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2 Great Ways to Let Google Lighten Your Load

Related imageThere’s no doubt that technology has changed education. One of my favorite technology providers for education is Google. They’re an innovative and user-friendly company that has a lot of great services to offer that can make your job a bit easier. 

  1. Google Forms for Attendance

When I first started teaching, I found a google sheet template that I used to keep track of attendance. I use Canvas as my learning management system, but the attendance tool won’t show you a whole semester spreadsheet. I like to be able to see a quick overview of attendance throughout the semester, so, I also used Google Sheets. I would manually enter attendance and then change the colors for absences and lates, so I could see them at a glance.

Then, I discovered that Google forms and Google sheets are linked. You can make a form and quickly log attendance, and it will automatically put it into a spreadsheet that will have all the colors and formatting that you want. What’s even better is that Google Forms will show you a detailed pie graph for the attendance of each student. It’s great. I just log attendance at the beginning of class using Google Forms and then can access all detailed reports and spreadsheets anytime I want.

How to Set Up Your Attendance Form

View Example Form (Complete the survey, and you’ll see your answers show up in the sheet)

View Example Sheet

  1. Create a new Google Form
  2. Add a multiple choice question for each student with their name as the question.
  3. For the choice options, add letters or words that match your policy. For example, I have Present (P), Late (L), Absent (X), and 30+Absent (X30+) (meaning I count them as absent because they came 30 minutes or more late or left 30 minutes or more early.) I use a single letter because it fits in the form better.  
  4. Next, click on responses and then click the little green button on the top right side of the form. This will take you to a connected Google Sheet.
  5. When you’re in google sheets, click on format and then conditional formatting
  6. Highlight all of the cells and add a new rule. I choose “Text Contains” and then put in an option I wrote on the form such as P. I then select a color. When results are populated, all cells with that letter will automatically change colors.

After a few days, you will be able to look at the results on your form and see a detailed chart of each student’s attendance. Below are some examples.

Google Forms Results Pie Charts



Google Sheets for Attendance

If you don’t like the idea of using the form to log attendance, or the thought of setting up a form and its formatting is overwhelming, you can just use a google sheet instead. After using sheets for a while, I learned that you can set up conditional formatting to change colors based on what you enter, which makes it a lot quicker to use. You can get an easy to glance at color-coded roster similar to using forms.  All you have to do is enter your attendance on the sheet. You can also have all of your classes in one place by switching between the tabs at the bottom of the sheet. Check out this example attendance roster. If you like it, just make a copy and you’re ready to go. CLICK HERE to view.

Attendance Roster Template


2. Google Slides for Lesson Plans

When I first started teaching, I typed up lesson plans and used them to help me flow through my class. One semester I had a class of beginning-level students. I didn’t feel that class was going very well, and I wanted to add more visual directions for them. I started using Google Slides instead of typed lesson plans, and I haven’t turned back. Digital presentations don’t have to be endless paragraphs of text. They can be engaging and interesting and help you smoothly flow through a lesson. I use slides for many purposes. I introduce grammar topics, show pictures, do activities, and even just use a slide to point me to a page in the book I want to look at. The visual part is helpful for students who may struggle with oral directions, and pictures can add interesting material to your classes.

Using slides can be especially helpful when you teach multiple classes. One semester I had five different classes to prep for, and using Google Slides saved my life. I would plan classes over the weekend for Monday. By the time I’d finished planning for my fifth class, I’d pretty much forgotten what I’d decided to do for the first one. However, all I had to do was go to class on Monday and pull up the slides, and it would direct me right through the lesson.

I also used Google docs as a way to organize all of my slides. Because the slides are linkable, it’s easy to create a master calendar in Google docs to keep everything in one place. I made an example to show here. I’ve added material for a class for one day. Normally as I plan, the whole day will have links to slides and notes about what I plan to do and where I’m at in the course. When I get to my classroom, I just log on to Google, open my calendar, and I can easily access my slides for the day. Click here to see my example.

Google Slides Vs. Powerpoint

You may ask, why not use PowerPoint? Personally, I love using Google Slides for class because they’re so accessible. Powerpoint files are large and require downloading. Google slides are linkable and shareable. You can link them to your learning management system, make a master calendar as mentioned above, easily email them to students, and share them with people. You can also allow commenting, so students can ask questions about things they’re still unclear about. They’ve also recently added a “Speaker Notes” feature which allows you to type notes to yourself about how to do an activity, etc. If you use Google Docs to make your handouts, you can easily link them to the slides or to your master calendar.

Click below to access one of my slides from last semester to get an idea how a Google Slides lesson can look.

Click to check out an example lesson using Google Slides.

If you found this useful, please share. If you have other great ways to use Google in your classroom, let us know in the comment section below.





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