Google Slides, simply put, is probably my favorite Google app in relation to the educational world. (Disclaimer: I’m actually a firm believer in Apple products). That being said, I feel that Slides is one of the most versatile, teacher-friendly resources for educators – especially for teachers who might need a “little something” to make their lessons more student-friendly.
Google Slides are highly customizable (is that a word..?) and can function in many different capacities. Honestly, Slides is kind of where I do the majority of my content creation for my kids. I’ve joked with the other 5th Grade teachers that if Slides went away, I’d probably have to leave the world of teaching (they think I’m joking… don’t tell them I’m serious!).
Growing up, I always thought I was fairly creative, but I really didn’t enjoy art. I liked the idea of art, but shied away from it basically any time the paintbrushes and colored pencils came out.
The reason was simple, but I didn’t realize why until probably 5 years ago: I liked the idea of art because I had cool ideas (self-proclaimed) and knew what would look good in a sketchpad or on canvas. However, I lacked the motor skills to execute my vision. So, naturally, I was easily discouraged because my projects would never look half as good on paper as they appeared in my head.
But with Google Slides, and the easy versatility of its text boxes and customizationability (now I know that isn’t a word), I started to realize that I could finally put my designs exactly how I wanted them. Arranging a worksheet became fun, creating visually-appealing Literacy lessons was enjoyable, and implementing a morning announcement was now very easy and very possible. I now use Google Slides for the majority of the day across multiple subjects for exactly what I want.
After teaching myself a few simple tricks and developing some really essential habits, I’ve come to a place where my designs are aesthetically appealing to both teachers and students alike. And I know this isn’t just my opinion. My school district actually hired me to make Google Slideshows for our ESOL Literacy curriculum… for the whole district… for grades 3 – 5! (THAT was a fun summer… over 300 Slideshows! Not slides, SLIDESHOWS, which came out to almost 3,000 slides).
So, you might be thinking: “Whoa, this might be too much. I just wanted some easy ideas.” That’s coming! You might also be thinking: “Whoa, this guy is a nerd…” and you wouldn’t be wrong.
3 Easy Ways I Use Google Slides
Essentially, I use Google Slides for 3 *main* reasons. The skills and tricks I’ve developed have allowed me to really branch out for multiple uses, but I’ve narrowed it down to 3 main categories: Simple announcements, slightly complex items (worksheets or sign-out sheets), and custom Lesson displays.
1. Simple Announcements
For simple announcements, I like to use Google Slides because I can easily change fonts, formats, and images in a flash without worrying about the restrictions of Google Docs. (I use Google docs for other reasons; you can check that out here!)
Slides lets me design announcements to send home to parents, or to post in Google Classroom. I have found that using Google Slides for my announcements, either sent home or posted in a platform like Remind, has been much easier than trying to use anything else. Additionally, I can copy and paste from previous announcements and make simple changes, all while knowing they’ll be saved for next year in case I need them!
The big draw for using Google Slides to make announcements is the flexibility of text boxes and images. By using a simple border on a text box or placing a fun picture in the corner, my announcements are more visually appealing.
What’s more, I can save the announcements throughout the year! So right now, as I type, I have about 30 custom-made flyers in my Drive that I can reuse next year; all I have to do is change the dates when it’s time to send them home!
2. Custom Worksheets / Sign-in Sheets
I like using Google Slides for another reason: when trying to create more complex items, like worksheets, attendance forms, or graphic organizers. A lot of teachers like to use Google Docs for these items (and that’s great!), but I’ve found in my experience that Slides is actually much more preferable and user-friendly.
Here are a few quick reasons why I prefer Slides for creating.
First, Slides offers friendly formatting: I don’t have to try to fit the right boxes in a table with the constraints of Docs. This is a MASSIVE advantage of Slides once you actually take the time to dive into many of its features. (I could spend another 500 words on the advantages of Google Slides and formatting, but I’ll spare us both.)
I can place text boxes where I want, how I want, and change formatting within the same text box if I want. With Slides, I can make my ideas come to life.
Second, I can quickly reproduce tables or worksheets to fit my needs without having to create a new Doc or scroll a ton on the same Doc. For example, when I was working on those 300 slideshows, I was able to replicate a lot of work I had already done by simply copying and pasting slides from one presentation to another.
Google Docs allows you to do the same thing (as does nearly all Google Apps in the Education Suite). However, the power is more potent with Slides, as you can reproduce complex items much quicker.
Finally, I like Google Slides for my *slightly* complex items because I can make them “pretty”. With the ability to change fonts, colors, images, heading, themes, among other things, I can finally put down my “artsy” ideas without being impeded by my own lack of fine motor skills. And this is a big deal to me – the struggling artist – since I finally have a way to actualize the designs in my head!
When constructing a worksheet, it’s much easier to add an image to the side (or the background!) than it is on Docs. I can move shapes, pictures, texts, and titles however I want in Slides.
My teammates call me a “Google Slides Snob”, and I wish it wasn’t so. Life lesson: if you’re outnumbered 3 to 1 on an opinion, just accept you’re wrong… or just close your eyes tightly and find people who agree with you.
Here’s a video that shows me making a worksheet from scratch! If you don’t have 10 minutes to spare, watch it on x2 speed 😉
3. Lesson Presentations
The final way I like to use Google Slides is in my Lesson presentations.
Remember when teachers had to write down their questions (or just memorize them) for the class to answer during a lesson? Using Google Slides, and planning accordingly (like a good teacher), all of my intentionally guiding questions are displayed for a framework of my lesson. Even better, I can incorporate my learning targets, page numbers, sentence frames(!), and even videos that are related to my lesson.
With that planning implemented, I then can focus my attention to student participation, understanding, retention, and engagement. I can’t really explain how freeing it is to know I have the “what” of my lesson complete, allowing me to focus on the “how” and “why” while teaching.
This change to my teaching has allowed me even more freedom to connect with kids! As a bonus, the presentation functions as an attractive, student-friendly guide. Did I already mention I would die without Google Slides..?
If you’re interested in seeing more of my Literacy Template, check it out on Etsy here!
Five years of guess-and-check has gotten me to a place where I’m very comfortable using Google Slides, so much so that it’s probably become a crutch for me. It’s nice knowing that my students and co-workers benefit from the “art projects” I put together for my learning standards.
By using Google Slides, I’ve built a stout “curriculum” for all the subjects I teach; I’ve been able to create, re-create, reuse, and share a lot of high-quality resources for my class, school, and district. It has also saved me a billion hours of scouring the internet for worksheets, and a billion dollars on Teacher Pay Teachers.
So try it out! You might just find something that will change your teaching experience drastically!