Am I alone in saying that Google has been a God-send for teachers? With the rise of the Google empire, we’ve been able to connect, collaborate, engage, and organize like never before. For those of you that are familiar with Google Apps for Education (GAFE, for short), you know that they can be used to simplify a teacher’s life tremendously. I use them pretty much exclusively for my classroom needs, including for lesson planning, data collection, data analysis, and collaborating.
This post is designed to give the Google beginner some tips and tricks for using Google in the classroom. While there are a million ways to use Google with students, I also love utilizing it for my own personal organization and efficiency. Today, I’m going to explain to you how to use GAFE to collect, analyze, and share student data.
Let’s face it, no one became a teacher because they like to look at data. Or maybe they LOVED to grade papers as a kid, but quickly realized that the follow-up work as a teacher made it almost unbearable. The reality is that our jobs are highly tied to data now and rightfully so. Collection and analysis of data makes it easy for us to track where students are and make plans to accelerate their learning or intervene as necessary.
I personally love using the GAFE suite to collect and analyze data. I originally started a data sheet on Microsoft Excel but quickly moved it to Google Sheets after realizing that I did not have to be tied to one device in order to access it. I can pull up my data on my laptop, a school desktop, a colleague’s computer, or any iPad. (I will say that I’ve tried to access the GAFE suite on my Kindle Fire and it’s a little more complicated. I’m not sure about other Android devices.) I also love that I can share my spreadsheet with anyone. This is especially helpful when we are looking at classroom data in our professional learning community and is great to modify and share with parents.
1. Collect student data.
I collect student data in a couple of ways. First, I use it to keep track of the universal screener data we collect in the fall, winter, and spring of every year. For example, we assess students using the Developmental Spelling Assessment, the Developmental Reading Assessment, and the Test of Word Reading Efficiency three times a year. This data is all compiled in one Google Sheet.
Additionally, my data sheet has essentially taken the place of my grade book and I use it to keep track of weekly formative assessment data. My data sheet is set up very much like a standard grade book, with the name of the student going down the left side and the assessments going across the top. The biggest difference is that each of the assessments are grouped by standard so that I can easily track progression within the standard.
2. Analyze student data.
Once the data is collected, this sheet becomes my life. It’s very simple to format the data so that it tells a story about each student, as well as your teaching. Below are a few ways I format my data sheet to help tell the story of our classroom:
- Color coding – I use red for novice, yellow for apprentice, green for proficient, and blue or purple for distinguished. This is my favorite part of the data analysis because I can easily see who is performing at grade level and who needs interventions after every assessment. You can easily do this by selecting the data, choose Format at the top, and then select Conditional Formatting. From there, you can set the formatting for each cell based on a simple “If.. Then” statement.
- Class averages – I can look at a glance to see how to entire class performed on the assessment. This gives me a clue into my effectiveness of teaching. When I have a bad week, the data shows. You can calculate averages by selecting a row or column of data, then clicking the Functions (pointy E) button and selecting “SUM.
- Standard average – This is my way to evaluating student progress toward the standard. While we don’t use standards based grading (yet), this is a great way for me to plan small groups and intervention.
3. Share with others.
In the top right corner of every GAFE product, there is a “Share” button. Use this button to share with your professionally learning community, administrators, and others. For example, I keep all of our grade level data in one Google sheet and it is shared with my team mates, our instructional coach, the school interventionist, and our administrators. If anyone has a question about a student’s progress, all they have to do is look at the data sheet that has been shared with them. No need to call and ask.
We also have a Google sheet with the entire school’s universal screening data and every teacher in the building has access to it. I love this because it creates a very transparent culture. It also creates a sense of collaboration even though we might not be able to have common planning times.
It is also possible to utilize this data to share with parents. Of course, be careful and don’t EVER share the entire document with them. But you can highlight their student’s score, paste them in a word document or another Google sheet and share them that way. Since scores automatically average once you’ve set the Sheet up, you can easily transfer the data to weekly or monthly progress reports.
So, that’s just one way that I utilize Google Apps for Education in my own classroom. How are you using it to make your data management more manageable? I’d love to hear!