Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Google Forms 101 (older version of forms)

Google Forms just might be the most useful Google App in the classroom.  It is so versatile!  Not only is it handy for information gathering, after all, that is what a form does, but it can help with class discussions and also streamline and make paperless many of the processes and routines that occur daily in your classroom.  I have so many great ideas to share with you for how you can use a Google Form in your classroom.  Before I launch into all of those ideas, I figured I'd better explain what a Google Form is and how to make one.  (If you already know how to make them, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to see some ways that I use Google Forms in the classroom.)

Google Forms is a digital form and survey tool.  It allows you to gather, organize, analyze, and manipulate data.  Put very simply, you create questions, give people the web address to your form, and sit back while Google automatically compiles the data into a nice spreadsheet for you.  This is a pretty powerful app, and it has many unique features.  In this post, I'm just giving you the basics of what it can do.  

To create a Google Form, you just navigate to your Google Drive and click on the red "New" button and then choose "Google Forms".  If Google Forms doesn't show up in the list, choose the "More" option at the bottom and it should show.  (If you are still using the old Google Drive, you will click the red "Create" button and then chose "Form".)  You can also just type into your address bar, which will open up a new form automatically.

The first thing I recommend is to give your form a title.  You can do this by editing the bold "Untitled form" text you see at the top of the second section that comes up on your screen.  You can also click the very top left of your form where it says, "Untitled form" and that will prompt you for a new title.  When you edit one of these places, it will change them both.  (I've noticed that if I edit my form title later on, it doesn't update in both places.  If you change your title later, you may want to check both spots.)

Now let's look at the settings at the top of your form.  If you are using a Google account that is tied to an organization - a school or other workplace - you will have 5 options here.  If you are using a personal Google account, you will only see 3.  I'm going to go over all 5 here since most of you probably have Google Apps for Education accounts.



The first option will say "Require _____ login to view this form", the blank being your organization's name.  This gives you the option to only allow people from your organization to see and fill out your form.

The second option will say "Automatically collect respondent's ________ username", again the blank being your organization's name.  This will automatically log the username of the person filling out the form without them having to identify themselves as an answer to one of your questions.  This only works on users from your organization.

The third option allows you to show a progress bar at the bottom of the page so that the person taking the survey will know how far along they are in the form.

The fourth option allows you to limit each person to one response.  They will have to have a Google account for this to work.  It will require them to log in, but will not automatically record their username.  (It will still collect their user name if they are in your organization and you checked the box for option number 2.)

The last option allows you to shuffle the question order.  That means the question order within each page (you can have more than one page of questions) will shuffle randomly.  Not to worry, your answers will still be neatly organized in your response spreadsheet.

You can choose which settings you want depending on the purpose and audience of your form.

The next section you see will have your form title, a place for a form description, and then your first question.  You don't have to include a form description, but it is there if you chose to use it.

You have several different question types you can choose from.  To change the question type, just click the drop down next to Question Type and pick the one you want from the list.


The options (seen on right) are pretty self explanatory, but you can play with them to figure out what they each do.  The most common ones I use are Text (for short answer), Paragraph text (for longer answer), Multiple choice, and Choose from a list.

Type in your question or prompt where it says Question Title.  If you choose to include help text, it appears a little smaller under the question.  It can be an example or further explanation on how they should answer the question.  If you chose Multiple Choice or Choose from a list, it will give you a place to type in each of the options.  Just a tip, I tend to use Choose from a list if I want to do a yes/no or true/false question.

You also have the option to make the question a required question.  This means that they cannot submit the form until they answer the questions you have marked as required.  When you are all done with your question, click "Done".

If you are reading this post, you are probably fairly new to Google Forms.  At this point, I wouldn't worry about the advanced settings.  That is all about data validation which helps you limit what type of information can be entered in as the answer.  I'll delve into that in a future post when I go into more of the finer details of what Google Forms can do.

In the upper right hand corner of the question box, you will notice three symbols - a pencil, two little papers, and a trash can.

The pencil is what you click when you want to edit a question.  If you click it while you are already editing the question, which we are in the view you see in the pictures, it does nothing.  If you click it when you aren't editing that specific question, it will open up the options so you can edit it again.

The two little papers will allow you to duplicate the question.  If you are making more than one of the same type of question, you can always click the duplicate button and then just edit the text of the second copy.

The little trash can will delete the question.

You'll notice right under the question box, you will see an Add item button.

