One of the things I was hoping to do this year was to show more teachers how cool Google Forms and Google Sheets can be. Strangely enough, I’ve been struggling a bit with this (I know….can you imagine people not being interested in spreadsheets and data?!). I think it’s pointless to just teach how to use these tools without having a purpose and, until recently, I haven’t had many real-life purposes!
Enter Farah B, an ELL teacher at one of our elementary schools. Farah’s school is quite multicultural and Farah and her students had decided to look all of the languages spoken in their school and maybe graph them? Farah contacted me and wanted to know “is there a Google tool that can help us with this?” I bet you can just picture the happy dance I did when I got that email!
Farah and I agreed we would use Google Forms and the resulting spreadsheets to gather and represent the data. Afterwards, the students could work with Farah and their homeroom teacher, Mr. Z, to analyze the data.
My first time visiting with the Grade ⅘ class, we discussed how we could collect the data. They all agreed that asking questions was the quickest way and after showing them Forms, they agreed that this was how they would ask their questions. For the younger grades, they would go into the classroom and sit with the form open on their laptop. They would then call the students over one at a time and fill in the form with them. For the older, intermediate, grades, they would send a link to the form to the homeroom teacher of each class. The teacher could then post that link on Google Classroom and each student could fill the form in on their own.
The form we created, after working together, collected the following data: student’s first name, grade, division and language information. Students came up with a list of all the languages they could think of that they knew someone in the school spoke. For each language, we decided we would ask if the student spoke, read, wrote and understood the language. Our reasoning was that there might be students who understood a language because it was spoken at home, but maybe they couldn’t actually write in it or even speak it! We also had to remember to leave an “other” category, in case there was a language we hadn’t thought of.
Each small group in Mr Z’s class was responsible for creating the form and collecting data for one division.
Once all the data had been collected, I went back to visit them again. We agreed that if someone has said “yes” to three or four aspects of a language (read, write, speak, understand), we would consider them fluent. If they said yes to only one or two, we would consider them to be “functional” (as in they could probably order a cheeseburger at a restaurant but not read the entire menu!)
The next step involved showing the students how to go into the form responses and create a spreadsheet with all of the data. We learned how to “hide” the columns that had no data and then, using a “data collection” spreadsheet I had given them, students decided how many people in “their” class were fluent in any given language and how many were functional.
Finally, we learned how to take that spreadsheet, select the data and create a graph that we could label and personalize. Students saved their charts as PDfs and emailed them to their teacher. The charts were then used in a presentation to the school board!
I imagine once the class sits down to analyze their data they will notice things like the fact that the Grade 1s don’t feel they are fluent in French but the Grade 4s do. I wonder why? What other stories can they find in their data? How can those stories help the school serve their community even better?
If you work in the West Vancouver School District and want help using Forms and Sheets with your students, contact me via email!