Episode 51 – Google Forms & PE

In this episode of The PE Geek podcast, we explore the amazing opportunities that Google Forms provide for the Physical Education classroom.  The opportunities are truly endless, and the benefit they provide to your workflows can be truly transformative to your efficiency and productivity.

Resources & tools covered in this episode include

  1. What Google Forms are & how they’re created
  2. Form Notifications
  3. Flubaroo, Autocrat & docAppender

Press Play below to listen. Alternatively, download a full episode transcript here


00:28 Jarrod Robinson: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Episode 51 of the The PE Geek podcast, and as always it’s a pleasure to be here. Now, I’m super excited to dive into our first episode over that magical Episode 50 celebration that we had just recently, and I certainly hope that you enjoyed that special episode. We’re back to normal episode structures here, and I’m gonna be taking you through a look at, I think, one of the most powerful technological services that we have access to, and that would be Google Forms. Now you may have heard of Google Forms before, you may also use Google Forms already, but there are definitely some things that you can do to sort of take it to the next level. And if you’re just getting started, it will give you a bit of an insight into ways in which people are using them.

01:23 JR: Now, I wanna point out that all of the notes, and resources, and information that are mentioned in today’s episode are gonna be available for you over on the website by visiting thepegeek.com/51 for Episode 51. Now the sort of things that we’re talking about today are best explained in video because we will be talking about some of the sorts of things that you would need to follow a process to achieve. So I definitely recommend that you head along to the notes to find out more if the things that we’re talking about appeal to you. And yeah, the episode will be really focused around just showcasing what’s possible, but the how to part will be best completed if you head along to the web site to find out more.

02:14 JR: Now a Google Form can be best described as the digital equivalent of a form that you would fill out as you’re sitting there and waiting at the doctor’s surgery or whatever it may be. So any sort of form we are asked to put in information, your name, your email address, any of these sorts of things. You’ve probably done them before in both digital spaces and also in the physical world on paper and so forth. But basically a Google Form is hosted in Google Drive, which you can get for free by going to google.com/drive and signing up with a Google account. But eventually you can create a Google Form, and a Google Form lets you really intuitively and very quickly build any sort of form that you can perceive inside of Google Forms. So you can very easily create a physical online version of the physical thing that you used to have students fill out.

03:18 JR: Now this sort of space really makes it possible for you to go from having piles and piles of worksheets that get lost, that get misplaced, that have all sorts of errors on them, to a simplified and more streamlined version in its very most basic use of Google Forms. So I know a number of teachers who literally have gone and found one thing that they used to print out and have students handwrite and respond to, and they’ve simply turned that into a Google Form, very simple, took them a couple of minutes to do, and then all they do then is share the unique link to that form with their students, and then the student’s can fill out their responses and know that all the responses are going into one spot, and there’s no paper, there’s no pen, there’s no worksheets getting lost in the process.

04:13 JR: Now the really good thing about that is that the form, where the responses end up, they end up in a spreadsheet, and you can see really easily all the responses in one spot, and you can sort, ’cause it’s a spreadsheet, by different fields and so forth, and do all the sort of wizardry that spreadsheets come to exist. But the cool part about it is that Google spreadsheets and forms and drive and so on, they’re all shareable, so in a faculty of phys ed teachers you could very easily create a form that students respond to, the responses go into a shared space where everyone can see and access them.

04:51 JR: So, I mean, to give you an example of a few things that I know for a fact people use, and I myself have used forms for, then we look no further than, say, sign up forms. Now, I mean, it’s not an uncommon practice for schools and PE programs to have some sort of sign up for something, and in the past it might have been done by walking up on a bulletin board and writing your name up there, or filling out a piece of paper and putting it in a box, but with a Google Form you could turn that aspect into a digital process so that very quickly you create your form, you give students the link, and on their own device they can fill out, and respond, and sign up to whatever it is that you were making possible. And by that very process, you’ve just really sort of leveraged and streamlined the sign up.

05:45 JR: On the very same token, you could really have end of class assessments. So that as a student finishes an activity, or as the lesson finishes, you could have a, almost like reflection, so that they reflect on the things that they’ve learned and it could be as simple as having a form with three questions. Name, what did you learn today, what would you like to do next? And you would be capturing this information on a regular basis for your students. But the best part is, it would be really easily stored. And I think that’s the real reason why people really enjoy using forms because of the fact of how easily and readily accessible the information is. It doesn’t have to be searched for, it doesn’t have to be filed away and never looked at again. It’s there when you need it and you’ve got the digital tools to find really deep responses.

