Wednesday, July 6, 2016

10 Ways to Use Google Slides Like a Pro

The first time I heard the name PowerPoint was during my sophomore-level archaeology class in 2000. Fast forward to 2009, when I did my student teaching, and you would see the beginnings of my slide presentation chops being worked on a daily basis.

At the time, I was making them for survival. I had no idea that one day we would be able to make slide presentations with an app on our phones while someone across the room, or across the world, worked on the same document.

google slides edtech

Although I don't make slide presentations for survival anymore, I continue to work on the craft of making slides that make a difference. With my tool of choice at the students fingertips, the limits of the classroom walls and the slideshow concept are flattened in today's connected world.  

Here are some of things I've learned over the years.

1. Use Layouts

It's important to give your viewers a visual experience that outlines the main ideas and sections of your presentation. I think of the different slides in the layouts palette as a background for headings and subheadings.

If you want the viewer to focus on a question or theme throughout a section, dedicate a whole slide to the text instead of burying it in a slide with too many ideas happening at once.

google slides

2. eBook 

Slides is great for making books because of the blank slate that it provides. It conveniently downloads to PDF, like Docs or Drawing. It also allows you to insert links to other slides, which makes it easy to add an interactive table of contents. 


3. Q&A

I love the new Q&A tool. It's not particularly hard to use, so definitely take advantage of it. If you want to work beyond the explicit intended use of Q&A, check out this post about different activities you can do with Q&A.

4. Speaker Notes

If you have slide presentations – Google or Microsoft – and they have a lot of text, move the text to the speaker notes. The fact of the matter is that slide presentations are better when they have images or designs that elicit thought or express ideas.

Lots of bullet points, not that they are always bad, can distract the audience and perhaps bring out an impulse to make note of everything as to not forget the information. This situation is especially true for students taking notes. Many people have a hard time not writing down the bullets, even when the file is accessible during and long after a presentation.

5. Collaborate

To share an activity from Alan November, research PowerPoints (PPTs) on a lesson topic. Let's say the topic is social Darwinism. Have students search the Internet for PPTs to find five of the best that the world has to offer. Then, organize the students into groups in which the goal is to combine the best slides into one great presentation. They can present what they learned by discussing why they chose certain slides.

Collaboration doesn't have to be among people in the same room. You could make review slides with an advanced placement classroom across the country, for example.

6. Make Worksheets

The nice thing about using Slides is that the teaching and practice materials are one in the same, so it's more versatile. This past year, for example, I focused on visual analysis and finding author intent. I would introduce content or concepts by displaying a series of images or a cartoon, and the students responded using a visual analysis thinking routine

The worksheets can be made by printing the slides three to a page, which automatically provides lines next to each slide. For more in depth analysis on a single image, such as cartoon, I made lines in the speaker notes and printed one slide per page and included speakers notes (shown below). This was enough for my students because our cartoon analysis routine is posted in the classroom.  

7. Poll Everywhere

One of the things that I love about Chrome and Google apps is the ability to add extensions. These tools come in many forms, including scripts that bridge Slides with outside Web applications like Poll Everywhere.

For me, Poll Everywhere isn't replaced by Q&A because it allows better data presentation and a wider variety of question formats. I think of Q&A like a feature on my toolbox and Poll Everywhere as a tool in the box. 

Check out this app smash in more depth. 

8. Games

I made a Jeopardy template by linking the question board choices to specific slides. The only thing that I do not like about the links is how the they don't change color after being clicked. If they did, it would be easier to see which ones are left to choose. 


Vocabulary games are also a must if you want to be a Slides pro. It can be as simple as a few words for cherrades or more complex, like an image that one student sees and describes while the other looks away and draws.

Make it more creative by assigning a choose-your-own adventure activity. Students can make one by embedding links to other slides. This project could also work for an interactive debate. "Agree?" – click here.

9. Embed

Slides is a great way to add rich content to your blog or website. Simply publish the Slides document, and copy the iframe or embed link to paste into the html view of your page editor.

Help: If you are unsure where to paste the iframe, write a cluster of "p" in the html editor so you can locate the spot in the html view. 

If you use Google Sites, embedding Slides is much easier. You can even make an automatic slide show using slides and ...

10. Mirror Slides

This is one of my favorite tricks. It's borderline wizardry for some people. The idea is to project a smartphone or tablet to the computer via AirPlay (or miracast) and the Air Server application, which is installed on the computer.

Once the software is installed and the devices are synced, Slides can be controlled without being tethered to the computer. What's more, the display on the smart device being mirrored shows a timer, notes, next slide, and the slide you're on.

As a classroom teacher, it's the only way to be anywhere in the room with so many tools at my disposal. For example, kids often ask questions that are hard for me to answer off the top of my head with the kind of substance I expect from them, so I simply transition to Google search and model how I would search for answers.

Thanks for reading, and please share how you're a Google Slides pro!