Teachers and students can do amazing things with Google Slides! The series of blank canvases in Google Slides are great for being creative and for collaboration. You’ll get to see design tools and techniques in action, and Tony Vincent will share lots of helpful tips. That’s in addition to seeing an array of fantastic ways of putting Google Slides to good use in the classroom. Inventive ideas include publishing alphabet books, authoring comic strips, constructing timelines, publishing newsletters, and designing flowcharts.
The Explore button in Google Slides suggests layouts based on what’s in your presentation. Sometimes Slides Explore does not offer any suggestions. To see suggestions, use a default theme or layout, reduce the amount of text on your slides, remove any shapes, and make sure all of your images are at least 100 x 100 pixels. Currently the Google Slides mobile app on Android and iOS do not have the Explore button.
In addition to suggested layouts, Explore might show you web searches relates to your content, images that you might include, and relevant items from your Google Drive.
You’ve surely seen Bitmoji cartoons. The app from Snap, Inc. walks you through creating a cartoon version of yourself. You pick the head shape, hair color, hairdo, eyes, nose, clothing, and other characteristics. Then you can put versions of that character wherever you’d put an image. Bitmoji is an app, but it’s also a Chrome extension. After installing the free extension from the Chrome Web Store, you can click its extension icon, create a new account, and get started editing your avatar. If you already use the Bitmoji app, you can log into your existing account and your personalized character from the app will now be available in Chrome. After setup, simply click the Bitmoji extension icon and a menu appears with thumbnails of your cartoons. Tabs along the bottom can be used to view different categories. Clicking the search icon will reveal even more categories and a search box. When you see a cartoon you’d like to use, drag it into a document or app. Bitmoji images have a transparent background, so they look great anywhere, especially in Google Slides, PowerPoint, Keynote, and Pic Collage. It’s fun for teachers to insert their personality into assignments, newsletters, and social media posts. Teachers are even using them as digital stickers when providing feedback on student work.
You can clip a photo into a shape in Google Slides. This is called masking, and doing this might improve the look of your slide or drawing. To mask an image, simply select the image, click the triangle next to the crop tool, and choose a shape. Don’t like how it looks? Choose a different shape from that drop down menu. A shape used for cropping may be modified by dragging its yellow diamond (you can change the thickness of an arrow mask, for example). To adjust the area that has been cropped, double-click the image and drag the handles.
I often use the rounded rectangle mask to make the items on my slides look less boxy. And, I think Cropping headshots into a circles is a nice look.
Openclipart.org is filled with public domain graphics that you can freely use for any purpose. I often use images from Openclipart in my slideshows, infopgraphics, and posts. You can download any images from the site as a high resolution PNG (Portable Network Graphic). A PNG can have a transparent background and various levels of opacity, so your graphic will blend right into whatever project you’re using it for. You truly can use images from Openclipart for any purpose, and you can even make money off of what you create with their images. Here’s what the site says: “We try to make it clear that you may use all clipart from Openclipart even for unlimited commercial use. We believe that giving away our images is a great way to share with the world our talents and that will come back around in a better form.”
The Noun Project has a huge collection of free symbols and icons. You can find clear and simple images to illustrate just about any idea. You have permission to use The Noun Project's images in your own projects because they are covered under a Creative Commons Attribution or a Public Domain license. If an attribution is required, the citation is attached to the downloaded image. The Noun Project does have a subscription, which I have purchased. With the subscription, I can use any image from the site and omit the attribution. It’s money well spent for me because I use something from The Noun Project almost everyday.
You can add a drop shadow effect in Google Slides and Google Drawings. The most common reason I use drop shadows is to help text stand out over a background. Here’s how to add a shadow in Google Slides and Google Drawings: First, select a text box, word art, shape, or image and click the Format Options button. The Format Options panel appears. Clicking the arrow next to Drop Shadow reveals options that include color, transparency, angle, distance, and blur radius. Adjusting these options can create very different effects.
I often use a gradient as the background in my graphics. I tend to use subtle gradients, combining two similar colors to create an illusion of depth, texture, shine, or glow. Google’s drawing tools have 42 preset gradients, but I like to choose the exact colors used in my gradients. I can do that with a custom gradient. Here’s how: Instead of choosing a Solid fill, I click Gradient and then choose Custom. In the Custom Gradient settings, I click the first gradient stop and then click the Fill color. I can use the color picker or paste a hex color code. I then click the second gradient stop, click the Fill color, and input a second color. I can change the angle so that the colors fall in different directions, or I can also change the type from Linear to Radial.
