10 Google Slides activities to add awesome to classes

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Monday, February 2, 2015

10 Google Slides activities to add awesome to classes

Google Slides lets students collaborate and display ideas effectively. Create animation, story books, video galleries and more. (Flickr / college.library)

Google Slides lets students collaborate and display ideas effectively. Create animation, story books, video galleries and more. (Flickr / college.library)

At one point, creating a PowerPoint presentation to show to the class was cutting-edge classroom technology.

Those days are gone, and now, online presentations enable so much more for students.

Google Slides, the Google Apps solution to PowerPoint, opens this classroom staple up to vast possibilities. With real-time collaboration, connection to other Google Apps and the ability to embed presentations in websites, students can do so much more than “make a PowerPoint.”

Here are some ideas to harness the Google Slides greatness in your classroom. (Note: “Google Slides” is the name of the app, but “presentations” are what you create in Google Slides.)

1. Shared presentations: This is one of my top five go-to techy classroom techniques. It’s easy, it’s quick and it connects students’ work. Create a Google presentation and then create a slide for every student in the class. Share the presentation with students (with a link or by e-mail … use the blue “Share” button) and assign each student a slide number. Students can use it as a quick “do now” activity, as an exit ticket or other type of formative assessment. They can also use the search when inserting images to find a picture relevant to the topic at hand. When finished, let them scroll through other students’ slides (and add comments!) or display on a projector.

2. Screencast videos: Google Slides is the key that makes for great screencast videos. (Screencast = recording video of your screen with audio from a microphone to create a video presentation.) Use a screencasting tool. I like Snagit for the Chrome browser … install the extension AND the app to make it work. Students can create a presentation in Google Slides and then record themselves presenting it. Snagit uploads the video directly to their Google Drive account, so the video can be shared with a link or embedded on a website.

3. Animation: This is a great hack (i.e. non-traditional use) of Google Slides that could take some time to complete but yield amazing results. Check out this video, where the creators made an impressive animation with 450 slides in a Google Slides presentation just by clicking through the slides quickly.

4. Global shared presentation: The shared presentation in No. 1 doesn’t have to stay in the confines of your classroom. By sharing that presentation by link or e-mail with classes in your city, country or beyond, fun and meaningful interactions can occur in real time. Find a class to share learning (Twitter or Google Plus are great for this … see how I’ve done it on this conference session page). Then start sharing insights together — reports on the weather, photos of surroundings, reactions to content learned in class, etc. When students see someone else making changes to a presentation in real time from another part of the world, it’s a real “It’s a Small World After All” moment!

5. Story books: With Creative Commons photos at their disposal, students can create great story books using Google Slides. Find these images by inserting an image and clicking “Search,” or go directly to search.creativecommons.org to copy and paste images over. (Make sure they’re giving attribution and a link to the original image!) Images can drive the story or vice versa. Students write and create, and when finished, they can share their storybooks or embed them in a class website.

6. Vocab alive: Turn vocabulary lists into an engaging, meaningful learning activity with Slides and images. Using the same tactics for finding photos from No. 5, students can illustrate their vocabulary lists with beautiful Creative Commons images. Connections in the brain with new words are stronger if they’re paired with an image. Those presentations can be displayed for class or saved for personal study.

7. Integrate other Apps in Slides: The various Google Apps can support each other. When creating a presentation in Slides, students can create an image in Google Drawings and copy it into a Google Slides presentation. This also works for charts created in Google Sheets. Add some data to a spreadsheet and create a chart, which can also be copied into a presentation.

8. Virtual tours with Google Earth: Google Earth’s street view is a visually stunning experience, giving users a first-person view of life from the streets of cities around the globe. Google Earth is great for giving virtual tours, but there’s a simpler and faster version of it. Take screenshots of scenes from Google Earth and paste them in a Google Slides presentation. Add a title and/or some text description. With lots of slides, a virtual tour can happen quickly and meaningfully.

Untitled GIF9. Video galleries: Sometimes, a quick video is all it takes to make an idea clear. Students can find useful videos on YouTube (or other video sites) and embed those videos in a presentation to create a collection of visual ideas. YouTube videos are pulled in simply by inserting a video. Other videos can’t be embedded like YouTube videos, but there are options. Make a quick screenshot from a video and link it to a video (on School Tube, Teacher Tube or another site) by clicking the link button in the toolbar.

10. Quick blog: Blogging is a useful reflective activity that can generate a lot of online conversation among students. A quick, simple version of blogging can be created in a Google presentation. Create a shared presentation (see No. 1 above), and have students write a short “blog post” in their slides. They can even add images (see No. 5 above). When complete, students can read each other’s writing and write comments on them using the comment button in the toolbar. Conversations stay grouped together when students reply to each other using the “reply” button. This creates meaningful conversation with very little prep time.

[reminder]How could you see these ideas being implemented for your learners? How else can you use Slides in the classroom?[/reminder]


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  • […] 10 Google Slides activities to add awesome to classes | Ditch That Textbook @jmattmiller ditchthattextbook.com/2015/02/02/10-… […]

  • Tracy Buchanan says:

    I noticed that you had a Board on Pinterest on Sketchnotes, and that is something I am interested in learning. I would love to read a blog on Sketchnotes. I just purchase a book last week on it, but I have not had a chance to read it all yet.

