Although I am obsessed with all things Google, Forms just might be the most transformative, efficient, and universal tool I have in my teacher toolbox. Forms automate grading, save time, collect meaningful data, and streamline instruction. In other words, they make my life a whole lot easier, which is no small feat for a busy teacher.
I like to think of Google Forms as the holy grail of teacher tech tools. Forms are so powerful because they can give teachers the gifts of time and energy! When you use Google Forms, you can make teaching and learning more efficient, save your precious brainpower for what matters the most, and automate the menial tasks so you can focus on the “big picture.”
Whether you’re brand new to Google Forms or you’re Forms-obsessed like me, I’ll bet that you can solve at least one of your problems, alleviate one of your headaches, or minimize some of your stress with a Google Form. Even though I’ve used Forms for years, I am always thinking of new, innovative ways to use them. In fact, while writing this post, I brainstormed “too many” ideas, so many that I had to write a part 2 to this post: 15 More Ways to Use Google Forms. But my point is this: Google Forms are just techy teacher hacks, and they can be used for almost everything. If you can assign it, you can form it. 🙂
Here are 15 of my favorite ways to use Google Forms in the Classroom:
1. SELF-GRADING QUIZZES & ASSESSMENTS
Don’t waste time grading multiple-choice quizzes or assessments when Google Forms can grade them for you! This function is a game-changer and a life-saver. To create a self-grading Google Form, you have a few options. The first is using the “quiz” feature within forms. To turn this on, you will need to click on the Settings icon in the top-right corner (it looks like a gear). Then, go to “Quizzes” and click “Make this a quiz.” From there, you can adjust other relevant settings, like if you want students to immediately see their grades or if you want to send them out later, as well as what students can see (missed questions, correct answers, and point values). Then, on each question, you will need to complete the “Answer Key” (below each question). You can even add answer feedback!
Another option, which I used long before the quiz feature was available, but still love, is Flubaroo, an add-on that allows you to automatically grade Google Forms. Flubaroo takes a little more time to set up, but it has more advanced features, such as grading questions with more than one answer, adding comments on students’ answers, and more. I really like the way Flubaroo represents student assessment data as well. If you’re looking for some more advanced tips on how to “hack Google forms” for grading, then you can find some in this post from my friend Shana at Hello, Teacher Lady.
If you routinely use bell-ringers in your classroom, then consider making them much more efficient and purposeful by using Google Forms. If you give students a multiple-choice bell-ringer, you can set it to auto-grade and allow students to resubmit until they get the answer right. That way, students don’t have to wait for the whole class to review the answer. They can problem-solve and go through the process of elimination on their own so that the whole-class discussion will be much more productive. While they are working on the bell-ringer, you can watch the responses come in and use that data to inform your instruction. You’ll know exactly which questions, skills, or content to focus on.
Similarly, if you assign an open-ended question or writing bell-ringer via forms, you can watch the responses roll in and develop a plan for what’s next. You can share students’ exemplary answers, call on certain students to elaborate on their responses, and learn who might need you to check in with them for extra help later. Starting class with a Google Form bell-ringer gives you the immediate feedback you need to adjust your instruction and facilitate a much more meaningful, relevant lesson.
3. EXIT TICKETS
If you’re using Google Forms for bell-ringers, why not use them for exit tickets, too? This will give you valuable data to use for planning the next day’s lesson! What did students learn? What are they still confused on, and what questions do they have? To simplify this, you can even create a generic exit ticket form and use the same one daily! In addition to using open-ended exit tickets, you can also give students 1-2 quick multiple-choice questions to review how much they learned during your lesson. However you structure them, Google Form exit tickets are an efficient, purposeful way to wrap up a lesson and generative formative data.
4. LEARNING STATIONS
Google forms make streamlining online learning stations easy. Whether you create a form for each station or one form for all stations, forms are a great choice for quickly converting your existing stations to the digital format. If you have learning stations in PowerPoint, Google Slides, or PDF form, you can even embed your stations as images in a Google form. To learn how to structure learning stations with Google forms, check out this post.
5. ANTICIPATION GUIDE
I love creating and assigning anticipation guides before reading a new text. Anticipation guides are the perfect discussion starter, and they’re even better in Google Forms. Here’s why: Forms will organize responses in a visually appealing format, and you can even publish the results for all students to see. To turn this feature on, go to settings and check the box that says “See summary charts and text responses.” With the results visible, students can read their peers’ opinions as they wait for a whole-class discussion. They can brainstorm rebuttals for opposing opinions and enter the discussion more informed and engaged!
6. POLLS OR MINI SOCIAL EXPERIMENTS
A quick poll can make an engaging hook to a lesson or unit. For the reasons mentioned above, a Google form is a great way to make a poll even more interesting. For example, whenever I teach my journalism students about news determinants, I conduct a quick “experiment” by giving students a Google Form with two article choices: One about a horrific murder and the other a heartwarming story about a dog that saved its owner. Students select an article, read it, and respond to it in the form, thinking it’s just another “article of the day,” this time with a little choice. What they don’t know is that it’s a little experiment to segway into a discussion of why humans are so attracted to bad news. Because of this mini “social experiment,” students are always much more engaged and ready to discuss after the Google Form “experiment.”
7. STUDENT SURVEYS
At the beginning of each semester, I always assign a student survey so I can gather essential information on my new students. Once again, I love this because forms filter everything into a spreadsheet, so I can easily access this information. My student surveys often include questions to get to know my students as learners and human beings. I ask students questions like “What do you like to do in your spare time?” and “How do you learn best?” Sometimes, I will even link to online learning style assessments and ask students to input their data into my Google form. I also have students complete an online personality test and then complete a reflection via Google forms.
