Google Forms Video Series

  1. Collect data
  2. Analyze data
  3. Take action based on data

All teachers and administrators need to follow these 3 steps. Completing the first two efficiently gets us to the most important step more quickly. Google Forms allows us to create highly customized surveys, questionnaires and assessments in minutes, send them out in seconds, and analyze much of the resulting data instantly. Also, it’s free.  Learning to do all of this will take you under 12 minutes.

The video playlist below shows how to start a Google Form, what all the question types are, additional options for questions and the form itself, how to send it out, and how to find and analyze the results. If you want to skip around within the playlist, click on the 1/17 in the top left corner.

I will be making more videos about the advanced features of Google Forms, but this will get you started. Let me know if you have any questions!

Ready for the advanced options? Need to know how to view your data in a visually appealing way? Check the linked posts.



Kaizena Voice Comments

There have been many times I have been evaluating my students’ work during my planning period and thought, “Ugh, I wish they were just sitting next to me right now so I could talk to them rather than typing out this comment.” An add-on for Google Docs called Kaizena allows for recording and receiving audio comments! I definitely plan on trying it this year.

In my newest video series, you can learn how to get Kaizena, how to leave a voice comment, and how to listen to a voice comment. The whole series is 299 seconds, or just shy of 5 minutes. Watch this instead of cat videos today!


Google Drive Video Series

I created this video series to help teachers understand the basics and some of the more advanced features of Google Drive. Since I created it as a playlist, you can skip around to just watch the unfamiliar topics. I hope you can learn at least one tidbit that will save you time and hassle so that you have more time and energy for your students this school year.

Instagrow a Table of Contents

A hyperlinked table of contents is a piece of practical magic for a long Google Document. The 25-page guide pictured here is much more approachable with this Table of Contents than it would be if users had to scroll or use Ctrl + F to find what they were looking for. One click and the document jumps right down to that particular spot.Table of Contents Example

Literally in seconds, you can create this beautifully simple feature for a document of your own. Here’s how.

  1. Go through your document and change the words you want to be included in your table of contents from Normal text to Heading 1. You do this by clicking and dragging over the text to select it, just like you would if you were trying to change the font or size. The option to do this is to the left of where you’d change the font, under the Format and Tools menus.Text styles normal to heading 1
  2. Click where you want your table of contents to go. Then go to the Insert menu, and you’ll find Table of Contents there at the bottom. Click. BOOM! Done.

Insert,Table of Contents

Seriously, that’s it.


If you add more Headings after your insert the Table of Contents, you’ll need to update, or refresh it, before the new Heading shows up in the ToC. Click the circle’d arrow to accomplish this feat. update table of contents


Next Post Preview: Adding a link in the footer to make navigating a long document even easier.

Footer hyperlink back to top of document

Google Slides: Edit Master

Looks matter. A good-looking theme adds polish and gravity to the topic. Plainly dressed default slides give the impression that the content is unimportant. In Google Slides, creating a custom theme to fit your style is easy. Just use Edit Master!

If you’re like me, you change your mind about font or color multiple times through the creation process. The Edit Master lets us make those changes instantly on all slides at any time. It’s not too good to be true. Check this out.

If you prefer screenshots to videos, here are the basic steps. There are only 5! And one of them is X-ing out at the end…You can definitely do this.

1. First, Start a slideshow. Then, click Slide>Edit MasterClick slide then edit master

2. Click the Master






3. Click Background and choose a dark color. The reason for this is explained in a previous post, but basically, you don’t want to compete for the focus of your audience (students, colleagues, etc.) with a giant, blinding white screen. Alternatively, choose an image. Or get super creative and use a collection of shapes and images, or change the colors of the text boxes.BackgroundBackground color or image






4. Change the font color and style if you like.

5. Then X out of the Edit Master to get back to your actual slides. They will all be in the style you’ve just created!X out of Edit Master

Here’s an example of the custom theme I made for a presentation about Google Classroom, in the Edit Master view: Edit master view


And in the Slides view:

Edit master my slides


So, I’ve got my little customized Google Classroom person google classroom logo with love speech bubble hanging out in the corner of all slides except Title slides, I have a dark background with yellow title text and white body text to match the colors of the theme, and I have the ability to change it all on a whim in seconds.

