Google Forms Gets Even Better

This August, I’m participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! ūüôā

If you want to join in the blogging fun, it’s not too late! ¬†Go HERE to sign up! ūüôā And here are the directions and some awesome helpful prompts if you need something to help you blog!

I LOVE Google Forms! I use them all of the time for a variety of reasons- both education related, with my swim team and for personal use. They are such a super easy way to collect info into a spreadsheet super quickly!

This may not be NEW news for many of you as Google introduced it at the end of June, but for those of us on summer break who haven’t opened Google forms to use in a classroom all summer, it is new and exciting information.

This new feature will allow auto-grading multiple choice and checkbox questions¬†which can give INSTANT feedback to students¬†and allow teachers to see if they need to spend more time on a topic.¬†SO STINKIN’ AWESOME! I have used the Flubaroo add-on before to do this same thing, but I always found it glitchy and a little hard to manage. I have already played around with this and it is SO easy to use.
Creating a quiz is super simple, here’s how:
  • Go to¬†your Google Drive.
  • Click on New and then choose form.
  • In the upper right corner,¬†click Settings in the top right corner and choose QUIZZES.
  • Next to “Make this a quiz” click the on button to make the form a quiz.
  • At this point you have a few options you can choose to turn on or off,
    • Release the grade immediately after each submission or do not release the grade
    • Change what students can see, Missed Questions, Correct Answer and Point Values.
  • Click Save to save your chosen settings.
After that you just start building your quiz.  You can make an answer key for multiple choice, checkbox, or drop-down questions.
  1. To add a new question, click Add.
  2. Fill out your question and answers.
  3. In the bottom left, click ANSWER KEY.
  4. In the top right of the question, choose how many points the question is worth.
But wait…there’s MORE!¬†You can even add explanations to answers- including links, videos,¬†or websites so students get immediate feedback!
To add feedback, just click on Answer Key and then on Add Answer Feedback.
You can find out even more about creating a quiz with Google Forms HERE.
Way to go Google- YOU ROCK!


#descon16 – A WHOLE day of Desmos!

One of the things that excited me about attending #TMC16 was the Desmos pre-conference. ¬†Except that as TMC was getting closer, I couldn’t remember if I had signed up for the pre-conference. ūüôā Couldn’t find it in my email or anywhere. ¬†Then I received the reminders via email along with my ticket as the event got even closer, so I knew I had registered and my excitement returned. ¬†YEAH!

My district is going 1:1 chromebooks in the middle schools this fall, which is going to be a benefit and a curse as teachers learn how to build skills in their classroom in an online environment and find useful resources for students to use.  I think Desmos is going to be key for teachers because of its many uses and the awesome new features they shared with us today.

My FAVORITE PART РDesmos shared a new organization of the landing page, bundles of topic based & sequenced activities with helpful notes on how they build upon each other, and the really awesome labs option which enables teachers to use the brand new customizable feature for the ever popular marbleslides activity and the BRAND NEW  create your own card sort feature. I kid you not, you would have thought it was Christmas the way we all freaked out over the card sort. Well, we also freaked out over the free Desmos socks, but I think the card sort wins overall.

Things you can do with the card sort:
*Drag and drop images from card sorts you already own that are paper copies or electronic copies. ¬†(While this isn’t the BEST use of Desmos, it is the easiest way to get started with the sorts initially.This isn’t the best because you can’t edit and change easily when the cards are images. Creating them using Desmos would be the best, most modifiable option.)
*Gather data on the card sorts…think about doing a paper card sort…you would walk around and see how students were sorting the cards, but wouldn’t really know if ALL of the sorted the same way or if they all had the same misconceptions or the same successes. GUESS WHAT? Desmos gives you data! Like amazing, real time, USEFUL data to guide your lesson, to guide your teaching, to make you a better teacher for your students! It will show you the sorts with all the names of the students that sorted that way…just think of what you could do with that. ¬†Data you didn’t have before and it’s real time in your face, ready for you to use. The impact this can have in the classroom the same day you use the sort is amazing.
*Share your sorts with other teachers easily by sharing the link.
*DUPLICATE a shared sort so you can modify it, enhance it and make it something to work for your specific students.  When you duplicate the sorts, they become YOUR sorts and show up under Custom so you can use or edit them as needed.

Of course, the teachers of the MTBoS that were in attendance started creating card sorts left and right and created a google spreadsheet to share the links to them so you can duplicate and use. Because we are going 1:1 this year, I can’t wait to share the card sort feature with my district teachers. I see it as a great way to introduce Desmos in a new light to get them using it more.