06:43 JR: Now obviously a reflection would be great and I myself have used it in a number of different instances. But I think maybe the best part that might suit PE teachers even more is having a form set up, which lets students grade themselves on their performance. So it could have a matter of questions, multiple choice style questions, it could have a sliding scale style question from rate your skill from zero to 10 or whatever sort of metric that you wanted to use. And the students could very easily click it and fill in their responses and then you get their own self assessments of whatever it is that they were doing.

07:26 JR: Now you could take that to a new level. In a PE example myself, I actually had students doing a peer assessment on other student’s dance performances. These were happening live and the students were dancing and each kid in a group, so they were doing it as a group activity, had an iPad and on it they had a Google Form, which I literally made that day because they are really quick to do. And the students just spoke and they gave in some peer responses anonymously and those responses got funnelled in and delivered to the students, so that they could see almost in real time what people had thought about their performance. And it was really cool because the flip side of that doing it non digital would have meant that it would have been really hard to share the information as instantly as we had made it possible and that was sort of the whole benefit of that activity.

08:20 JR: It also meant that it was saved forever and you can go back to it over and over, and there was no risk of sort of losing it. Another example of teachers using peer assessments in skilled-based activities having some sort of skill taking place and kids assessing each other on that with the results coming through. The limits to what forms can be is basically just your imagination and sort of you piecing together in the Google Form interface what it is that you wanna ask people. For example, you could get in the line of using it for quizzes and like tests and I know people have used it for that, myself included, where you get 10 questions on the thing that you are learning at the moment, turn them into some short answer questions, some multiple choice questions and have students click and respond to those and know that all the responses are coming in again to one spot where you can then go back to and review.

09:21 JR: In the very most basic form… It’s funny, bit of a pun there. In their most basic form, Google Forms are simply a replacement for what was done traditionally, that’s probably where you would start when you first start to use them. But as soon as you get a feel for how the process works and how the data is recorded and made accessible to everyone, then it opens up this enormous array of possibilities for taking it to the next level. And that’s what we are gonna look at. So once you have got the basics down pat, then you’re probably gonna to start to look for some of the more advanced functions that you can use inside of your Google Forms to really maximise your workflow and automate things that in the past have been really sort of annoying and time consuming to complete. So Google Forms is a complete beast, and all the time there are people, developers out there in the Google space, building little attachments that you can add onto your Google Forms to make them do all sorts of exciting things.

10:32 JR: And one of the first things that you can add on really easily is form notifications. And what that means is, that as soon as a form is submitted then it will actually trigger an email to whomever you’ve sort of specified, so that that way you’re not missing out on knowing that a form has been submitted. Because by default you actually have to go to a Google Form, the spreadsheet to see where or whom has responded. So with this little addition, form notifications, and as I said all the links would be in the show notes, you can get a notification and actually have it trigger to multiple people.

11:17 JR: Now we used a Google Form at our school for behavior tracking of students, and basically it was like an incident report tool. And we set up a form that had time, date, etcetera related to students and different incidents that they had been involved in, in the classroom. And when a teacher filled it out, the formal notifications basically emailed a copy of the form to everyone who would actually wanna know about that. By default it was the admin staff, it was the counsellor type people at our school and just helped with keeping… Making one process really easy to do for teachers.

12:00 JR: All they had to do was go to the form and fill it out. But the form notifications made sure that the right people got to see it. So at a glance, it just increased communication really efficiently with our students and our teachers. And it also helped with the recording of that because in the previous process what would take place was a paper-based form which they would fill out by head, and then they would send an email of that paper based form again to the people who needed to know or they put it in a pigeon hole folder and people wouldn’t get it. But in the new approach everyone got it and it was always recorded. So, form notifications, very simple but really quite powerful. Now, I mentioned before that a lot of people had been using Google Forms for quizzes, and so, that people can do short multiple choice questions and true or false and things like that.

