Data Validation Saves You Time

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 What?

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

Faster Feedback

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.

Story/Sentence Creation

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.

Student Choice

I use data validation to set the choices for my homework choices sheet.  Students click on the arrow and it gives them a list of approved choices.  I’ve also used it for Flipgrid review.

Attendance

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.

Grading

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!

 

Higher Level Thinking with Novices

When I was doing my student teaching (in English) our methods teacher said something like, “The complexity of your language is a reflection of your complexity of thought.”  While I can get behind this statement for a native language, this isn’t true for a second language.  I mean, I’m entirely capable of complex thought, but I certainly can’t express that in Spanish.  Depending on the topic I may be able to express a complex-ish thought in French.  And on any one day, I may or may not find complex thought expression in English a stretch.

This makes it easy to say oh, those novices, they can’t do any critical thinking.

Not True – Beyond DOK 1

Here is a simple activity, that I did not invent that asks students to think critically with very little language.  Let me start out with that in the first hours of French, I tell this completely ridiculous story about a crab who has its heart broken by a chain smoking rabbit and who is ultimately consoled by a snail.  It’s riveting.

This activity is actually what I think of as disguised input.  (I suppose some people would argue that the best comprehensible input is disguised, but for me it means that this is not an input activity per se.)  This activity is meant to give students the opportunity to hear the words chien, chat, lapin  several times in a meaningful context and it asks students to think critically without producing a lot of language.  They need to say impossible, possible, probable (with the French pronunciation-ish).

I put up the slide and then ask in the TL, “Rabbits eat carrots? Yes, that’s pretty logical.”  “Dogs eat hamburgers?” You’d be surprised by the answer to that one. “Dogs eat cats?! What?! Dogs eat cats! Nooooooooon.”   “Dogs speak French.”  “Snails eat lettuce.”

You get the idea.  We go through many, many possibilities.  You’ll notice that the second row is all cognates except fleur, which is like a half cognate.

Enter Google Forms

This year I’m taking this activity to the next level with a Google Form.  I asked students to read the statements and then answer and some of the statements were different than the ones I said outloud.  And then you know what we did?  We practiced numbers by talking about percentages of people who think it’s probable that dogs eat cats, etc.  Because there is never not a good time to use numbers in context.

I didn’t do this next step because we didn’t have time, but to extend the activity I could ask students to make their own sentences that (im)possible or probable.  Or I could ask them to move sentences and categorize them.

And then…

I make enough work for myself, so I love when I can re-use things I’ve already built.  The next activity involves the students using aime/adore/n’aime pas/déteste with the same slide.  Additionally, we re-tell the whole story by using aime/adore/n’aime pas déteste.  This year I added in parce que for the students and they made amazing sentences for such limited hours of French.

I’m not suggesting that my silly story and activity will leave students enlightened, but it does allow for them to think critically and respond to a complex question with simple language.