Google Docs is my absolute most favorite new cool tool this year. Among the many applications in Google Docs (Documents) are Forms...the over-simple name for surveys. Waaaaayyyy easier than Survey Monkey and totally free. At first I started using Forms to collect quick pieces of information from the staff, but they are a very 21st way to gather pre-unit and assessment data. The above pre-unit survey is a KWL before beginning a unit on Immigration. Instead of standing in front the class to create a KWL on chart paper while students all wave their hands, you give them a link and they each log in to answer the questions...kids love it and their responses are surprisingly refreshing. Then all responses are "dumped" into one file...pretty cool, huh? Here is what the kids actually see, Immigration KWL.
This is another way I've used Forms-- as an assessment. So, in Reader's Workshop we've been working on the reading strategy of Questioning and I've explicitly taught them the methods known as QAR (Question Answer Relationships) so they've gotten very good at reading text and asking the four question types, Right There, Think & Search, Author & Me, and On My Own. As a way to see if they've got it, I created this short formative assessment that will let me know who's got it and who still needs help with the four types of questions. Here's the way the kids see it: QAR Assessment