Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SDE Midwest Conferences Wrap-Up


If you like the idea of using iGoogle as your browser's homepage and want to include some of the gadgets I have on mine, check out this post.

Want to setup a Dropbox account and not only get your free 2GB of storage but also get an extra 250MB? Click here to set up your account. Using that link gets you the extra 250MB (plus gives me and extra 250MB as well).

In a time where tablets are becoming popular, conducting classroom walk-throughs is an extremely practical use of collecting and organizing data.

As promised, this post gives the steps for creating a walk-through form using Google Docs and then getting that walk-through form onto your tablet.

  1. Design your walk-through form on paper. You may wish to begin with a paper form you are already using. Only after you have thought through how you want the form to look should you go to the computer.
  2. Log into your Google account and go to docs.google.com. You will see a list of all of the Google Docs you have already created.
  3. Click “Create New” and choose “Spreadsheet.”
  4. In Row 1 enter each of the questions that will go on the form. (Examples: Teacher name, Subject, Resources Being Used, Objective/Essential question posted?, Student activity, Number of students not actively engaged, Teacher activity, Level of questioning, Overall comments). Press the tab key to go from column to column. Note: You do NOT need to have a column for the date. The date and time of the walk-through will automatically be gathered for you.
  5. From the “Tools” menu, choose “Form” and “Create a form.” You will now see a form with your column heading already listed. Below each item will be a short blank where you could enter a response.
  6. While some fields lend themselves well to a short answer, for others, a drop-down list, series of check-boxes, paragraph text box, etc. will be a better fit. As you move the mouse down the page, each item will turn a beige color and display a series of icons to the right. Click the pencil icon to decide what type of response you want and create your list of checkboxes, items on drop-down list, etc.
  7. Each question will display a “make this a required question” checkbox. It is a good idea to check this box. That will keep you from overlooking an item. Click “Done" when you have finished editing that item.
  8. At the top of the form is a button called “Theme.” Click it, and you can choose from an array of attractive looks for your form.
  9. At the very bottom of the form, you will see “You can view the published form here” followed by a rather long URL. This is a very important step! Highlight and copy that link.
  10. By this time, Google Docs has probably prompted you to save the spreadsheet. If not, click “Save.”
  11. Now we want to get this form on your BlackBerry PlayBook, iPad or other tablet device you will be using in the walk-throughs. You can also use the form with a Smartphone, although the size may be too small for you to use comfortably.
  12. Open a new e-mail on your computer, paste the link from the bottom of the Google Docs form in the body, and address the e-mail to yourself. Send the e-mail.
  13. Go to your PlayBook, iPad, or other tablet. Check your e-mail, looking for the one you sent to yourself.
  14. Open the e-mail, and click the link. You should now be looking at your walk-through form.
  15. Your tablet should offer you a way to save a URL as a “shortcut” on your home screen. For example, on the PlayBook, you will tap the hollow star and choose “Add to Home Screen.” You have now created an app for the walk-through form.

If you also wish to have the form on your Smartphone, you will repeat the process on that device. Check your e-mail on the Smartphone and open the one containing the link to the walk-through form. Click the link to display the form. Now turn that URL into a desktop shortcut. How this is done will vary from one Smartphone to the next. For example, on a BlackBerry running OS6, click the icon just to the right of the URL address bar. Choose “Add to Home Screen.” You have now just made the walk-through form into an app! You will find its icon on your home screen.
    You are ready to start your walk-throughs! Each time you finish a form and touch “Submit,” the data instantly goes into the Google Docs spreadsheet. Each entry is date and time stamped for you!

    No more filling out forms and then recopying that data somewhere else! Your data is neatly stored in rows and columns on your Google Docs spreadsheet. Less time spent on paperwork. More time spent on helping good teachers get even better. Life just got easier!
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