Using Google Forms & Google Sheets as a Digital Reading Log

My name is Megan Kelley and I’m the librarian at Palm Elementary. This is my first year with Austin Independent School District.

As the librarian, I was tasked with the challenge of adapting our campus-wide reading initiative to reach all of our learners while maintaining safety and health protocols. Here is what I discovered from using Google Forms as a digital reading log for an entire campus during our month-long reading challenge.

This reading challenge awarded students minor prizes or opportunities based on the number of minutes they spent reading. Prizes were organized at tiers for every 4 hours read up to 20 hours. It was imperative for this form to be able to efficiently track how many minutes each child submitted without the need for me to manually organize the information and track each child by hand. Google Forms has a function that allows the information gathered to be transferred to a spreadsheet through Google Sheets. Each question becomes a column and each form submission becomes a row. This spreadsheet is live so new submissions appear at the bottom of the spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets need entries to be identical so in order to prevent any errors due to names being misspelled, I formatted questions that helped identify the student with drop-down menus.

I directed students to different sections of the Google Form based on their teacher. Though it took a lot of time to enter class lists for every grade level, it was necessary in order to organize information in the Google Sheets.

Google Sheets allows for information to be displayed as bar graphs. Remember how each question is a new column? I created bar graphs for each class by selecting a different column as the x-axis. (The labels of the x-axis are hidden to protect privacy, but each bar represents a different student in a class.) Because the spreadsheet is live, these bar graphs updated automatically as students submitted new reading log entries and could be shared with teachers via a link.

Things I would have done differently and learned along the way:

  • It took me a while to figure out how to limit responses to the “# of minutes” question to numbers only. Originally, students would enter “15 minutes” and the bar graph would not update because it couldn’t determine the numerical amount.
  • The first week of the reading challenge I was attempting to sort the spreadsheet each time it was updated, organizing submissions by teacher. I had already started doing the bar graphs but it was before I had realized I could sort by column rather than having to grab only the rows that were for that teacher.
  • The downside to this reading log is that it’s not easy to teach younger students, PK and Kinder, how to fill it out and as a result the number of participating students in those grades is really low. If I were to do this again, I’d have an alternate reading log for younger students. I would change the number of minutes short answer question to something like a daily checkbox “Did you read/were you read to today?” question. Rather than a summary question, I’d also explore text-to-speech or voice recording options as an alternative to typing.

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