It’s time for that project you do every year at this same time, and you’re just not feeling it this year. Maybe your class cannot be trusted with paint, or you have a large number that complains everytime you tell the class that there is something to draw as part of the project. Take a chance this year and try a Google Slides project!
Why Kids Love Google Slides
Google Slides is a very exciting tool for the kids to use in class because it gives them a chance to show what they know without doing the usual report or project. When the students had a choice about what their final project would be, they would often choose Google Slides. There are so many options for what they could put in the presentation, that it was never the same project twice.
Unlike a traditional poster, the students can add in multimedia elements to make the presentation more visually appealing. They can create original videos or find some online to add even more information to the slide.
When they present their work to the class, a Google Slide presentation is more likely to hold the attention of the class since most kids are very visual. The same information given just orally usually will cause many students to tune out quickly.
Can we work with a partner?
How many times do you hear that in a day? Lol! With slides, the answer should be YES! Twenty-first-century skills like communication, collaboration, and creativity are part of a project like this one. And it doesn’t require much extra work on your part. It fits right into the assignment. Also, it avoids the problem of one student keeping track of the papers for the project and then being absent. Now no one can work. With sharing, the work can continue no matter who is there or not there.
To share it, they need to click on the blue share button at the top of the screen and type their friends email addresses into the box where it asks for them. Then they can all work on it at the same time or at different times at home or free time during the day.
Sharing with friends can be tricky at first. I would recommend doing a dry run using the sharing option. Let the kids work in groups and create a slideshow about themselves or anything else they want. Let them see what kinds of problems arise and what kinds of rules they should have while working on a shared document.
They can share with friends even friends who may be at home sick. Yes, I’ve seen it happen. You know what happens when you let your own child stay home because they’re sick and they feel better by about 10 o’clock? Then they are just bored. Students in my classes have emailed their sick friends and asked if they wanted to work on the project during class time.
Some Basics of Google Slides
- Themes and backgrounds: When Google slides opens, it shows a selection of different themes along the side of the window. The kids can choose one of those to add color to their presentations. They can also just pick a color or picture for their backgrounds.
- Layout: Several different layouts they can apply to the slides. They can choose one of those for each slide or just use the blank one and add their own elements where they want them to be.
- Text boxes: Writing is always more fun in google slides. They don’t seem to complain as much because the text in each box is usually short. To insert a text box, just click on the text box icon on the menu, then click where you want it to be. The kids can change the size of the box by doing a click-hold-drag on any of the squares on the edges of the text box.
- Fonts and sizes: This is something they find all by themselves! Kids love fonts!
- Insert pictures there are several ways to insert pictures. If they have taken a picture using the webcam or have another picture stored on their computers, they can use the upload option. If they don’t have a picture chosen yet, they can use the search option. When they are using images from the web, you have an excellent opportunity to have a discussion with the kids about not stealing other people’s work. All the photos on Google search within a document are approved for reuse.
- Insert video from my experience, make sure the kids watch the entire video first. You may want to specifically ask if they already watched the whole thing or not. It helps avoid anything inappropriate for school, but it also forces them to make sure that they are adding relevant details by using the video, and not just putting it in for the fun of adding a video. Don’t let them use anything that is much more than 2-3 minutes, especially if you are going to have them present anything. Videos are fun, but any longer than that, and most of the kids’ attentions will wane.
Let the kids take charge of their learning
Remember, the kids will and should be allowed to explore the features Google Slides has to offer. You cannot take the time to teach all of it to them, and they love the thrill of discovery. Students feel good about themselves when they can share what they discovered with the rest of the class. When they learn something that nobody else knows, it is a natural place for peer assistance. Try hanging a piece of chart paper on the wall, or create a blank page on your interactive whiteboard. As the kids discover how to do something, they can write what they learned and their name. That way if any of the other students want to be able to do that, they can go to the person who wrote it on the board for help.
The End Product
The goal is for the kids to create an eye-pleasing final result that proves they understand or have gained information about a topic. The appearance is important. You can improve the results by teaching some of the basics of design to the students. If you are as clueless about it as I was, perhaps your favorite art teacher would be willing to do a lesson like that with your class.
How should you grade one? Look at your goals. What would you have graded if this had been a poster done on paper? You probably would have looked at the information, whether it is accurate or complete enough. You would expect proper grammar and spelling. Spelling should be close to perfect since they can use spell check. If you don’t accept missing punctuation or capital letters in other assignments, you won’t do it on a Slides presentation. You also probably would look at the overall appearance and effort shown on the project. Do this here too.
Here is a rubric I may have used for a slides presentation:
And click here for a link to the Google Slides copy of this rubric. You can make changes as you want to make it fit your grading system.
So, which project do you have coming up which could be replaced by a Google Slides presentation? Give it a try, and if you have any questions, contact me! I’ll be glad to help.
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