Monday, September 19, 2011

Googledocs will you marry me?

First of all, a word about posting. I am not going to apologize for not posting in so long. The simple fact is that I haven't felt inspired to post until today. Yes, yes, I have been busy and tired etc but let's face it, that just doesn't cut it. The fact is that last year, I was always exhausted and busy but found the time to post anyway. I needed to. When you gotta write, you gotta write, am I right? And today, for the first time in a while, I feel that way again. I think it's because I have learned something, who knew? So here goes.

My ongoing affair with googledocs:

It is just unbelievable how much info I can keep track of with googledocs. And I did NOT have to get any training or spend huge amounts of time in order to get the payoff. I just follow the help instructions that come with a google account, that's it! My googledocs checklists make it possible for me to know, on any given day, who is behind, who needs help, who is ahead, who wants to redo a gizmo....and the quantitiy and quality of info they generate just keeps evolving. Here's the stage I'm at now:

The evolution of the quantity of info: It's in layers now!
  1. Layer one: At the beginning of each week, I create a checklist for each class, using googledocs "create new form" feature. Just in case you're wondering how long that takes, not long. To demonstrate, I plan to do a video post about this soon - WITH MY FABULOUS NEW CAMTASIA STUDIO! (see later in this post!)
  2. I share it with each class, and remind them to check things off as the week goes on.
  3. I check the lists once a day for latest updates. Looks like this at first: (if you need to zoom in, click on the pic)
  4. Layer two: Next I shade all entries for that day the same colour, so that I can quickly see the different days. Here's how it looks after three days: yellow day, green day, and orange day:
  5. Layer three: Just by using the data > sort feature, I can now sort all the entries by name, so I can see each individual student's progress during the week:
  6. Layer four: Scan entries for anything that needs my attention (like "need help" or "not happy with my results, please reset") or just the complete absence of an entry, and shade it red:
  7. Layer five: Insert comments as needed, like "gizmo has been reset". This is also just a right-click feature on the googledoc. The comment pops up when your cursor hovers over it:
  8. Next class, go through one kid at a time and discuss. Like "Wow you're burning through this stuff, let's check that you're really getting it." or "If you find this too easy, then check this out" or "You needed help with this, let's go over it".
  9. Repeat from step 4 the next day. More colours get woven into the spreadsheet as the week goes on. It gets really pretty!

    I just want to emphasize that I AM NOT THE ONE FILLING THIS OUT! That's a HUGE time saver! That's been my major mistake all these years, keeping lists, checking things off, and I inevitably couldn't keep up. Now they do that part, which is good for them too, because it makes them take ownership of their own work ethic. But it's the combo of their entries, plus my layering of colours and comments, that provides the background I need to give them what they need. Truly, this is huge. And that's why I got so inspired to blog!
The evolution of the quality of info: It's about feelings now!

Another thing that has evolved is the choices I give them for each item. Last year, it usually looked like this:

Their only choices for response were kind of digital in nature - yes or no. Now it's more like this: (I made it extra big to make it easier to read white-on-black):

Now I want them to tell me not only what they did, but how they felt about it. The beginnings of self-evaluation, and I'm hoping self-awareness.

And now for my new love: Camtasia!

I don't know what is more exciting, that I have Camtasia now, or that it is SO FUN, or that it proves to me how flipping is really a more human way to teach and to learn. When I first tried to record, I found that I had to listen to the videos at techsmith first. Then I found I had to listen to a few of them more than once to really get it. I was thinking that if I were learning this in a class where everyone had to learn at the same pace, I would have gotten lost really fast. So it really is nice, in fact, perfect, to be able to control the speed of the lesson. Hmmm sounds familiar...... now where have I heard that before?

And now for the Camtasia. OMG IT IS SO AWESOME! I don't know how to do much yet, but I can just imagine the possibilities. Captions, sound effects, who knows what else.So excited to learn how to use this.

I made my first recording, but to embed it here, I apparently have to first upload it at either screencast or youtube, but then people there will see it, and it's just not good enough for that! I think I might become the Rebecca Black of teacher tube.....and I don't mean that as a put down of that poor girl, only of the reaction to her first video! Soon, though, I will have something to embed here, probably the googledocs demo.

 Man, learning is so good for you!


  1. I don't about Googledocs...but I'll marry you Audrey! What a great way to encourage students to self-regulate and take ownership of their learning. Thanks for sharing yet another gem.

  2. Kristine! Thanks so much for your comment! It is a lonely one, as you can see, but it made my day!

  3. Audrey....I'm so glad to have you one (or two) steps ahead of me. First you showed me HOW to track student progress, now you show me WHAT to do with the data. Brilliant!

  4. Thanks, Kerry, so glad it's helping! I just got some emails from parents asking if their kids were up to date, and I was able to instantly send them snapshots of their child's weekly list entries, all colour coded and everything. Just keeps getting better!

  5. I'm so jealous of how you can juggle these loves in your life and still have such amazing energy for your day job! Once again, you are an inspiration!

  6. Dianne - believe me, if my kids were the same ages as yours, this would NOT be happening! And thanks again!

  7. Hello!

    Your use of Google Docs to keep track of student work completion is great! The color coding and sorting techniques are brilliantly simple!

    When you say you share your Google Doc with students each week, I was wondering if your students have Google accounts? Does your school allow or recommend this? Thanks! :)

  8. Thanks, TJ! At the moment, they do not have google accounts, but they can still have access to the checklists as long as I set the sharing settings to "public on the web". Then I just send them this link:
    Of course the drawback to that is that anyone can come along and fill it in, but so far, that hasn't happened. And no one would see that except me anyway.
    To make sure that I know whose data I'm looking at, the very first question is "What is your name?" and I make it a required field. (I got that tip from a site called Free Technology for Teachers...) I will soon be asking them to get accounts, though, for my next phase, which will include Andy-Schwen-type assessments, which I wrote about on my July 16th post. I teach many different schools and boards, (I'm 100% live online when I teach) so it remains to be seen how they feel about the kids' having accounts! Fingers crossed! By the way, I checked out your site, and here's a weird coincidence - I was just getting interested in Diigo and lo and behold - that's what you're writing about! Thanks for your post too!