How to make using Google Forms in the classroom easy

Google forms in the classroom

In the spirit of keeping classroom websites organized, relevant and, thus, useful to everyone involved (students, parents and teachers alike), I thought I’d pass along a quick idea regarding using Google Forms, and making the use thereof easy. It has to do with using WordPress Categories and QR Codes. More on that in a minute.

Why Google Forms in the classroom?

There are plenty of tools out there for just about any task, but Google Forms are my favorite as it concerns collecting data quickly, easily, and with the added benefit of instantaneous feedback. If I create a form right now, I can have my students respond to that form in moments, and upon hitting the ‘submit’ button, I have their answers organized in a tidy little table that I can review immediately and make quick decisions as to next steps (do I need to re-teach points that appear to need some clarification? Can I move on because everyone has the concept down? Or, if it’s an anticipation guide, I can determine what students already know with relative ease).

As it concerns student assessment, Google Forms are tough to beat (if you have more questions concerning why and how to use them, feel free to email me anytime).

Make your Google Forms/online assessments WordPress posts every time.

Of course, you don’t have to post your Google Forms on a website at all. They stand alone as a tool, and if you can get the link to the form out to your students, you (and they) can use it without a website. But I think the idea of having a digital portfolio is hugely beneficial for students and their work…to show their progress. So having one for myself as a teacher just makes sense. Putting my forms on a classroom website, aside from the many other benefits, is a great way to organize what I’ve done from one unit to the next, or one year to the next, allowing me to go back and reflect on my work. Without a website, this would be infinitely harder. And if I’m not reflecting on my work, how can I expect my students to?

So, once the Google Form is created (if you don’t know how to do that, let me know), rather than link directly to it, embed the form into a WordPress post, and put it in a unique category. Here’s exactly how to do it:

Step 1: Add a new post

Go to your WordPress website’s admin page, and from the left menu, hover over POSTS, then choose ADD NEW from the sub-menu. I would recommend giving it a title that clearly signifies what the assessment is for (such as, 8th Grade, US History, Beginning Assessment, Civil War, or something along those lines).

Step 2: Embed the Google Form code

From the Google Form itself - the side where you are able to edit the fields, not the live form - click on the SEND FORM button (currently blue) at the top right. From the window that pops up, to the right of the form link there is a button that says EMBED. Click it. From the next window, you will see a field with the title above it “Paste HTML to embed in website”.

Before you click on the code within that field, note that you can change the width and height of the form. I would, at the very least, make sure that the form is not wider than the width of the page of your website into which you are going to embed it. For example, this post that you’re reading now is in the content column of my website. That column (at least as of the time of this writing) is 680 pixels wide. If I embed a Google Form that is wider than that, there will be a horizontal scroll bar, and that looks bad as well as negatively affects usability. Bad. So, change the width/height as needed, and then click on the field that contains the code, copy the entire field (should start with iframe and end with /iframe).

Step 3: Paste the Google Embed code into your post

Navigate back to your newly added (but not yet published) post, and put your cursor in the post edit field (below the post title). Before pasting the code there, look to the top right of that edit field. You will see a VISUAL tab and a TEXT tab. Click on the TEXT tab. Both essentially do the same thing, but the VISUAL tab is where most people who don’t work with code normally stay. It looks like your typical word processor with all the normal edit buttons (bold, center, etc…). However, if you want to type code instead of just text, you need to be in the TEXT tab. Otherwise, the code won’t work - it will just look like strange text. So click on the TEXT tab, and then paste the embed code you just copied into the edit field.

Step 4: Make sure you put it into the designated category

If you haven’t done so already, take a peak at my post on using WordPress Categories to organize your classroom website. Then, create a category for just your assessments. It can be something simple, but should indicate to you and your students what can be found there. I’d recommend Assessments, Class Forms, or something along those lines. Whatever you think is best. Then, from the CATEGORY box to the right of your post edit screen/field, click the box next to that category.

Step 5: Publish your post

Yep, just click PUBLISH and your assessment is live with the Google Form embedded right on your classroom website. Again, if you haven’t read my post on using categories, you may want to. It gives some insight into how categories can be used to make it easier on your students (and others) to find the information they are looking for. And with particular regard to these assessments/forms, using WordPress categories can simplify the process of completing them for students. Here’s why…

Step 6: Create a QR Code for your assessment category page

There are a ton of free sites/resources where you can create your QR codes. I won’t go into detail here explaining what they are or where you should get yours (as always, contact me for more detailed information), but the key thing to note is that a QR code is similar to a UPC code on a product at the grocery story. When scanned, with a mobile phone or tablet, it automatically opens whatever is linked to that QR code. In our case, we are linking the page where our assessment is embedded to the QR code. And because we have organized our classroom website such that our assessments are all in a single category (called Assessments or Forms or whatever you chose), we can create one QR code for ALL assessments, for the whole year. That is, it won’t change every time we create a new Google Form because we are embedding them all into our website, and because of how WordPress categories work, they will all appear on our designated category page (the one we are linking to the QR code), with the most recent showing up at the top.

So you can print out this QR code and tape it to every desk, or to the computer cart, or to the back of the chairs (depending on how your room is set up), or anywhere else around the room you like, and they can remain there all year. After a few times doing it, students will know exactly where to go when you assign an assessment, and the “I couldn’t find the form” excuse will be a thing of the past. The entire goal here is to make it easy on everyone so instructional time isn’t lost unnecessarily. And of course, it’s also great because it provides a very clear, chronological record of exactly how you assessed student learning at every step, which is a fantastic springboard for growth as we reflect on our teaching practice. All the best…

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