Google Forms™ vs. Google Sheets™
With distance learning, I know many of you have made the switch to using more digital activities this year and I'm guessing you may already know how to make math activities in Google Forms. These are great because Google can grade them for you and it's so easy to see student results (you can try one of my math activities for Google Forms for free to test it out).
I love using digital activities with Google because they're so easy to assign with just a link and students love the automatic feedback they get. I also love how easy it is to see which questions students are getting wrong as you make remediation plans.
Did you know that you can set up activities to be graded automatically in Google Sheets as well? This spreadsheet style of activity can be set up to give students instant feedback on their answers. Students type in their answers and it's set to automatically let students know when their answer is correct. I love how you can quickly glance around the room and see the colors changing on students' screens as they work.
The great thing about this type of activity is that they're editable! You can type in your own questions or insert a picture and I'll show you how to edit the answer so the color changes automatically.
How to Make Your Own Self-Grading Math Activities
Step 1: Copy my template
The easiest way to start making your own is to make a copy of one of mine as a template. Don't worry if it's not the topic you want, I'll show you how to change the questions in the next steps.
Click on the picture below to download a free template.
Step 2: Edit the Questions
You can double click on any question and type in your own. You can also insert an image to use as a question, just click on Insert at the top and select Image. You'll likely have to adjust the size of the cells if you choose this option.
Note: You should get a "Heads Up! You’re trying to edit part of this sheet that shouldn’t be changed accidentally. Edit anyway?" message when you go to edit. I set up this notification so that students don't accidentally delete the questions as they work on the activity.
Step 3: Edit the Answers
Start by right-clicking in cell C5 (the first green correct cell). Choose Conditional Formatting. Double click on the right where it says Custom formula is =$B$5=7
This is set up to accept 7 as the correct answer. Delete the number 7 and type in the answer for your new question that you created in cell A5. Then hit Done.
Next, click in cell D5. This is the cell that will show up as orange and say Incorrect if the answer is incorrect. Right click and choose Conditional Formatting again. Double click on the right where it says the Custom formula is =$B$5<>7. This is set up to turn the cell orange if the answer is not 7. Delete the 7 and type in the new correct answer. Hit Done when ready.
You can also edit the colors of the cells and change the Correct and Incorrect wording if you'd like.
Step 4: Assign to Students
When you're ready, send to students! See the directions in the free download for more details on this step.
How Will You Use These Self-Grading Math Activities?
1) Free Math Lessons, Videos, & Practice Quizzes
As always, my Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry online math lessons are all free. The lessons include practice quizzes with instant feedback and helpful videos with examples. Many of the lessons have printable study guides that would be helpful for students going through the lesson on their own at home (grab a free study guide).
2) Self-Checking Google Activities
It's easy to make Google quizzes that are graded automatically. They're a great way to assess learning and give feedback while teaching remotely. You can quickly learn how to make your own Google quizzes or try out this free activity for Google drive.
4) Use Zoom for Online Meetings
Don't have access to Google Hangouts? Zoom is another great option to host an online meeting with your students. Their free plan allows you to have up to 100 people in a meeting at once. Zoom can also record your meetings so you can easily upload the video online for students to access.
5) Kahoot & Quizizz
Have you tried making Kahoots? Kahoot is currently offering free premium features for schools facing closures. Students love being able to play live against each other or you can have them complete the quizzes at their own pace. You can also search Quizizz for free gamified quizzes or create your own.
6) Additional Online Tools
Many companies are starting to offer discounted or free subscriptions for schools affected by the virus. Stay up to date with more useful online tools by following this Wakelet by Erin Flanagan.
Update: Make sure to check out my Tools for Teaching Math at a Distance post for even more resources!
I've rounded up some simple and affordable ideas for teachers and parents to use to encourage logical reasoning skills! They're all quiet activities that are great for students to work on individually at a desk, or parents can throw them in the car, take to a restaurant or even on a plane for some tech-free entertainment.
Here are my favorite screen-free activities (affiliate links included) to strengthen critical thinking and problem-solving skills:
Update: I just got these Kakooma cards for my elementary-age daughter to try and she LOVES them! It's a race to see who can be the first to find three numbers that form a sum. This is a great way to help kids master their addition facts and is so much more engaging than traditional flashcards. There are easier problems with 5 numbers to choose from on one side and the harder side has 9 numbers to choose from. There's also a Kakooma Multiplication and Division game that I'm planning to order when my daughter is ready. The size of these cards is nice and compact so it's something easy to take with you in the car or to a restaurant.
1) Puzzle Squares: These were always first to go off the shelf! Students love rearranging the squares to try to get them all to fit together. They are harder than they look! They stack up nicely and easily fit in a ziplock bag.
2) Izzi Cards: These little black and white cards are so fun! You have to arrange them up so the colors match up and see if you can fit them all together. The box comes with enough cards to divide up into multiple ziplock bags so several students can play at their desk at a time or use them all together to make a larger pattern.