Next time you create a presentation with Google Slides, try out some of the techniques here to ensure you’re communicating to your audience that the topic is important and worthy of their consideration. A thoughtful custom theme will make that impression. Using Edit Master can help you to fine-tune your slides and see instant changes across your entire show.

Presentations: Pro Level

Presentations in the education world are not in short supply, however, really great slideshow presentations are rare indeed. If you are trying to have your audience (students, colleagues, etc.) remember more than 10% of what you say, and avoid boring them to tears, or worse, confusing them, you’ve come to the right place.

David Phillips’ TEDx talk How to avoid Death By Powerpoint is downright entertaining while being incredibly practical about how to improve your slideshow presentations. It’s also based on cognitive science and psychology. If you want to skip a bit of intro, go to 5:38. That’s where I start it when I show it to my students. If you’d rather read than watch, scroll past to the overview and my personal additions to his list.

  • One message per slide. Slides are free! You have an unlimited supply. Squeezing a lot on there makes it more difficult for your audience to focus on the main point you are trying to make.
  • Avoid sentences. If people are reading text while you are giving a speech, they have a hard (sometimes impossible) time remembering what you said or what they read. Instead, use very brief text snippets and images to emphasize or enhance what you are saying. That said, if you want students to go back and view your presentation after the fact, including the full text of your speech can be very helpful. Just relegate that to the Slide notes, below the actual slide, so it doesn’t show during the presentation.
  • Size matters. Make the most important part of your visual aid the biggest. Even though the default on all slides makes the Title larger than the Body text, doesn’t mean you should keep it that way.
  • Contrast steers focus. You basically have a magic wand at your disposal if you learn how to use contrast to your advantage. Whatever you want people to pay attention to, make that have the most contrast, and make everything else fade away to a color almost matching the background. The difference between these two slides is that one gives a hard nudge on what to focus on, and the other lets the viewer wander aimlessly.
    • Contrast good Contrast bad
  • Dark backgrounds. Don’t try to compete with a giant, bright white screen behind you. Also, it’s kind to the eyes of your viewers.

The next few are my own opinion, not discussed in the video.

  • High quality images. Poor images look lazy. If you don’t have or can’t find a good image (i.e. one without visible pixels, watermarks, or blur) then paint that picture with the words in your speech.  Better to have a short caption on a mostly blank slide and tell a story.
  • Font choice. Serif, sans serif, I don’t think it matters much. But, do choose a font that is easily readable and fits the purpose of your overall message. Don’t send mixed messages. Serif fonts tend to look more serious. Informal, handwriting type fonts are fine if that goes along with your message.
  • Purpose. Some presentations are meant for a limited, live audience, others start out that way but then could be used as review, and still others are meant for a asynchronous audience of strangers strewn across the world. All these require a different approach. For a limited, live audience, you may choose to have no words at all, or very few in your slides, so that the audience really engages with what you are saying. For slideshows which are given live at first, but then will be posted online for later review, the full speech could be included in the slide notes, or more words may be needed on the slides themselves. Or, you can allow your students access to the slide deck as you are speaking, if they are quick on the keys and you give them time after each slide to type their own notes. If you plan on making a presentation that is only viewed, and not heard, you can safely ignore the advice about sentences on slides.

Making better slide shows can help your students retain more information, and give them opportunities for review that they may not otherwise have. Also, if you are in a position to teach students about how they can make good slideshows, please share this information with them! Let’s grow a new generation of thoughtful deck builders.

Google Classroom and Drive: Digital Cleanup

Last week, I cleaned up and packed away the physical space of my classroom. Now all that’s left to do is neaten the digital side. For me, that means taking care of Google Classroom and Google Drive.

The first, and easiest, job is to archive my Google Classrooms. Archiving takes your classrooms out of your Home and puts them away in an Archived folder. Once a class is Archived, “You and your students won’t be able to make changes. You can view this class in “Archived Classes” in the Classroom menu and can find all class files in Drive.” But, if you change your mind, you can Restore the class.

Here’s how to Archive:

I also suggest taking time to delete or organize Google Drive items. Using the Shift to select multiple in a list, or Ctrl to select nonconsecutive items can speed up the deleting process.

Creating folders, and using drag and drop is a quick way to put everything in its place.

For all you super organizers out there, here are a couple of bonus tips! Star items, and color code your folders.

Happy Summer!

