When it comes to distance learning, the tool I have used more than ever before is Google Slides! I found it extremely helpful for staff, students, families, and myself to have all the pieces of our lessons and meetings mapped out on Google Slides! Since it’s been such a huge help to me, I thought I would teach others some of the most helpful tips I’ve learned!
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Getting started – Google Drive and Slides
First things first, if you want to use Google Slides, you need a Google account. My district all uses Google, so we all have a Google account. Google is free but depending on your account there may be an amount of space limited. I’ve never gone past the amount of space on my personal account, FYI. Once you make a Google account, you can go to your Google Drive. You can personalize your Google Drive with organized folders and even different colors for each folder! From the Google Drive, you can get to Google slides and make a new slide. Make sure you save it in a folder where you can find it! Or name it something that can be easily searched!
Make a background
One way that I like to personalize my slides is to choose a unique background or change up the background color. Just simply click on background and you can choose an image (you can upload your own or Google search for an image. Slides used for your classroom aren’t for commercial use so you can use any image on the internet. The background will change to the individual slide unless you click “Add to Theme” and then it will become the background for the whole presentation.
When you add text, you can add right to the text box already on the slide or insert a new text box. Depending on your background image, you might want a colored text box. Personally, I like to make the text boxes slightly see-through. I do this by changing the transparency level (you can see here).
Don’t like the fonts on Google? Did you know that you can add more fonts?! Google has so many fonts to choose from. Sit back with a nice cup of coffee and get scrolling! Simply add the fonts you like!
Once you write your text, you may want it formatted differently. I like to have the text at the top of the text box and centered. You can do that here.
Adding New Slides
There are a few different ways to add new slides. If you like the format of the slide you created before, you can use shortcuts (I’m on an apple) command+D duplicates the slide. Command+c copies the slide and command+v pastes it. You can also simply click the + button and decide which slide format you want. This will not keep them same background or fonts, unless you picked “add to theme” for the background. Also, you can click on the “Slide” tab to add a new slide, duplicate a slide, delete a slide or skip a slide.
I love to add images whenever possible. This will support my emergent readers and visual learners! You can easily add an image by pressing “Insert” and then hover over “Image” and from there you can choose to upload an image or search the web. Like the background, if you are using this for your class then you can use any images from the web (since it is not for commercial use). I like to add the word clipart to my search to keep the images to this style, but that’s just my preference! When you find the image that you like, you may want to edit it! I often find myself copying the image and then flipping it so it can be a mirrored image. You can also change some of the coloring.
When adding images to your slide, try to keep in mind the other images you have used previously. If I’ve just added an image of a boy, I try to find an image of a girl. I try to find diverse children or adults when using people in my slides. I want all my students to see someone that looks like them in the visuals!
I LOVE adding videos to my slides. Not only do we use them all the time in class as additions to lessons and fun movement breaks, we can use them in our distance teaching as well! You can directly insert a video from youtube with the url. You can also upload a video you recorded and added to Google Drive. I love having all my videos in one spot – you can play the videos directly from the slide itself! You could also have the videos autoplay, which helps if you are sharing the Slide with students.
Just like with videos, I love to have all the links I need for the lesson in one spot. Simply highlight the words that you want to be turned into the link and then you can add a link right from the “Insert” tab. You can also use command+k. The text should change color when it becomes a link. You can use command+k to edit any links as well, or just click on the link and an option will pop up to edit the link.
What’s nice is you can link to other websites or resources, but you can also link directly to any of your google resources (docs, other slides, or pdfs you add to your Google Drive). If you are adding anything from your Drive to share with other staff or families, make sure you change the sharing permissions. (We will talk about that below!)
Something new I started doing this year when sharing slides with families and students is adding in audio to my slides. I would record my voice reading the directions or the story easily and for free with http://online-voice-recorder.com then I download the recordings and upload them to my Google Drive. I made a folder for recordings. Again, make sure that you change the sharing permissions on these recordings so your students can listen to them! This helps all students, but especially early readers, English learners, students with disabilities!
One way to bump up your Google Slides is to include animations. I especially love to do this when teaching reading or phonics by using shapes or lines to highlight words or parts of words. I especially love to have dots appear under words when learning about one-to-one correspondence. You can learn more about these slides here!
To add an animation, highlight the shape, image, or text box that you want animated and then click “insert animation”. From there you can click on any other shapes or images and add other animations. If you click on multiple shapes or images you want animated, then they will all appear or disappear at the same time. You can choose to have the animations make images appear, disappear or spin!
When sharing anything from Google, there are a few things to consider. Are your students or other staff all in the same google organization? My school district is all Google, so we can share items to be available to anyone within the organization. However, only students second grade and up get a Google account, so if I want to share with my students and their families, I need to make the document available to for anyone with the link. If you’re only sharing a document with a few staff members or families, you could add their emails and share it with them directly.
The second thing to consider is whether you want the person you are sharing with to be able to edit, comment, or simply view the document. Unless I am collaborating with someone at my school or asking students to complete something on a Google document, I make every document set to view only. When documents are set to “can edit” then anyone could accidentally delete or edit your document. When it is set to “can view” and someone wants to tweak the document for their own class or family, they will have to make a document before changing your original document.
A really cool tip I learned is to make it possible that anyone who opens your document has to make their own copy. This is perfect when sharing with teachers, like I will do with my subscribers when I share this example slide with them. You can also easily do this to share something with students when you want each student to create their own response or complete their own version. What you do is click share and copy link. Then change the end of the link from /edit… to /copy . When someone clicks on the link, it will open to this. They simply have to say make a copy and then it will be added to their own drive. Google is pretty sensitive so don’t add anything after the word copy. For example, I added /copy/ and it wouldn’t work!
Did you know that you can change the size of your slideshow? Just click on “File” and then “Page Setup”. If you want to make these slides printable, you should make it the size of paper (8.5×11).
I hope that these tips have helped you feel more confident to try out making your own Google Slides! If you do use some of these tips, I’d love see what you create! Send me an email or tag me on Instagram so I can see!