“What are we doing to help kids achieve?”
On July 16th 2020 I had the opportunity to be part of an AACT online symposium about teaching chemistry from home, At-Home Activities and Resources for Teaching Chemistry Online. Melissa Hemling presented a talk on “Virtual Labs using Google Forms”. I decided to adapt her ideas slightly and have found it has been a huge help. I have students who are streaming live classes, some who are face to face and some who are all virtual. Here are some ways that I have adapted google classroom for my classroom.
Melissa first starts a virtual lab in a Google form with a “hook” or a type of video to get students attention. This is typically followed by some questions about the particular concept in question. I have found this to also work well. The next part is where I slightly adapted the method. Students are asked questions about which lab they are doing. If students are doing a virtual lab, it takes them to one section in the form. If students are doing the lab in school, it then takes them to a different section in the form. Google documents are associated with each section so students are able to collect data. The last section is the same for all students. The last section involves questions about the concepts. This section also has questions about students' perceptions about the topic.
Figure 1: Google Form settings page
The real “secret sauce” in the Google form occurs in the settings section (figure 1). This settings section is controlled by the instructor. First, the form is turned into a “quiz”. Next, the instructor has the option to provide feedback, including a link to a website or a video, for each question. The students see this if they get the wrong answer. The instructor also can control what the students see after they hit the “submit” button. This is the “Confirmation” statement. Students are provided with links that allow further practice. They are told that they have one chance to go back and change answers. Finally, the most important setting is, “Limit one response” and students can “Edit after submit”. The instructor can also “release grades automatically”. Another setting that helps to unclick “show the correct answers” box. So what does this all mean to the student?
A student starts by watching the video and answering preliminary questions that they may or may not know. Next, they either do the virtual lab or the actual lab, collect data and answer questions on the Google document that they will turn in later. Students then hit the “submit” button. This is where it gets interesting. The confirmation message has links to help them with the topic. Students are told that another tab is open and they can edit their responses once. The “other" tab shows only the wrong answers and not the correct answer. Each wrong answer has feedback information to help the student understand the material.
How does this type of instruction help the teacher? If you are like me, you could have virtual students, students that are streaming into a live face to face class, and/or a face to face class. This is a one stop shop for either a virtual or a live lab about the same topic. Students are provided immediate feedback and have chances to improve their understanding as their understanding changes throughout this experience. I can look at their scores from the Google form. If the scores are not almost perfect it sends a red flag to me as their teacher.
This does take a bit of time to set up. The good news is that after the first one, it gets easier and faster. This idea by Melissa is a great way to leverage many options presented by Google forms in a way that truly benefits students and helps make a teachers life a less bit stressful. Thanks Melissa!