Google Forms for Surveys, Quizzes, Differentiation, and More!

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Google Forms can be a powerful tool to help facilitate a surprising variety of learning experiences for students. Such learning experiences can range from quick formative assessments to check for student understanding to breakout room puzzles that require high levels of cognitive demand and collaboration from students!



Select All or Multiple Email Messages in Gmail

by Randy Fairfield, 2/2/18

It always saddens me when teachers get so bogged down with administrivia that their focus gets drawn away from their students. That’s why I love sharing little time-saving tips! I see teachers get overwhelmed with email, so I hope this helps! You can “Select All” messages in Gmail by clicking the box circled in red below:

Additionally, you can select multiple messages at one time without having to select them all! You simply need to click the box by the first email you want to select, then hold down the shift key and select another message. All the messages in between will then be selected! This can be very helpful in deleting a string of “reply all” emails that you didn’t want to be a part of. Here’s how it works:


Teaching Entrepreneurship with AwesomeTable

by Randy Fairfield, 12/1/17

The ability to find and solve problems both feeds and is driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. That is, a successful entrepreneur is someone who looks for and can find problems no one else has solved—and then comes up with a marketable solution to the problem. In the rapidly changing economy our students will soon be competing in, being adept at finding problems and coming up with creative and innovative solutions will be paramount. So how do we teach students these skills?

Before tackling that question, I think we first need to consider beliefs that drive practices that hold kids back. The bone I’d like to pick here is with differences often cited between children and adults as learners. While there are clearly differences, they should be seen and presented along a continuum. In no way, shape, or form should curriculum or instruction at the secondary level assume more to be true of students in the left-hand column below than in the right-hand column. Just consider the learning theories below and how damaging lower expectations can be to creativity, innovation, and problem finding and solving:
Source: Teaching Adults: What Every Trainer Needs to Know About Adult Learning Styles

So, with that out of way, let’s talk about AwesomeTable, which is a web application that transforms data from Google Sheets into a variety of pleasant views. The number of templates that AwesomeTable has to offer are extraordinary, and when I started exploring my imagination was immediately stoked with all kinds ideas for how students, teachers, and administrators could use the templates to solve numerous problems. I’m sure your imagination and your students’ imaginations will run wild too!

The first thing I recommend you do when you go to AwesomeTable’s website is expand the template gallery and just explore. Might there be a way for you to design a project that allows for student agency in exploring and deciding which template to use to meet the objectives of a project?

Once you’ve explored the template gallery and found one you like, simply click on it and then click the “use template” button. At that point, a copy of a Google Sheet that’s generating the template will be added to the root of your Google Drive. You can then go to the Google Sheet by clicking on the file name.

Once you’ve gone into the spreadsheet, you can then make edits that will immediately be reflected in the AwesomeTable view in real time! When you or your students are finished taking a template and making it your own, there are number of different ways to share it:

The number of different uses here are too many to count, but just off the top of my head, here are some ways students could use AwesomeTable:

  • Create a student store with the Product Catalog template and embed it into the school’s website.
  • Use multiple templates embedded into a Google Site to create a fictitious business.
  • Populate the Geochart Demo template with locations of key WWII battles.
  • Use the Marvel Movies template to create biographical profiles of historical figures.
  • Tweak the code that’s in many of the AwesomeTable templates to participate in Hour of Code during December 4-10, 2017.

Finally, I’d like to share one way that AwesomeTable got me thinking about solving a problem in a creative and innovative way.

This past spring I set out to solve a problem that had been plaguing me for over a decade: That is, I collect sports cards—especially Dominique Wilkins basketball cards—and I was getting really tired of the tedious process of manually updating my website whenever a new card came in. After complaining on some sports card forums, I found few solutions and a number of other collectors with the same problem. Just weeks later, I stumbled upon AwesomeTable and realized I had found the solution I was looking for.