You can set the background in Google Slides or Google Drawings to a custom gradient. You can also fill shapes, word art, and text boxes with custom gradients. Please don’t overuse them. Too many gradients can be distracting.
Check out handpicked gradient color combinations by going to uigradients.com and clicking Show all gradients.
A Venn diagram is a graphic organizer used to show comparisons. Where ovals intersect in a Venn diagram is where you write commonalities. So, it makes sense that this intersection is the mixture of the colors of the ovals. If you give the ovals semi-transparent fill colors, Google Slides will show a mixture of the colors where the shapes overlap. To complete the diagram, add a text box for each trait you want to add. Drag text boxes to where you want to place them on the Venn diagram. And, you’re not limited to text; you could place images on the diagram.
Tip: You can make sure that your ovals are the same size by duplicating the first oval.
I prefer full screen images on my slides. But often I want text on my slides as well. I end up giving the text box a fill color, and make that background color partly transparent. The text is always readable because of the background color, and you can also see the image behind the text. You might have a adjust the transparency several times before you strike a good balance between readability and being able to see the image below. You’ll want your text color to be a contrasting color from the background. I usually use black text with a semi-transparent white background or white text on a semi-transparent black background. Additionally, you could try making the background image lighter or darker, which can help make your text show up even better.
You can use lines to link shapes, images, and/or text boxes in Google Slides. Here’s how to give it a try… Add two shapes to your slide or canvas. Click the drop down menu next to the Line tool and choose a line type. Next, mouse over a shape, and purple circles will appear around the shape. Click and hold one of those purple circles, and drag your mouse to another shape. Purple circles appear around the second shape. Let go of your mouse on one of them. The shapes are now connected with a line. If you move the shapes, they remain connected with the line. You can change a connector line’s size and color. You can also place arrows on either end of the connection.
Wouldn’t it be great to have your own customized sticky notes? Maybe a personalized note with your Bitmoji? Perhaps one with a pre-printed checklist for students? Maybe editing reminders? How about a note for students to complete as an exit ticket or self-reflection? Perhaps a note with fraction bars for students to shade? Any kind of note is possible when you realize you can print on 3 inch by 3 inch sticky notes with a regular printer. You need a template to print on a standard piece of paper. You then affix the notes to the paper before sending it back through the printer. You can use my template, which is in Google Slides. Google Slides makes it easy to make your own copy of the file. It also makes it easy to hide the background so that you don’t print the dotted outlines. Copy my template and get copies of sample notes for free at learninginhand.com/print. That’s also where you’ll find instructions and a video.
You can make comics in Google Slides! It's easiest if you make each frame of a comic on its own slide. See my example and tips.
PowerPoint has Slide Sorter view. Keynote has a Light Table view. Now Google has Grid view. Whatever you call it, it’s handy to see your slides sequenced horizontally in a grid. The grid also makes it easy to change the order by simply dragging and dropping. To see Grid view, click Google Slides’ View menu and select Grid view. To return to the standard Flipstrip view, click the icon in the bottom left of the window.
If I can’t find the copyright-friendly icon I’m searching for, I design my own! For example, I recently searched TheNounProject.com for an overhead projector, but they didn’t one. Neither did OpenClipart.org. So, I brought in a photo of an overhead projector. I used the Polyline tool to outline the projector in the photo by clicking to create vertices and line segments. I completed my outline by joining the last segment to the first vertex. This enclosed the polygon, making it a shape. Like with any other shape, I can change the fill and line colors. In my case, I filled with black. I deleted the photo, which just leaves the black silhouette.
Tip: Make the photo you are tracing partly transparent before outlining. It will make it easier to see your Polyline tool lines.
If you double-click a polygon drawn with the Polyline tool, you’ll see a purple dot on each vertex. You can move these dots to fine-tune your creation.
Advanced Tip: Group several shapes made with the Polyline tool together to create more complicated clipart. Each shape can be a different color, which can help you create images that are more than simple silhouettes.
Google Drawings’ Curved Line tool works in a similar way. But instead of straight lines, you’ll get curved lines.
Displaying a timer that all students can see can help keep the class on task. Timers let students know how long they have to complete a discussion, brainstorm, activity, etc. It’s handy to display a timer and instructions, a weblink, or a QR code. You can do this by inserting and resizing a video of a timer in Google Slides (along with your text and/or image). You can find and use timer videos on YouTube. Most of them have an alarm sound when the time is up.
