When looking around classrooms today, you often see teachers using worksheets for students to practice math and science skills. Look a little closer and you might find struggling learners staring out the window or with their heads down on their paper. Students who struggle with reading and writing not only need supports with a specific curriculum focus such as math and science, but also benefit from supports in the areas of reading, writing, and organization, which could affect learning. In today’s blog, we’re going to show you how to create electronic forms, and form templates to provide support and guidance to larger projects that could lead to increased student engagement and interest. In addition, we will take an opportunity to explore quick tips to using the MS Word math equations and symbols tools, providing visual supports, and using graphics in MS Word tables.
Forms are traditionally used to create surveys or questionnaires to collect information. For example, a class survey could ask students “What is your favorite ice cream flavor?” Electronic forms provide opportunities for scaffolding and learning supports within worksheets, tests, lab reports, and projects. They allow students to demonstrate knowledge by 1) using a mouse to select from pre-made item banks instead of lengthy typing and 2) using a keyboard to type answers into a text field instead of writing. Electronic forms can provide access for students who have difficulty with pencil and paper tasks.
In Figure 1, a common Earth Science worksheet is turned into an electronic form.
Note: To view our blog graphics in a larger size, click on the photo gallery below this entry.
Text boxes (fill in the blank), check boxes, and drop-down menus provide cognitive and organizational supports for the learners who struggle with vocabulary recall, spelling, writing, and fine motor skills. They are depicted in Figure 2. In addition, electronic forms can easily be enlarged and customized to meet the learner needs.
See Figure 3. To get started in developing electronic forms, you first need to make sure the Developer tab is visible. Simply click the Microsoft Office Button and select Word Options > Popular > select Show Developer tab in the Ribbon check box > and click OK.
Once you have the Developer tab visible and selected, then go to the Controls grouping and select the Legacy Tools. In the drop-down menu select the Legacy Forms.
You can also create electronic forms and save them as a template to provide structure to a creative assignment or project. For example, students just finishing a unit of study about the planets in our solar system are often asked to write a report. The overall goal of the unit was to have students learn about each planet and highlight its unique characteristics. What if we gave students a choice of writing a report or designing a Planet Cereal box? An electronic form template created for the students to complete with necessary information could guide the students every step of the project and the outcome is a fun, creative and concise report. See Figure 4.
One challenge in creating worksheets, interactive forms, quizzes and tests in math and science is typing equations. Using Microsoft Word, you can easily create equations and insert additional mathematical symbols into equations by going to the Insert tab and in the Symbols group, explore the Equation and Symbol tools. Microsoft has a great tutorial for creating equations that can be found at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/write-insert-or-change-an-equation-HA010370572.aspx
MS Graphic Organizers allows students to organize clip art, text, digital images, and sound files in a way that best demonstrates their knowledge OR assists them in learning a new concept. In addition, teachers can create and organize multi-media graphic organizers for specific purposes:
Interactive whiteboard activities
Lab activity directions
Task analysis cards
Once organized and created, visual organizers created in MS Word can be printed as manipulatives or kept electronic to support the learner with visual and auditory prompting, cues, and reminders. Figure 6 illustrates examples of customized flow charts, organizers, task analysis cards and process ropes.
Custom flow charts and organizers using graphics and the drawing tools can be created by:
• Insert pictures, text boxes, shapes, or sound files
• Align objects to create an organized flow chart
• Link ideas together by drawing arrows or lines
• Create tangibles (bookmarks, method ropes)
Tip: Inserting Pictures into a Table ---- Have you ever dropped pictures into a table and the picture was too large and distorted the table? Here’s an easy way to prevent that from happening. After drawing the table, highlight the cells in the table and select from the Layout Tab > AutoFit (found in the Cell Size group), click on the drop-down menu and select >_ Fixed Column Width. Go to the Insert_ tab and select the picture icon and locate the picture you wish to insert.
We hope you will explore these tools and would love to know what you think! Do you have other ideas on how these tools can be used to provide access to math and science, or support other areas?
Our next blog topic will explore SmartArt, Photo Album, and Countdown Timers in PowerPoint.
:-) Thanks for spending time with us and stay tuned! Tara Jeffs and Cindy Feist