Rather than making things easy on myself and just using the AwesomeTable templates as-is, I used every ounce of coding ability I had, taught myself a few more things, created HobbyDisplay, edited the code in the AwesomeTable templates, and then embedded a number of different AwesomeTable views into HobbyDisplay. What I’ve come up with really isn’t economically viable, but it was a heck of a lot of fun to build out over this past summer, and it’s been fun to share my solution for free with a handful of different collectors that have found it useful. That, and I really like the way my Dominique Wilkins collection looks on the website. 🙂

If that use of AwesomeTable feels a little overwhelming to you, no worries! I used the template provided by AwesomeTable to create this list of Summer Camp opportunities for youth. I didn’t spend much time on the Google Site and basically just tweaked the data in the spreadsheet provide by AwesomeTable to make this happen:

• AwesomeTable’s website – Link
• RSD Summer Camp website – Link
• HobbyDisplay Dominique Wilkins collection – Link
• The Google Sheets driving the HobbyDisplay – Link 1
• The Google Sheets driving the HobbyDisplay – Link 2



Conditional Formatting in Google Sheets to Bring Your Google Forms Data to Life!

by Randy Fairfield, 10/27/17

The summary view in Google Forms is helpful in getting a view of how your whole class did on a forms assessment, and the individual view is nice to check on the specific results for individual results—but it really takes a spreadsheet view to see both whole class and individual results all at once. Getting a spreadsheet from your Google Forms results is quite simple!

Once you’re in the spreadsheet, using conditional formatting in Google Sheets can be a really helpful way to have that data jump out at you and can be useful in helping you guide instruction and differentiate for struggling students! Here’s a visual of some pre-assessment data that Caitlin Smith (@IcedTearex) collected from one of her classes as we went through a coaching cycle together. Pretty cool, huh?

So how does one go about applying conditional formats in Google Sheets? If you click on the area circled in the red below and select conditional formatting, the rest is pretty intuitive! You can set all kinds of formatting rules based on the content of the cells in the column. In the case pictured below, I chose to have the column fill with green when the content of cells in the column were equal to “3”. I could apply additional rules to have the cells fill with yellow when the content of cells was equal to “2” and red when equal to “1”.

With simple tips and tricks like these, you can begin using formative assessments in ways that truly drive your instruction and meet the needs of your students!


Using Google Slides as a Tool for Group Self-Reflection

by Randy Fairfield, 10/25/17

Too many times, Google Slides is seen as nothing more than a presentation tool. Yes, it can be used for that—but because multiple users can work in Slides in real time, it can used for so much more!

One of my favorite recent uses of slides was during a professional development session where Caitlin Smith (@IcedTearex) and I had teachers analyze and reflect on how effective a lesson plan was at integrating technology. They completed the following activity in Slides, which then prompted a lot of great discussion!

Think about how you might use something like this with students. Might this be a way to enhance an AVID Philosophical Chairs activity? How about having students working in small groups use something like this to self-reflect and predict their performance on a rubric?

One thing that was helpful in preparing this activity was making sure that the image the shapes were being dropped over was “locked in.” In order to achieve this effect, I had to edit the master theme of the slide deck and add new layouts with the images I wanted locked into the background. After that, I had to add new slide layouts to the master theme. Finally, I had to apply those layouts from theme when creating a new slide in my slide deck. Here are the steps below:

Step 1 – Edit the Master Theme

Step 2 – Add New Slide Layouts to the Master Theme

Step 3 – Apply New Layouts to Your Slides


5 Simple Google Drive Tips That Make Life Easier

by Randy Fairfield, 10/24/17

I really enjoy discovering little tips and tricks that save me time on menial tasks and help me focus my energy and attention on what’s most important. Being able to be a “tech ninja” and get stuff done quickly is so helpful when you’re in a pinch! Here are five very simple ways you can use Google Drive to become more productive in your day-to-day work!

Tip #1: Make the left-hand menu wider

If you have folders within folders within folders within folders, sometimes it’s helpful to widen the left-hand menu. This is especially useful if you like to move files around by dragging and dropping them into the left-hand menu.

Tip #2: Change the colors of your folders

One of the things I like to do to help me stay organized is change the colors of my folders. One of my favorite uses of colorizing my folders was when I was an AVID Site Coordinator and was responsible for evidence collection for our site team certification. I’d change the colors of the folders from red to yellow to green based on the amount and quality of the evidence I had collected for various criteria. More on that, if you’re interested.

