Using Google Forms in Early Childhood Classrooms

In early childhood classrooms, a large portion of what is taught and assessed are observable skills.  In Pre-K and Kindergarten students need to learn how to hold a book, where to start reading and the difference between a letter and a word.  Below are a few Common Core Standards for Kindergarten English Language Arts.

Print Concepts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1

Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1.A

Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1.B

Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1.C

Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.

 

These skills are immensely important but can be difficult to assess in a classroom of thirty students.  Traditional assessments do not work for students who can’t read or write.  This means teachers have to give one on one assessments and take anecdotal notes, a task that can be both daunting and incredibly time consuming.

Recently, I have started using Google Forms to record how students are doing on certain observable Common Core Standards.  I created a form, based on the ten standards I am most interested in tracking data on at the current time.  Then, anytime throughout the day when I see a student reading, I can open the form and record what I notice.  I mark each skill as Mastery, Approaching or Not Yet.

GR Data (2)

This allows me flexibility to record data on students at various times throughout the day– during reading groups or during independent reading time.  I am able to collect data in a way that does not make the task about data collection.  Instead of pulling each student one at a time, while the other 28 work independently, in order to have them read to me, I am now able to gather the information during small group instruction.

My favorite part of this process, is the data collection.  All of the information is saved into a master spreadsheet that looks like this:

GR Data (1)

It is easy to look at overall trends–  which standards are mostly green for mastery vs which have most students in the yellow approaching or red not yet categories. I can also look at specific students and see who is struggling across the board vs. who is only struggling in one area.  This helps me to adjust small group instruction and plan conferences with specific students during independent reading time.

If I am interested in a specific skill, I make a graph of that standard, as seen below.

GR Data (3)

GR Data (4)

The next step for me is to continue to collect the data in the master spreadsheet but also have a spreadsheet for each student.  This will be great to show trends over time for a specific student on specific skills.  I envision making line charts to track their progress on a certain standard and showing this to parents or other teachers and interventionists when we have academic conferences.  

I hope to improve my Google Form so that it includes more skills.  This will allow me to collect data on students who have mastered most of the Kindergarten standards and are working on more advanced skills.

Additionally, I hope to make the Google Form more of a collaborative effort.  My coteacher instructs half of the class during reading groups and our interventionist pulls many of my struggling students to work on these skills in small groups.  I would like them to add data to the form so that we have more information to work with and I have a better idea of how my students are doing in the small groups that I do not teach.

I am excited by how much easier it is to collect data on observable skills.  I plan on tweaking my forms and data collection practices to make the data even more useful.  I would also like to figure out a way to make the data accessible to my students.  It is incredibly powerful when a kindergartener is able to talk about what they are learning and goals for growth.

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STEM Night at Schaumburg!

Our first STEM night was an overwhelming success!  With about 150 people, from 70 Schaumburg families the event was well attended and everyone learned something, including the teachers.

Planning a STEM night was a challenge– we started by thinking about the science fairs we experienced in school, but that seemed too boring, considering the interactive, technologically-based projects that our students are used to.  We decided to showcase STEM work from each grade level, as well as invite community partners to participate.

Screenshot 2015-12-11 at 9.50.57 AM

STEM Presenters:

STEM is a broad field so we invited outside organizations that have worked with us before.  NASA taught the students to build rockets and launched them by stepping on a water bottle.  The Energy Alliance taught students about electricity and allowed them to ride a bike that powered a light bulb.  The Health Committee had families measure out the sugar in popular drinks and snacks– information that shocked and disgusted many participants.  Sci Tech came and had students navigate a robot through a maze.  Each grade also presented a hands on experiment that explored a STEM topic on the curriculum.  It was great to see how STEM works in pre-k through 8th grade.

My favorite part of STEM night was the computer stations.  We had two first graders man the station and explain to parents, students and teachers about the blended learning programs use everyday– ST Math, MyOn and iReady.  We had papers explaining how to use the programs at home.  I was impressed with the number of parents who said they planned to visit the websites or download the apps.  The students also loved teaching their parents how to play the game.  I hope that this provides students with extra practice and gives parents a way to help their students learn.

We also had a station with free websites and apps that parents can use to help their students learn.  I find that many times parents do now know what to do to help their child.  The act of downloading an app is empowering to parents and will hopefully pay off for our students.  I learned a lot about apps that are available and hope to try to incorporate some of them in my class.

Looking Forward:

While we did have a great turn out, I would love to find a way to pass on some of the information to the families who were not able to attend.  I am hoping to have the information about our blended learning programs and the free apps available to parents at Report Card Conferences.  I am also considering sending home the information in homework folders to try and reach even more parents.

Next time I would like to incorporate more student presentations.  Each grade had a table and the experiments were engaging and educational.  However, I think it would be powerful to have students run the centers.  It also might increase turn out in the presenters’ families.

I would also like to showcase apps and websites for the upper elementary and middle school students.  I would suggest having a teacher that works with older students help in the planning of STEM night, our committee was all early childhood teachers so that was where we naturally focused the content.

In the future we need to figure out how to use social media to promote our event and share the outcome.  I tweeted for the first time at STEM night and Jiji, the super popular ST Math mascot, retweeted me!  This would be a great way to inform the community about the event as well as connect with STEM experts who may want to get involved.

Overall the event was great!  Parents, students and teachers all seemed to have a great time and learn something.  I hope that STEM night becomes an annual event at Schaumburg and that the other schools are able to plan an event with similar outcomes.

 

(Pictures by Juston Jackson)