Providing meaningful feedback for students is one of the most powerful tools for educators to create meaningful connections and learning. It never seems like one method will check all the boxes in allowing students or teachers to get that feedback to other students so they can reflect on their own work. With the addition of technology in the mix, it has proven even more difficult to find effective ways to allow students to give and receive feedback on digital work.
Working with a 2nd grade teacher we were struggling to find ways for her students to make comments on hand-written and digital writing in a way that could be collected and reviewed later by both the teacher and the students. Some of the obvious options came up: wanting to use Google Forms for students to easily type in comments and Google Classroom to collect and share digital writing. We had the outline to how we thought we could get it done and now we had to find how to best adjust the tools at hand to work in a way that was easy for the students and teachers and could be replicated over and over again.
docAppender - If you haven't heard of docAppender it's a Google Forms add-on that will send responses to an specific Google Doc based on some of the parameters you set-up ahead of time. The initial set-up can take a bit of time (this is where Google Classroom comes in), but then you have a form that will send each response to a easily readable Google Doc that can be shared and used repeatedly to create a running record of feedback.
Google Classroom - I'm only going to assume you haven't heard of Google Classroom because you have been living under a rock with no Wifi and refuse to join most of the world in utilizing GSuite (j/k, well kinda...). The ability to organize a workflow between students and teachers with Classroom is game changing. It has made working in a digital, "mostly" paperless environment user-friendly and effective. When it comes to creating assignments, handing out individual templates, and easily collecting student work of a variety of medias I don't have much negative to say. There are no perfect systems, but we won't get into those in this post.
So now you know the tools, but the key is how you make them work together. The docAppender add-on doesn't need Google Classroom in order to function, but it makes it go much smoother. As mentioned above the docAppender add-on will allow you to sort and separate responses to a Google form onto specific Google docs which makes it a great way to get written feedback for specific people and then share that data with those people without sharing other feedback. Using Google Classroom lets you easily create a document and folder location to keep all the feedback documents together for easy sharing and use. Take a look at the screenshots below to get an idea how to get the process started.
So there you have a "daisy-chain" of two great tools to help facilitate peer feedback in your class. Many modifications can be made to suit your specific needs such as creating multiple documents for different types of writing, but if you include the right identification questions it may be just as easy to keep one big running record of feedback to not overwhelm a student with different documents to sort through in order to see their feedback. Making the connection through Classroom makes it really easy to create the documents and identify them by student name as well as give you as the teacher access to everyone's work and feedback. If you have any systems like this or good modifications/suggestions please leave them in the comments below.
Many people have been talking about flipping the classroom, but I feel like it has hit a wall when it comes to implementation. Some of the road blocks are obvious: lack of access, lack of training/PD, and unclear learning targets, but what are other reasons are there for people to take advantage of this strategy? I think the unknown is one of the biggest hang-ups people have in looking to implement this in their own teaching and I've put together a presentation with some resources to help get you started.
Some of the highlights from the presentation that I find particularly useful are:
I made sure to mention the ISTE standards and SAMR and TPACK models at the beginning of the presentation to get people thinking about the "why" when it comes to using any of the tools to try and flip content. I think when we have purposeful use of these tools to deliver content to our students in effective and innovative ways we can really see the benefits of flipping the classroom and how it can impact the work we accomplish with our students. My biggest piece of advice is to start small and focus on one area you really see potential in and branch out from there. If you have any great examples or experiences flipping your own classroom feel free to comment below. Feel free to refer and use the presentation for your own teaching and have fun flipping out!
If you have access to GAFE (Google Apps for Education) and haven't taken advantage of Google Classroom yet, what are you waiting for?!? Classroom is a great way to organize a Google workflow with your students without the headache of trying to manage sharing options for Google apps back and forth.
Being one year removed from the classroom since the introduction of Google Classroom I cringe at the thought of the old system I had set-up with my students, attempting to utilizing folders within folders and individually going in to set sharing settings for each folder and document (Ughh!) Now Classroom makes the process so much easier and organized, a completely digital and paperless classroom is not such a crazy idea.
As useful and amazing Google Classroom is for working with students in my role as a Technology Integrator, which involves a lot more staff interaction and training , I have found using Classroom as a conduit for getting information and resources out to fellow staff members is just as productive. Instead of sending and receiving a barrage of emails or losing items in the 'Shared with me' list in our ever-growing Google Drives, the important resources, links, documents, etc.. can be placed in a Classroom that will keep it contained and organized for people to access before, during, and after a training or meeting.
Teachers vs Students: One important consideration is who will be a teacher of the Classroom and who will be a student. The ability for teachers to interact with various elements posted is somewhat limited compared to students. If you want to fully take advantage of some of the collaboration pieces (questions and assignments) you'll need to have the majority of participants as students in the Classroom.
In my district the Technology Team has created a Classroom for each building (AES, AMS, and AHS) and had all the teachers and staff enroll as students. This enables us to easily deliver content and get feedback from all the teachers as well as give them unlimited access to resources, links, documents, agendas, etc.. after we have finished a training.
Most useful elements: There are several components of Classroom that I have found most useful when interacting with peers.
About Section: This section lets you post 'static' information to your Classroom students. Any important documents, links, or videos you feel will be a constant reference should live here. This way participants always know where to get them and won't have a scroll down a ever-growing stream as you post more and more in the Classroom.
Announcements: The announcements are one of the all purpose elements of Classroom. They let you post web links, file attachments, YouTube videos, and Google Docs. This is the go-to element I use when sharing resources with staff. It's a great way to have documents available for staff to follow along with as you're presenting with them.
Assignments: The assignment is a great way to hand out individual copies of a document or resource without the recipient needing to go through the process to make their own copy. One thing to keep in mind is not setting a due date if you're not expecting anything to be returned (this will avoid those late notifications). Assignments with or without documents attached are also great ways to collect items and keep them organized in one place easily.
Questions: The newly created question element of Classroom is a great way to quickly get feedback or promote group discussion. Depending on your settings when you create the question, you can either have answers only seen by teachers to provide anonymous feedback or you can let students see and reply to each others responses creating an online discussion to further any work done in a meeting or training.
Google Classroom has proved to be an extremely versatile tool when it comes to working with students and staff. If you have any experience utilizing Classroom or another edtech tool for alternate purposes leave a comment below and share the wealth!
Tech Integration Specialist at the Aspen School District. Level 2 Google Certified Educator. Former 4th grade teacher and Spartan for life! Go Green!