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Google Slide Design Tip #1- Unsplash & Explore

Google Slide Design Tip #1- Unsplash & Explore

Are you looking for some fresh design ideas for your next Google Slides presentation? I’ll be posting a series of tips in the coming weeks on ways you can use various tools within the program along with other programs that may help you with some ideas. This first video will explain how you can take a photo using Unsplash along with using the Explore feature to design your slides. Take a look and share your thoughts in the comments section.

Use Pear Deck for Your Next Professional Development

Use Pear Deck for Your Next Professional Development

It’s hard to believe another school year is here for millions of students and educators.  As we move into this new year, many days are spent in professional development.  Why not take Pear Deck for a test drive? You may already have a Google Slides presentation created.  This is a great opportunity to make your presentations more interactive and engaging for your audience as well as gauge how much they are learning during the session. Regardless if you deliver professional development or teach a class of third graders, I encourage you to watch this video that explains the wonderful features available in Pear Deck.

Thanks to @RisaPearDeckfor the great video!

My #txgoo18 Reflections

My #txgoo18 Reflections

This past weekend I had the good fortune to attend and present 2 sessions at #txgoo18 in Kyle, Texas.  This event was hosted by the wonderful crew from Techs4Tex, a non-profit foundation from Texas who provide professional learning opportunities to educators.  As I think about my day, here are some of my reflections.

Dedication to Students

This event was held on a Saturday and included about 300 educators from across Texas.  Just the fact that these educators gathered on a Saturday tells you something, doesn’t it?  On top of that, some of them paid their own way to the event including the $90 registration and cost of travel.  Some had to pay for a hotel room as well.  Sure, some were fortunate enough to get their school district to pay their costs but many I visited with had to pay themselves.  When I just think of the financial aspect it makes me angry that we do not have funds to provide for educators to attend these events.  I honestly heard more comments about how awesome this day of professional learning was than I have in quite awhile.  Teachers deserve to have wonderful days of learning that in turn help them become better at providing high-quality instruction for their students.  School districts should pay for these events and the cost of the events should be reasonable.  Regardless if these educators had their costs covered or not, it was evident that they were dedicated to students.

Flexibility of Google Tools

As I prepared my sessions entitled Making the Most of Google Sheets and Google Slides and Add-ons:  A Powerful Combination, I couldn’t help but think about how flexible Google tools can be.  Before finishing up my presentations, I decided to take a look at other sessions being offered on the schedule.  I wanted to make sure my sessions had some unique elements to keep it interesting and engaging for my audience.  While doing this it reminded me of the importance for educators to find a few tools that work well and stick with them.  Of course, they need to differentiate their activities as best they can and continue to keep their students focused on meeting the standards in the areas they teach.  If they stick with just a few solid, flexible tools like Google they can get past teaching the tool and simply use the tool as a vehicle for learning.  When you look at the schedule of Google sessions from this event you may see 10 sessions on Google Slides but it could be used so many ways in many grades and subjects.  Other tools such as Google Keep, Google Docs, etc have all kinds of possibilities as well.  Why wouldn’t you embrace Google for Education apps?

Encouraging Relationships

My personal and professional life has been significantly challenging this past year.  Attending this event was especially encouraging because I got to visit with some wonderful people I have got to know through social media, other conferences, and a handful of teachers from my own district.  Unfortunately, when I have attended these types of events in the past I’m usually the only one from my school district to attend.  It was nice to have about a half dozen others that I could connect with and share this day.  It was a delight to reconnect with one of my mentors I’ve known for close to 15 years, eat lunch with Nick Park from Pear Deck and visit with some awesome educators that I’ve trained with before at other events.

If you attended #txgoo18, what are your thoughts and reflections?


TodaysMeet is Shutting Down: Now What?

TodaysMeet is Shutting Down: Now What?

Another great tool that teachers have been using the last 10 years is shutting down on June 16th, 2018 according to this blog post.  I recommend reading the post to learn more.  TodaysMeet has been a very useful backchannel discussion tool for educators and students through the years.  Educators have used this tool to help guide discussions and share resources in a simple to use format.  The main purpose of a backchannel is to provide real-time online conversations alongside a live presentation.  The discussion in the backchannel can often determine the direction of the presentation.

Here are my recommendations for replacing TodaysMeet.  Regardless of the tool, the focus should be on giving every student a voice and listening to what they have to say.

Google Q&A Feature– Turn on the Q&A feature that’s built-in to Google Slides.  Those viewing the presentation can ask questions and vote on questions from others.  The presenter can review the questions and decide on what questions to answer.

Google Doc Chat or Commenting Feature– Take advantage of the built-in chat and commenting feature in Google Docs.  Create a shared Google Doc in which students can either edit during the presentation and/or comment and chat as needed.

Pear Deck– As you are giving a Pear Deck presentation use question types that promote open-ended responses and more student voice such as text and drawing responses.  Adjust your presentation based on the information that students submit.

Zeetings– Present using Zeetings including content from uploaded Powerpoints, Google Slides .pdfs, Canva, and Youtube.  Create poll and survey questions or add your own slide content. Use the commenting feature as you present.

In light of this news, what will you do?  Share your comments below on what tools you like for facilitating discussions with students.

Who’s slide is it anyway?

Who’s slide is it anyway?

Just having experienced a wonderful keynote speaker for the start of school, I couldn’t help but reflect on what wonderful people we have in our district that could also give a great keynote presentation if given the time and opportunity.  I thought to myself, “How can I give teachers this opportunity while also facilitating my next professional learning session?”  Just before falling asleep the night before I was going to facilitate a session named Google Suite and the 4Cs an idea came to me.  How about randomly picking 12 pictures and placing them in a Google Slides presentation and having two teachers give a motivational speech about the start of the year.  The teachers would take turns each having 10 seconds to speak about their slide.  What seemed to naturally happen was each teacher built upon the previous comment.

I thought it would be just a silly activity that would help me illustrate the 4Cs but I was thrilled to hear the laughter that came out of teachers.  I try to bring joy to my sessions but this was one of the best in awhile.  After the laughter died down a bit we discussed how communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity were all intertwined in the activity.  The laughter was icing on the cake.

After reflecting further on this activity, I think it would be great to have students in groups of 3 and 1 person find 12 random pictures and then the other two do the speech.  Then they can take turns.

This seemed to be a great example of how building these skills are far more important than the technology we were using.  I hope you can share this idea with others and let me know how it goes.

Who’s Slide Is It Anyway?