Create a low-cost, printed school yearbook with Google Slides

Yearbooks that cost $100 or more are out of reach for many students. By using Google Slides and local printers, some schools are creating low-cost, gorgeous yearbooks instead.

This post is written by Jennifer Scott, an English teacher and technology leader from California. She's a Google Certified Innovator and Trainer. Find her on Twitter at @Jentechnology and on the Slides Yearbook site.

When the school year fades, memories fade too. That is,  of course, unless you have a yearbook to remind you of teachers who cared, obstacles you overcame and friends who stood by your side.

Lower yearbook prices

As discussed in the January 16, 2017 blog post on AliceKeeler.com, the price of yearbooks is often out of student reach.  This is why SlidesYearbook.com was born. Compton Jr. High students in the Bakersfield City School District design their 100-page full-color softbound yearbook for only $8.16. That price is then passed onto students.

In June 2017, Planada Elementary School District brought that price down to $4 for each 71-page full-color yearbook and purchased one for 600 students! This year their middle schools are ditching their yearbook company and going full Google. With proper planning, the process and results will go much smoother this year.

How do these school districts lower yearbook prices?

Rather than pay companies for high-priced software, students use Google Slides to create their own Basic Yearbook. Think of Google Slides as a blank canvas waiting for student graphic designers. Shortcuts make graphic design in the Google app even easier. CTRL + ALT + J decreases an image's size. CTRL + Shift +  >  increases the font size. GSuite for Education offers unlimited storage.

To create a unified look, students create Layouts with Image templates. These layouts can be duplicated and their images replaced with images shared either with Google Drive or Google Photos via Google Classroom. In the example below, the image templates in the Word Art Yearbook layout are replaced with photos from the #Mex16 Google Innovator Academy. Captions are written to preserve memories.

A layout like this ...

... becomes this.

The Compton Jr. High yearbooks created in Google Slides are printed at our district office, which binds the full-color pages and adds a softbound cover. Planada Elementary School District found a less expensive online publisher for their softbound yearbook. My father published a more expensive hardbound autobiography in January 2017 with Gorham Publishing.

The future of SlidesYearbook

SlidesYearbook.com was born in December 2016 and continues to grow. Easy-to-use directions are available on the website in both English and Spanish. If creating a yearbook from scratch is not an option this year, feel free to use already created templates. Start with a class yearbook and move to a schoolwide yearbook next year.

Our goal is to teach students the skills they need to be graphic designers and photographers. The process is not easy, but the results are worth it. Our next steps include learning how to code Google Slides add-ons specifically for yearbooks. Visit our website and follow the hashtag #SlidesYearbook on Twitter for more information.

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