1st Time #20Time: Managing Student Workflow

Tuesday, May 26, 20154:32 PM

We are wrapping up our #20Time Projects in my English 10 classes as the school year comes to a close. Right now, students are working on their own to complete their work and reflect. I've started to reflect, too, and will be writing about my take-aways from #20Time and use this space to help plan for next year in Post #3. Before all of that, you might want to read Post #1 here.

And now...1st Time #20Time Post #2: Managing Student Workflow

#20Time is highly rewarding and a lot of fun. I love the idea of student-driven, self-directed work. However, it's a lot of planning and organization for the teacher. Throughout this project, my students complete 5+ blog posts, a formal proposal, elevator pitch, annotated bibliography, self-assessment and reflection, and the final project/presentation. The projects are fun, creative, and open to student-passion. The process, however, has more structure and thought into its planning. Progress and product are equally important for my class. To make it more complicated, students often needed to revise work, needed more time, or were absent. When one project has a billion parts and multiple submissions, I was stumped at how to manage it all.

Google Forms was the answer, as it usually is for me.

As I wrote about last time, I wanted to keep our #20Time work separate from Google Classroom. Keep the formal and summative in Classroom but the #20Time belongs to the world. We needed to publish for an authentic and public audience. From this, I developed one of my few rules of #20Time: All #20Time work is public to the world.

Student Blogs
All students were required to create a blog. This year, I didn't want to to spend the time teaching students to set up blogs. I gave them the option of using a blogging site or creating a Google Doc set up so anyone can comment. This mimics the blog functionality well and worked for our purposes. Some students were creative with formatting and backgrounds and had fun with it. Next year, though, I want all students on Blogger. Here are the blog directions:

As always, find all of our tasks and notes here

Student Workflow
To manage my students' work, I started with a fairly simple Google Form. Since all of the work is public anyway, I'll keep my students' blogs and names on the results; find the form here.  

The next question was what to do with the results. The end product can be found at tinyurl.com/schoen20time. Here's how I got from the basic form results sheet to that polished, presentable, and color-coded site. Beware, we're about to get geeky with Forms and Sheets. 

The link above is the finished and published product. You can find a view-only workbook that models the process here. I left out student grades and feedback so to see the color coding, check the tinyurl link. To see the process and formulas in action, though, this worksheet is probably helpful. 
  1. Sort. In my form responses workbook, I created a new worksheet. I copied over the same headers and then added a sort formula to first sort by class period and then by last name. This ensures that even when new results or late blogs are submitted to the form, they are still automatically sorted. Something like =SORT(Form Responses 1!A2:I,1,True,2,True) should work based on my form.
  2. Roster Check. I quickly realized how easy it is to forget which students hadn't submitted a form if the results only showed submissions. How do I keep on top of the students who need the extra push? I realized I had a list of student names already, so with a VLOOKUP formula, I could look up their information from the sorted spreadsheet. I copied in a new sheet titled Rosters, which listed my students' names and class periods. Then, I programmed another new sheet to look up those students names and provide their work. For example, if students A, B, and D submitted the form, the formula would list their work. For student C who left it blank, though, the row would remain empty. The formula looked something like =VLOOKUP($C4,Sort!$C$2:$G$75,2,false). This sort of made the need for the Sort described above unnecessary since my roster was already in ABC order, but I didn't realize this at the time. 
  3. Conditional Formatting. I wanted my sheets to both look good and to communicate a lot of information. So first, I set out to make it pretty. I shaded headings, changed fonts, etc. Then came the power of conditional formatting. Through this tool (found in Format --> Conditional formatting), I set color coded responses to give feedback on the sheet. I added columns for each assignment task and was able to provide feedback instantly. For example:
    • First, I shaded every other row with =MOD(ROW(A3),2) < 1 in condition formatting and set the background shade. This just made it easy to read. 
    • Then, I added conditions to key words. If I commented that a post was "Read," the text turned blue. If there were issues, the text bolded and changed color: "Sharing issues" became red, "Missing" is black, and "Please revise" orange. This gave targeted feedback very, very quickly.
    • Similarly, I color coded the cells with students' names to match these comments. Now, no one could miss an issue with their work if they checked the sheet.
  4. Presentation. I wanted this sheet to work for me and for others. For me, I froze the header rows and name columns (View --> Freeze). This let me scroll around and find work very easily. For my public link, I published the master sheet to the web (File --> Publish to the Web), which allowed me to present the sheet to look like a web site. And finally, it was ready to share.

This whole process took a few weeks to iron out but I liked it. I thought it was fairly streamlined and effective for my work. Next time, I'll write about how I might change things for next year, and I'll reflect on some of the successes and challenges as my #20Time Projects start to come to life.

Please leave your thoughts, messages, and feedback below. If you've managed to read to the bitter end, I thank you. I know this was a long post but the workflow really made things easy and transparent--feel free to beg, borrow, and steal away.

NEXT TIME: 1st Time #20Time: Reflections and I Wish...

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