“Use” Your Own Adventures & Teaching Online!

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

– Plato

My fellow teachers. Like you, I’ve abruptly found myself in the formal online teaching-and-learning arena. Fortunately, I’m from the land of Online Learning and speak Digital Curriculum & Instruction. I was a little rusty at first, feeling the feels of grief as my 105 6th graders were suddenly at home, not challenging me everyday in my classroom. Soon, however, I found my bearings.

If you’re ONLY here for help delivering lessons efficiently using our “Use”-Your-Own-Adventure approach with Google Forms, then proceed to Pedagogy. If you’re here to weigh in on other ways we’re re-inventing that magical – now remote – “bell-to-bell” autonomy we teachers love, then please join me on this whole new journey.

Resources are in order through the SPECTRUM Acrostic

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First, a salute to parents. No science is done in a vacuum and the science of online learning must be done together. More than ever, teachers and parents must unite to help students. We are partners, and we got you! I’m here for you and our students, now and always.

Second, to my peers. This has been a creative challenge despite the circumstances. I’m constantly trying to figure out what works for students, teacher peers, admin, and parents. I was so bummed when my Efficient Classrooms Adventure was null so soon after I shared it, just days before schools were suddenly dismissed… I hope you find these resources helpful. This experience is teaching me how much we need to stick together!

Please join my teacher Facebook Group or leave comments in this Adventure so we can keep those great ideas flowing to support each other, and thank you!

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The sudden closure of schools nation- and worldwide is teaching me to re-think everything. Sure, tons of free resources flooded the internet, but how can we make them easy to use for students, without overwhelming them? Checklists with hyperlinks didn’t work, access is limited, and Google Classroom is CUMBERSOME at best, especially with multiple links (don’t even get me started on directly assigned docs).

Enter Google Forms. Not just for assessments anymore, we created the “Use”-Your-Own-Adventure Google Form lesson to be self-paced, sequenced, and filled with CHOICE and differentiated content. I’m told this format can work nicely for other subjects, too.

Here are some overview videos. All links are available in the Download section at the end.

Here is a way I use the responses from Forms to review everything in one ongoing Google Sheet instead of individual exports, as well as using “Fill in the Blank” methods to give bonus videos and other optional extensions.

Remember, the settings are set to allow for multiple responses and they will get a receipt, so they can re-enter from their email if needed. Don’t limit to 1 response, and use other settings like Presentation to put in messages to make this work for your individual needs.

Here is the short detailed clip for for using sections in Google Forms as both student repetition and gauging progress in their own learning.

Next week we’re building a similar system for embedding Spanish instruction in sections. Additionally, I want to build in more resources for learners supported with special education programs. Please note every school may use their assessment Forms differently (even per school), so your needs may be a little different. A lot of this is trial and error, and please let me know if I can help you out!

If you use the skeleton file below, it can save you some time. Just remember every MINUTE you spend on this Form can save you HOURS of answering never-ending questions, then motivation-mending time, with your students.

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Stay tuned! We are very soon launching our own remote school-wide Engineering outreach day in lieu of the cancelled county-wide event this weekend! Our exciting “Re-Invent the Future” project takes place May 9 and incorporates the very best of the student invention and design process – communication. Coming Soon 🙂

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 10.13.45 PMThis is a good time to reflect on what makes our classrooms (online and face-to-face) equitable, accessible, and engaging. How are you able to incorporate remote opportunities for social-emotional learning (and also, how are you)?

Here are some resources to help maintain connections with each other and our students’ families.




Please share your helpful resources!

MCPS Looking After Our Students: Self-Isolation Support

Reaching Out While Staying In


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I’ve started all sorts of new things with my students, sending them Wildlife Wednesdays playlists of fun wildlife videos each week, natural history journals with stories about the birds nesting in my yard as spring unfolds around us, tons of surveys for fun, FlipGrids, a separate Google Classroom for my 2nd grade niece and nephew with fun activities, and my favorite, group-sign birthday cards.

Want to make a group-sign birthday card for your grade-level team to sign for each student? Send to staff with edit access with a deadline, then download it as a PDF to send to your birthday students. They like hearing from their teachers! Click here to make your copy.

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In an epic but slightly predictable turn, some of my most introverted students are super stars right now. They are blooming with the autonomy of their own learning, sharing accountable discourse with their peers, and seem like they were born for this form of education. Is what we are doing working for ALL students? I don’t know, yet. Are we being given an opportunity to see our students in different light? Absolutely.

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I wish we could Undo not knowing where our absent students are. Are they ok? We keep calling and trying to connect and doing the best that we can. Everyone is. Can we know where they are and how they are? Nationwide, teachers are reporting more than 30% absenteeism. Where did they go? Are they (and their families) ok? What more we can do?

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Thank goodness for the internet, right? Below is  a a copy of the latest Google Form for the “Use”-Your-Own-Adventure style Forms. PLEASE note we are improving this in spades each week, and use both provided curriculum, images from the internet, and quality sources like PhET, etc. Your specific needs might differ, and I’m getting feedback these might work for other subjects, too, which makes sense since this is a really a delivery strategy.

Keep me posted, and I’ll be updating this page with milestones. Thank you and May the Fourth Be With You.

Download & Thanks
EDIT: My favorite, Sound Waves, is here.

Introduction to Waves


Energy Transformations

Magnets and Electromagnetism

Introduction to Static Electricity

This Adventure is dedicated to Google.

The mission of SPECTRUMclassrooms.com is to engage teachers as they cultivate student-centered classrooms, one Adventure at a time. Site content and SPECTRUM acrostic copyright © 2020 Jess Rowell. All Rights Reserved. Not responsible for any third-party content.

Follow more adventures with #thisiswhatstemlookslike #inventthefuture and #sgms.


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