Lesson packaging or content packaging is an important part of teaching these days. Just as you would create a handout, worksheet or physical activity for students, you can create a digital activity that can be shared with students in a digital environment like Google Classroom. When you use the theme builder in Google Slides to build your activity, you can rest in the knowledge that students will be unable to delete any lesson elements accidentally. Some of my favorite edtech creators use the theme builder to create fun activities like the “disguise the turkey” and “decorate a jack-o-lantern” activities. It is also beneficial for those of us using interactive projectors. Isn’t it annoying when you go to click on your model slide and it selects and moves an element without you wanting to? If you are super crafty, you can also create your own slides layouts and designs like those awesome creators on slidesmania.com and slidescarnival.com.
To learn how to use the slide theme builder to create your own slide template, check out my slide tutorial below. (How many more times can I use the word slide in this very short blog post?)
I would love to see the amazing slide templates you create with the theme builder feature. Drop a link in the comments to showcase your work!
The ability to add audio to slides has been on my want list since I started using slides years ago. Those of us who were PowerPoint users fondly remember the day when we could add a lovely melody to play over our entire presentation, but we were sadly shut out of this feature when we made the jump to slides.
Well, be sad no more for the ability to insert audio to Google Slides is here! (Or will be here for all users by the end of November if the rumor holds true) This feature is not just for playing sappy music over a photo show of your students at the end of the year; this feature is perfect for so many different teaching and learning activities!
But first, let’s look at how to use the feature. It is relatively simple.
First, you must have the audio file (it should be an MP3 file) in your Google Drive. You can easily use the New < File Upload feature to upload any audio files you might have on your computer. Need to make your own audio files? Check out my blog post about using Screencastify to create your own MP3.
Open your Google Slide presentation. (Remember, if you are starting from scratch, you can type slides.new into your URL bar to quickly create a brand new presentation).
Click Insert and select Audio from the dropdown list.
Once you have inserted the audio, you can choose how your audio will play
You can change the audio icon to an image of your choice if you so choose. Simply click on the audio icon and click “Replace image” from the toolbar. You can either pull an image from your Drive, computer or photos or you can search the web. (Excuse the yucky food images in my gif. I am in the process of lodging a complaint about my bean burrito with a certain fast food chain. 😉)
That’s it! That is all you need to do to add audio to Google Slides. Check in for my next blog post about ideas for using this new feature in your classroom. I mean, beyond that end of the year cry fest when your students fly away and leave you with nothing but the memories.
With the rollout of add audio to Slides finally on the move again, it is time to start thinking about how you are going to create the audio clips you need to make your Slides sparkle. Well, maybe not sparkle, but definitely be a resource for teaching and learning!
If you are a premium Screencastify customer, you might have missed their quiet roll-out of the export audio feature. With this feature, you can pull justthe audio from any of your Screencastify videos. The audio will export as an MP3 file, which is exactly what you need to take that audio clip on the road! You can use the audio file just about everywhere, but especially as an audio file on your Google slide!
To make the most awesome teaching and learning Slides ever, all you have to do is record your video, export the audio, and add it to Slides with the Insert > audio feature. Imagine the possibilities!
Read aloud text
Language acquisition activities
Student read alouds
Goodness, there are so many amazing things that you can do with audio in Slides as long as you know how to create that ever important audio file.
Creating that MP3 file is very easy. Just open Screencastify as you normally would and record your video. It doesn’t matter if you record using the webcam, desktop or tab view because all that matters is the sound of your voice. Once you have finished your recording and the preview/share screen for your video pops up, simply click the downward pointing arrow and select Export audio.
Since Screencastify automatically saves the audio clip to your Google Drive, you can now insert that clip right into Slides once the Insert > audio has hit your domain!
Often times, we want our students to interact with content that we have curated within a Google Slide. Maybe we want them to read a small excerpt and then use that knowledge to label a diagram. Or maybe we want them to work on a graphic organizer. The biggest worry with curating content for students to work with on a Slide is knowing that a student can accidentally delete an image, move a shape into the wrong position or delete important content. Instead of giving them the content as individual items on a Google Slide, why not use Google Drawings to curate the content, turn it into an image, and then add that image to your Slide as the background? It is a relatively easy process. Watch the short video below to see how it is done!
Having students sort materials to show their mastery of a concept is not new to education. As a heavy user of Words Their Way, I used word sorts in my classroom each week. I am being honest when I say I came to loathe the day we started our new sorts. My main pain points were having the students use class time to cut their sorts out and the number of words that would go missing from each sort when a piece of paper fluttered to the ground or when a student lost the entire bag or envelope that contained their sort. Sort activities were not my favorite! I finally had the brilliant idea to use GSuite tools to attack these sorting activities and make them more manageable for students (and me, of course!) By digitizing sorts and assigning them through Google Classroom, I cut out the biggest pain points and made life easier for everybody.
Using a Google tool to create a digital sort is a lot easier than you might think. The two tools that work best for this type of activity are Drawings or Slides. Drawings will function more like a one-and-done type of sort whereas Slides will allow you to create multiple activities housed within the same Slide presentation.
The idea is simple. Use the white space (or canvas) in the middle of your screen to create sort topics and use the gray space around the slide or drawing to place items for sorting. These items can be text boxes or images.
Here are some examples of sorts that I have created:
To create the sorts, follow these simple directions: (I like to create within a folder in my Drive so that I always know where my items are)
Go to your Google Drive and navigate to the folder where you want your sort to be housed.
Click New, mouse over More and select Google Drawings (or Slides)
Give it a name!
Click “Insert” and select “Table” from the drop-down.
Create a table by mousing over the squares until you have the columns you want for your sort.
Click and drag the corners of the table until it covers the entire white space in my Drawing.
Using the traditional formatting tools, I can then add titles to each box of my sort.
Click on the text box icon in the menu and draw a text box in the gray space
Change your font style and size to what you want and type in your first word.
Copy the text box (ctrl c on the keyboard) and then paste it (ctrl v) the number of times equal to the number of text boxes that you need.
Separate out the text boxes you have created by dragging them around into the gray space around your drawing.
Change the text to the words you need for your sort.
When you are finished, assign the sort through Google Classroom with the “Make a Copy” for each student option.
If you are more of a visual learner, here is a video that shows how this is done.
This particular sort that I created is a word sort, but you could easily make it a concept sort by putting images instead of text boxes in the gray space around your drawing. You can also create this same activity with Slides, you just have a little less gray space to work with. The nice thing about creating with Slides is that you can have multiple sorts all housed within the same file.
Here are some helpful tips:
Insert a table for your background if you are using columns. That way, kids won’t accidentally click and drag individual lines out of the way. They can always use ctrl z if they accidentally move the entire table.
If you have a more complicated background that is not just going to be using columns, create the background using Drawings. Then, publish it to the web and then insert it as a picture. Here is a video.
Create one template and then duplicate it/copy it/reuse it often