So I have my syllabus; I’ve made it visually appealing, embeddable and even included some multimedia elements. So what? There is little to nothing engaging about my new tech-savvy syllabus.
It may prove to be more efficient for me in the future as I can edit one document and impact all my courses; parents can see it posted on the internet, and it has some links and videos that students can simply click to learn about aspects of the class.
However, I need to do more to engage students in getting to know basic procedures and expectations in the class and then to check for understanding: Enter Google Forms.
Google Forms for Engagement and Understanding
I’m going to use Google Forms to create a choose your adventure type of activity; you know, those stories you read in your younger years that gave you options and told you what page to turn to depending on your choice. My students will complete their syllabus adventure while racing against their teammates to be the fastest done.
The syllabus will be a resource at their disposal; I will not read through it with them. Ultimately, I’m trying to gamify the viewing of the syllabus. I hypothesize that this approach will be more effective than talking at my students about the finer details of the course.
There are several tools that could be used to make a choose your adventure activity; namely presentation tools like Google Slides, PowerPoint and Keynote, that allow one to embed a link/hot button that can be clicked and take the player to a specific slide or page. Google Forms, however, has a few features that presentation tools do not, namely:
- The ability to require students to make a choice before they proceed to the next slide/page
- Automatic collection of student emails and usernames, if you are using a Google Education Account, as I am.
- Data collection
Yet, you can still insert images, videos and even links in Google Forms. So how is this done?
Step 1: The Plan: Google Forms to Choose Your Own Adventure
Choose your adventure stories are complicated and when you get into the confines of a Google Form you want to have a plan of what questions/situations connect. Therefore, you are going to want to brainstorm this out before you enter a Google Form. I used Popplet to help me with this task. Below is part of my brainstorming. Note that I had to cross out options as I entered them in my Google Form so I could keep track of what I was doing.
Step 2: Create Pages in Google Forms
Next, you want to enter Google Forms and, based on the number of situations that students will be taken through, create your pages. Leave them blank for now. If you miscount and have extra, it’s no big deal.
Step 3: Use the Multiple Choice Feature to Enter Situations and Options
After you have your pages, go back to page one and select the add button. Choose multiple choice. Enter the situation and options for students to select. Then, click the “Go To Page Based on Answer” box. This is where your plan is handy. Under the other pages enter other scenarios that are connected to the first scenario. Then, go back to the first scenario and select, next to the option, the page that is connected to the options available for that particular situation. Do this until your choose your adventure is complete. I would suggest writing page numbers on your plan and crossing off used scenarios as you go along.
Taking it Further
I wanted my students to revert back to the beginning of the story under two circumstances: one, they made a wrong choice and two if they tried to click the continue button when they are not supposed to. The following is how I did this.
If students made a wrong choice, eventually they would come to a page that had one option, start over, that they had to select. This again is made using the multiple choice option, providing one answer, and linking back to the first page. I also changed the continue button (Which is the after page in the photo) on the bottom so it would take students back to the first page if they selected it.
I inserted game instructions on the first page under the description option. I will not tell my students specific instructions but will expect them to read. If they do not do so the first time and are redirected to the beginning, the instructions will be there again.
Finally, I wanted to students to submit their names in the form so I could track who finished the game first by using the timestamp that Google provides with submissions. I could have set it up to have a text submission at the end of this form.
However, I created a second form that I copy and pasted a link to at the end of the adventure. This gave me a spreadsheet with just student names and times to look through.
Step 4: Test It!
This process can get complicated. My head was spinning a little after I put this together. I suggest testing this by clicking the view life form and going through the process. You can click here for a draft of the form.
Question: Choose your adventure stories can be used for many different activities within a class. As a history teacher, I am interested in using them to highlight various points of view about a historical event or showing cause and effect relationships. Surely there are other ways to use them. Do you use choose your adventure stories in your class? if so, how do you make them? What activities have you done with them? As always, thanks for leaving your thoughts and questions in the comment section.
This is a guest post by Rob Kamrowski and first appeared on the Mr. Kamrowski Blog August 30th, 2015.
This is part two in a two-part post. Part one, where I explain how to make a syllabus using Google Slides, can be found by clicking here.