Individualizing instruction with the new Microsoft Forms

Today’s post was written by Laura Stanner, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and technology integration consultant in Dubuque, Iowa.

When teachers and students using Office 365 Education return to school this year, they’ll be greeted with a big, fat “F” in their app launcher!

No, “F” isn’t what you think it means. “F” stands for the “fabulously fantastic” Microsoft Forms.

Microsoft Forms is one of many “welcome-back-to-school gifts” specifically focused on the needs of teachers brought to you by Microsoft engineers.

Forms—created just for teachers and students

Forms was created just for teachers and students to meet our specific needs. The Forms team welcomes honest feedback from its clients—teachers and students.

Knowing that they actually read your feedback, I emailed the Forms team using the Feedback button during my Forms sessions at my agency’s education conference at the end of June. The teachers in my Forms session shared incredible ideas, wish lists and suggestions, but found it hard to believe when I said, “The Forms team cares! I’ve already heard from one of the program managers.” The teachers were absolutely stunned their suggestions mattered. As Microsoft engineers develop brand new educator-focused and student-friendly resources, it reflects Microsoft’s commitment to users in education like myself. And all these improvements I’ve seen in Forms has happened in just a few short weeks—directly because of teacher feedback.

As I prepare for back-to-school professional development sessions, I am excited to share my experience working with the Forms team with teachers I support in my area. I can honestly say my new friendships with the Microsoft engineers, which started with my honest, descriptive, ongoing and timely feedback, is just one example of how Microsoft prioritizes schools’, teachers’ and students’ needs in the classroom.

What is Forms?

Forms is the new “go-to” resource for summative and formative assessments, surveys and so much more! Forms replaces Excel Survey with more user-friendly, engaging and easy-to-manage features. It was made available just under two months ago and the team at Microsoft is already hard at work making it an app for teachers. For example, the team is adding top teacher-requested features like image support, Individual responses (covered in this blog), branching and other improvements to quizzes in Forms. You can click through this interactive guide for Microsoft Forms to get started:

The multiple ways educators and students can use Forms—because of its ease of use—makes it a useful tool for teachers who need easy, efficient and robust tools that include the ability to share information.

Teachers who love digging deeper into data will appreciate that you can also download Forms responses into Excel, too.

Forms is available by default for any student or teacher using Office 365 Education. Talk to your administrator if you don’t see it in your app launcher! In addition, authoring Forms can be done in all major browsers and then completed in any browser or device—even mobile devices.

My favorite feature in Forms—Individual responses

A brand new feature, based on teacher feedback, is Summary responses, which allows teachers to quickly see class-wide trends. Teachers can also “pop out” and project one of the questions in the summary response to watch the pie charts change in real-time with their students, as answers are submitted. That makes for a visually engaging, real-time experience for students, too.

While Summary responses helps teachers see class-wide responses, in today’s classroom teachers also need the ability to capture individual feedback to quickly guide instructional decisions, and more.

That’s why the Individual responses option, linked to Summary responses, is an incredibly welcome addition to Forms, and perhaps my favorite feature!

As a teacher, I now have the ability to identify individual student mastery, struggles and possible needs with a quick click of a button while still accessing whole-group summative data.

And the link between the summative and individual responses is what makes Forms an incredibly valuable tool for educators around the world.

What does “individual response” mean for teachers?

The Individual responses feature gives teachers the ability to quickly:

  • Identify who might need immediate help or support.
  • Create small groups for extra support and planned interventions based on the data.
  • Identify trends of learning or specific needs for individual students.
  • Easily document student growth or lack of growth.
  • Manually add specific skills or standards to their questions based on district expectations.

To do this, simply type in that skill or standard at the end of your question or into the individual answers using the Comment icon. Import responses in Excel to quickly filter/sort based on skill or standard.

Forms Individual Response 1

What does “individual response” mean for students?

Student also benefit from the Individual responses feature by being able to:

  • Download or save their individual response for their student growth portfolios.
  • Identify potential areas of struggle and success for themselves.
  • Use individual data as a self-reflective resource.
  • Showcase their own learning with their parents/guardians.

Forms Individual Response 2

A few ideas to use Forms for summative and formative data

Once educators and students dig into Forms, they will find multiple ways to use this resource to meet their specific needs. Here are just a few ideas to get you started that worked for me:

  • Flip-check—While not an official term in Flipped Learning, but a term that made sense for my former students—Flip-check is when have a student complete an assignment (watch a video or complete a reading) and then check their understanding of the lesson before the class. You can assess their comprehension several ways, including having them:
    • Complete a quick quiz.
    • Submit a question for their peers to answer at the beginning of class.
    • Submit a “burning question” about the “flipped” assignment.
  • Rotate and Respond—For classrooms that might use a Rotation Mode of learning, Rotate and Respond is simply when students go to their first rotation, then share a summary of their learning, pose a “burning question” from the learning experience and/or upload and submit a picture or video documenting their findings.

Here are a few examples of Rotate and Respond using Forms for this type of learning experience:

Scenario 1: Science lab stations—At the end of their lab rotation, students access the form through Microsoft Classroom, scan a pre-printed Forms QR code or enter the Forms URL address specific to that station and then:

    • Take a quick quiz. (See Create a quiz form with Microsoft Forms for directions on different types of question options.
    • Submit a summary of their learning using the long-answer text option.
    • Submit a question for the test.
    • Ask a “burning, still-unanswered question” from the lab experience.

Scenario 2: Comprehension station check—After reading, ear-reading or viewing an e-book, students access the form through Microsoft Classroom, scan a pre-printed Forms QR code or enter the Forms URL address specific to that station and then:

    • Take a quick quiz.
    • Submit a summary of their learning using the long-answer text option.
    • Submit a question for the test.
    • Ask that “burning, still-unanswered question” from the reading experience.
    • Rate their book in one question, then in the next question support that rating with a follow-up long-answer text question.

Other ideas for using Forms around your school

Obviously, the assessment options, the ability to identify whole-class trends and individual needs and ease of use makes Forms an incredibly powerful classroom tool to support and guide students toward successfully reaching their learning goals. However, teachers and students will also quickly recognize the value of Forms for other school-related purposes.

Thanks to the ability to apply a deadline to close or lock a form, educators may use Forms to:

  • Survey families about school-related topics.
  • Gather feedback about school-related experiences, such as open houses and conferences, from parents/guardians.
  • Survey school communities by embedding a form on the school website. Student governments and other school organizations could use this to gather information; student journalists could survey school communities for story ideas or yearbook themes.
  • Share a Forms link to a parent support group asking for volunteers and then import to Excel to quickly create volunteer schedules.
  • Capture ordering and information for t-shirts or uniform for a school group.

In addition, administrators and building leadership teams can easily survey teachers to see what professional development opportunities they need as well as to identify school-wide needs, small group needs and individual needs. Administrators might create a master observation form with the teacher standards. That form can then be shared or linked to their OneNote Staff Notebooks.

One final quick and easy idea—entry and exit ticket questions

If you’ve encouraged students to submit questions for their peers, use the questions for “entry and exit tickets” in your classes! This is a simple way to value their responses and recognize their quality thinking and questioning.

When it comes to Forms, the possibilities are just endless!

Adding the “fantastic, fabulous” Forms to your “teacher toolkit” means you can define exactly what anytime, anyplace, anywhere learning looks like in your classroom, school or district.

Clearly, a big, fat “F” in education has been REDEFINED.

Laura Stanner