UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2020
Practice Logs are a touchy subject, it seems. While it is so important for kids to be accountable for their practice and getting into the healthy habit of logging that time, sometimes practice logs can become just an exercise and occasionally, even a detriment to kids grades who just don’t turn it in for whatever reason. Here is a no-nonsense solution to that problem: online practice record with Google Docs!
As with anything required and online, always have a backup plan for students who do not have access to the internet at home – my backup plan is that they can use the school library or a band hall computer or iPad at designated times to take care of this assignment – I just love no excuses!
The best part of this practice log? Depending on your questions, it will export all of the form responses to a spreadsheet that you have access to! That certainly makes grading easy!
Step 1: Visit forms.google.com and choose “start a new form”
Step 2: Your first question should ALWAYS BE “Name” (also…require it!)
Step 3: Edit your title and file name and start adding questions!
Step 4: I add student class period (or instrument) for easier grading. I’ll sort it in my Google Sheet later! I made this a dropdown question so that it looks more concise when students are filling it out. (This question, like all of my questions, is also required!)
Step 5: Add some opportunities for meaningful reflection and planning as well as an opportunity for students to tell you how much they practiced this week. You could also EASILY make a daily practice log report for students to fill out each time they practice, but that could be A LOT to keep up with. I recommend training students to keep track of their own practice in a calendar or agenda book of their own and log it for you once per week. As you can see, this is an extremely flexible format so change it to fit your needs. Here are some example questions:
- What musical skills did you focus your practice on this week?
- You will need to train students to answer this question in a meaningful way, but they can do it!
- What are you proud of getting better at on your instrument this week?
- Let them do a short answer for questions like this – you will probably be proud of many of their responses!
- What is frustrating you in your practice this week?
- What musical goal do you have for yourself next week?
- Make sure to guide goal setting with your students and model it for them before asking them to just “do it” on their own
- What are you going to get better at in your practice time next week?
- Again, model great goal setting for them in class time and they will get the hang of this as well!
- What days did you practice this week?
- Make sure to define what counts as practice for your students – you can leave them a reminder in the form.
- Make your expectations of students clear: how many practice sessions should they have per week? How will grading work?
Step 6: Change the theme and edit the settings as needed. Click on the gear at the top right of your screen to access the settings menu. You can click on the paint palette to change the colors and theming of your form.
Step 7: You can choose where to send the responses – do a new spreadsheet each week or a new sheet in an existing spreadsheet- tailor it to what works best for you! …and let Google do the organizing work!
Now with an easy to find link on your website, or a reminder email with the link in it (or both) students should be able to easily and efficiently submit their practice minutes! Obviously a weekly deadline is going to be a good and helpful thing, and completely do-able even if the student is absent! When you are ready for your form to close, just click on “responses” and “accepting responses”. This will change to “not accepting responses” and give you the option of a message stating why or directing students elsewhere. You could also just make all of these forms at the beginning of the year and only turn on one week at a time to save you a little legwork! **Google has a great “make a copy” feature!**
What else do you do with Google Forms? There are so many possibilities!