Monday, March 24, 2014

My Crush on Google Forms

No matter who you are, who you teach, what you teach, and what type of school demographic you teach, teachers always have to account for student behavior and classroom management. Likewise, you might be the most engaging teacher, have the most awesome lessons, and/or have a lot of students who adore your every sneeze, but we can all benefit from keeping track of student progress. Enter my crush on Google forms/docs/drive this semester for two reasons.

After-School Help
Nothing complicated. When students show up after school for math support (voluntarily or involuntarily), I have a quick way to keep track of who showed up and how long they stayed. The "miscellaneous notes" section is helpful for tracking students' skills or questions they might have, etc.
This can also be helpful when working with parents if you have an action plan for their child to receive additional support outside of class time. The last thing I want to do is create more work with these forms. When students show up, I have them write their name on the board and the time they depart so I can quickly enter their work time. This is a short and sweet form. Let's move on. 

Behavior Log
The purpose of the form is to log any interaction I have with a student as a result of being off-task, misbehaving, or anything else that disrupts the learning process. The purpose of this Google form is not to curb bad behavior. However, I will say it can be effective to fill out the form together with the student. Tread lightly: don't make a show of it in front of their classmates or project it up on the screen for all to see.

This is not an exhaustive list of classroom (mis)behaviors. However, think how easy and efficient it is to check common behaviors. When filling this out with the student, it helps to have them identify what behavior disrupted the learning process. The "other" option takes care of anything you can't foresee your students doing. Always nice to have.
Action Taken:
My school expects teachers to handle as much classroom management issues as possible by having us layout a progressive discipline procedure with our students. As you can see, my list under "Action(s) Taken" seems pretty progressive, or at least I think so. For me, the most meaningful and effective action is the "Student-teacher conference." Whatever your fancy is, create a list of actions you usually find yourself doing and make them checkboxes. Don't forget the "other" section.

If this happens again...
I have a really porous memory so this section is a lifesaver. You're telling the future you what to do if a student repeats their behavior. I can't tell you how many times I just open the Google responses for my log, press Command-F (for find), type the student's name, and BAM! I have what they previously did and what we agreed on as the next step in progressive discipline.

Additional Notes
I sometimes use this to make a note about the student responding well to a warning, the details of a student-teacher conference, or the actual incident itself. It's there for what you need it for.

Final thought:
Create a shortcut in your browser for these Google forms. If you're out in the wild with an iPad, create a shortcut there too.

Don't get me wrong people, I'm not bragging about student discipline with this post. I believe that most student misbehavior can be prevented by providing students meaningful/engaging learning experiences, classroom boundaries, and routines. Mix this with a lot of preventative-maintenance teacher moves and students typically stay on task and out of trouble.  But we can do more than that.

Our school has also required every teacher to include a Positive Behavior Incentive System (PBIS) in their classroom. Students earn some type of token for positive contributions to the learning environment and can cash them in for prizes that range from candy, to sitting in the computer chair, to a bag of chips, to an Expo marker, to picking something from the mystery box.

Students used to earn stickers in my class for positive behavior, where they could cash in the stickers for prizes. It was a hassle for all of us. Recently, a colleague went to a conference and shared a PBIS idea I've found to be pretty effective. I hand out small "Thank You" notes printed on scratch paper. Students save them and can cash them in. So far, so good.

My goal of this post was to encourage you to look into Google forms for efficiently keeping track of student interactions. If you have others, please share.



  1. Great ideas, Andrew. The after school form documents an intervention that could be informative for RtI purposes. I could also see using this in math lab and adding a question to capture if the interaction was student or teacher initiated. If it was teacher initiated, maybe note if the student attended or was a no show.

    I like the idea of using the behavior form with the intent of capturing and sharing the data with the team. I take it you are not suggesting it replace an existing communication tool between the parent, student and teacher--that it is merely a way to log a misbehavior.

    Does your building have a common vocabulary for behaviors such as be safe, be responsible, be respectful? For example could "Be Responsible" be an umbrella term for no supplies, no homework, etc? Could "Be Respectful" be an umbrella term for talked out of turn and several other infractions? That may streamline the form and details could be provided in the notes. Is there any benefit to tiering the actions taken?

    You've really got me thinking on this as our building is discussing how and when we communicate with parents.