  • This is opening up a whole new world for me and the way that I teach presentation skills. Thanks!

  • Eric Curts says:

    Here are some other creative ideas for using Google Slides:
    1) Create “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories, interactive quizzes, and Jeopardy games by using hyperlinks in your slideshows. See here for details and examples: http://www.appsusergroup.org/presentations/interactive-pres
    2) Create online comic strips for Slides. See here for details and examples: http://www.appsusergroup.org/presentations/comic-strips-with-google-presentations
    Take care!

  • Andre Soto says:

    Great suggestions! I will definitely be using Slides for more animation.

    I have been experimenting with all the Google Apps, especially Drawings and Slides. This year, when beginning our storybook unit I decided to add the element of character development, design and illustration. After evaluating this article I pushed my middle schoolers to stretch their imaginations and create the most fantastically ridiculous characters and back stories they could conjour. I then paired the students and they had to create a story incorporating both of their characters (and any others they would need to create for their stories). The results were pretty incredible. My room was an animation workshop. Stories about King Pickle and his magical army of avocados, A Supermodel who falls in love with an engaged Sumo Wrestler, after getting stuck in an elevator together, and her attempts to thwart the wedding, and so much more. They illustrated all the environments, props and any other elements used in their stories. After getting a little frustrated with the limited amount of movements offered by Slides, they customized their own animated character movements using meticulous frame by frame movements. I was so proud of the work they came up with. And it was 90% student driven!

  • Gary Lent says:

    Related: Good news and bad news about Slides transitions: Cube, Gallery and Flip.
    The good is that Google was willing to change their help screen, to state the bad, that these three transitions now give an error message when used with all IE versions, not just IE 9. The bad bad is that sometimes your target audience is using IE and will see an error message. Gary

    ——–
    Case: #05281563
    Subject: Google Slides transitions – IE 11

    Regarding transitions in Slides, for Cube, Gallery and Flip —
    These three transitions give an error message in IE 11 —
    (1) when editing in IE 11 “This transition is not supported in this browser” and —
    (2) when presenting, at the top it says “Some of the transitions in this presentation are unsupported in your browser and may not appear as intended. Learn More Dismiss” —
    LEARN MORE takes you here “https://support.google.com/docs/answer/1689475?p=add_animations&rd=1”

    where it said, before they changed it “Note that the Cube, Gallery and Flip transitions do not work when viewing a presentation in Internet Explorer 9. See system requirements for more information about browser limitations.” —
    Of course, I use Chrome, but many of our students use IE. —

  • Matt Gelder says:

    Another app that is great to use with slides is movenote. You can have students create a slide show and then import it into movenote. They then use movenote to capture video of them presenting their slide show. It then can show the presentation with the video of them actually presenting it.

  • […] 10 Google Slides activities to add awesome to classes | Ditch That Textbook […]

  • Michelle says:

    Love the idea in #10. Also, I feel pretty good that I have done a few of these already!!

  • Wendy Fete says:

    I really liked the different ways students (and I) can make presentations. Since I teach Social Studies this will be very useful. I really don’t like using the text for anything but a reference book and this will be more interesting for me and my students n

  • Lindsay says:

    Now if only they would add timings to Slides so that you don’t have to click like a maniac to make the “animations” work!

  • […] 10 Google Slides Activities to Add Awesome to Class […]

  • […] is endless. Favorite Saint? Recipe? Rainy day recess activity? Check out this link for more: https://ditchthattextbook.com/2015/02/02/10-google-slides-activities-to-add-awesome-to-classes/ As always, if you have a question, just […]

  • […] is endless. Favorite Saint? Recipe? Rainy day recess activity? Check out this link for more: https://ditchthattextbook.com/2015/02/02/10-google-slides-activities-to-add-awesome-to-classes/ As always, if you have a question, just […]

  • […] 10 Google Slides Activities to Add Awesome to Classes – Another useful collection of ideas from Matt Miller […]

  • Julian says:

    For Google Slides screencast there is also a free extension Screencastify that can be useful, too.
    Here is a post explaining how to use it: http://freegoogleslidestemplates.com/blog/how-to-save-google-slides-presentation-to-video/

  • […] Tips For Google Slides 10 Google Slides Class Activities Make eBooks with Google […]

  • […] Google Slides: collaborative example (the idea came from here), information collection example, unusual uses 12:30-12:45: Ideas for using Google […]

  • Lauren says:

    Hi!
    I have been trying to figure out how to use google slides to create interactiv word work. I wanted to have a picture of say… a kite. Then have a bunch of letters at the bottom that students can move in the correct order to spell the word kite. Once the word was spelled correctly, I wanted it to link to a picture of the word “correct” and then go on to the next slide with a new picture and new letters to spell the next word. Is this possible? I haven’t had any success yet :/

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  • kari says:

    This is great. I can’t wait to have my students working on this.

  • Anita Glaze says:

    Hi Matt:
    I love the presentation feature of Slides, where kids can submit comments, questions, etc during an interactive presentation of any kind. If I’m whole group teaching, kids can get individual attention hy submitting live feedback or questions.

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  • Rick Parham says:

    Collaboration among students is essential 21st century learning google is a great tool for desk top activites

  • Video Galleries are quick. I find this useful due to the short attention span of the typical student.

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