One of the most powerful educational tools that I have loved this year is Google Slides. Recently our Board started using Google Education Suite, and Google Classroom. I happily tried it out, and have not have looked back.
I am going to go through with what worked for me and my class, and many of you may find these tips intuitive and repetitive, but I feel knowing this, or considering these, ahead of time for those who have not tried making Google Slides collaborative (or any Google Suite program) somewhat helpful.
At first, it’s easy to click that little triangle and assign “make a copy for each student” — but let me try and steer you into choosing “each student can edit”.
However, I can understand how this could be a scary thing. What if students ruin each other’s work?
So, though some are predictable, I have created a list of the most helpful ideas in order to make Google Slides collaborative (and less work for you — looking at student work on one slide is so much faster!).
Here are some tips – based solely on my experiences – in no particular order:
Tip One: Let Them Play
Sure, at first, you may want to give a copy to each student. Let them explore the features and muck around in a low-stakes setting. One of my colleagues, Michael McClenaghan, actually had his students ‘ruin’ a slide.
Tell students “I am not sure”, shrug, and walk away a lot. They may work on one slide to start, but they will inevitably start talking, asking, and helping each other solve problems.
The key hear is to consolidate. Have students discuss what went well, what didn’t and what they need to know for next time.
Tip Two: Start With Math
The first time I gave a shared google slide, it was a group problem that students could read together, and work on. Students could do the math in Google Drawings, and then import the photo of their work into Google Slides.
Students are generally more used to working collaboratively in math — be it over a white board, chart paper, or manipulatives. Students may ‘ease’ into working on shared slide a little faster through a rich math task.
Tip Three: Teach Version History/Restore
Show them under file they can see version history. If everything, or things, get erased (and they will), they can restore to a previous version. This has saved many a shared slide — and once students know this, they are more willing to want to share slides without the fear of ‘their work being erased’.
Tip Four: Consolidate After Each Session
This may seem redundant, but so important. Each time your students are working on a shared slide, talk after about how it went. Troubleshoot together. Ask:
- What went well?
- What needs to change?
- What should we do next time?
Create a classroom norms of collaborative spaces chart — adding new information as you go (my students taught themselves how to share a slide amongst themselves – So they taught the class how. Next time I would have a working ‘chart’ or space to have definitions, directions, etc. so we students can reference as needed).
Tip Five: Use the Comment Feature All of the Time
View the slides in grid view, and comment as students work. Circulate and conference with your laptop, and comment on the slides as to what you conferenced. Add links, videos, etc. so students can access together. Teach them how to read and apply your comments, and write back to you. Comment, and comment widely (Trust me: You feel very accomplished when you write feedback on each slide).
Tip Six: Some Organization Ideas
- Write the partner/triad/group name at the top of the slides you want them to work on as they go off to work;
- Make the last slide the interesting links/videos slide that students can ‘dump’ ideas/links into;
- Put your learning goal/success criteria on the first slide(s). Tell students not to edit this, but use it for referral.
In general, once collaborative Google Slides becomes embedded in your classroom, you will use Google Slides as a way for students to demonstrate their learning, and a place for you to give feedback in. It becomes a loop of learning and assessment.
These tips also work with any of the other Google Suite programs that can become collaborative — Google Docs, Sheets, and Drawings. These only become powerful when students see the power in using them to work together.
One final note: There will be problems, but they will be overcome. When you consolidate and reflect, the experience becomes even more valuable – the learning from each other’s mistakes leads to a better understanding of Google Slides, and the content itself.
Give it a try! Let me know how it goes. Share any other tips – I would love to hear how you are using Google Slides (Docs, Sheets…anything collaborative!) in your classroom.