How to easily grade short answers using Google Form and FormMule

Google Apps for Education offer so many possibilities for teachers. One of my favorite tool is Google Form. It’s very versatile tool. In this tutorial (see below) I explain how you can use it to grade short answers and give feedback to students.


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Why Appy Hours can be a bad idea…

We all know the feeling. Your school is about to roll out a 1:1 iPad program and the first thing you think – and rightly so – is Professional Development quick and fast. So you start by diving into the trove of the app store, getting overwhelmed with the possibilities. You do try to create lists of apps that might be helpful for teachers. Following that list, you start mapping out “appy hours” where teachers get to see how amazing those apps are. And yet it doesn’t work. They feel those training sessions have nothing to do with their everyday practices, and to them it is more a burden that they have to go through to please their supervisor. So why are appy hours a bad idea? Because they should not be the starting point of a conversation about a 1:1 iPad learning initiative. The discussion should start where it matters: the classroom. So how to go about it? I have designed this roadmap that hopefully can help you avoid some pitfalls.

1. What would you like your students to be able to do?
Start brainstorming what skills/tasks you would like your students to be able to do regardless of the iPad. It could be something as trivial as taking notes, to more complicated ones, such as creating a screencast to explain a concept.

2. iCore Skills.
Once you have brainstormed ideas, try to narrow it down to essential skills. I personally call it iCore Skills (NB: There are not necessarily related to the current Common Core). They could be very practical skills such as taking notes or more general one such as create.

3. iCore Apps
Once you have the iCore Skills, start looking at apps that will allow you to achieve those skills. Remember 2 things:
a) less is more. You don’t want 25 apps. You are looking for apps that might cover 2 to 3 skills. (e.g Notability that allows you to take notes on any document but also record audio, add pictures, draw, etc…)
b) Sharing! Make sure that those apps “speak a common language” and can easily share their content from one to another. (For example if you choose Explain Everything, Notability and Subtext all those can be shared via Google Drive, providing your user with a single login)

4. Differentiated and organized Professional Development.
Once you have this iCore in place, you can start designing training sessions keeping in mind 2 factors:

I.Make sure you iDentify the level of proficiency of your faculty. If we are promoting differentiated instruction in our classroom, we should do the same in during PD sessions. For example I have identified 3 levels based on the SAMR model of Dr Ruben Puentedura:

  • iPadawan (level 1) Faculty is still learning the basic of the iPad (e.g how to download apps, check emails, take a picture, etc.)
  • iPad Knight (level 2 Substitution) and (level 2 Augmentation)
  • and finally iPad Master (level 3 Modification) and (level 3 Redefinition)

II. Once those levels are defined, you can start creating professional development sessions based on those levels. For example you can offer a session on Taking and Sharing Notes using Notability and Google Drive (Level 2) or on Flipping the Classroom using Explain Everything and Google Form (level 3). Remember it is important to label those sessions by the skills you are addressing, not solely by the name of the app(s). This will allow you to shift the focus from the apps (“Appy Hours”) to actual learning paradigms and students skills.

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What is Blended Learning ?

We all know the old adage: an image is worth a thousand words. So, keeping with that tradition, I created 2 videos to give a brief overview of what is Blended Learning. Part 1 of the video is about what is Blended Learning in general and part 2 is about the benefits of such a learning environment.  I intend to post more lesson plans on how to teach in such a learning environment in the months to stay put for more posts!

Part I  

Part II



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Teaching with QR codes and creating QR-Portfolios

QR codes are a great and easy way to share digital materials and resources within your classroom. I use it in 2 different ways.

(PS: if you want a quick introduction to what a QR code is, just click here)

1. From the teacher to the students:

Since I have my assignment sheet as a live Google Document, I created a QR code and then printed them as stickers that students can easily put in their agenda or notebook. It is very convenient and fairly easy to do (scroll down to see a video tutorial on how to do it). The advantage of such a system is: no need to print your assignment sheet anymore! The student just needs a phone or a tablet to scan the code and voila! They know the homework for tonight! (it won’t prevent them from making up excuses for not doing it though 🙂

I also use QR codes when I want to quickly share a video I created using Explain Everything or an online assessment created by Google Forms. I print the QR code, put it under the doc cam and voila! The entire class can easily scan the code to access the video without having to navigate to a website or check their emails. On the bonus side, when a student is absent, I keep the QR code for her/him. So the next day, they can still view the video tutorial I created by simple scanning the code.