    1. Hi Mary,
      Good call on the teacher/student initiation part of the form. That's a simple update. By no means am I suggesting the behavior form replace communication with student and parent(s). You're right, it's simply to log the behavior and any actions I took, including phone calls home or parent conferences.
      As for common vocabulary, I like your suggestion and it'd be something to consider. I don't see a benefit to tiering the actions on the form at this point since my progressive discipline process is posted in class. The google form is simply there to document any interactions I have with students. Thanks for your suggestions.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Andrew! As a new teacher, I'm still trying to figure out what works best for me regarding behavior monitoring, so I really enjoyed reading your methods and suggestions. I especially like the idea of using a Google form for a behavior log. It seems very organized, efficient, and consistent. The "If this happens again..." box is great- I too have a porous memory.

  3. I have always used a 3-ring binder to house "sign in sheets" and "parent communication" tracking. I am kicking myself for not thinking about using Google form. Now when I am curious how often has Johnny came to see me for help, a quick search of the spreadsheet makes it much easier than flipping through sign in pages in a binder looking for that one name. Thank you for the ideas.

    I use scripts a lot. One script from New Visions Cloud Lab called sheet spider might be useful. If other teachers are using a similar/same form, the script can pull all those together into one. We have a discipline referral system but there are many (most?) behaviors I want to deal with in house that I don't think need to be on a student's record. It would definitely help me to see if other teachers are experiencing the same behaviors from a student in their room as well. Now we can run a search on Johnny and maybe see a pattern and come up with a coordinated way for all his teachers to help him.

    The scripts I use are not necessarily for student interactions. If you are a Google school gClassFolders and Doctopus are wonderful (see the link above to get to them). I also use FormEmailer to streamline reassessments. I wrote a guide on how I use FormEmailer.

    Some of those scripts have a G+ community where everyone does an awesome job of helping you set up and how to use the scripts.

    1. Hi Jamie,
      Thanks for the tips and links. I'll have to check them out. I'll be adding a "parent communication" form to my collection for academic purposes, school supplies, etc. Good idea!

  4. I love these ideas. How often do you hand out the "thank you" notes? I've struggled with finding a good system for positive reinforcement because most methods are too time consuming and I eventually abandon them.

    1. I hand "thank you" notes out for various reasons, but I'm finding them easy to pass out since I practically carry them around in one hand, making it super easy to just toss one on a student's desk without fumbling around for one. Also consider delegating by giving a short stack to a student helper you trust who can quickly write student names on notes. I find this effective when doing direct instruction or other times when I'm not necessarily able to circulate the room as much.
      I find myself passing these out most during the following times:
      *Beginning of class for first few students who are on task without any prompting or reminders.
      *Students who volunteer (for anything) when no one else might raise their hand.
      *I frequently ask for random students to volunteer in class without telling them what they're volunteering for. That's super brave!
      *Brave students who take academic or intellectual risks, even if wrong.
      *Students who did a good deed.
      So far, I find the notes are working well. The small slips are easy to carry around. The kids see me walking around with them. I usually say something like, "Thank you [name] for volunteering." and this small slip of paper just becomes an additional tangible form of appreciation.
      Hope that helps.

  5. Thank you for this. I like the idea of sitting in the computer chair. I've always like raffle tickets for a drawing for a HW pass, but I like the idea of them getting them and "buying" items with it. Positive phone call home, and positively reinforcing good behavior verbally in a sincere yet in way that seems like a game. Kids want positive praise. Why waste energy on giving my attention to negative behaviors. The students usually change their behavior with positive peer pressure around them.

    I will definitely be using some Google forms. I think the Class Dojo idea is cool, I just can't see myself with my phone out fiddling with it. I do think I will have a weekly rotation of a clipboard for a person to keep tracking of warning, I do a 5 minute time out after that, and then usually it stops unless they need a referral to the office.

    I also truly believe that with engaging lessons where everyone can have a chance to participate and keep each other accountable, prevents the poor choices most of the time. I got my first dip into this, especially with teaching procedures explicitly (entering classroom, using water fountain, tardy, bell procedure, pre-dismissal, dismissal, etc.) at

    1. Glad it was helpful. I used Class Dojo more for equity with randomly selecting groups or students. Meh...
      I agree, having engaging lessons and building a rapport with students is the best classroom management.