3) 24 Game Cards: Kids love this game! If you have not played it, you need to give it a try. You must use all 4 numbers on the card only once and can add, subtract, multiply, or divide to make 24. Such a great way to help improve mental math skills. You can play it individually or as a group and see who can come up with an answer the fastest. I always kept a stack of cards available for my students that wanted to practice - they got pretty competitive!
4) The Triangle Game: Such a classic. So simple, but kids love it! I keep mine in a ziplock bag for easy transfer and storage.
5) A Tangram Set: I have a few different tangram sets that I put in ziplock bags. Great for developing spatial awareness and problem solving skills!
6) KenKen and Sudoku Puzzles: Many of my students loved to do KenKen or Sudoku puzzles so I would tear some out of a book to have available or find some free ones online to print. For those of you who haven't tried KenKen puzzles before, they're like sudoku puzzles but use basic math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division).
7) Kanoodle: This puzzle kit has 12 different colored pieces that you must fit together to match the diagram. It comes with a little book of 200 different puzzles that start pretty simple but work up to deceptively hard 3-D puzzles! So great for improving critical thinking and problem-solving skills. My first-grader can do the puzzles at the beginning, but the 3-D ones are hard even for me! It comes with a little carrying case that's small and easily fits in my purse. My daughter likes to do these on long car trips.
8) Brain Teasers and Logic Puzzles: I used to have a whole stack of books with fun brain teasers and logic puzzles. I would tear out a few pages and make copies to have available for students. Sarah Carter has a whole slew of free printable ideas over at her blog, Math Equals Love, that you should check out if you need some ideas! I would recommend laminating them so you can reuse them!
What about you? Any activities you think I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments!
There's no question that cell phones can be a huge distraction for students. It's an issue that's impossible to ignore. Cell phone addiction is a real thing. I've had students who would rather be expelled than be separated from their phones. So what's a teacher to do? Embrace technology and try to have students use them in productive ways? Or find ways to keep phones out of sight? I've found that a combination of both strategies is helpful. Smartphones can be an amazing learning tool, but they can also be extremely distracting. We all know that there are students who will bring their phones to class even if they're banned. So how can teachers use them to enhance learning and also make sure they're put away at the appropriate times? Here are a few ideas:
1) Pocket Points App
Have you heard of this app?? Pocket Points is an amazing way to reward students for staying off their phones in your class. Not an affiliate link, I just really like the app! It's free for teachers and you can set up your own rewards (think extra credit, snack rewards, tardy passes, deadline exemptions, etc.) You can set a goal for how long you want them to be off their phones and the app keeps track of their phone use. Not only can students earn the rewards you set up, but they can also earn local and online deals. They've got free Chic-fil-A sandwiches, discounts at Papa Johns, and more! Using Pocket Points is an easy, non-punitive way to track phone use and reward students for using their phones at appropriate times.
2) Use QR Codes
One easy and fairly low-tech way to use smartphones in a productive way is to use them to scan QR codes! Use a free QR code generator like this one to create your own. You can create QR codes that link to an answer key, an image, a website, and more! All students need to do is download a free QR reader. You can even create scavenger hunts using QR codes. Check out my Algebra 1 Review Task Cards or my Multi-Step Equations Scavenger Hunt with QR codes to see some examples of how you could use QR codes in your math classroom.
Boom Cards are digital task cards. Students are shown one question at a time and get instant feedback on their answers! They work best on a larger screen, but cell phones will do if you don't have access to tablets or desktops. Grab a free set of Boom Cards or check out the Top 7 Reasons to Love Boom Cards for more details.
For those of you teaching Algebra 1 this coming school, I've rounded up some free resources for you! (free as of 7/19/19)
Grab the activities below:
1) Multi-Step Equations Relay Race by All Things Algebra
2) Combining Like Terms Task Cards by Gotta Luv It Creations
3) Slope Graphic Organizer and Guided Notes by Jenna Jackson
4) Properties of Equality and Real Numbers Poster by The Enlightened Elephant
5) Algebraic Expressions Math Flips Game by Misty Miller
6) Slope Poster by Scaffolded Math and Science
7) Last, but not least, I just updated my free set of Order of Operations Boom Cards. If you haven't tried Boom Cards yet, I highly recommend giving them a try this school year. The instant reports for teachers and feedback for students are amazing. Your students will beg to play these digital task cards!
I am so late to the Desmos party! I used to think Desmos was just an online graphing calculator, but it is so much more! The team at Desmos has developed so many great activities and I recently discovered the card sort feature that is AMAZING.
In a nutshell, a card sort is a digital matching activity. You can use it for about any activity where you want students to categorize or sort things. I created a Graphing Linear Equations Card Sort to show you how it works!