2. From students to students:

Using the QR code feature, my students created ‘mural portfolios’ where they can easily share and make available to the entire class their work for review and comment. For example (see picture below), a student created two index cards with two different projects she did this year (an informercial and a TV show). What I found with this way of sharing, the students are more engaged by scanning and reviewing individually their classmates’ work, often providing insightful comments rather than just watching the projects as an entire class.
I have in my classroom a wall of QR-Portfolios with each student assigned a dedicated space where she/he can store the various index cards and projects they create. The nice feature of such a system, it makes it easy for any of my students to share their work, and any type of file would work. You do not have to worry about embedding codes into an e-portfolio platform.

(scroll down to see a video tutorial on created all those QR codes)

Example of a QR portfolio:


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Sharing the goodies from the ACTFL conference in Philadelphia

Just came back from the ACTFL conference in Philly and I thought I would share some of the goodies I just got to learn about. So here there are my top 3! (I decided to limit myself to 3 since after that people stop reading :)!

#1 Lingt I got the opportunity to meet with one of the co-founders of this wonderful web based tool. Lingt basically allows you to create assignments online where you can record questions and where students can listen to your questions and respond within the lingt website. They make it very easy since there is no need for the students to sign up and you can check all your students’ assignments fairly easily. The downside so far was the fact that it was flash based but after talking to the co-founder, I was told that they were going to release an iPad app. The first 5 assignments are posted for free but after that there is an annual fee. However, I was told that they do volume pricing and it translates to the cost of a regular app. The bottom line: give it try, it’s definitely worth checking out!

#2 Duolingo. Who said that the Bay Area had the monopoly on tech innovation? I met with the founders of a very interesting tool called duolingo (they are from Pennsylvania) and I was fairly impressed by this tool. It basically offers lesson in different languages with a well designed skill map. And since a picture is worth a thousand words check out the video below! I personally like the fact that you can work on your pronunciation and it also has a social/game component where learners get to see which level they have achieved so far.  I had my sixth graders sign up and they LOVE it! I have even students going through the lessons way faster than I assigned/anticipated; they even started doing translations on their own and are very proud of their self-paced progress.
Last good news about Duolingo: it is cloud based and soon will be working across platform (Android and iOS).

#3 Fairy Tales! (This is more geared toward the French Teachers but can be adopted to other languages as well.)
Some of you might know Michel Ocelot. One of his most famous work is Kirikou. I personally like the fact that he provides a French alternative to the Disney Movies. During the conference, I was introduced to some of his other tales. I especially like Princes et Princesses for a couple of reasons:
a) it is short. It is comprised of a series of short tales of 10 minutes each. So you do not have to spend 2 to 3 class periods just watching the entire movie.
b) Second they offer some interesting grammar points (passé composé, imparfait, conditionnel présent).
c) they offer an interesting setting in fostering  story telling skills.
d) finally they are full of humor! Just watch the one below to give you a sense.

The fairy tales setting is perfect for some Project Based Learning and I thought I would offer some of the resources that I have used in the past to conduct such a project:

a) I created an online handout where the students get to create their own fairytales. This handout is designed to help them create a story line. Please feel free to copy it and tailor it to your needs.

b) Storybird is a really neat platform that lets you create and share children’s books using the artwork made available by artists. My students truly enjoyed using it.

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How to use I-Tunes U ?

Oh yes, we all have endured those artificial and mostly ridiculous recordings provided by textbooks. Yet, I-Tunes U offers free recordings made by native speakers that do sound authentic, full of colloquial expressions and natural pauses that you may encounter when traveling in the country. In this video tutorial, I will show you a) where to find those recordings, b) how to embed them into a Wikispace.

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How to lock a page on your WIKISPACE

This is a quick tutorial, just to show you how to lock your pages on a wikispace. This is a very useful feature, if you want to make sure no one, not even the members of your wikispace (e.g your students)  change a specific page. So just follow the video tutorial below on how to do it!

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