If you use Google Slides as a way to publish an online book or presentation, consider including an index or table of contents slide. After you've created all your slides, create a new slide, perhaps after your title slide. Add a table and enter one student name or page name into each cell. Then highlight each name, click the Link tool, and click Slides in this presentation. Scroll down to choose the corresponding slide. Slides are identified by their numbers and by their titles. Now when clicked, the item will jump to that particular slide. I suggest adding a Back link to each slide that goes back to the index page. This work great for whole class creations, like collaborative ABC books.
When you’re in Presenter View in Google Slides, you can collect questions from the audience by clicking Audience Tools and then Start New. Google calls this Audience Q&A. A bar with a web link will be displayed across the top of your presentation with the text “Ask a question.” Your audience can go to this link to enter a question. While the page asks for a question, it can also be used for brainstorming and submitting ideas. Or, how about having students use vocabulary words in a sentence and submitting them? You can continue advancing slides while the submissions are entered. From the Presenter View you can see incoming submissions. You can click a submissions Present button to display it on the screen. For this to work, you should have you computer set to dual display. This way your audience only sees the presentation on a big screen while you see the Presenter View on your screen. Do know that anyone visiting the “Ask a question” link can see each other’s submissions and vote them up or down.
Audience members do you need to be logged in to submit. If someone is logged into Google, his or her name will be displayed with the submission.
Google Slides is awesome. It has great design tools and collaboration features. It’s typically used for slideshows. But it can be used for more than just presentations. You can make your newsletter inside of Google Slides! Set the page size to 8.5 by 11 inches to make each slide the same as a piece of paper. On each slide you can add text boxes, shapes, images, and hyperlinks. I like that you can post the shareable link and you have an online newsletter. Need to print some copies? You can and they will look great because of the page size you set.
Add each new edition of the newsletter as the first slide. That way when viewed, the latest issue is ready to read first.
Get the embed code for a Google Slides presentation by going to File > Publish to the web > Embed > Publish. You’ll be able to copy the HTML code and paste it into the source of your web page. The slideshow appears to be part of the page, and is great for sharing things like photos, spelling lists, student work, and newsletters.
If you use Google Slides to publish regularly, make your newest slide your first slide. Then the web page where you embedded the presentation will automatically display the latest additions first.
TallTweets gives us an easy way to make our own animated GIFs. Simply design a series of slides in a Google Slides document. Then go to talltweets.com. Sign in with Google and select the Google Slides document. Enter a width in pixels for the GIF (700ish pixels is a good size). Enter a slide duration in seconds. Each slide will be displayed for the same amount of time. Click the “Create GIF” button. After processing you can click Save to download the GIF. Animated GIFs can be placed on websites and in Google Docs/Slides/Sheets/Drawings, PowerPoint, Keynote, and many other apps. I’ve used animated GIFs to call attention to things on my class website because blinking words and arrows are hard to miss. Unlike a video, viewers usually do not have to press play: GIFs play and loop automatically.
I made an animation about the area of a triangle. You can view it here. It was created from a Google Slides document with 75 slides with a slide direction of 0.5 seconds.
While teachers can make announcements and instructional animated graphics, it’s also great to have students make animated GIFs. They can demonstrate a cycle or process by creating it in a slideshow. Each slide can be a copy of the previous with slight changes made (just like stop-motion animation). When played in succession, the cycle or process is animated. Students could animate historical events, present synonyms, solve math problems, demonstrate vocabulary words, and so much more by creating a slideshow and turning it into a GIF with TallTweets.
Despite its name, TallTweets does not require Twitter. Yes, you can post your GIF to Twitter, but you can use TallTweets and never use Twitter.
Screencastify is a handy extension for Google Chrome. You can use it to record a video of a web browser tab or to record your entire desktop. It can also record audio from your microphone, so you can make a narrated screencast. This is handy for demonstrating websites or for students to narrate a slideshow or a process. It’s also great for being able to capturing online videos that cannot be saved (like from Blabberize.com and Prezi.com). The extension is free from the Chrome Web Store. Recording are limited to 10 minutes and Screencastify logo is stamped onto the video. The video saves to Google Drive. The video format is WebM, but Google Drive will transcode the video so that it’s playable format for all devices through a shareable link.
Google Shareable Link Tricks
By replacing /edit in a Google Slides document's URL, you can do some pretty nifty tricks! You can transform a shareable link into a Preview, Make a Copy, Template, or PDF link. Read more.