Hi, friends! Welcome back to the blog and happy August! August means back to school season for many of us…which also means a range of emotions if you’re anything like me! I’m excited for a new year, eager to meet my kiddos, and antsy to get back into my room! (We were locked out this summer due to construction…) And of course, nerves about all of those things are also at the top of the list. Ah! We’ll be okay though, we always are!
One thing I always want to implement in my classroom is a solid morning routine – which is why I started using Google Check-ins with my students! Through implementing a quick Google Check-in, I am able to check in on each student every day and learn a little more about them through opening another mode of communication and collaboration.
In my opinion…most of the morning work I had observed in the past was simply busy work meant to keep students occupied while the teacher completed things like attendance, announcements, and e-mails. I didn’t love it. I tried using some type of worksheet during my first year with questions that we answered every day, but the students quickly grew tired of it and weren’t getting anything out of it that I wanted them to. I was frustrated every morning trying to get them to complete it and then by the end of the week I honestly wanted nothing to do with it and quickly scanned through the questions. Yikes! Not my best work…
Enter Google Check-ins! I truly believe that these can be modified or adapted to fit any classroom or subject area! I’m going to talk about how I use them specifically in my self-contained elementary classroom, but I hope you can take some of my ideas and tweak them for your specific classroom! If you have any questions or want to chat about anything you see, feel free to email me or send me a DM on Instagram! I love to chat and collaborate!
I saw a modified version of these while I was student teaching. In that class, we had 28 students who all entered the rooms at varying times throughout the morning. We wanted to check-in with all of our students. I firmly believe that relationships are the base of any strong teacher and classroom. You have to know who’s in your room – what they love, what they don’t, what makes them happy, how they learn, etc. This was a way to quickly do that every day. Of course, this doesn’t make up for face to face conversation and checking in with kids that way, but it’s a starting point and a great supplemental material, in my opinion.
I should say that my classroom is 1 – 1 with Google Chromebooks and all of my students have a Google account. They know to grab their Chromebook off the cart and login as soon as they enter the room each day. If this isn’t the case in your room, don’t let that limit you! I’ll talk about that at the end. First, I want to explain my check-ins, then help you set up your own, and finally answer some questions.
I use a different form for each day of the week. At the end of the week, I just trash the responses so that I can use the same form again! So, I have 5 forms that I edit and reuse… I just label them as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I color code mine in rainbow order! (Monday = pink, Tuesday = orange, Wednesday = yellow, Thursday = green, Friday = blue).
I start every form with the same question: How are you feeling today? I use specific answer choices – I’m great! Ready to learn today :), I’m okay!, and I’m not doing well… :(. You could choose to have an “other” option, but I quickly found that that skews the data with many responses varying in different forms of “good!” “great!” “Good!!!” … you get the picture. By leaving specific choices you can quickly gauge how your class is doing each morning! Then, I ask them why they’re feeling that way. I truly learn something new every day! This is also where I can usually gauge if I need to schedule an additional check-in with a student.
After that, the questions on each day vary. Frankly, you could just leave it at the check-in if you’re short on time or you could stretch it out and add more! On Mondays, I always ask my students to tell me about what they did over the weekend. This also helps my 3rd graders practice their typing skills…we need all the help we can get! On Tuesdays, I usually have a writing prompt for them to answer. Wednesdays are Wordy Wednesdays where they write sentences with our vocab words for the week. Thursdays are usually more math focused. I’ll include a few multiple choice questions about the content we’ve been learning that week or maybe even a few story problems for them to work out. This also serves as a formative assessment! Win-win. Fridays are usually a free for all. Sometimes I’ll ask them to reflect on something good that has happened that week, maybe a goal they want to work on for next week…whatever you want!
After students submit their responses, you can direct them to another website for practice, or perhaps they have something else they’ll need to complete for your morning routine. This really doesn’t take long to complete!
It’s so easy to implement these forms into your classroom! I use Google Forms to create mine. Start with a basic form. BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE, CLICK SETTINGS AND CLICK COLLECT EMAIL ADDRESSES so that you know who submits what! Name your form and add a description. I always include a Bitmoji on my form for fun. I use the Bitmoji extension on Google Chrome! It’s so helpful! (To insert an image, select the square on the side of forms questions that looks like a little mountain – am I great at describing things or what?!)
After that, you can go through and create your own questions. I always mark my how are you feeling and why questions as required, but I leave the rest open. This way, if students don’t have time to finish, they still could at least submit how they’re feeling and why.
Google Forms is great because you can include a variety of questions – short answer, long answer, multiple choice, dropdown, etc. Tweak it to fit your needs! Whenever I ask a prompting question – I use long answer so that students can see what they type. *Bonus tip: Did you know that you can add response validation to questions and not allow students to submit until they add a specific amount of characters?! Sometimes I’ll put this on our prompting questions on Tuesdays to encourage my students to write more than one sentence… To do this, click the 3 little dots by required, then click response validation. There are a few options.
And that’s it! Again, you can make it as long or as short as you want! After your students fill out the form, you’ll be able to quickly read all of their responses in one place. I always read my forms before we start our morning meeting.
Want your very own copy of my Monday form?! You’ll have to change the Bitmoji of course…but I’ve got ya! Click the link below to get a copy of my Monday morning Google Check in! It will direct you to make a copy of the form – then it’s yours to tweak and edit as you please!!! Yay!
What if I’m not 1-1 in my classroom?
Don’t let this stop you! I have a few ideas for this… Many of the people who’ve reached out to me with this question had a few devices in their room. We talked about how you could just have an open form set up already on the devices and students could rotate through and just check in sometime in the morning. If you go this route, make sure you have a question for them to type their names. You also could just have this on a piece of paper…not as fun or easy to see the results, but if you really want to check in with your kids, this could be a good alternative!
How long does this take?
I’ve touched on this before, but you could make your form as long or short as you need it to be. I’d say it takes my students anywhere from 5-10 minutes to complete each morning. Last year I sent my students to XtraMath afterwards to practice their math facts – but this year I want to implement morning choice, so we’ll see (more on that soon…)
Do you use the same forms?
When I first started this…I made copies on copies on copies of forms each week. Then, I realized that was silly and kind of a waste of storage space. I already mentioned this above, but I just re-use my weekly forms each week. I just deleted the previous week’s responses and edit the questions.
How do you share these with your students?
You can directly link your forms onto Google Classroom! I try to create mine at the end of the previous week and schedule them through Classroom so they post on their own! One less thing for me to worry about during the week (and hectic mornings, let’s be real).
I think that’s all for now!!! I hope this was helpful! If you have ANY questions at all – send me a message on Instagram, I’d love to help. If you use these in your classroom this year, tag me so I can see!!! I can’t wait to hear about how you use these in your room and I hope they help!