When March 2020 began, the Compton Jr. High School Yearbook was almost done. We were waiting for the professional photos CD of music, clubs, and sports to be physical to our school. Then school stopped.
At least in person.
Teachers and students still remained connected, but going to school online or completing worksheet packets was not the same. Somehow we need to maintain a semblance of normalcy. One way to do that was to complete the yearbook and share it digitally with our staff and students.
Google Forms was our answer. Since the digital yearbook would be free for the 2019-2020 school year, we wanted more photos and stories. The small group of students and I used a Google Form to collect those photos and stories.
We created a Google Form that allowed only students in our school district to submit photos and captions. Yes, this prohibited parents from submitting photos from their personal accounts, but it provided necessary security. Anyone who has experienced Zoombombing understands the need for extra security.
We most definitely collected student email addresses in the Google Form. Accountability is crucial. Plus we might have more questions to ask that student.
Lastly, we used a URL shortener for quick access to the form. Since many of our junior high school students have smartphones (even ones with cracked screens and wifi-only access), saving the form to their phones allowed them to upload as many photos as they liked for the school yearbook.
Using Google Forms meant that we could collect photos for various sections. In March 2020, we wanted photos of the students' experience with COVID-19. We wanted students to have the option to resubmit their individual portraits. We knew students needed to feel a connection to their friends who they could not see face to face, so a friends' section was added. We had enough images of our band and mariachi, but we wanted more photos of our orchestra. As such, we created branching questions to different sections of the Google Form.
Google Forms includes the option to upload images. A folder is created for that specific question. Talk about easy organization of sections!
Students wrote their own captions. In the description of the question, students were told "If you submitted a photo, please name each person from left to right. What is going on in the photo? How has COVID-19 changed your world? Your answer may be edited for clarity and grammar."
One student, who happened to be a yearbook staff member, opted to write an entire story. Her words brought joy and sadness to my soul as she shared her experience as an 8th Grader during the pandemic.
If students are not submitting captions even though you ask for them, add the caption questions as a requirement and require a minimum length of text for Response validation.
As expected, the section with the most responses was the friends' section. Notice how students identified themselves for us. Trust me, the hardest part of the yearbook is correctly identifying students.
Students LOVE photography! They want to share their favorite photos with their friends and yearbook. COVID-19 closure of physical schools gave us the opportunity to use Google Forms to expand our yearbook. Had we shared the Google Forms in Fall 2019, we could have crowdsourced even more photos.
The good news is each year our SlidesYearbook gets better and better as we learn better ways to collaborate and crowdsource our yearbook. We will use Google Forms this year to document another historical year of Distance Learning.