Desmos has also made¬†its graphing calculator fully accessible for visually impaired and blind students. You can¬†enable voiceover on your device (command + F5 on mac)*, Desmos will read the expressions mathematically (ex: reading sin as ‚Äúsine‚ÄĚ instead of s-i-n) and it will give students helpful hints¬†where they are as they work through the expression (ex: saying subscript, superscript, reading the opening and closing of grouping symbols). It is also capable of playing through a graph left to right across the screen to give a pitched audio representation of whatever has been graphed. It sounds like music! So of course a handful of teachers took the task of recreating songs using Desmos. And if they can get so excited about it, imagine what your students would do to try something like that out, even if it isn’t directly content related. ¬†Think of the exploring, learning, stretching and sharing students would do with each other as they work to figure it out.

*It doesn’t work on ipad devices and to get it to work on a PC, try using this¬† and let me know if you can get it to work. I can’t get the native accessibility options to work on my PC. For a Chromebook,¬†Enable accessibility on chromebook. click bottom right (near account pic),choose settings,advanced settings,check enable chromevox.

A shoutout to Remind

I don’t hide my love for the website/app Remind. It is fantastic.¬† I have been using Remind to text my students and parents without sharing my personal phone number for a few years.¬† It saves time, students love it and it is free!

I LOVE using Remind for my classes to send out positive quotes/inspirations on big days, fun trivia, reminders about homework, clarifications about homework, reminders about field trips, returning papers, etc. I also use it for my swim team practice group to send out positive quotes, fun swimming trivia, reminders about meets and practices, changes to a schedule, updates on meet performance and other fun messages. It’s SO easy to use and can be sent as a text or an email. Students don‚Äôt need to have a phone to receive messages, they can get it in their email accounts instead. Parents can sign up too, in fact I encourage it. It is ONLY an announcement system, they can’t text you back!

They just added two fun features in their recent update which came through my app today…the ability to take a poll/ask a question and get a stamped response and the ability to send voice updates. It’s a FREE program and it’s amazing. I like that it goes directly to the students and parents, they don’t have to check for a website, facebook, twitter or blog update…they get a text or an email with it right there. I can’t wait to try out the new features!

I posted my love on Twitter and @StephReilly brought up a good point that students seem to be burned out on Remind because so many of their teachers use it and send out LOTS of reminders. She even said her daughter didn’t want to sign up for her teacher’s account. I find that interesting because there are so many ways to communicate in today’s society and we as educators keep trying to “meet our students where they are” and now they aren’t as interested in the communications.¬† Maybe this will mean the circle will come back around and they will all learn how to use their assignment notebooks and write their assignments and details down. ūüôā I don’t know what the answer is, but I have yet to receive and negative comments about using Remind with my students or my swimmers, so I will keep it up!

Even though my list above looks like a lot, I checked my sent messages and it averages about two per week.¬† I like it because I can send a quick reminder I know the students will get and not have to type a long email that goes to their parent’s accounts instead.¬† I will consider what I send before I send it and I think this year (even though I have a small class), I will ask students and parents if they liked it at the end of the year.

Honestly, it’s great! Try it out this year if you haven’t before!

Here’s the link again.

(Disclaimer: Remind did not ask me to post about their product, I am posting out of my own love!)


Forced change is never easy…you don’t know it’s coming and likely aren’t very prepared. It throws you off your normal day to day routine and leaves you in a mess of jumbled thoughts of what ifs.¬† Last week I found out that I was being involuntarily transferred to another school in my district to be a Math Interventionist. This wasn’t a job I applied for, or even wanted, but yet there it was and it’s now mine. I don’t even know what the job entails or what this position does at the middle school level, but I hope to find out soon! This happened while I was at NCTM in NOLA, which helped to keep the reality at bay for a bit (Thank you Twitter friends for your distraction!). One of my best friends was texting me, checking in on me and stated a few times that I was going through the grieving process. That made me think and you know what? I was and thus this post was born.