If you hit the part that says "Add item", you will get another item that is the same type of item as what you just edited.  So if you have a multiple choice question, it will add another multiple choice question.  If you have an image, it will add another image, etc.  If you click on the little down arrow next to "Add item" you will get a menu for all the types of items you can add.  It has all the question types, as well as the other items you can add to your form.

Once you are done adding questions/items to your form, you will want to take a look at the Confirmation Page settings at the bottom of your form.

The little text box is where you can type the message you want your responders to see after they submit their form.  You can also check the boxes to show a link to give another response, give responders a link to see a summary chart of all the responses, or allow them to edit their responses after they submit.  You can choose these based on the purpose of your form.

Before you send out your form, you will want to choose a theme.  The theme is the pictures or colors that make your form look nice.  Across the top of the page you will see some options.  Click on "Change theme" and you can choose the one you like best from the pane that opens on the right hand side of your screen.  After you choose the one you want, click "Edit questions" right next to where you chose "Change theme" to get rid of that sidebar theme menu.

You will also want to choose a destination for your responses.  If this is your very first Google Form, when you click on the "View responses" button across the top, you will get a window asking you to name the response document.  By default, it will send all of the responses to a Google Spreadsheet titled the same thing as your form, followed by the word "Responses" in parenthesis.  So if my form is called Parent Feedback, then my answer spreadsheet will be called Parent Feedback (Responses).  You can change the title if you wish.  Notice the little "Always create a new spreadsheet" option in the picture.  That is checked by default.  Next time you create a form, it will automatically create the spreadsheet, and when you click "View responses" it will take you directly to the spreadsheet without asking you about naming it.  If you uncheck that box before you hit "Create", it will ask you again the next time.  You can also choose to keep the responses only in Forms.  Honestly, I've never done that, so I'm not sure what that would look like.  I don't see why you would want to keep them in Forms, as the spreadsheet makes it easy to analyze your data.

Once you hit "Create", it will create the spreadsheet and open it up for you.  Then you can just pull up that spreadsheet from your drive anytime you want to see the results. You can share the spreadsheet with other people if you would like them to see the results as well.

The spreadsheet will have the questions you asked across the top of the spreadsheet, each question in a different column.  Your responses will come up each as a new row and will include a timestamp so you can see when they responded.  Below is an example of an answer spreadsheet for a multiple choice form.  You'll notice I hid column B so that my student's names don't show.  

If you'd like to take a look at how your finished form will look before you send it out, or at any time during the creation process, you can click on the "View live form" button in the menu bar next to "View responses".  This will take you to your form and show you exactly what everyone will see when they go to fill it out.

When you are all finished creating your form, you can click "Send form" and get some options on how to distribute the form.  You can copy the link, embed it somewhere, share out via Google+, Facebook, or Twitter, or send the form through email by typing in email addresses in the box.  If you would like to add a collaborator by sharing the form with someone else so they can help you edit it, there is a link to do so from this screen as well.

I normally just post the link to my form on a website or in an email for people to click on.  All Google Form urls are really long and complicated.  It looks messy to send out the long link, so I tend to just hyperlink a word.  This means to take a word and turn it into a link for people to click on to take them to a site.  If you need help learning how to hyperlink a word, leave me a comment and I can help you.

If I'm giving a presentation or sending out a paper flyer, I'll do a shortened URL for people to type in.  If you are not familiar with what a shortened URL is or how to make one, see my post about it by clicking here.  Google went ahead and put in the little "Shorten URL" check box for you right under the share link.  If you click on it, it will give you a short URL.  Pretty handy if you ask me!

This was just the basics, but hopefully it gave you all the information you needed to create your first Google Form.  My students are using Forms almost on a daily basis.  I have a whole series of blog posts lined up for you on how you can use Google Forms in the classroom.  The links are listed below.

Parent Surveys with Google Forms
Organize Parent Conference Notes with Google Forms
Review and Discussion Activities with Google Forms

Thank you for stopping by the TeachingTechNix blog!  I hope you found it helpful.  Stop by again soon for some more handy tech tips!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Incognito - It's Not Just For Being Sneaky

When Google Chrome came out with incognito browsing, I thought to myself, "Why would they make it easier for people to look at things they shouldn't on the internet?!"  Even the little spy icon they use in the corner sometimes makes you feel like you are being mischievous.  Well...I'm here to tell you, Incognito is not just for being sneaky.  When you go incognito, pages you look at are not saved in your browser's history, cookies aren't saved, and search history doesn't stick around either.  Even still, Google is very clear that using incognito doesn't hide your browsing habits from your boss, your internet service provider, or the websites you visit.  Maybe it isn't so much about being sneaky after all.  So why go incognito?

