Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Homework Machine for Teachers: More on Assessment with Google Docs

Video updated at higher resolution.
I've had a request to post more about how I use Google Docs to assess my students, so here we go!

Remember as a kid, we were always wishing that someone would invent a homework machine? Well if taking stacks of papers home to grade is the teacher's equivalent of homework, then our childhood prayers have finally been answered. Through Google Forms there are now multiple methods to have your computer grade assessments for you - while still maintaining the rich data to inform your instruction!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video could be worth exponentially more. Therefore, I've created a short video on creating these forms and using conditional formatting to "grade" them. Scroll down below the video to read more about using conditional formatting for grading these e-assessments, as well an alternative method.

A second method to grade a Google forms is also available: Flubaroo. This is a script that can be installed into your Google Docs for free and will auto-grade your form. The main difference between this method and conditional formatting is that this script will provide the following: percent correct, auto-highlighted fields that activate when under 60% of your class got an item correct and an item summary. A great video regarding the use of this script can be found here.

I've found that Flubaroo and conditional formatting each have their own virtues and vices. Flubaroo is a great tool to use when you give a formal test and want a final grade to enter in your gradebook - i.e., summative assessments. I use this method with end-of-unit assessments, pre-tests/post-tests, etc. Flubaroo offers great tools such as a summary graph, emailing results to your class or yourself and other neat features. However there are a few keystrokes required to generate the data in Flubaroo, whereas conditional formatting is automatic.

Conditional formatting, therefore, works great when you want a quick, auto-generated, on-the-go visual as to your kids' progress on short assessments - i.e., formative assessments. I use this method with daily exit tickets, quick dip-sticking questions, mood check-in, surveys, etc. While this method lacks some of the data read-out of the Flubaroo script, it is useful when you don't have time to analyze the data in a spreadsheet, or aren't concerned with percent correct as much as single item analysis.

Please let me know if you have any other questions about this, or other, technology-based assessment methods!


  1. Great post Jennie! You don't know me, but I attended the summer summitt workshops a couple of weeks ago. Yours, by far, was the best. In fact, I was so inspired that I went out and bought an iPad2 and am working with my sister to write a grant for 32 iPads so that my kids can use technology to become better thinkers and producers. You have definitely sparked something in me. Thank you and keep the great posts coming!

    BTW, have you heard of Khan academy? It is a phenomenal site that your kids are sure to love! Speaking of grading, I like most teachers HATE doing it and found this wonderful program (not free, but well worth it) in the app store called Star Quiz. You might want to check it out as well. Anyway, thanks again for the great posts. As I stumble upon great education sites, I will shoot you emails for you to check them out for yourself.

    Enjoy the rest of the summer!

  2. Thanks so much for reading and for the suggestions! I do love Khan Academy. Also just found a great app - Elevate Math. It is a little expensive, but the lessons are fantastic, super engaging and have a slate area for kids to take notes. I plan on trying it out this August and then blogging a "Whetting your APPetite" post about it!

    I'll have to check out Star Quiz - thanks for the heads up!

  3. PS: So glad you were inspired to get some new tech into your classroom! :)

  4. Can you tie in Google Drawing into Google Forms?

  5. I don't know! That would be really neat though - please let me know if you find out! Thanks.

  6. I wish Google Forms supported random questions. That way, my students would be able to revise for the test beforehand without ever having to repeat exactly the same exam.

  7. Have you figured out an confidential way to share the students' performances on your Google doc assessments with their parents? I love using Google docs, but the parents want to see the work that goes along with a grade entered in the gradebook. Right now, I'm making copies of the test and literally cutting and pasting (old-fashioned style) the students answers from the spreadsheet onto the test question paper. Tedious and time-consuming, but I haven't found a better way to get that information to the parents. Any thoughts?

    1. If you use the Flubaroo script and have kids enter their parents' email addresses into the form as one of the questions, you can have it automatically email the kids' scores!