Stage 1 – Denial & Isolation

  • See the story ACTUALLY starts with me being assigned to teach Spanish and Math at a completely different middle school in my district, which drove me straight to denial.¬† I do happen to have a decent amount of credits in Spanish from college, but I haven’t spoken Spanish since around 1998.¬† There is NO way anyone wants me to teach Spanish and it isn’t listed on my teaching certificate.¬† The denial part comes in because I emailed my principal and told him I couldn’t teach Spanish and that kind of put me in a holding pattern while he checked it out.¬† I was hoping this was a bad dream and by telling them this info…it would all go back to normal.¬† That was not the case, they just made a spot for me in another middle school as an interventionist. Being in NOLA kept me isolated from my colleagues and hashing the whole situation out, that might have been a blessing in disguise.

Stage 2 – Anger

  • Anyone who saw me when I found out all of this…you deserve a huge hug from me.¬† I was a mess…12+ years in the same school, with the same people, my best friends and now I was being moved? I was devastated and so angry, honestly I am not even sure that describes it. I am still upset because I love what I am teaching this year and really wanted a crack at it next year to improve my teaching and the learning of my students.

Stage 3 – Bargaining

  • My desire to regain control of my situation drove me (& my friends) to the “If only” and “What ifs”. Oh the wild and crazy things we have come up with! It’s nice to dream and wish things would go back to the only reality I’ve known for 12+ years.

Stage 4 – Depression

  • Honestly, I’ve skipped this step for now, but I know it’s coming in full force in the future.¬† I am sad every day as I pull into the parking lot and being in front of my classroom, I have to stop myself from continuously thinking “This is my last quarter with my own students.”. If I don’t stop myself, I will go crazy!

Stage 5 – Acceptance

  • I think I hit this stage when I called my parents to tell them and then asked my dad to help me build shelves in my garage for all of my teaching stuff. From what I do know about the position, I do not have a classroom or my own students, so I won’t need 95% of the things I have.¬† This will afford me the opportunity to purge items which will be nice.¬† I have also accepted that I won’t be back at my current school regardless of what happens from here on out.¬† I am so afraid of leaving my friends, two of my very best friends and losing touch.¬† I do know it’s within my control, but all teachers know we lose ourselves in the middle of the year and it’s so hard to keep up with what you are doing, let alone what your friends are doing.

Change…it’s not easy, but I am going to put myself out there and try and take control of my change.¬† There is an amazing opportunity to teach at a new STEM partnership school in my district, so I am applying for that.¬† In addition there is a position at the district office that I will applying to as well.¬† Now that I have accepted change, I am excited about the opportunities that exist and where I will end up.

I had to update my resume and I wanted to jazz it up while keeping it clean and detailed. A big thank you to someone who shared their recent cover letter and resume with me, I don’t want to share names because I am not sure it was a public thing…but seeing someone’s wording for recent contributions made it easier for me to update my stuff.¬† Last time it was updated was 2009 and it was stark and boring. So I used powerpoint to create the file below.¬† I have obviously removed personal information, but wanted to share anyways.¬† ūüôā

Explore the MTBoS Mission #2

Continuing in the MTBoS Missions…Mission #2 was all about Twitter.¬† (I am trying to catch up on the blog posts I should have been writing & promised people I would write, sorry for blowing up your reader.) Here is my Mission #2 reflection prompt:

  • If you‚Äôre an experienced Twitter user, describe and reflect upon how you tend to use it.

I wouldn’t say I am experienced, I still think I am pretty new to the Twitter world, but I can’t imagine my educational life without it.¬† I joined last year during the Math Blogger Initiation because I figured when I started my blog, I might as well start Twitter too.¬† Little did I know what I was getting myself into.¬† IT IS FLIPPING AMAZING!!!! It’s my own personal PLN that I can call on at any hour of the day or night and get a response.¬† It is (now) a mix of people that I have met in person at #TMC13, people I have met during other math conferences, people I have yet to meet and people I secretly stalk.¬† It is funny, challenging and awesome at all hours of the day.¬† It is where I start my Google search for a new activity or lesson and where I go when I need suggestions on my own activity or lesson.¬† It is a group of people that keep growing, creating and sharing together.

I am finding it even more useful this year because there is no one else in my building that teaches Geometry, so I don’t have people I can ask in my office.¬† I find I am leaning on my Twitter PLN to answer my questions or help me make sense of things shared with me that I don’t quite agree with. (Old school grading mentality from HS teachers)¬† We have made foldables together (@msrubinteach), we have shared skill lists (@MTchirps), we have presented together (@borschtwithanna), we have shared music routines (@mrvaudrey), we have laughed about the non-stickiness of post-its (@chrisrime) and many others that I am sure I am forgetting to mention.

