Friday, February 5, 2016

Snow Days & Stomach Bugs in the Paperless Classroom

You may have noticed that it has been a while since I last blogged... since November... which coincides with the start of swim season (look for a future post on what edtech stuff I'm doing with the swimteam).  Between practices, meets, and keeping up with the other day-to-day activities of teaching and family, I've neglected my blog, but today's surprise snow day offers up some "free" time to write.

Germs & Bugs
I've been wondering about the unintended effects of having a paperless classroom.  Up until this week, I've been fairly healthy this school year, but I was stricken with a stomach bug Tuesday morning, which just so happened to be the day after I collected a stack of department-mandated Quarterly exams from every one of my freshman English students on Monday.  Could this be a mere coincidence? Probably not, considering students have been absent for the same reason. So this begs the question, how germ-ridden are student papers? While grading papers may make some teachers metaphorically sick, I wonder if grading papers makes teachers literally sick due to germ and virus transmission.  I'm being serious!

I saw a post the other day on social media about the 23 things you'll understand when dating a teacher and thought back to the years when I started teaching and was sick with bronchitis, pneumonia, and strep or the years when my husband and I first started dating, and he was constantly coming down with something. Granted our immunity has improved over the course of my 17-year career, but in the past three years of bringing Chromebooks into the classroom and flipping my assessment techniques, I've seen a decrease in the frequency with which I've contracted an illness.

Less-Paper Assessment
So what am I doing differently with assessment?  How am I going paperless?  I still give my students papers (ask them about Baker's infamous packets), but the key is I don't collect them to assess them.  Since flipping my classroom, I am freed from the spotlight of the stage at the front of the room.  Structuring the period with student-centered learning activities, I can walk from desk to desk, ask students to show me their paper to read, ask them to flip the page over so I can continue reading, and then make quick marks and provide verbal feedback with my pen, never laying my actual finger on the paper. Plus, by speaking directly to the student face to face, the student has the opportunity to ask questions immediately.  I was always so frustrated when students would give a cursory glance to the comments I spent hours making on their papers back in the days I collected, scored, and redistributed their work.

Using Edmodo and Google Classroom, students are turning in their work electronically.  From submitting links to Edmodo discussion posts to turning in typed outlines on Google Docs, my students are generating an informal online portfolio of the work that can be accessed at anytime with a mobile device or computer.  Assignments are never misplaced in the bottom of a bookbag or lost after a folder has exploded in a crowded hall.

It has taken me a bit of trial and error, as well as help from online colleagues to figure out the most efficient ways to score online assignments.  Pairing Google Classroom assignments with the Doctopus and Goobric Add-ons seems to be the most efficient system I've come across:  few clicks to make, links and scores organized on a spreadsheet, rubrics pasted in to the Google Doc, scores emailed to students. I had tried out Doctopus prior to Google Classroom and it just didn't work for me, but NOW... holy moly guacamole!

Doctopus & Goobric Set-Up

  1. Create your rubric for an assignment on a Google Sheet.  The first column will be the focus areas of your rubric, while the first row will be for numeric values.  Type in your qualities for each focus area and score.                                                                                                   
  2. On a new, blank Google Sheet, go to the Add-on menu and select Get Add-ons, then locate Doctopus.                                                                                                                       
  3. Open Doctopus and follow the directions in the side panel, selecting "Ingest Google Classroom Assignment,"  then selecting your Classroom Class and Assignment, and then attaching a Goobric (your rubric that you made in Google Sheets).  The add-on will fill in all the information on the Google Sheet, listing students' names, email addresses, links to the scoring screen, and the student documents, as well as scores as you enter them in on the scoring sheet. I've purposely hidden student names and email addresses on the screenshot below.  You will need to enter in the SUM or similar formula to calculate the total scores in the Grade column. For those of you who do proficiency based scoring, you can use conditional formatting to color-code the scores in the spreadsheet (which I didn't do in this screenshot below).
  4. To score student work, click on the hyperlink in the Goobric Link column and the scoring screen will appear in a new tab.  
  5. On the scoring screen, you can see the rubric for entering scores, a dashboard for submitting and advancing to the next student, and the student's document where you can enter in comments as needed.                                                                                       
  6. After scores are submitted, the spreadsheet automatically updates and you can set it so that students are sent an email with the scores and the rubric is pasted at the bottom of the Doc with the appropriate cells highlighted to signify the scores.                      

So why do I like this system?  Well, after set-up, scoring takes place on one screen, and I have minimal clicking to get through the class set and students are immediately sent their scores.

If you'd like more information on setting up Doctopus and Goobric, take a look at this public Google Doc and make sure you send a thank you tweet to Andrew Stillman, the mastermind of Doctopus and Goobric.

Snow Day Papers
So here I am at home on a snow day, happily blogging.  But, I've also found another reason for going paperless.  Remember those department-mandated Quarterly Exams I collected on Monday?  Guess where they are sitting right now.  Yup, that's right... on my desk at school.

After being out on Tuesday and Wednesday, I was busy catching up on all the things from being absent and left them on my desk, thinking I will get to them on Friday.  Well, it looks that groundhog was wrong and the weather-folks underestimated this "brush" of a snow storm because here I am sitting home on a snow day without my stack of papers to grade.  Guess I'll have some catching up to do again....