12:57 JR: Now, in the most basic form of doing those sort of activities, you would have to come into the responses and read through the questions and the responses that each person had made and then tally them up and do that. Which I’ve done before and it was a bit time consuming, sure, but it put all their responses on to one spot. However, with an add-on such as Flubaroo, which is F-L-U-B-A-R-O-O, what you can do is create an answer key for the responses. So, for example, if you’re using a multiple choice type style of questions and answers, you can create and fill out the form with the correct answers. And then using the Flubaroo attachment, the add-on, you select that row as being the ideal responses. And what will then happen is beyond that it will actually grade all of the people who are coming through when they submit the form. So if you’ve got a class and you’ve got 20 multiple choice questions, you fill it out once correctly and then you create the grading rule basically.

14:07 JR: And from then on, when student submit it, it grades them automatically or auto magically and you as a teacher get this nice summary that shows every kid and their responses and percentage and averages of the class and those sorts of things. So, really simple automatic grading, only obviously appropriate for things like short an… Not short answer, multiple choice, true and false, etcetera. If you’ve got short answer questions, it doesn’t work because obviously the logic isn’t in there to read through someone’s short answer response and give an appropriate grade. But I certainly recommend checking it out. It is really simple and time consuming especially if you’re trying to do a heap of this all at once. You can just basically do it in one hit and it’s auto magically done for you.

14:57 JR: Now, there’s a couple of amazing add ons. We could talk for days about add ons but I’m only sharing with you the ones that I have had the most use of in my own classes and things that I have definitely used every day to this point. If you wanna know more then you just have to search into Google and search for forms, add ons and you’re gonna find so many varied qualities of add ons. But the ones I’m sharing with you now I know for a fact are being used in PE basis. So the one that’s changed everything for me is autoCrat. And that is A-U-T-O-C-R-A-T. And you can head along to the show notes again and you can find a video tutorial for how to use this one in depth. But autoCrat is insane. So, what it allows you to do is create a template document. Now by that I mean a template word document, but a Google document which you can fill out and in any sort of styling that you like. So it could be the template for a report, for example. And on that report, you have the kid’s name, you have the results that they completed in fitness test, for example. And once you’ve built the template out, what you can then do is connect the Google Form to the document so that, for example, when the form gets submitted, let’s say in this case we had a fitness test form that had a kid’s name and the spaces for them to respond with their results, when those forms got submitted, it would push the responses across to the template document.

16:43 JR: So, you would automatically be creating these individualised reports that have the kids names on the page instead of the place for the kid’s name, and you would have their responses, too. So very quickly, you can take a process that would usually take a long time to generate customised individual reports for kids on anything and you can pretty much automate it. Because as soon as the kid hits submit on the Google Form, all their responses get pushed across to their template and what you’re left with is the template filled out with the unique information that suits that particular student.

17:26 JR: Now, when you’ve sort of seen this in action, your mind will explode because there is a million and one different ways that you could use it. So I mentioned the fitness test reporting which I think is the most common practice. And you will find in the show notes a video showing you exactly how that works. But there is other ways that you could do it which include automation of certificates. So, for example, let’s say kids perform a skill or participate in something and you wanna create an individualised certificate for every kid then what you do is you create a template certificate, and where the name, it would go, you just create a placer, a place holder which is the word “Name” in double sort of brackets.

18:14 JR: And basically when the form gets filled out, it pushes across the name into the place holder, and what you’re left with is individualised certificates for every single kid. If you’re like me and you run workshops, or you run events where people get certificates, then the last thing you wanna be doing is sort of sitting there and manually creating certificates for hundreds of thousands of people. But with autoCrat and with one-time setup of a template, you can make that all automatic. So that when they fill out the form, populates their name and it can even email them their own certificate, if you’ve actually asked for their email address. It’s phenomenal, it’s exactly what is used at my workshops like I said, so that when people finish the workshop, they fill out their form and within, less than a minute and they’ve got a certificate.

19:09 JR: If you’ve ever attended a PE geek webinar and got a certificate, it’s actually autoCrat that’s working in the background to deliver you your certificate. It’s transformative. And in the certificate example we’ve obviously used it at our school to mass generate hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of certificates at the click of a button, just from a spreadsheet. It’s definitely changed the game there. That’s another example. I know people who have used autoCrat to populate letters for parents. So you create a template letter and you leave gaps for the customised elements. So it could be “Dear ‘parent name’… ” that’s the customisable word, “John,” the student’s name that could be customisable, “has missed… ” and you could say how many classes he has missed, or whatever the letter was you wanted to communicate, you could turn it into a customisable template and use autoCrat to pre-populate and fill the information.