Google Chrome does a great job of knowing who you are.  It saves your usernames and passwords, extensions, apps, shortcuts, etc.  It is truly a personalized browsing experience.  There are so many different websites that you can log in to using your Google account.  All of these websites will remember you.  You can of course adjust the settings and decide what gets remembered and what doesn't, but most people find it handy that Chrome knows them so well.  This is a great attribute of Google Chrome, but what if someone else wants to use your computer to log in to a Google account - check email, access drive, etc.?  It's a hassle to log yourself out of your account, sometimes once for each app someone else wants to use, and then log back in when the person is done.  Then it remembers that this person has logged in, and lists that account in your account list when you go to log back in.  This person may not want personal information saved in your browser.  You may not want that personal information saved in your browser.  Enter incognito browsing.

Opening an incognito window means that for browsing in that window, Chrome doesn't know who you are.  None of your automatic log in information is saved there.  Your homepages, extensions, usernames, and passwords are not gong to come up.  Someone else can easily log in to their Google products without the hassle of you logging out.  Then, once all the incognito windows are closed, all the personal information is gone.  Chrome isn't going to remember that someone else logged in on your computer.  This comes in handy for when you need to quickly access something on one of your other Google accounts (I have four different ones), when a colleague needs to access something while in your room, when a student needs to use your computer to log in and access a homework assignment, or when a student is logged in in the library and a buddy wants to log in really quick without the hassle of the first kid logging out of the computer to let the other student log in.  Now, students using incognito browsing could cause some other issues, so you might be cautious before encouraging them to use it.  More than likely they know about incognito already, but I'd use caution before using it with students anyway.  Better yet, check with your administrator first.

If you are using Chrome on a PC or Mac that you share with someone else regularly, Chrome allows for profiles.  My husband and I have about 8 accounts between the two of us and we can set it up so with just a click or two, we can change profiles.  (This does not work the same way for Chromebooks.)  I won't go into how to do this right now, as this is a post mainly about incognito browsing.  I'll cover how to create these profiles in a future post.

Another reason to use an incognito window is when you want to see what a site looks like when you aren't logged in as you.  Sometimes you want to see what someone else coming to a certain site or page will see if they don't have your login credentials or permissions.  Incognito is a quick way to do this without having to log yourself out.

So now that I've convinced you that going incognito can be quite handy, let's talk about how to do it.  If you look up in the top right hand corner of your Chrome window, you have that symbol with the three little parallel lines.  This is where you go to customize your Chrome settings.

When you click on that, one of the options you get is "New incognito window".  Click on that option and up will pop an incognito window.  You can also just press Control+Shift+N (Command+Shift+N for a Mac) and a new incognito window will pop right up.  Extra little tip - pressing Control+N (Command+N for a Mac) will bring up a new regular window.

You will always know that you've gone incognito because the top of the window is a darker color, either gray or blue, depending on what device you are using.  You will also see the little spy guy in the upper right or left corner of your browsing screen.

Thank you for stopping by the TeachingTechNix blog!  I hope this tip has been helpful for you.  I know it has come in quite handy for me time and time again.  Stop in again soon for more tips and tricks!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Reopen Closed Tabs in Google Chrome

It happens to all of us, especially those who have far too many things happening all at once - an occupational hazard for teachers.  You are browsing along on the internet and you accidentally close a tab.  Aw man!  It took you a while to find that website and now you closed the window.  Maybe you are in the middle of a lesson and you would lose valuable time getting back to your website.  If you happen to be using Google Chrome as your internet browser, no problem!

Control-Shift-T (Command-Shift-T if you are on a MAC) will reopen your closed tab.  In fact, it will reopen the last several tabs - I've heard people say it only opens the last 10 tabs, but I've tested it to 17.  It didn't stop working at that point, I just stopped trying.  I figure if you are going back that far, you may as well just look into your browser's history, it would probably be easier.

You can also click on the menu button and choose "Recent Tabs".  You can even access recently closed tabs from another computer as long as you were logged into Chrome on that machine.

That's my quick tip for you today!  This has saved me many times.  I hope it comes in handy for you!

Thank you for stopping by the TeachingTechNix blog!  Stop in again soon for another helpful tech tip.

Keyboard Image By Rumudiez (Created in Adobe Illustrator) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Classroom Timer - Quick and Easy

There are a myriad of reasons why a teacher needs a timer in the classroom.  There are so many timers - apps, websites, phones, iPad, etc.  Sometimes it takes me longer to get the timer set up than the time I want to set the timer for.  I have a very quick and easy to access timer to share with you today.  This timer lives within your Chrome browser.  (Yes, this is just one more reason to use Google Chrome as your web browser.)

