Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: Paperless Open House

Paperless Open House

Every year, I watch as my class parents spend a good 30 minutes filling out paperwork at open house. They have the paperwork required by the school and then the ones that I ask for. I know that after they leave my room, they will be heading to the sibling's class to fill out another stack of paperwork.  I have four kids. So I can feel their pain. By the time I get to the fourth set, I just write "See siblings' paperwork" at the top. I kid...kinda..

After I am done feeling bad for the parents, I start to feel bad for myself. I know that I spend the next two weeks tracking down papers that are missing, making check lists, typing email addresses, sorting and filing all this paperwork that I will not look at again until I shred at the end of the year.

Am I the only one who thinks this is madness?

I vowed to make this year different! I can't change the amount of paperwork that the school requires, but I can limit all extras from me!

This year I made a Google form for my parents to fill out! It is simple, user friendly, does not require any paper AND will spit out a spreadsheet of the responses for me! YES!

This really is quite simple, but I took lots of screenshots to help you out.

First, log in to your Google docs. Click on the orange create button at the top and choose "form" from the drop down menu.

Then you can choose from one of the themes they have. I chose a book one. I will warn you that they don't have many choices. You get to title your form from this screen as well.

Now you type your first question. Mine was "Student's First Name." You can choose to have a yes/no answer or multiple choice. But since that won't work for this particular question, I chose "text." The parents will be providing a text answer for this question.

Once the first question is written, click on the blue "Done" button. Click on "Add item" and do the same process with your second question.

Continue this process until you have all the pertinent info that you want from parents. I asked for parent names, parent cell phone numbers, home phone numbers and if the child had any food allergies.

This is what my form looked like when I was finished.

A really cool thing about using this form is that after parents fill it out, I will have an instant spreadsheet of their answers!

This will save me time and filing cabinet space!

Now how will I get parents to my google form?

It gives you a super duper long address that you can use. I knew that my parents would be pretty annoyed if they had to type this address into their phone or computer browser. So I went to https://bitly.com to make a shorter address! It's simple! Sign up for a free account. Then at the top of the home page is a spot that says "Paste a long URL to shorten." Just paste the super duper long one in the box and it will spit out a short address for it. You can even customize the address to make it easier for parents to remember!!!

I went one step farther and made a QR code for the address. This is not necessary, but kinda neat. Just go to http://www.qrstuff.com. You can paste in your form's address and then just download the QR code. You can post the QR code around your room during open house. I needed to make my families a check list of the things they need to do during open house, so I just put the website and QR code on that check list. Now families can either use their cell phones to fill it out during open house or go home and enter the web address on their computer or iPad.

All of this took me about 30 minutes to put together and that included making the checklist with cute borders and clip art. :-)

How do you make open house paperwork more parent friendly?

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  1. This is fabulous info! Thank you!

  2. Great idea! Thanks for taking the time to share the step-by-step. Our district required parents to register online in the spring. Of course, we won't have this exact info in one neat spot. My parents will appreciate this time saver!
    Debbi Watson
    3rd Grade Pad

  3. Thanks, Jamie!! I will be putting this idea to use this year!

  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Thank you so much for sharing the steps!


  5. Hello Jamie!

    I LOVE this idea! I am moving to a district that is all about being digital and this is a great step for me in that direction! I love the visuals and the thorough details you provided! It will make my implementation that much easier!


  6. I used this last year and it was a LIFE SAVER! I didn't have to worry about collecting all my little papers and such...it was all right there...and I had a link to it on my class website so they could do it at home as well. Thanks for sharing and reminding me :) Wonder if I can delete the response sheet from last year's parents in my google drive and use the same one this year ?
    Mrs. Samuelson's Swamp Frogs

  7. If I had a normal gen ed classroom, I would completely do this!!! Now, I'm not 100% sure that all of my parents actually have smartphones/tablets &/or QR Code readers. But, I agree this is so much easier!


  8. Great idea! I'm going to try this! Thanks

  9. Just created mine! Before Open House, I'm going to embed this on my school website, and then I'm going to have the classroom computers on in case parents want to fill it out online but don't have the ability at home. Brilliant!

  10. This is an awesome idea so going to be doing this!

  11. Oh, I love this! I may try something along the lines of this, this year to see how many of my families do it before I fully commit- I love the idea of going paperless!! Thanks for your detailed instructions!
    Tales of a Teacher