Using Google Spreadsheets for pupil motivation

Drew Buddie asked teachers to suggest their favourite three minute apps and, being me, I suggested two.

For sheer enjoyment there is the excellent Isle Of Tune, a tool for creating your own beats and loops with a virtual map and cars. It’s a lot more addictive than it sounds and it’s great fun.

For teaching and learning though, I suggested Google Spreadsheets.

My iMedia students have to complete a number of coursework tasks for each unit, and keeping track and getting the students motivated can be tricky.

About 18 months ago, however, I hit upon an idea. I set up a quick Google Spreadsheet with student names down the side, tasks across the top and colour coded the cells. Red means not attempted, yellow means attempted and green means good enough.

The spreadsheet is then published globally (with an insanely long and unguessable URL, for security – although no surnames are present anyway). Google will also give you some code to embed your spreadsheet into an existing web page – so we have the grid embedded at the top of each unit’s course on our (Moodle) VLE.

As well as making it quick and simple to see where students are at a glance, it has been a real motivator. Some of the more ‘challenging’ students now see it as a competition to get the most greens up as quick as possible.

Although I use this with pass/fail tasks, I see no reason why the idea couldn’t be adapted to suit graded pieces of work too. The colours could relate to personal targets, or could relate to A*/A, B/C, D and below, depending on your needs.


2 thoughts on “Using Google Spreadsheets for pupil motivation

  1. I used something similar with my S1/S2 classes last year, though it was a spreadsheet I displayed on the whiteboard. Google Docs was a no-goer as the authority I worked for blocked it as it stored data outside of the UK and therefore would be used to defraud the pupils. Or something.

    Each pupil could win big green ticks for good effort, or red crosses for persistent bad behaviour/lack of effort. Five ticks = 1 star (and a reward), 5 crosses = 1 punishment exercise. The class with the best score overall in a yeargroup would get an extra prize at the end of the year.

    This worked *wonders*. Behaviour improved and the kids always wanted to see the spreadsheet at the start of the lessons. It was also useful during lessons, as I could pop crosses on the screen without saying a word. I hardly ever had a pupil ask why they got one if they did – they knew what they’d done wrong and almost never made the same mistake again. Much more effective than persistently chastising someone for chatter.

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