By Laurie Floyd
One of the many challenges teachers have had since March 2020, is how to take our existing assignments, assessments and projects and make them work in the remote/hybrid world. One tool that can help with that is Google Slides. Students can use the available tools in the app, as well as free add-ons, Chrome extensions and outside websites to create products that show their learning in creative ways.
Rather than the students merely creating a Slides presentation with bullet points, or worse yet, long (often copied) text, students can create things such as infographics, memes, graphic organizers, flow charts, and labeled and interactive images that will force them to process and present their learning in a different and creative format. Students can include links to their citations or to further information and embed voice files and video clips as well.
Students can show their creativity and learning with icons, colors, shapes, emojis, images, and of course, text. Older students can even create “make your own adventures,” animated gifs, comic books, museum and town “tours,” “flipbooks,” and even videos.
Slides for every grade and subject area
Almost every grade-level and subject-area teacher can have students create Slides. Some practical uses would be to have a history student create a timeline of events with added images and audio files to explain the importance of their listed events. Language arts students can create a children’s book or flipbook to explain the moral of a story that they have read. Art students can create a virtual museum of their own work or of a specific style of art. Science students can make an animated gif of a process. World language students can insert an image and then add text boxes to label the objects in the image in a different language or add an audio file describing what is happening in the image.
Basic skills in slides
Some basic skills in Slides that allow you and your students to create things like infographics, memes, timelines and flow charts, etc. include:
• Resize the slide. Click File◊Page set up. A box will pop open. Click on the arrow next to “Widescreen 16:9” and choose “Custom.” Change the numbers in the boxes to something like 8.5 x 11 (portrait) or 11 x 8.5 (landscape).
• Inserting shapes, text boxes, and lines and arrows for content. Use the Insert tab or the menu ribbon.
• Adding more fonts to use. Click on the small arrow next to the font name in the menu ribbon and then click “Add more fonts.”
• Change the color of a shape, border, or font with the options in the menu ribbon.
• Changing the background color. Click Slide◊Change background. A color or an image can be added to the background.
• Inserting videos, audio files, and images. Click on the Insert tab. Videos can be added from your Drive or YouTube. Audio files need to be already in your Drive to be added to a Slide presentation.
• Inserting a premade, but editable, diagram. Click on the Insert tab. A panel will open on the right in order to choose what type of diagram you want to insert. Once inserted, it can be edited with text, more shapes, or different colors.
• Inserting a link. Click on the Insert tab or the link symbol on the menu ribbon.
• Download your Slide as a pdf or jpeg or png file. File◊Download as and then choose how you would like the file downloaded.
Advanced skills in slides
Some more advanced Slides skills needed that allow students to create things like virtual museums, animated gifs or videos, “flipbooks,” make your own adventures, etc. include:
• Rotate, order, and/or group images or shapes by using the Arrange tab.
• Change the transparency of a shape or image. For a shape, click on the “Fill color” icon and choose “Custom.” For an image, click on the image and then “Format options” in the menu ribbon.
• Add links to other slides in the presentation to make a home button and/or a make your own adventure book. Highlight an image, shape, or words, and then click on the Insert link button. Rather than pasting in a link, click on “Slides in this presentation.”
• Crop images by double-clicking on an image.
• Crop videos by clicking on “Format options” in the Format tab or the menu ribbon.
• Adding and using add-ons and Chrome extensions. Within Slides, click on the Add-ons menu and choose “Get add-ons.” Chrome extensions can be added from the Chrome Webstore. (Note: Some districts may block adding extensions or add-ons in their Google administrator settings.)
If you need help learning some of these skills, look up “Google Slides training.” Google has a Workspace Learning Center with “cheat sheets” and tips. And of course, there are always YouTube videos to learn how to do a lot of these skills as well.
Add-ons, extensions and websites
Below are some add-ons, extensions, and websites that can help you and your students be more creative.
• Creator Studio to create videos or animated gifs from your Slides.
• Unsplash Images for copyright-free professional looking images.
• Flaticon Icons for Slides and Docs for 1000s of icons and graphics that can be added to Slides and Docs.
• Paletti for cool theme color combinations.
• Bitmoji to add your own bitmoji to your Slides
• Color Pick Eyedropper allows you to select color values from any image or website (so that you can match it to a font, fill, or background color.
• Vocaroo.com to make quick audio recordings that can be saved into your Google Drive and then inserted into a Slides presentation.
• Bensound.com royalty-free music files that can be downloaded and used in Slides presentations.
• Cooltext.com for different style texts that can be copied and pasted into Slides.
• Thenounproject.com for images and icons that can be copied and pasted into Slides.
• Giphy.com for animated gifs and “stickers” to be added to your Slides.
• Getemoji.com for emojis.
• Openclipart.org copyright-free clipart, especially helpful if creating a comic book or flipbook.
Laurie Floyd is the technology teacher coach for Howell High School in the Freehold Regional HS District (Monmouth County). She is the webmaster for the Freehold Regional Education Association. She can be reached at email@example.com.