Each year teachers show off their cute rooms on various social media platforms. I am NOT one of those teachers. I don’t do color schemes or themes. It’s just not me.
I hate that teachers spend their hard earned money on their classrooms. And so many companies and sites exploit this trend. One site that pays other teachers (not mentioning the actual name as I’m not a fan) has sales! What? We are all in this together. Yes, you took the time to make a cute worksheet, but many teachers also create lessons, curriculums, and experiences and share it all for FREE. Yeah, I’m in this camp. Last winter I spend over two weeks designing a Hyperdoc for a novel study (Tuck Everlasting), which I shared for FREE. Then there are all the glossy magazines we get that entice us to buy items for our classrooms. I’m over it!
However, it appears that this year I have a theme. It’s my Bitmoji. I started off by creating a few images for signs in the classroom. I figured it gave the room a bit more of a whimsical feel. And well, I just sort of ran with it. The best part is, with the help of Google Slides and Draw I didn’t have to buy anything, which makes me happy!
Not into Bitmoji? No problem. Google can help you find free to use images to fit all your needs. Simply customize your Slide or Draw to 8.5 x 11 in and you’re ready to go!
Things I learn from my students: custom gradient backgrounds. Today my students were giving homework presentations. One student had an interesting background: a rainbow bullseye. I had seen him working on his presentation and knew that he created that background, but wasn’t sure how. So today, I asked him after he was done. He said that it was a custom background. Then I asked him to show the class. And now it’s all the rage!
Some are a bit easier on the eyes than others, but the effect is still pretty cool. So how’d he do it?
When in Google Slides, click on a slide from the left. Then, select Background.
From here, a pop-out window appears. Choose color then gradient and finally custom.
From here we have several options. The one that really blew my mind was the + gradient stops.
Clicking the + allows you to add points where you can add colors using the paint can.
Pretty cool. So, I thank my student for sharing his discovery with the class.
My students constantly amaze me. They come up with great ideas and are innovators in their own right. Not only do I enjoy hearing their thoughts and ideas, often times we implement them in our classroom. I also feel fortunate enough that my students feel comfortable enough to share their ideas with me; knowing they will be taken seriously and not ridiculed.
Recently, one of my resource students (one with an IEP for both reading and math) created her own accommodation. We have been reading Tuck Everlasting and using a Hyperdoc to help guide us. While discussing one of the slides in the Hyperdoc, I noticed that the student had written some notes in the ‘Speaker Notes’ section. I found this interesting. It also made me a bit giddy as she was taking full advantage of our discussions. I privately talked to her about taking notes to tell her how impressed I was with her choice. She then revealed that she put on ‘Voice Typing’ during the conversation in order to capture everything that was said. Not going to lie, THIS really impressed me. Honestly, not sure I would have thought to do something like this.
Later, I shared with the class what the student had done. Expressing how I felt it was a good use of technology, but shared with them my expectation that if they used this strategy, it is to be used as a means of note taking and all responses should be in their own words.
The next day, we were discussing the events that took place at Lexington and Concord – studying the American Revolution. At one point a group of students had ‘bug eyes’, began giggling, and pointing to their computer screens. I walked over to find out what was so entertaining. Sure enough, someone in their group had turned on ‘Voice Typing’ to capture the information. All I thought was, “Go kiddos!”
I, like many teachers, like to share my creations and ideas. I believe that when we share – freely, not paid for (this is a different rant) – that we build a strong community of teachers. We want our students to collaborate, so we should be setting that example. As always, two heads are better than one.
Okay, now that my rant is over I will get back on topic. Some of you may have been in a session where the presenter wanted to share his/her work. If that work is on a GSuite product, like docs or slides, when you went to the URL you may have seen this screen:
If you have, you know that you simply select the blue ‘Make a copy’ button and your own copy is made in YOUR Drive! So easy! Here’s how it’s done:
Find the word ‘edit’ in the URL of your doc or slide or spreadsheet. Then replace the word ‘edit’ with ‘copy’.
That’s it. Now take that URL and use a URL shortener like goo.gl (Google) or bitly to share with others. When sharing, even this way, make sure that your document is viewable to others in your share settings. I like to have ‘anyone with the link can view.’
One final note. I have noticed that when many people (maybe 50+) are trying to copy your document with this method at once, it is unsuccessful. A message appears stating that the item isn’t available. This was a fun fact I learned during a presentation (the first time I thought it was a fluke) and then later at another presentation. So this method works best with smaller groups or when sharing on your blog.
I love slides and the flexibility I have with them. I have been using them more and more, in the classroom, for something other than Presentations. I recently wrote how my students were using them to take collaborative notes. I have also used them as assessments in math and more recently as a version of Hyperdocs. One advantage to using Google Slides is that I have the capability to customize the size of the slide. This means if I want to make it the size of an 8.5 x 11 in paper and print it out, I can. Here’s how:
When open in Slides, go to ‘File’ on the Menu bar and select ‘Page Setup’:
This will open a pop-out window. The default is ‘Widescreen 16:9’. Select the dropdown menu and find ‘Custom’.
This will prompt another window which will ask the size you want. The default is inches but can be changed to centimeters, points, or pixels. Once you have your desired size, select the blue ‘OK’ button. And viola, you will have your custom size.
Earlier this week my students started on a group project – Road to the Revolution. I had given them a Hyperdoc with the information on the French and Indian War. I gave them very specific guidelines and some questions to answer. The end product is an Animoto video. As I was walking around and helping, I noticed that a group of students had Google Slides open. I got worried. It took a long time for me to get my students out of the habit of wanting to create a slideshow for presentations. So I stopped and asked why Slides was open and “Please don’t tell me you’re creating a slideshow.” I was so relieved when one of the girls explained that they were using it to take notes! I didn’t even show them this trick. Yeah, proud teacher moment.
One of the girls created and shared the slides with the rest of the group. Each person in the group had their own slide to take notes. I know this isn’t the first time this has been done, but I was really proud of my students for thinking of this. It is so much easier to take shared notes on Slides as opposed to Docs.
I LOVE it when students take learning into their own hands and make it work for them. Go Innovators!
Just another great example of what students will do when we give them the freedom to own their learning.
Inserting a video into a Google Slide is simple. Open the Slide you’d like to add a video to. Choose ‘Insert’ from the top menu, then ‘Video’.
Once you choose ‘Video’ a pop-out window appears. You then have the option to search for a YouTube video by either URL or Search by keywords. When you find your desired video choose the blue ‘Select’ button on the bottom left.