Sunday, September 25, 2016

C-H-A-N-G-E It Up! Using Google Forms for Spelling Tests

Nathan McEntee
Learning Coach in Wolf Creek Public Schools
Ponoka, Alberta, Canada
Twitter: @mrmacteach
Google+: +NathanMcEnteeTeach

Before I go into detail on how to make your life easier using Google Forms for spelling tests, I have to say, I don’t like spelling tests! I do believe that spelling correctly is important, I believe that practicing spelling (word work) is important and I believe that good (better yet, great) spelling is imperative to effective communication. I’m just not sold that spelling tests are the way to do it. Spelling practice and spelling tests are two very different things and “Word Work” or “Working With Words” in Daily 5, or centers or a Writers Workshop are all great ways for students to practice spelling and in a lot of cases put the practice in context for students.

A colleague of mine who I taught with, used to give students the 100 most used words in the English language (yes, she did a test first), to find out which words the students struggled with. For each student she would take the first ten (if there were that many) and put them on a cue card and the student attached it in their binder. She gave them opportunity to practice spelling the words but also encouraged practice at home. Once every couple of weeks, students would pair up and exchange their binders (this was a collection of their writing from the past two weeks in all subjects) and their cue card with their lists. Students would go through their partner’s work with the list of words they had misspelled, if the word was spelled correctly every time it was used in their work, they crossed it off the list, if the word was misspelled, the word stayed on the list and the student was encouraged to continue practicing. Contextual spelling practice like that I can get on board with. That being said, there are still schools/divisions in the world that require spelling tests and now you can use Google Forms (and some other Google tools or Add-ons) to make writing and marking spelling test quick and easy. If you’re not a Spelling test person you can use some features in Google Forms to give students immediate feedback to practice spelling.  

Create a Google Form to Send to Your Students
The first and most important step, create a Google Form and add questions with a short answer option for responses. In the “Question” section you can put the word number so students will know which “question” in the form is associated with which word. This will help direct them when you get the “What number was that?!” that inevitably comes up.  

Send the Form To Your Students

This can be done by emailing a link to the form, sharing it in Google Classroom, Hapara Teacher Dashboard (this is a product my school division uses) or having the URL (web address for the form) on the board (I recommend creating a shortened URL) for your students to type into the address bar (Omnibox) in their Chrome browser.

But Autocorrect Will Underline Misspelled Words!

Fear not my friends!! You can have your students go and disable the underlining of the words ( Click here for instructions). You may want them to go back and enable this after you’ve completed the test...or not!

How Do I Mark The Test?

Flubaroo is an add-on that will mark the test for you and send students their results, this can be done automatically or you can manually send out their results with a click of the button. Here’s a video made by Kelly Fitzgerald on how to use Flubaroo with the “new” Google Forms.

Want To Use Forms to Help Students “practice” for Spelling Tests or Word Work Stations?

You can use the data validation in Google Forms to give students “instant” feedback on their spelling instantly. Data validation gives student an “error message” until they spell the word correctly. This video shows how to use the data validation feature for this.

BONUS: Differentiating and AppSmashing Your Spelling Test

If you would like your students to have less words than other students you can create sections in your form. Students who have less words will be able to submit their tests/quizzes without having to type the other words. In the message to the student when they hit submit you can add a link to word practice site (Spelling City, Flocabulary or any other site you want to use as practice for spelling). I made this video to show how to do it and what it looks like from a student view as well.

Let’s say you would like students to be able to write their spelling test on their own time. You can record yourself reading the words, upload it to youtube and then insert the video at the beginning of the Form. Students can then start/stop/rewind the video as they need to.

Jacqueline Legaspi gives an example of a similar idea where she adds an audio file of herself reading the words for her students along with the “test” in Google Classroom here.

This may seem intimidating or overwhelming to some, but here’s a piece advice for those just getting started, “Start small and do it well, but START!”

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