In the activity I created, students have to match up the linear equations with their corresponding graphs. I made 7 cards with equations and then used the Desmos graph tool to add the 7 matching graphs. When students open up the activity, Desmos will randomly mix up the cards so they'll see a screen like this:
*This post contains affiliate links.
Have you recently discovered Boom Cards? Want to learn how to create a Boom Card and start using them in your classroom? Here's an overview of the set up process to help you get started. Just be careful - Boom Cards are addicting! (Did you land here and have no idea what Boom Cards are? Check out the Top 7 Reasons to Use Boom Cards!)
1) Go to Boom Learning and click on the green Sign up button.
2) Join with your email, Facebook, or Google account.
3) Once you've created a username and password, click on the Library tab.
If there's anything teachers need more of, it's TIME! After spending far too many weekends grading, I am always on the lookout for anything that can help teachers save time. Google makes it easy to create an activity or assessment that's graded automatically. You can set it up to let students see their scores and correct answers after they've submitted it (or not, it's very easy to change these settings). You can create multiple-choice questions, fill-in-the-blank, and more! Check out the steps below to see how to create a math quiz or test in Google Form and have it grade automatically! (Not sure what these are? Check out this free digital math activity to test it out.)
Step 1: Create a Google Form
Open up your Google Drive and click the New button.
Next, click on the Google Forms option (you may have to click on the More button to show the option). You can choose a template or start a blank one.
Type your questions or upload images to use for your questions. You have several options for the type of answer you'd like students to submit: short answer, paragraph, multiple choice, etc. If this is your first Google quiz, you might want to start with the following options:
Multiple-Choice: Students click on the one right answer.
Short Answer: Great for one-word or numeral answers.
Checkboxes: Similar to multiple-choice. Great if you want students to choose more than one option.
Once you get the hang of it, you might want to try the other answer types. Keep in mind that Google won't be able to grade paragraph answers, you'll have to go back and grade those manually.
You could even just type in the problem numbers from an assignment you've given from a book, worksheet, or printed assessment you've already made.
Click on the plus sign on the right to add another question. You can move questions around if you want them in a different order.
These digital, self-checking task cards are my new favorite way to help students practice a skill. Here are the top 7 reasons I'm a fan:
1) They're DIGITAL. No printing, laminating, or cutting out sets of paper task cards. Less prep = more time for teachers.
2) They're SELF-CHECKING. Students type in their answer and get instant feedback! If they get a question wrong, they can submit a new answer or "give up" the card and go to a different question if they get stuck.
3) You can use Boom Cards for free. There are lots of free decks available (here's an example). You can always use Boom Cards for free by using the Fast Play option (see my post on getting started with Boom Cards for more details). This option allows you to create a link to send to students. Important Note: The Fast Play option generates a link that students can use to go through the cards without needing to log in to a student account. This option does not record student answers. You can upgrade your account for a reasonable fee if you want to track student progress and use some of the other features like live monitoring.
You can preview 4 cards from any deck for free. Try it before you buy it! Check out this preview to see an example. Make sure to click on Full-Size preview to get the full effect.
4) Live Monitoring makes intervention easy! If you're using a paid account, you can go to Reports and click on Go Live to see how your students are doing in real-time. A great resource for teaching virtually or in person.
5) It's super easy to differentiate instruction with Boom Cards. Once you have a deck of cards in your library, you can assign them to individual students or to the entire class. You can also customize which cards you'd like students to see (see below for details).
6) Not 1-1? Use them on an interactive whiteboard or use a projector to work on them with the whole class.
7) Did you know you can use Boom Cards with your Google Classroom? Check out this video to see how. You can assign Boom Cards with a link, so they can be assigned using about any learning management system. So yes, you can use them with Google Classroom, Schoology, SeeSaw, Canvas, Moodle, PowerSchool, Class Dojo, Microsoft Teams, and more! The link above is specifically for Google Classroom, but the same idea works for about any LMS.
Update: Boom Learning just added a new feature that makes me love them even more! You can now hide any card in a deck that you don't want students to see. Simply go to your library and open a deck. You can go through the deck of cards and click the "Hide Cards" button on any you don't want to be assigned.
Update #2: You can also now customize a deck even more! When you click on the Action button on a deck in your library, the last option is now "Custom Play Settings." You can now choose if you want students to see the correct answer after giving up a card, if you want them to be allowed to play a deck multiple times, and you can also adjust how many cards from the deck you want them to see per play. These are great options to customize the deck to meet your students' needs. Just note that these options don't work for Fast Pins, students need to be logged in for these settings to take place.
Download a FREE set of Boom Cards
Want to test out a set of Boom Cards? Grab my free set of Order of Operations Boom Cards. I also have a whole bundle of Algebra 1 Boom Cards if you want to see some more examples.
Elementary math teachers, you might be more interested in my free Identifying Coins Boom Cards from my elementary store.
I hope you give them a try - your students will LOVE them!