5 Ways to Use Google to Check In With Students
News on March 30 2021
During the shift to remote learning in the past year, teachers took on the challenge of familiarizing themselves with new platforms like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom, to combat the lack of face-to-face connection that accompanied the transition into remote instruction.
As educators, we hope that with the transition back to brick and mortar sometime in the future, a quick glance into a classroom will include a teacher conferencing with a student at a kidney table, or crouched down beside a student’s desk guiding them through an assignment. Until then, Google’s applications — such as Meet, Docs, and Forms — have you covered for conducting virtual check-ins with students.
Below, we’ve compiled suggestions and examples on how to use Google to check in with your students during remote instruction to discuss academic and social-emotional progress.
#1: Conduct 1:1 individual writing conferences using Google Meet
Did you know that you can upload documents when creating a Google Meet? The ability to include a Google Doc as part of a Google Meet makes this a really good solution for holding virtual writing conferences with your students.
Targeted feedback: When you schedule a Meet from Google Calendar, you can add files, such as a writing sample from your Google Drive or a file saved on your device. This feature can help you take your check-in to the next level. Conversation is that much more meaningful when you can refer to specific examples in a student’s work and provide targeted suggestions for improvement.
Guided completion: Are students still in the beginning phase of the writing process? You can use this same feature within Google Meet to upload a graphic organizer and use the call as a collaborative brainstorming/prewriting experience. This will give students the confidence they need in the initial phases to independently tackle the rest of the writing process.
It’s as simple as clicking the “More options” selection and adding appropriate attachments (via the paper clip icon) in the description box that appears at the bottom of the event. Choose the file to attach, click “upload,” and then add the file to your Meet. As always, don’t forget to click “Save”!
If you’ve already scheduled the calendar event and forgot to attach your files, no worries! There is also an option to add attachments to existing events on your calendar.
#2: Conduct 1:1 reading benchmark testing using Google Meet
If this school year hasn’t already proven it, benchmarking testing and routine monitoring of student growth is a necessary component to any curricular or extracurricular classroom. With a sudden shift to remote teaching, the traditional methods of benchmark testing needed to be adapted since face-to-face opportunities were no longer a possibility. Here’s how to tackle it via Google Meet.
Benchmark testing: Google Meet makes it possible to conduct individual reading conferences with students. If the intended check-in purpose is to conduct a formal assessment such as a Fountas and Pinnell (F&P) Running Record, or simply a 1:1 guided reading session, Google Meet makes it possible to mimic the way these activities would look in a physical classroom.
As previously mentioned, there is a feature within Google Meet to upload and attach a file directly to the Google Meet. Why not upload a copy of a leveled reading passage that can be accessed by both you and the student you are meeting with? Then there are some additional things you may want to consider. Will you be sharing your screen and have your student read from there? Will you want to see the student’s face as they read in order to gain some additional understanding? Either way, video conferencing is a great opportunity to meet the demands of benchmark testing even in a remote setting.
#3: Host a review session using Google Docs and Meet
In addition to using Google Meet for face-to-face sessions with a single student or small group of students, you can also use it to facilitate a check-in review before a chapter, unit, midterm, and/or quarterly exam.
Start a Q&A doc: If you are looking to have a review with a student or small group, start by setting up a new Google Doc with a table to support a Q&A. Because of the collaborative nature of Google Docs, students can open the Doc at the beginning of the review session and type their questions into the left column (Q) and the teacher response would go in the right column (A). Check out the example below.
Not only is this a great way to maximize the time allotted for the review session by reducing the likelihood of redundant questions, but it can also serve as a study guide because students can return to the Doc after the Meet session has ended. If you want to take it one step further, you could even post the link to the study guides from all of your review sessions to your Learning Management System (i.e., Google Classroom). Keep in mind that you may want to adjust some settings after the review session to prevent students from changing answers. This is easy to do because of Google’s adjustable permissions via the “Share” icon. After doing a last call, consider changing the Doc settings from “can edit” back to “can view.”
#4: Conduct a social and emotional check in with Google Meet and Forms
When it comes to periodic social and emotional (SEL) check-ins, we want them to feel personalized and comfortable. Thus, we want to be as specific as possible when referencing how students are feeling. One way to do this is to create a Google Form to collect information from the student before your Meet, and then discuss their answers in your session. You can be as specific (or as broad) when selecting these questions, and can base them on school and the events of your class, or provide an opportunity for students to talk about things going on in their personal/home life.
#5: Goal setting using Google Drawings
Once students understand what a goal is and why goals are important, then they can start thinking about appropriate self-goals. There are a few different ways you can use Google to assist your students with brainstorming and goal-setting.
You’re a star!
Depending on the age of your students, you could make this activity as visual as you want. If you are working with younger students, you may decide to use Google Drawings to create a three-star template for your students and then share a link to that file. Students could then make a copy for themselves and list three things that they are good at next to those stars (this can be anything from a subject in school, to a quality that makes him/her a good friend). After they have completed their three stars, students can come up with a “wish” to complement their stars. The wish should be something that they want to work on or would like to get better at. They can pick any goal, as long as it is meaningful and important to them.
This three-star activity aligns with SEL initiatives because it begins with students identifying a few things that they feel they are doing well, giving them the confidence to be more open to think of ways they can improve. Of course, Google Drawings is not the only option for goal setting. Similar activities can be created using a very basic Google Doc or even a Google Form. The opportunities are really endless when it comes to goal-setting and Google apps! We encourage you to choose and use an application that you and your students are comfortable with.
For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.
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