Friday, April 24, 2020

Reporting "completion" grades - use IF statements

Much like other districts around the U.S., mine has opted to forgo grades and simply report work as completed/not completed during this time of emergency remote learning. While I agree with this practice for now, it dawned on me that I would be looking at papers or digital submissions twice as many times as before since. Not only do I need to read and provide feedback to students (oftentimes grading it still), I also need to contemplate whether a submission counts as completed or not. I am not averse to doing the former, but the idea of then manually"transforming" that into complete/not complete in order to report it in my LMS, especially when students are all working at different paces, is a real pain. Trying to ease that pain I started thinking of all those skills I've gained from my gamified leaderboards and came up with a relatively easy workflow that for all intents and purposes semi-automates the process.

It all starts with reporting all feedback grading uniformly. I am using Google classroom as my feedback grade book for students, whether manually grading there or importing into it the feedback grading from GoFormative, EdPuzzle, etc., the trick is to make everything worth the same number of points. Once you are ready to report the C/NC grades you will need to download the complete grade book you want to transform as a CSV. In Google classroom, this means going into any of your assignments and clicking on the cog you see on the top right.

Once you have your grade spreadsheet, it is simply a matter of adding an IF statement that references the cell you'd like to change into C/NC. The formula is

=IF(E6>6,"C", IF(E6<=6, "NC"))

Where E6 is the cell that has the grade, and 6 is the points threshold that I decided on as the lower limit of "completeness". C and NC can be whatever you want it to report out.

Once you have that formula in place, it is simply a matter of dragging it down and across to copy it. Both Google sheets or Excell will automatically change the cell references.

Once that is done, your spreadsheet is ready to be uploaded to whichever LMS you are using. While you will have to do it again any time you update your grades, it will at least save you some time and keystrokes.

Have you found any other shortcuts to deal with this new normal? I'd love to hear about them.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Distance learning made "easy" with Formative

A while back I shared 8 Reasons to Love GoFormative. All of what I mentioned back then still holds true, but in this new era of remote teaching, GoFormative has become the most powerful tool in my teaching arsenal. Let me share why.
It is important to note that some of the awesome things I'll be sharing are available to premium/partner users. However also important to state that GoFormative is offering access to their premium features for those facing school closures and that any premium features you use during this time remain active in your Formatives even if later you downgrade to a free plan.

GoFormative and Google Classroom

 GoFormative "talks" to Google Classroom. There is nothing worse than trying to introduce a new tool to students. That initial walk-through of setting up student accounts, having students remember passwords, etc is a pain even in the best of times. GoFormative allows you to import your classes, assign work and pass back scores to Google classroom. Students do not have to do anything other than click on the assignment in their Google classroom, log in to GoFormative using their Google credentials and get to the actual work at hand.

Everything in One Place

This is the best part. GoFormative allows you to embed practically anything directly into your formative assignment. What this means is that you can have a full lesson on Formative that starts with a screencast or video, then a simulation, followed by a slideshow and a Quizziz, all in one place. No need for students to open up new tabs or get lost while trying to remember where to go.

Last week I was tasked to give a PD on using GoFormative for distance learning and created this slideshow walking you through what I consider the best things to embed for distance learning.

And just to be clear, embedding is not a premium feature. It is always available as a stand-alone embed, though as a premium partner you can embed directly into a question type.

And while we are on the subject of embedding, if you embed a Google document using the "second way" mentioned above, and give editing rights to the document to your students, you can effectively transform that document into a discussion board that the students can type into while still in GoFormative!
Of course, if you want to close the "discussion board" you simply change the permissions of the document back to anyone with the link can view.

Real-Time feedback

Once students are working in your Formative, you can give feedback in real-time or asynchronously.  This GoFormative article shows you how. Now, while in a Google meet (or Zoom), you can also choose to display the student answers, hiding their names (which is an actual feature in GoFrmative) and have a full discussion about their answers.

Formative Library

If you don't know where to start or just want to find something quickly, GoFormative also has a library of teacher-created Formatives shared by teachers that can help pave the way to your use of GoFormative during this time.

Some more information about the use of GoFormative during school closures, including a recording of a webinar that walks you through setting everything up can be found in their article "COVID-19 Virtual Classroom Action Plan"

This is how GoFormative has made my transition to remote teaching easy. How about you, what tools are you using and found especially powerful during these times?

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Covid-19: Where am I during school closures?

It has been 3 weeks since my school site closed, and a week since we got the news that our schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year. As many of you, I have been scrambling to get things in place so that my students can continue learning. I have now had Google meet check-ins with my middle schoolers, and developed a slew of online lessons and experiences, and I've had to redifine what this school closure means for me and my students several times over. As I was working through this I came across a graphic posted by @CarolLRead that helped me focus and recognize my feelings over the situation and in some ways gave me a path forward. So, I set about re-creating it for use with students as a way to help them recognize that:

1. Their feelings are valid, and their reactions are completely normal.
2. They can move from one "zone" to another at any given time.
3. There are ways to change their outlook and use this time in meaningful ways.

I don't know where we will all land when this is over, but I am hopeful that we will all come out of this a little bit stronger.

If you'd like a copy of the graphic to share with your students, you can create your own by clicking here