Sunday, January 29, 2012

Google Docs for Pre-assessment

Data, data, seems that is all we hear about in staff meetings, team meetings, etc. Most of this standardized data is not available in a timely manner and not in a usable format. Teacher created assessments provide teachers with the knowledge they seek in order to tailor instruction to student weaknesses, strengths, and/or interests. The creation of these assessments and the analysis of the results can be time consuming, making them not feasible for most teachers.

Fortunately, teachers can take advantage of Google Docs to create assessments and organize the assessment data. Being free and easy to use, Google Docs is a great resource for pre-assessment. Let's walk through two examples of how Google Docs can be used in this manner.

Example 1 - KWL

I think every teacher has used a KWL chart (or some form of one) in their teaching. It is a good way to preassess student knowledge and interests before a unit. Many times, we do this as a whole class on a whiteboard, interactive whiteboard, or on chart paper. In this traditional method, you are getting the whole class's input but not individual student input. What if we did the same thing on a Google Doc?

In this example, the teacher creates a form within Google Docs and posts the link to their website. Now, individual students can fill out the form. As a teacher, you can customize this form however you wish. Only have a few computers in your room? Then you can incorporate this form into a center activity that takes place throughout the week. In the end, you just want students to get a chance to show their knowledge and interests. By utilizing the Google Doc, you also make it easier to analyze and organize the information.

All of the information is now part a spreadsheet that can be sorted, analyzed, and utilized to create lessons that meet the needs of your students. This data is easy to attain and easy to use unlike standardized test data. 

Example 2 - Pretest

Google Docs can also be utilized for pretesting. I remember giving pretests in math and the time it took to grade the tests and then begin to analyzed the data from these paper tests. Utilizing a Google Doc makes this process much faster for the teacher and the data is ready to instantly be analyzed. Let's take a look at an example of a math pretest.

In this example, the teacher types out the questions of the pretest and has the students answer them directly in the Google Doc. A teacher could also have the students work from a paper copy and have them input just the answers into a generic form (ex - Q1, Q2, etc.). If you don't have many computers in your room, I might suggest the second method because students would take the paper assessment and then go to the computer to enter their answers into the form. Once inputted, the power of the Google Doc really shows itself.

All of the data is now in a spreadsheet just waiting for some quick analysis. In the example above, I have setup some conditional formatting to show the correct answers in green. I now know how the whole class scored on each question and I can see individual results as well. You will want to have the first question on the form ask for the student's name. That way, the data can be tied to them since the form is not tied to a user. With the information in this spreadsheet, the teacher can make quick decisions for differentiation of instruction. To do this manually, it would just take too much time.

Want to learn more about creating forms in Google Docs, please watch the video below. (my apologies for the poor video quality...I am working on that.)

This is technology that actually works!

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