Tip #3: Star your files and folders

One of my favorites! Starring files and folders allows you to quickly access a file that you repeatedly access, which is especially useful if that file is organized and tucked away into a folder within a folder within a folder.

Tip #4: Switch between grid view and list view

I’m a list view kind of guy, but I know there are some of you crazy kids out there that prefer the grid view. At the very list, do yourself a favor when you click on “Shared with me” and switch to the list view so that you can see who shared what with you and when!

Tip #5: Convert your files to Google files upon upload

If you’re taking the Google plunge and are ready to go Google once and for all, changing this setting can save you a lot of time and hassle. When you check this box, your Word/PowerPoint/Excel files will automatically convert to Docs/Slides/Sheets. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you will be satisfied with the conversion, but it’s always a good idea to keep that Microsoft Office file backed up somewhere someplace just in case.


Selectively Sharing Google Forms Data

by Randy Fairfield, 10/3/17

Google Forms beautifully displays the results of a form that has been responded to! How do you selectively share the results with your intended audience?

One of the best uses of Forms is to pull up the summary of the responses and display them to the whole class once a formative assessment is completed. This can help the teacher make in-the-moment instructional decisions about where to take a lesson. Here’s where you click to pull that data up:

Another great use of Forms is to pull up the individual view and bring students back to discuss their results.

Getting the Google Form data on a Google Sheets spreadsheet can be incredibly useful as well! The image below shows how to make that happen. What’s nice about this spreadsheet is that you can take it and selectively share the data with your colleagues.

Finally, another nice view is the “view analytics” page, which can be be seen by performing the following URL switch:



What’s is fantastic about this view is that you can then copy the chart that shows the results from each individual question and paste the chart into a Google Doc or a Google Slides presentation, which you can then selectively share with your students and/or colleagues.


Advanced Google Image Searches

by Randy Fairfield, 9/15/17

Did you know you can narrow your Google image search results to better find what you’re looking for? This can be extremely helpful if you’re specifically looking for:

  • High resolution images!
  • Black and white images!
  • Transparent images!
  • Images labeled for commercial reuse!

There are kinds of fantastic ways in which you can filter your search results to meet your specific needs. This can also be a useful tool to show students and to have a discussion about intellectual property as students are often unaware they are stealing when they take a picture that has not been labeled for reuse.


Advanced Google Searches

by Randy Fairfield, 9/14/17

Did you know that you can use advanced Google Searches to narrow the results of your search by all sorts of different search parameters? Check it out!

Some of the advanced search features can also be done with shorthand. For example, the following search terms below, if typed into, would yield a website search results about the electoral college — but only with websites that have .edu domains.

electoral college site:edu

Here’s a preview of some of the many awesome filters you get when you click the link above:


Reflection on Google Classroom Promo Video

by Randy Fairfield, 5/19/17

For every three likes this Google Classroom promo video has, it also has one dislike. Seeing all the dislikes got me wondering why so many people were turned off, so I decided to investigate! If you would, watch the video and let me know what you think on Twitter (@RandyFairfield)!

My feelings on the video are mixed. Here are some reflective questions I think the video begs:

  • Are you intimidated by all the devices coming into classrooms?
  • Do you feel like you should retire if you don’t “get it”?
  • What problems can devices help solve?
  • Can the use of educational technology help close the achievement gap?
  • Is it a waste of time to write on paper instead of typing something out?
  • Will students’ “beautiful thoughts just come out” because they are using Chromebooks and Google Classroom?

At first I thought the negative comments about the video would be coming from teachers offended by the implied answers to some of questions begged by the video. What I found instead surprised me:

Reading stuff like that from kids really gets me thinking about a previous blog post I made about what kind of backwards planning needs to be done by school districts to lessen the likelihood of this unintended outcome on students when it comes to district and building technology initiatives. If this kind of planning does not take place, unfortunately, students are the ones that ultimately end up getting hurt.

When integrating technology in the classroom, best practices and student-centered outcomes need to be at the forefront! A tool like Google Classroom is great, but only if used intentionally.