8. PERSONALITY “QUIZZES” AS HOOKS
I love giving pop quizzes, but not in the way you’d expect! At the beginning of new units or texts, I often create magazine/Buzzfeed-style “personality quizzes” to pique students’ curiosity and preview important content. For example, I facilitate a “How Puritan Are You?” quiz before we read The Crucible and a “Are You a Transcendentalist?” quiz before we study the texts of Emerson and Thoreau. Google Forms are the perfect way to bring these fun quizzes to life. You can create them just like you would any other quiz, but make sure you have a “Scoring Guide” or “Answer Key” to connect students’ responses to the content. Once students take the quiz, ask them to make inferences about the content. You’ll be surprised at what they can gather from a simple, fun “quiz.”
9. STUDENT “CHECK IN” FORMS
If you’re looking for an easy way to informally check in with your students, especially during distance learning, consider creating a Google Form to see how students are doing. You can simply ask students how they’re feeling, or you can ask them to rate their feelings using the “linear scale” question option. Here are some other questions you might want to include: What questions, comments, or concerns do you have? How can I help you? How well do you understand current lessons/assignments? Whatever questions you include, your students will appreciate you checking in, and their responses will help you to better understand how they’re feeling and how that might be affecting their schoolwork.
10. ESCAPE ROOMS
Google Form’s best-kept secret just might be its “Response validation” feature, which gives you the ability to automate a digital escape room. Since each task in an escape room generates an answer or code, you can create a Google Form with different sections, one for each challenge in the breakout. To do this, first add a new section to your form by selecting the icon at the very bottom of the vertical toolbar (2 parallel lines). Title your new section, and then create a short-answer question that reads “CODE” or “Type code here.” To ensure that students cannot advance in the escape room until they have the exact code, you will need to click on the 3 dots in the bottom right-hand corner of the question box. Select “Response validation.” Then, set the drop-down menus to “Regular expression” and “Matches.” In the “Pattern box,” type the code. In the “Custom error text” box, you can type a generic message like “Try again!”
If students attempt to submit an incorrect code, they will receive the error message until they can input the correct expression. The correct code will allow them to advance to the next task (another section of the form). With the Google form automating the entire breakout, the escape room will be less stressful for you and your students.
11. LEARNING REFLECTIONS
Learning reflections are a great way to facilitate metacognition, encourage lifelong learning, and cultivate curiosity. In my opinion, the informal data I gather from student learning reflections tells me just as much, if not more, than any kind of quantitative data from endless assessments. To maximize the potential of learning reflections, let Google Forms collect that data so you can use it to better serve your students. Learning reflections don’t need to be complicated. A quick 3-question form will suffice: 1. What did you learn? 2. What was the most INTERESTING thing that you learned? 3. What do you want to learn more about? What questions do you have?
You can assign daily learning reflections as exit tickets, designate a day for weekly reflections, incorporate reflections at the beginning, middle, and end of a unit, or conduct them in any other periodic fashion. The more students reflect, the more they will learn.
12. GUIDED NOTES
If you’re delivering a mini-lesson and want to incorporate some accountability for students, try using Google Forms for guided notes. If the fill-in-the-blank answers are simple enough, you can even set it up to auto-grade. For guided notes, you’ll probably want students to receive their own copy of the notes, so make sure you turn that setting on. Here’s how: Go to Settings (General). Check the box that says “Collect email addresses,” and then another option will appear: “Response Receipts.” Check that box, and then when two more options appear, select the one that says “Always” so students automatically receive a copy of their responses. With this setting on, students will have access to their own digital copies of the “notes” they took via the form.
13. WRITING WORKSHOP/PROJECT WORK DAY EXIT TICKETS
Any time students have a “work day,” whether it’s for a project or writing workshop, I assign them an exit ticket or “check in” via Google Forms or Google Classroom Questions. My questions are always the same: What did you accomplish today? What do you need help with, and what questions do you have? These exit tickets foster student accountability and allow me to give more efficient, meaningful feedback to my students during the writing process. For more information on this, as well as 9 other hacks for teaching writing with Google Classroom, head to this blog post.
Don’t let the learning process end when students click “Submit” to turn in a paper, project, or other big assignment. Instead, encourage reflective thinking by asking students to complete self-evaluations via Google Forms. During a self-evaluation, students will “grade themselves” using the same criteria you use to assess them. To do this via forms, use the “multiple choice grid” option to create a scaled rubric. Since you can’t include lengthy descriptors in the grid, I like to upload a screenshot of the rubric above the grid, so students can reference that while they grade themselves. Students are often so honest and insightful on their self-evaluations that this data actually helps me cut down on my grading time. Win-win!
15. STUDENT-CREATED QUIZZES OR SURVEYS
Who says teachers have to be the ones to create all the Google Forms? The next time you want your students to really understand something, ask them to make their own quiz and answer key! Then, have students swap their forms with peers and test their knowledge on the subject. This unique approach to learning will help students develop essential 21st-century skills and think critically about the content from a “teacher perspective.” This idea is worth trying out for vocabulary, reading comprehension, end-of-unit review, and more.
Want even MORE Google Form ideas? Check out Part 2: 15 More Ways to Use Google Forms to learn how to create differentiated, individualized forms, choose-your-own-adventure assignments, rubrics + automatic feedback, and MORE!
If you enjoyed reading this, you may want to check out this similar post because I love Google Classroom “questions” almost as much as I love Google Forms: 7 Ways to Use Google Classroom’s “Ask a Question” Feature
As always, drop any questions or other innovative ideas down in the comments. I love hearing the amazing things you’re doing! 🙂