Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Google Slides: Learning Journals

As educators, we all know that reflection is important.  John Dewey said, “We don’t learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.”  It is often difficult to plan time in our busy semesters for this much needed reflection.  Google Slides can help.  Whether it is some sort of a daily or weekly learning journal, reflections on labs or projects, or even reflections for each assignment or chapter, you and your students can use Google Slides to make this process easy and organized.

Students can create a slide presentation at the beginning of the semester.  They will use the same file all the way through.  Each slide becomes one entry in the learning journal.  One day, one assignment, one project, one chapter, etc.  The important thing is to have them date the slides and always keep the most recent slide at the top.  Students can add a new slide and then click on it and drag it to the top to make it slide #1.  This way, when you are looking over their work, the most recent one is always at the top and you don't have to scroll through all the slides to find it.  The size of the slides can be changed to make them larger if your students need to write longer reflections.  You can even make them 8.5 x 11!  Check this post to see how.

You can see a very simple example of a Student Learning Journal created using Google Slides here.

Sometimes we forget that the process is more important than the product.  Building this simple task into your class time or homework routine can ensure that students always take time for reflection.

Google Slides: Choose Your Own Adventure Style

Google Slides is so much more than a presentation tool!  One very fun use for Google Slides, is to have students create a choose your own adventure story.  You can easily link buttons or words on a slide and have them take you to a different slide when you click them.  This will allow the reader of the story to choose their next move and be taken to a specific slide based on that choice.  Imagine the possibilities for this!  There is so much story mapping and critical thinking involved in building a choose your own adventure type story.  Your students will learn, be challenged, and have a ton of fun along the way!

Depending on the age of your students, you may want to leave the slide size as is, or perhaps make it an 8.5 x 11 sized page for more advanced writers who need more space for text.  To see how you can change the default slide size, check out my Google Slides: More Than a Presentation Tool post.

It is easy to hyperlink text or shapes to take you to a certain slide in the slide deck.

Highlight the text you'd like to link and click on the link icon in the toolbar across the top.  If you don't see the link icon across the top, you may have to click the "More" button to find it.

To link a shape, select the shape that you'd like to link and then click on the link icon across the top.  Again, if the link icon doesn't show, you may have to click the "more" button to find it.

When you click the link icon, you'll see a "Slides in this presentation" option.  You can then pick which slide this text or shape should link to.  Once you choose the slide you'd like to link to, you can click "Apply".

Tip: If you choose a slide layout that includes a 'title' text box, the title will appear next to the slide number in this list.  This might be helpful to ensure you are linking the correct slide.  If you do NOT want the title to show on the slide itself, you can make the text the same color as the background so it cannot be seen on the slide, but the name will still show in this list.

Students can be as creative as they'd like to be as they build their stories.  Once they are finished, the stories can be shared with parents and peers.  Everyone can load up the slide decks and get ready to choose their own adventure!  (Be sure the 'reader' clicks "Present" to launch the slideshow.  The links will work better this way!)

Note:  It is helpful - but not necessary - to make your slides for this presentation in three layers.

Layer 1 (back):  Your story text.

Layer 2 (middle):  The middle layer should be a big rectangle that covers the entire slide.  It should be made to be translucent so you can see through it.  Link this big rectangle to the same slide you put it on.  You do this to prevent any stray clicks from accidentally advancing to the next slide.  There is a video here that explains this process in more detail.

Layer 3 (top):  Then the top layer is your text box or shapes that contain your options.

The purpose of the big transparent rectangle in the middle is to prevent the "reader" from accidentally advancing the slide.  When you are in presentation mode, clicking on the slide will advance you to the next slide.  By adding this transparent layer linked to the same slide, if the "reader" clicks anywhere but on the buttons you give them, it will just stay on that slide.  

Google Slides: More Than A Presentation Tool

Google Slides is Google's slide presentation tool.  I like it - a lot.  It may not include all of the features that PowerPoint has, but it includes plenty of other features to make up for it!  Here are three things about Google Slides you may or may not know:

  • You can find really great presentation themes at www.slidescarnival.com.  You can read my post about it here.  These are free themes you can use, they just ask that you give credit to Slides Carnival.

  • You can change the size of the slides.  This allows you to have a bunch of slides sized 8.5 x 11 for a journal project, or maybe 3 x 5 for a flashcard project, etc.  You can change it to whatever you like.  


                                    To change your slide size, click on "File" across the top and then choose "Page setup".

A window will pop up that lets you choose your desired size.  You can click on the arrows to open a drop down menu with the options.  

You have your standard presentation size options, but you also have an option for "Custom".

The "Custom" option will allow you to state your desired size in inches, centimeters, points, or pixels.  Just click the drop down to change the units.  Click the blue "OK" button after you choose your desired slide size.

Now your slide size is changed and you are ready to create!

  • You can easily edit the shape of your pictures once you insert them into a presentation.  Click on the image you have inserted and then click on the little drop down near the crop button across the top of the screen.  Then you can choose any of the shapes, arrows, callouts, or equation options to reshape your image.  Cool right?! 

I hope this has helped you start to realize that Google Slides does more than you think!

Google Slides Lesson Ideas:
Choose Your Own Adventure Stories
Learning Journals

Creating and Managing Bookmarks in Google Chrome

One way to make your internet browsing experience easier is to make bookmarks for the sites you visit most frequently and have them readily available in your bookmarks bar.

To check and see if your bookmarks bar is showing, look under the address bar.  Do you have a bar there with some links on it?  If so, your bookmarks bar is on.  If not, it is off.

Bookmarks bar off:

Bookmarks bar on:

If your bookmarks bar is off, you can turn it on with just a few clicks.  Click on the hotdog menu (with the three horizontal lines) in the upper right hand corner of your screen.  Choose "Bookmarks" from the menu and then choose "Show Bookmarks Bar" in the second menu.  Your bookmarks bar will now appear.  You can also use the keyboard shortcut to toggle the bookmarks bar off and on, which is Control+Shift+B on a PC and Command+Shift+B on a Mac.

To add a bookmark to your bar, browse to the site that you'd like to add.  Then look at the address bar and click on the star you see on the far right hand side.  A box will pop up so that you can name your bookmark and then click "Done" at the bottom.

Your bookmark will now show up on your bookmarks bar.

If you'd like to edit the title of your bookmarks, you can do so easily.  Right click on the bookmark you wish to edit, and then click "edit" from the menu.

You can now change the name to whatever you'd like it to be and then press "Save" at the bottom of the window.  Shorter is better because it will take up less space, allowing you to fit more bookmarks on the bar.

If the icons are distinct enough, like Google Drive, Gmail, Twitter, Google+, etc., you can delete the name altogether and just have the icon on the bar.  Edit the bookmark the same way you change the name, except you delete all the text in the "Name" box and then click "Save" at the bottom.

Deleting the names saves so much space, and I personally think it is easier on the eye.

Happy bookmarking!

Helping teachers incorporate technology, one tech tip at a time.