices and I said, “OMG, I need that.”

I was looking for something in my college class to get them to have some other cultural experiences.  I’ve tried different tactics in the past and most were not as successful as I would have wanted.   (Read: Good intention, bad idea.) I was all over this homework choices.  I particularly loved that some of the choices said listen or watch more than once.

First, I made my own French version which you can here here.  I added a category for students who had had French before because they needed their own category.  Then because I was no kinds of interested in actually counting up points, I created a Google Sheet that automatically adds up all their points.  I used data validation to create a drop-down menu of the choices in that category.  I shared the spreadsheet with students as “make a copy” so they could edit it.  My goal was that the total number of points would be visible in the thumbnail in Google Classroom, but alas, this was not to be.    (Maybe if I take out some of the rows at the bottom? I’ll try again next unit.)  The students are required to do ten points for one unit or roughly every three weeks.  I didn’t want them to have to do something every day, but a couple of times of week.  This is more about pleasure and exploring the language.

Homework Choices

Spreadsheet Template (You’ll be asked to make a copy)

Add up points automatically

Reflection, tweak, repeat.


I’ve been taking advantage of our “no school because of smoke” days to re-do my college syllabus for French 101.  I’ve had a few ideas in my head since the end of last semester that I’m finally processing.  I’ve taught this class at least seven semesters and never the same way twice.  While I haven’t found that teaching community college French is that different from teaching high school French, there are some significant considerations as I update and tweak.

  •  There ain’t no time for nothing.  I’m “supposed” to cover 15 lessons in 16 weeks.  And if I have a Monday/Wednesday day class, I always lose at least one day due to holidays.  Yes, I know the whole bit about the difference between “covering” and “mastering.”  (For more on that see my post on why I’m not ready to ditch my textbook.)  Nevertheless, the pacing is fast. I’ve reduced the number of lessons we cover and I’ve paired those down to what I feel is essential for communication.  I am constantly trying to come up with ways to maximize class time (more TL, duh) and increase authentic, engaging and meaningful activities outside of class.
  • In any class, I will have students who have never heard a word of French and students who have 2, 3 even AP level French at the high school.  I’ve been moving towards a proficiency grading model for several semesters, but this poses the question- if Novice High is the goal, the students who had French in high school could easily be at that level on day one.  I don’t want to give them the impression that they don’t have to do anything because I will call BS that for any one of them, their French would not improve sitting in a class and hearing and speaking more French, even if it isn’t at an advance level.
  • There are students for whom this is their first class back to school after 25 years.  Their affective filter is off the charts.  Tell a high school student to do something new and they are like OK, whatever and go back to their phone.  Tell the student back to school for the first time in 25 years the same thing and you can visually see the panic taking over.
  • A mix of students.  Some of these students were accepted at major universities, but couldn’t go because of financial reasons.  Some of them are just out of high school and will drop out of community college in a semester.  Some of them are only there until they get their financial aid.   (That one boggles me, but it’s true.  There’s a certain amount of attrition after financial aid is released.)  In the night classes, most of them have full time jobs and families.  And some of them are finally grown up and ready to learn.  I want to have a class that is mindful of the fact that sometimes French class isn’t the most important thing going on in their life, while respecting the students who are committed to being there every session.

Here’s what I’ve decided to do this semester:

Grading: 50% Proficiency – based on three assessments at the end of each unit.  I am comfortable with the percentage because then the student who had two years of high school French will have to work on writing (homework) and come to class in order to earn a passing grade.  At the end of the first unit I’m going to forego what would normally be a formal assessment and instead, make appointments with the students so we can talk about where they would score and what they could do to make it better.  I will give them personalized “tasks.”  For the student who had French before I will tell them what they need to do to go to the next level for them.  This is where I plan on combating the student with two years of high school French who insists on pronouncing the “s” in “est” and the -“ent” in “parlent.”

I’m also giving up quizzes.  They just weren’t worth the time it took up in class.  Instead I’m going to “grade” their homework.  (Well, let’s be clear, the textbook website will grade their homework.)  They can redo any homework exercise as many times as they want until they get 100%. It’s about getting better, right?  The time I gain back from quizzes, I’ll save for the appointments and more TPRS.

I’m going to use the new quiz feature in Google Forms to do an end of the the lesson informal assessment.  I’ve had students do a weekly reflection for a couple of semesters, asking them to rate their confidence on their ability to complete the can do statements for the lesson and then asking them to do something that I would give feedback on.  It’ll be a short, ungraded (not in the gradebook) assessment that will give me an idea of what we need to still work on and I’ll use the feedback option in the quiz to lead students to what they might need to review.  I’m going to continue to ask them to do something so I can give feedback.

Last semester I started working in some TPRS.  Or just S because I didn’t have college students stand up and do gestures.  I want to continue to do this and add more because of course, it’s effective.  Feedback I got last year was that some of the students were less comfortable (i.e. on the edge of panic) because they didn’t have anything to “review” for those lessons. This semester I’m going to use screencasting to record the stories and EdPuzzle for checking for understanding for the students who want more practice.