Kids enjoy games! One way to create a collaborative challenge that feels more like a game than work is to use Google Forms to create a lockbox activity.
When coaching a group of teachers this month, we created a transitional language lockbox challenge. Groups of students worked collaboratively to figure out which transitional words fit into particular sentences then entered their answers into a lockbox to see if they were correct. Here’s how the activity worked.
- At one station, students were given a sheet of paper in a plastic page protector. The paper had three paragraphs that were missing transitional language.
- The students had a list of transitional words and phrases they could choose from to complete the blank spaces in the three paragraphs.
- Students worked collaboratively to complete the sentences with the correct transitional works using a small whiteboard marker to write their initial answers directly on the plastic page protector.
- Once they have filled in the missing language, they had to enter the words into the Google Form lockbox one at a time to see if they were correct. If they entered an incorrect answer, they had to reevaluate their choices.
I like this activity because it encourages conversation and collaboration offline before students attempt to answer the questions online.
Here are some tips for creating a lockbox activity using Google Forms.
- Separate each question onto a separate section. This keeps students focused on one question at a time.
- Select the “Short answer” question type.
- Ask questions with a single correct answer to avoid confusing students.
- Make each question “Required” and click the three dots in the lower right-hand corner and select “Validate Response.”
- Select “Text” and “Contains” then type the correct answer. Students will not be able to move beyond the current section until they enter the correct answer.
- Add a hint to help students who get stuck.
If the questions are separated by sections in the Google Form, then the group is forced to focus on one question at a time making it feel more like a game than a traditional Google Form.
I also recommend that teachers give students the questions first and require that they discuss them and agree on their answers before they open their computers and attempt to unlock the Google Form lockbox. If students are required to decide on their answers before they open a device, then the devices do not impede the conversations between students, which is the most valuable part of a lockbox activity. It also eliminates the temptation to guess without thinking through the possible answers first.
Lockbox challenges are a great way to encourage collaborative practice, review for an exam, or create an escape the room type of activity without an a physical box!