Room 313

adventures in teaching creative writing

Archive for the month “August, 2013”

Self Assessment with Google Forms

On the third of class in Pre-AP English 2, I had my students assess their English skills. I had created a Google form to do this, and I knew the vast majority of my students would have smart phones. They took the survey in class in just a few minutes. I was hoping to display the link to the survey in large text on my SmartBoard, but I had technical difficulties, so I just wrote the survey link on my marker board. Thankfully, I had thought ahead to create a tiny url out of the long Google form website. If you aren’t familiar with tinyurl, it’s a free, helpful website that converts long, bulky web addresses into much smaller ones. I had also thought of converting the website into a QR code, but most of my students don’t have QR code apps on their phones. Anyway, I’ll include the survey below, so you can see it, followed by some of the results and my thoughts on this activity.

I’ve done an activity like this before on paper, but using a Google form allows me to see and compare the results so much faster. I get a quick snap shot of where my students think they are at in their English skills.

student_survey_snapshot

When I looked at my students’ responses, I wasn’t too surprised. These Pre-AP classes are filled with many high-achieving students, and many of them rated themselves as 4 or 5 in most categories. I did notice, however, that some students were either very honest or very hard on themselves by ranking some of their skills as 1. I know now in advance to give them extra help and support. I can also use this data to form writing groups for my students comprised of students are strong, medium, and weak in their skills.

How will use Google forms in the classroom?

The Dot Insights

On the very first day of Creative Writing 1, I read The Dot by Peter Reynolds aloud to my students. I did my best to show them the pictures too, even though they’re in high school. My classes have students from all four grades, and this read-aloud was our first step toward building a writing community. I love this story for many reasons, and I highly recommend it if you’ve never read it. The audience is everyone, not just children.

dot august 2013After I finished reading the book, I asked students to think about the story. What lessons did it offer? How might it connect to this class? Why would I select this book for the first day of school.

I was so impressed with what my students came up with. I gave them time to discuss with a partner or a small group, but then we shared out as a whole class, which was made easier by our circular seating arrangement. I got so caught up in the discussion in 5th hour, I didn’t document what my students said. I knew it would equally good in 7th hour, so I used the talking feature on my smart phone to record my students’ responses. I’m posting them below in the order my students said them. Each student contributed and tried not to repeat any students before him or her. One of the best insights came at the very end.

  • You can always fix it and make it better
  • The dot represented the creativity
  • Pictures equal imagery
  • Be an original
  • The more you try, the more creative you get
  • You’re more capable than what you believe you are
  • Sometimes when you finish something, it’s not how you had planned it
  • Sometimes all it takes is a start
  • Inspiration can come from different people and different things
  • Put in the effort to try something even if you don’t think you can
  • It’s yours, put your name on it, make it your own, it’s your writing
  • Something may not mean a lot to you, but it could mean a lot to other people
  • She started with something simple, and it turned the something big because of her ideas
  • Don’t give up on a piece if it seems too simple at first
  • Don’t doubt yourself, be proud of your work
  • You can always start at the bottom to make it to the top
  • Our ideas grow because we brainstorm
  • Sometimes all it takes is trying/you can’t fail until you try
  • The best standard you can reach is trying your very best
  • Something little can open doors to a whole new meaning or something bigger than you thought it was
  • Big things with small beginnings

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