Google Forms

Tonight I got a call from my dear sister. She’s an amazing teacher, and I always forget that she’s starting her 7th year of teaching. That’s right, 7. But — dear blog — that isn’t what I wanted to write about today. I was talking with my sister about the best thing I’ve done so far, in my three days of teaching.

It was using google forms to get information from my classes. I needed some basic info from each student, and I didn’t want to hand out individual sheets for them to fill out. I hate keeping track of papers. So I created a google form and made filling it out homework.

Please, if you don’t know about google forms, click here and see a sample of the form I used. Fill it out! Put nonsense down! Play around with it! It’s a fake form. So do whatever!

If you want to see the responses to the fake sample survey, click here.

It took me less than 10 minutes to create this survey and email out to my students. What I got was a quick way to get information about each of my students — information that has already helped me see where my students are coming from and what they’re going to need from me.

Example? One student wrote about being nervous about math because s/he hadn’t done well in math for a while. I saw that and wrote an individual email to this student off on a positive place.

Hi [Student],

I am reading through the online survey, and wanted to respond to a few students. In one of your responses, you said

[student quotation]

I want you to know that it’s okay to be nervous. But I want you to know that I am here to help you, so you shouldn’t ever hesitate to meet with me. I would also recommend finding a few students to work with in this course — so that you can study with them or ask them questions, and so they can ask you questions too!

I’m here to help you! And I hope you have a great year this year in math. We will work hard, yes, but the reward is that I promise that you will leave knowing a heck of a lot!

Always my best,
Mr. Shah

I responded to a bunch of these.

A second benefit is that this form actually asks students questions about my course expectations and policies. I used to just assign “carefully read the course expectations” for homework. But I never really knew if my students did. Having them answer questions about my expectations shows me they know exactly what I want from them.

I can see me possibly using this in my classes throughout the year…

… when we’re collecting data and doing some basic statistics/regressions. I can say “For homework, find how many DVDs and how many books you have in your room. Enter what you find in this online survey.” Or when we’re in class, measuring the period of pendulums of various lengths, I could have them enter all their data in a  survey and then we’d have a class’ worth of data on a single spreadsheet.

…I can also see this as a way for me to survey students to see how they’re feeling about a particular topic, or to write what they learned in a particular class. “What did you take away from class today? What did you learn? What questions do you still have?”

…I can see using this to administer an online “take home quiz” for students (on the honor system).

…I can see using this to find out what to focus on before I hold review days. I just create a survey with the various topics, and ask them to answer on a numerical scale how they’re feeling about each topic.

Just throwing a few of the ideas I have out there. I knew about google forms, but I didn’t fully see their potential.

PS. I was first convinced of the power of google forms when I created the homework survey for math teachers.



  1. Nice to meet you Mr. Shah. I just got recommended to your site and this post gave me a possible idea on introductions. Remember Mad Libs? I think it would be a fun way to make some sincere and some silly sentences in there for them to fill out. Maybe they can do a real Mad Lib with a neighbor just in case they don’t know what it is.

    Anyways, thanks for the Google Forms intro. I’m looking forward to trying it.

  2. I got is so much trouble with this! I was so excited to find Google forms because we teach online, and we need info on our students. Sending it by email gives you a ton of email all with the info disorganized, but wow, the google forms puts all the info into a spreadsheet. I knocked one out, shared it with 40 or 50 other teachers, and we all sent it out, collected our data and were happy, happy, but then…dumdedumdum…..the district found out that we collected student data over the internet through an insecure channel. We must never do this again. Sad isn’t it!

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