Friday, March 9, 2012

Google Forms for Brainstorming


So, this past week I used Google Forms both in ENG099 and ENG102 for the students for the students to brainstorm on a topic before we actually discuss it. I use the method we used in the February meeting: Form + Spreadsheet. In 102, I hid the column with students' names; in 099, I left the column open to view, just to see if it made a difference (it did not seem to).

Objectives and Bloom's

For ENG099*:

  • to define what annotation is, describe how it is done, and explain for what purpose (Knowledge Level; Comprehension Level).
  • to implement this understanding of annotation to produce group and individual annotations (Application Level).

For ENG102*:

  • to interpret, report on, and discuss the meaning of symbols (Comprehension Level).
  • to select one possible meaning of the word "rose" and explain its significance to themselves (Analysis Level).
*there's way more to the lesson, but these are the objectives connected to the brainstorming. If curious , the ENG099 lesson is HERE, the ENG102 HERE.

Google Forms is very effective as a brainstorming tool. Advantages over discussion + writing on whiteboard (which we did anyway afterwards):

  1. Every single student engages with the concepts to be discussed, as they have to fill out the form. 
  2. As ideas come in, I get to flag three or four good ones to begin the conversation or mention during the discussion. Once I get to know the students' names, I will be able to say "as so-and-so wrote..."
  3. Students get to view everyone's responses before we discuss, so they are better prepared for the discussion.
  4. The shy students get to contribute to the conversation.
  5. It quiets down the room in 0.5 seconds, as students are intent on answering the questions. 
  6. Students become intensely focused on the task at hand because they are turning their notes "in" to me. (Now that they realize their notes can be made public, the pressure to complete the task will be higher). No more "I'm pretending to brainstorm on my piece of paper, but I'm really doodling and have no idea what the conversation is about").
  7. Because the instructions are written beforehand, late students can jump in right away to answer the questions with no need for an explanation beyond "Click here. Answer the questions." Or they can fill the form after class.
  8. I can review it later to see how much each student is contributing or understanding. Students that did not come to class or had a hard time following the discussion can review it and derive understanding from our collective wisdom.
  9. If you do it at the beginning of class, it creates an instant attendance list, complete with at what time the late students came in.

099 Form HERE; Spreadsheet HERE.
102 Form HERE; Spreadsheet HERE.


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  2. I love the way Google Forms allows students to collaborate in ways that they would not have been able to otherwise. Students seem genuinely engaged.