Here is a picture of what this timer looks like - and it takes just a few short keystrokes to get it up and running right inside a tab in your browser.  I love the simplicity.

Great, right?!  To get this timer, complete the following steps.

1.  Right click in your Omnibox, or what you might think of as your address bar and choose "Edit Search Engines".

2.  A Search engine settings page will open for you.  At the bottom of the "Default search engines" section, you should see an "Add" button on the right.

3.  Click add and fill in the fields like you see in the picture below: 

You can copy the text for the third box from here if you choose:

The first box is just telling you what the utility is.  The second box is your keyword.  You can set it to anything you want, but it needs to be something you will remember and also something you won't typically type in followed by a space.  This is what you will type into the Chrome browser whenever you want to use your timer.  I chose ti for my keyword, but you can choose whatever you'd like.  The shorter the better.  The third box needs to be entered exactly to match what I have there.

4.  Once you have entered the correct text into the three fields, click the "Save" button.  You will now see your timer show up in the "Other search engines" list.  You might see some other things that have been automatically added into the list and that is ok.  You can close the settings tab now and test out your timer.

Simply type ti (or whatever you chose as your keyword) into the Omnibox, or address bar, of your Chrome browser and then hit the space bar or the tab button.  You will see a little box appear in your Omnibox that says "Search timer".

Now, type in the amount of time you want to have the timer set for and then hit enter.  You can type 2 min, 1 hour, 30 sec, etc.  If you don't specify the units (min, hour, sec) then it will automatically do seconds.  You can also type in a mixed amount of time like 3 min 30 sec and it will do that as well.

Another cool thing about this timer, besides the ease of use, is that it shows the time counting down at the top of the tab in your browser.  This way, you can be working on another website in another tab, and still see how much time is left on your timer.

A feature I think is really neat is that this timer only goes off once and then stops.  That way, if I'm roaming around the classroom helping students, I don't have to run to my desk to turn off the timer.  Perfection!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Google Docs Quick Create

"I have too much time on my hands!" said no teacher ever.  Educators are busy people - always teaching, always learning.  Today I want to share a great little tool that will streamline a process you go through multiple times each day.  Do you use Google Apps?  If you do, you are going to love this!

I've told you before, and I'll tell you again - I highly recommend using Google Chrome as your internet browser.  Why?  There are a hundred reasons why.  I'll tell you about one of them today - extensions.  Extensions are little utilities you install within the Chrome browser.  Because you log in to Google Chrome, these extensions will follow you wherever you log in.  You log in at home, your extensions are there.  You log in at work, your extensions are there.  You get the idea.  Just so you know, Chrome extensions will not work when you are logged in on an iPhone or iPad.  These extensions can be accessed through the Google Chrome Store.  You can click on my link, or just search "Chrome Store" and it will probably be the first thing that comes up.

Once you are in the Chrome Web Store, you want to search for the extension you wish to install.  The extension I want to share with you today is called Google Docs Quick Create.  This will open a new Google Doc, Spreadsheet, Presentation, Form, or Drawing from whatever tab you are currently browsing in.  You no longer have to navigate to in order to create a new Google Doc.

When you type "quick create" into the search bar, there are two types of utilities that will come up - apps and extensions.  Apps come up at the top of the list, and extensions will come up at the bottom.  Apps are separate programs or shortcuts to websites that you can log into and use.  Extensions are utilities that work within the Chrome browser.

Under extensions, you will see Google Drive Quick Create and Google Docs Quick Create.  I prefer the Docs one over the Drive one because the Drive one doesn't have a shortcut for Forms, and I use Forms quite often.

Click on the blue "Free" next to the Docs extension.  You will get a little pop up that asks if you are sure you want to add the extension.  Click "Add".

Now you will have a little Google Drive symbol to the right of your Omnibox (the place where you type web addresses).  There will also be a little green banner across the extension in the store window, showing it is now added.

Ta da!  Now, no matter what you are working on, or what webpage you are currently browsing, you can click on your little drive extension and open a new Google Doc.  Productivity streamlined.

I'd like to thank @coach_sv for sharing this awesome tool with me.

Thank you for stopping by the TeachingTechNix blog.  I hope this tip has been helpful.  Stop by again soon for more handy tech tips!  

Helping teachers incorporate technology, one tech tip at a time.