School’s (almost) out! Reflect with Google Forms

The end of a school year is always crazy busy. Field trips, assemblies, special projects, and final exams signal this to everyone. I suggest an addition to this list: a reflective survey. Using Google Forms, I ask my students some questions that trigger them to think about what they’ve learned in my course, and provide me with data to reflect on how I did as a teacher. To me, their learning and evaluation is what matters most. And, I can use what I learn from the survey to improve my practice next year.

To start a survey, open your Google Drive. Then click New>More>Google Forms.New-More-Google Form


There are a few different types of questions you can ask. The most relevant ones are:

Text Provides small text box for answer
Paragraph Text Provides large text box for answer
Multiple Choice Allows only one selection, chosen by radio button
Checkboxes Allows multiple selections
Choose from a list Allows only one selection, chosen from a drop down menu
Scale On a scale of 1-5….It’s a Likert scale
Grid A picture is worth a 1000 words on this type! (This screenshot shows a End-Of-Year Tech survey given to teachers, not the one I made for my students.)Grid

After you make a question, decide if you want to require students to answer that question or not, click Done and then Add item to start the next question.Done, required, add


Once you write all of the questions you are seeking answers to, find the Send Form button in the top left of the page. Send form buttonOnce you click that, you will find lots of options for getting your form to your students.Send formChoose whatever is best for you. I like to post a Short URL on our Google Classroom.

One other suggestion I have is to make the survey anonymous. I tell my students that I want them to be honest with me so I can get better. Since I teach middle school, and not every kid knows what anonymous means, I am sure to make that clear. While they are typing their answers, I stand by my “desk” (a tall projector cart) so that they won’t feel like I am peeking at their answers on screen. When making a Google Form that you want to be anonymous, be sure that the option “Automatically collect…” is unchecked.


My absolute favorite feature of using Google Forms is the Summary of Responses. It takes the data in the automatically generated spreadsheet and compiles it in neat and colorful ways. For example, on a scale question: how much did you learn scale

On a Grid question: Grid results

On Multiple Choice: Multiple choice results

On Text:Text resultsNotice the scroll bar to the side.

If you are curious about the questions I asked of my students, here’s a table of the question types, and questions.

To access the beautiful charts and graphs, click on Responses, then Summary of responses. Be enthralled. Be reflective. Be better next year.Summary of responses



Collaborative Commentary

Last post, I wrote a bit about how commenting is a good way to provide feedback in Google Drive. What I’m about to tell you, is going to make commenting even more appealing. Skeptical? I respect that, and urge you to read on.

In a comment, using the + or @ symbol in front of a collaborator’s email address automatically sends the comment to that person’s inbox! Instant notification. They get the comment, as well as a link to the doc. They can reply to the email to comment back, or open the document and complete the process that way.

Here’s how you can use this tip:

  1. When commenting on a student’s work, after their final submission. Normally, students turn things in, and don’t look at them again unless you specifically ask them to. Using the + or @ symbol in front of their email calls attention to the completed assignment and your feedback.
  2. When working with a group of people on the same document, and only some people need to attend to your comment. It lets others know they can skip that part.
  3. Commenting to yourself, as a reminder to look at something again later.  I simply can’t remember all the things I need to do, so I create protocols* to alleviate that issue. I can comment to myself with when working on something I’ll need to get back to.

Here’s how to do it:

In a comment, type a + or @ and (no spaces) start typing a person’s email.

Google Classroom Standard Useage   Google Docs


Your contact list will populate. Choose the person and finish writing your comment to them. After you click Comment, it sends the email to them!

Google Classroom Standard Useage   Google Docs comment


Here’s an example of what the comment notification email looks like.

Google Classroom ...   What kinds of information would be go...   giovanna.orlando   Cardinal Local School District Mail

One important note, using the + or @ commenting only works with people who are already Sharing that document. To make sure that a person you are mentioning in a comment is a collaborator, click the Share button in the upper right corner and then the Advanced option. Then you can see the entire list.

  1.  share button
  2. advanced

I hope this makes your life a little easier.



*For example: I tell my students that they need to email me to remind me to re-grade their re-do work (I allow kids to re-do any assignment that they get a D or an F on, to encourage them to keep working at things they aren’t good at yet) because I know that if they just tell me verbally (oftentimes when I’m in the middle of taking attendance or some other task taking half of my attention), it will be long gone from my mind by the time my planning period rolls around.