Twitter is my news, my TV, my drama and my entertainment for the day. Sometimes it’s silly and funny and other times it’s thought provoking and opinionated, but either way it keeps me on my toes and always wanting to learn more, to be better and to continue to challenge myself to be the best I can be. If you haven’t joined or are on the fence about joining…DO IT!! Find educational hashtags to follow and just watch what happens.¬† You will be amazed and find that you want to jump in.

Twitter is my online PLN and my daily, weekly, monthly math conference. I have learned more since I started lurking and just reading blogs (since sometime in 2007) and then starting my own and jumping on twitter than I have in any of the time prior to that. My educational landscape has changed for the better because of my involvement on twitter.


#MyFavFriday: Technology as a time saver

I am obvious about my love of technology; I am one of the go to people at my school with tech questions & issues; I have a Master’s in Technology in Education because I can’t get enough of it; I have more than enough gadgets and my mom ALWAYS asks me questions (if that’s not proof, I don’t know what is). ūüôā This isn’t a post about how to correctly imbed technology into the curriculum, but instead it is a post about the tech tools that make my job just a little easier & more fun.

#1 – Excel – Years back I use to purchase the teacher gradebook from the $1 section at Target and type up my student’s names and tape them in.¬† One day I realized that I could probably recreate the gradebook in excel, so I could customize it as I wanted & type in names and self populate dates. Yes, I do keep a paper gradebook in addition to the district’s online gradebook. I have had my fair share of grades disappearing and issues, so now it’s a habit to do it both ways.¬† Here is my excel gradebook: (hopefully formatting will hold). I use the same one and change the dates per quarter.

#2 – Excel (again) – Of course I couldn’t just leave well enough alone and decided that I wanted to create my own planbook as well. I like color coding and fun fonts.The planbook is set up for my schedule, but can easily be adapted.¬† I think across, so my days go across.¬† It’s amazing how many teachers think down when they plan. I tried a planbook like that once and felt disorganized the whole year.¬† Must be my math brain?
Here is my excel planbook: (again I hope the formatting holds). I also use the same one and change the dates per quarter. The dates should self populate the entire document when you enter the date of the very first Monday of week 1.

#3 – External Portable Hard Drive – I just purchased a Western Digital My Passport last weekend for $60 that has 465GB of space. Funny for all of my technology love, I was so use to using all my different 4GB & 8GB flash drives and wasn’t in a place where I wanted it all in one spot.¬† With the implementation of CCSS this year, I had files everywhere.¬† I lost it last week when I had three drives plugged in and still couldn’t find where I put whatever file I was looking for.¬† I have placed ALL of my files included textbook files, videos, grade level files and this thing still doesn’t look like a bite has been taken out.¬† I LOVE it! Plus organizing it has been fun…ha.¬† Not quite, it’s a bit of a disaster right now, but it’s a good reason to go through and toss files I haven’t touched in a while. Having all of my files and any other necessary/helpful files in one spot is such a time saver.

#4 – Fonts – My love for fun & free fonts is a small addiction.¬† I scrapbook, so I use that as my excuse to have so many different fonts. I have almost 600 different fonts (that includes the ones the computer came with).¬† Fonts make my life and my files more fun! It’s not quite a time saver (more like time waster), but it allows me the ability to create my own posters, signs, etc. (this will be another post) and items I want/need with fun and unique fonts.¬† My favorite font sites are:

#5 – Remind101 – I love this site/app! My district does not allow texting to individual students, but this is awesome in that it is completely anonymous.¬† You DO NOT need a smart phone to use it.¬† You can send messages through their website. You can only send messages, students/parents can not respond (best feature!). There is no limit to the number of students/parents that can join each class.¬† I set up separate classes for each of my periods, rather than by course.¬† I sent an email to the students/parents and shared sign-up info at the start of the year.¬† I included that students/parents can sign up to receive my messages via email instead of (or in addition to) text.¬† This way it doesn’t leave out the few students I have who don’t have phones or don’t have texting. I do not use it to send the homework assignment out; I’ve used it as general reminders (bring such and such tomorrow), kudos about a great class that day, note that I will be out the next day, something interesting on news or tv to check out, etc. I also have a class set up for the sport I coach, so I can send them reminders about changes or things as well.¬† I¬† Kids love it and will ask, “Can you send a reminder via text tonight?”.¬† LOVE IT!

That’s enough for this post. My goal is to do some blogging catch up this weekend. It was a long October and I just lost the time and energy somewhere along the way.