May 21st, 2022

5 Google Classroom Tricks for Math Teachers

Here's a few of my favorite tricks to make math class more engaging and less stressful

With the pandemic's shift to distance and hybrid learning, Google Classroom has become one of the key spaces where we teach our students, and I still rely on it even now that my students are fully back in-person.

I wanted to share 5 of my favorite Google Classroom tricks that I use in my math class to save time, differentiate more effectively, and make math more interactive and engaging.

1. Make sure every student has their own copy of the math worksheet

It's pretty common to distribute a math worksheet as a Google Doc, and ask your students to respond in a copy of the document. But what happens if a student accidentally edits the original document? Or what if a student gets off task while they're going through the steps to make a copy.

The solution? Use a force-copy link!

Google Docs has a feature that lets you send a link to students that automatically helps students make a copy. When students open it, they see a screen like this:

How do I make a force-copy link?

The process to make a force-copy link takes a few steps, but will make class so much smoother.

  1. Make sure students are added as Viewer. On your Google Doc, click "Share". Add your students to the doc, and add them with Viewer permission.

  2. Copy the sharing URL. Then on that same "Share" dialog, tap the "Copy link" button in the lower right corner.

  3. Edit the URL slightly. Normally, you'd paste this link to your students. Instead of pasting verbatim, edit the very end of the URL. Replace "/edit?usp=sharing" with "/copy".

When you paste this edited URL in your browser, you should see the "Copy document" screen. Send this special URL to your students!

2. Give instant feedback with self-scoring Google Forms quizzes

With Google Forms, you can give your class a quiz and let them check their answers on their own time. You'll also have access to the results so you can see how everyone is doing.

Are Google Forms quizzes still useful in-person learning?

This is incredibly helpful for distance learning, but is a game changer for hybrid and in-person learning as well. For example, you can have the Google Form check answers for student work instantly — and then you can group students based on ability level to receive differentiated instruction on the fly.

How do I create a Google Forms quiz for my class?

Here's a video explaining how it works:

Google also has a helpful tutorial about quiz setup.

4. Add math formulas and symbols to math activities

One of the most common things you'll need when creating activities in Google Classroom is adding math formulas and symbols, just like your print activities. They're pretty easy to add, but you'll need a slightly different approach for Google Docs compared to Google Forms.

How do I add math formulas and symbols to Google Docs?

Google Docs has a built in tool for adding math formulas. Just use Insert -> Equation. This will open up a toolbar that lets you edit the math formula in more detail, and add special symbols.

How do I add math formulas and symbols to Google Forms?

With Google Forms, it's a bit more complicated. You'll need to generate an image of the equation before you can insert it into your Google Form.

Here's a few options that you might want to consider:

  • CodeCogs. It's a free website that lets you use a system called LaTeX to generate equation images. Totally free, but it can be a daunting.

  • EquatIO. It's a Google Chrome extension that can generate images of equations, perfect for a Google Form. It's free for teachers.

Once you've generated an image of your formula, you can insert it as an image into the form.

3. Understand student performance with Flubaroo

If you’re looking for more powerful grading tools for Google Forms, try Flubaroo. It helps you grade multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank results. Plus it gives you statistical breakdowns of results in a Google Sheet, and email results to students.

Here's a video explaining how it works:

You can email your school's IT department to add Flubaroo as an addon to Google Classroom.

5. Save time with pre-made Google Sheets activities

Google Sheets and Google Forms activities can be a game changer for student engagement and differentiation. They let you provide students instant feedback to on how they're doing with auto-grading, and get a birds-eye view of how your class is performing.

Get creative with Google Sheets Pixel Art

Google Sheets Pixel Art is one of my favorite ways to engage artsy students in math.

Students solve a series of math problems, and get instant feedback along the way. Each correct answer unlocks a portion of a mystery picture. It's easy to see from a distance how students are progressing through the activity. And they're straightforward for students to work with independently — making them great for sub lessons or for days you're looking to differentiate.

Here's a few of my favorites:

Ratios and Unit Rates BUNDLE
[Thanksgiving & Fall] 6th Grade Pixel Art BUNDLE
Pythagorean Theorem & Distance of Two Points BUNDLE

Check out more in my Google Sheets Pixel Art section.

Try auto-grading Google Forms

Do your kids love simulation games? I've developed Google Forms activities just for you.

In Hotel Math, students practice fractions, decimals, and percents by booking hotel rooms, leasing restaurant spaces, and improving employee satisfaction. You can use it individually, but the questions make for lively discussion in groups as well.

Hotel Math: Fractions, Decimals, Percents

In Hiking Math, students practice slope and rate of change by analyzing the elevation change over a hike, sorting travelers into different groups based on hiking speed, and by analyzing the elevation change over the course of a hike.

Hiking Math: Slope and Rate of Change

Check out more in my Google Forms section.

Google Classroom is here to stay

While Google Classroom is a big shift from the way that we taught before, the ability to give students interactive feedback and have students practice using digital tools is a game changer for math class.

Definitely check out my full library of Google Sheets and Google Forms activities, and consider signing up for my newsletter to get more helpful tips like this. (I'll send you 5 free PDF activities for you to try!).

More to read

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Why I Love Google Sheets Pixel Art for Math Class

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Give students rapid feedback, save time, and differentiate more effectively

November 1st, 2022

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