It's no mystery that the Google Apps suite is an incredibly useful and powerful way to bring your classroom into the 21st century. However, like many other kinds of technology, it isn't always obvious how you could or should start using these tools right out of the "box".
In this series I hope to explore each of these tools for the sake of classroom instruction. I'll describe how I've used these tools successfully in my classroom and offer some lessons learned through my use. This tutorial will assume that the educator has little to no experience with Google Apps for Education, so if you already have some experience I would skip down to the "Instructional Implementation Section", which is what I'll be focusing on.
Authors Note: These strategies and techniques for using Google Apps in your classroom apply for any iteration of the Google Apps suite. Including: Google Apps for Education, Google Apps for business, personal Google Apps. Some of these versions have increased storage capacity, access to developer tools, and increased functionality. For the sake of transparency, I used my personal Google account for all of the strategies and techniques that follow.
WHAT ARE GOOGLE APPS?
If you're asking yourself this question then you might want to click this button (see below).
Once you've gotten the general idea, you should create a google account and head over to their well-formatted Help section if you have any questions on general or more specific features and functions of the apps.
Authors Note: The first app you're going to need to download is Google Drive. From there you can simply click the "new" button and select the kind of document you would like to create, in this case it's going to be a "Google Slides" that we're dealing with.
How to Create a Slides Presentation
As I said before I am not going to go through the steps of physically creating the slides, rather I'm going to focus on how you can incorporate this app and it's features into your instruction.
If you need a "refresher" on how to create a slides file, click this button (below). There you can learn how to create a doc and go through some of the features like creating a table of contents, using headers, sharing the doc with others, etc.
GETTINGS STARTED CHECKLIST
Once you have the technical stuff taken care of I suggest you get a few things together before you start creating slides presentations for or with students.
1. If you're using Google Slides for your general lesson delivery I suggest you create a few templates first. Create a template for socratic seminars, another template for unfortunately necessary lecture sessions, another template for test/quiz prep, etc. You can always copy these templates later and pull content in, rather than starting from scratch every time. Here's a good general format that I used for multiple subjects/grade levels.
- Start with an anticipatory set
- Go into Guided practice
- Independent exploration
2. Always go into a presentation knowing what the essential question or core objective is. The goal should never be to simply inform, especially since you know as well as I do that isn't the best way for students to learn. The slides should inspire your students to ask the questions you know will get them closer to arriving at the solution themselves.
3. NEVER NEVER NEVER read slides. Slides should add to your instruction. The only reason why you should have long form text on a slide is for students to refer to (Example: I need you all to use this data set for our next exercise). If you're still learning presentation techniques, or if you want to improve your technique give this resource a look. (8 Classic storytelling techniques for engaging presentations).
I also highly recommend these other resources for perfecting your presentation strategies:
- Forbes Magazine article based on Carmine Gallo's book "The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs".
- Forbes Magazine article based on Carmine Gallo's book "Talk like TED".
If you have other great resources let me know in the comments section or reach out on Twitter!
INSTRUCTIONAL IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES
Note: These strategies are going to focus on features that differentiate products like Apple's Keynote, and Microsoft Powerpoint. Those are also awesome products, and I hope to cover those in future posts : )
Collaborate on presentations
This is the most basic and common implementation of Google Slides in the classroom. Essentially what you're doing here is assigning some kind of project to your students and having them collaborate online using Google slides. It's a lot like if students could work on a powerpoint presentation simultaneously. Doing this with your students is a great idea at some point but it's by no means the only way you to use this powerful cloud-based application.
Create a treasure trove of teaching resources
This strategy is a little bit like what I mentioned in my previous blog post on google docs. However, instead of only using Google Docs to create lesson plans, you can actually assemble a group of teachers (PLC/PLN) to create presentation materials that you can all use. By using the sharing feature, you and a group of like-minded educators can assemble a pretty robust collection of teaching resources in short order (specifically presentations for the sake of this blog post). I wholeheartedly encourage this approach to resource aggregation for lots of reasons, time management, planning efficiency, creating a culture of powerful use, and setting a good example for student collaboration.
Let's say you want students to work on a presentation as a group (see the first strategy, "Collaborate on Presentations") but you want every student to contribute to the final presentation. Without Google Slides this could be a real challenge. How can you make sure every student is contributing to their assigned part? And how do you hold students accountable for the work they were assigned? Then, to top it off, how do you assess and address (differentiate) students who are having a difficulties? While also addressing the higher order questions posed by advanced students? Here's what I suggest:
- Create an 11 slide presentation that conforms to the format you want students to use
- Create groups of 4-5 students and assign each student 1 to 2 slides (depending on the task).
- Each students should be given a title or "job". (Example: Geneticist, Surveyor, Geologist, etc adapt this naming system to make sense with your subject and/or project - I'm a Biology teacher)
- Make copies of the original template you made and share them with the student groups.
- Students work together on the presentation, you can monitor them as they go by accessing the individual presentations that you've shared with them through your own Google Drive.
- I HIGHLY suggest assessing their work daily (at least). You can do this by creating a "Check-in" google form where they link their presentation and answer some check for understanding questions associated with the content they should be covering.
- ... Build on this (If you implement this in your class please share the results with me, or if you need some other suggestions feel free to reach out to me via Private Message me on Twitter.)
As a science teacher, one of my favorite things to do with students is have them dig into the context of scientific discoveries. For example, we all know that the Atomic bomb was developed, and in my science class I might discuss the fission reaction that occurs at it's heart. Now, how I would up the ante is to have students start to dig into Robert Oppenheimer (The Lead of the Manhattan Project, given the title "Coordinator of Rapid Rupture") or some of the other scientists assigned to Los Alamos. However, we all know that I would probably run out of instructional time. So, in circling back to using Google Slides, what I might do is work with another subject teacher (like history for the sake of this example) and have students work on a single presentation across two classes... OR even better I would have students collaborate across classrooms to make a single, coherent presentation. BONUS POINTS: Have students from different schools (or countries) collaborate!
Have students build a Google Slides presentation for the sake of tutoring other students (students in similar grade levels, or even students from lower or higher grades). The student who is being tutored can add notes to the presentation with questions. You can increase the skills necessary to pull this off by having students screencast their tutoring sessions and reflect on what they're doing well and where they can improve. The best way to have students learn the subject is to have them teach it, Google Slides makes this really easy for you and your students (and your students' students!)
KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING
Please leave a comment letting me know what you think of the post, what strategies I should add, resources I should include, and/or general feedback. Also follow me on Twitter for more more posts like this one, and share the ones you find useful.
Thanks for reading!
[header photo credit: twitter.com/firmbeecom]