20:17 JR: So it is game changing, it’s absolutely worthwhile investing. The little bit of time that it takes to learn it, and as I said head to the show notes, you’ll find it how, because it’ll give you back that time in time saved by ensuring that you don’t do all the ridiculous things that I’m sure you’ve done before. The stuff that really doesn’t scale. The stuff that doesn’t actually impact you in the classroom or make you a better teacher. But there’s things that you have to do, and I highly recommend going and checking out how autoCrat works because it’ll blow your mind. Now the final little add-on that I wanna share with you is very similar to docAppender, it’s related to documents and sort of filling out information in those documents. It’s called docAppender. And the word append is sort of a hint as to what it does. So what it lets you do is have a form that fills out a specific document that you’ve identified. And that document can be added to over and over.

21:24 JR: So let’s say you’ve got a class of 20 kids, and every class you do a reflection process. So let’s just imagine that’s the scenario. So in your Google Drive you’d have a document for every kid, and it’d be named for that particular student. And what happens is that when you submit the form, you get a list of students, or document names basically, and you pick that specific document. So let’s say there was a document there for Jarrod James, then as you’re filling out the form you select the appropriate name, which in this case would be Jarrod James. And then you fill out the form as you normally would and when you hit submit, what docAppender will do is that it will take the response and it will make sure it places it in the specific document that you said it needs to belong to. So let’s imagine that you’re doing that every lesson and you had 20 students. What’s basically happening is it’s automating and putting the documents and the responses into the right folder.

22:37 JR: So at the very end, you go and print out the 20 different documents. You’ve got the responses that only relate to that specific kid. So it’s a really powerful way to sort of separate and silo the responses that come through. Because in the traditional spreadsheet example, all the responses from every kid would come onto the form. But this is basically breaks them into their own sort of response folder, which I think is really quite powerful. So you could create as I said, and I’m gonna mention it again, a fitness testing example whereby students fill out a form with their results for what happened in week one, and the results end up on their document. But then when they come back for week two, they fill out their results for week two’s activities, and the week two ones get added to the bottom of what they said for week one. So that’s sort of how docAppender works. Again it could be used for all sorts of cases. I gave you the example before about the behavior reporting tool, and we were using it for… We were using docAppender to basically allow you to select the student who you wanted to report, or make a record of observation of. And that little commentary about what you were trying to say would get attached to that specific kids’ report.

24:06 JR: So in the end when they had a meeting with parents, they would just simply go to that kids’ report, open it up and print it out and whatever they wanted to do, and they would have all the instances of teachers from all across the school who’d been contributing messages to that specific students’ folder. So that’s just a bit of an idea of how docAppender works. Again, head along to the show notes and you’ll find a video tutorial which takes you a little bit more in depth. Because as I said, there is a little bit to learn and quite a few steps that you need to follow to make these things work, but the time gained from having them effectively introduced into your classes is well and above any sort of time that it would take to learn them. And the program’s Google Forms are really intuitive, really easy to build, and it’s something that anyone can achieve and I highly recommend it.

25:03 JR: Because like I said before, we do so many things just because we have to do them, and the process of doing those things is usually tedious and time-consuming, and we can sort of get that time back when we make it digital and we sort of automate it. So I highly recommend checking it out. If you’re looking for further training related to this, then you should absolutely join Connected PE by visiting connectedpe.com/join. When you’re inside Connected PE, you’ll find a webinar related to the use of Google Forms in the PE space, and we go into depth in things that we didn’t talk about here.

25:43 JR: And if you’re unfamiliar with what Connected PE is, then head along to connectedpe.com/join, and you’ll see it’s a private members community for people who are interested in getting high level professional development delivered to them wherever they are, and it comes with personalized certificates for everything including this podcast episode. You can go and generate a certificate for that, and it gives you a space to ask questions for experts, get full recordings of everything that happens, and lots of exclusive content. So if you think the free content’s good, just imagine how good Connected PE is.

26:19 JR: Alright. Until next time, if you have any questions you know where to go, and I’ll look forward to seeing you in Episode 52.



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