Why I LOVE Teaching With Collaborative Google Slide Decks

Saturday, September 22, 2018

What is a collaborative slide deck? 

A collaborative slide deck is simply a google slide deck that has one blank slide for every student (or pair or group).  Students all sign on to the slide deck and work on their own slides simultaneously.  The easiest way to get everyone on a collaborative slide deck is to create the blank template and then share the deck through google classroom with the permission: "students can edit". 

Here are some examples of collaborative slides that I have used lately: 

1. Memes about the impact of technology on communication:  This was an activity that we did after reading/annotating a set of articles and before we wrote argument essays on the topic.

2. Long-Term Goals: This was a beginning of the year activity that helped me get to know my AVID students and what their current long-term goals look like. It led to some really great conversations between students while they worked!

3. AVID Focused Notes: Students took before and after pictures of notes to illustrate different ways we can process and re-visit notes. They can easily insert pictures from the chromebook webcam inside google slides by clicking Insert ---> Image ----> Camera---> Allow!

4. Get to Know You Slides: This was an awesome collab slide template I got from CUE BOLD that can be used for getting to know students at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, we had some technical challenges at the beginning of the year and we weren’t able to make this happen this year so I don't have student work.

Why do I love collaborative slide decks? 

1. We are better together. I try to model my philosophy of education as much as possible and one main principle is that we are better together.  I really believe that learning in my classroom is collaboratively constructed not transferred. When students see the great examples from peers and know that their work has that same authentic audience, it pushes them to do the best work they can with support from the classroom community.

2. I can easily scroll through in real time and give both general and specific feed-forward. When students are working on individual docs/slide/paper, it takes a long time for me to get to each student and many times I can't catch major mistakes until it is too late and the students have turned it in. While students are working on a collaborative slide deck, I am walking around with my wearable desk scrolling through while giving actionable feedforward verbally to specific students and to the class in general. They are able to use my comments to improve their work before they turn it in, which moves writers much further than my asynchronous comments a few days later.

3. Students serve as examples and feedback leaders. It is so powerful for students to be in the middle of writing, when I call, "everyone turn to slide 7 and see how "Miles" is embedding this quote and click to slide 12 where "Willa" uses this turn of phrase. When real-time student work becomes mentor texts, it makes it feel more attainable for everyone, not to mention the huge swell of pride from the exemplars.  Early finishers are also able to give comments to their peers.

4. They are easy to grade (and print). There are so many less clicks when grading and when I want to print student work to put up for back to school night or a bulletin board, it is a one click printing situation!

What skills must be taught for this to be successful? 

1. Digital citizenship. Yes, students can change each other's slides, but do not let this be the reason not to use this kind of activity!! The classroom should be a place where we teach students that technology gives us all kinds of power, but with great power comes great responsibility.  Students need to learn that just because a digital tool allows them to do something, does not mean they should do that.  (For example, just because they can be a twitter troll, doesn't mean they should!) They also need to see the authentic consequences of their behaviors and have those teachable moments.  ...and if all that fails, I have two words for you: Version. History.

2. How to give constructive feedback. When strong students finish early, I encourage them to use the google slides comment feature to help each other. Before they can do this well, students need explicit models and sentence stems so that they give constructive feedback that avoids negativity and/or just doing the work for peers.

3. How to use peers as models. Since students can see everyone's work, some teachers worry that they will copy.  In my experience, this actually happens a lot less because we are all policing each other instead of just one set of tired teacher eyes.  That being said, I model and directly teach how to use peer work as a model, adopting sentence structures and turns of phrase instead of copying large chunks.

4. How to use slides. More and more of my students are coming to high school with slides experience- THANK YOU tireless middle and elementary school teachers!  I sit my students in small groups so that those with less experience can get quick tips from those with more experience.  I also actively teach my students to use their resources (aka google it)! If you are a high school teacher who doesn't know how to use slides well, I would not let that hold you back from using them with students. Trust me, they don't need much guidance from us on this one!  If you are still wary, ask a tech coach to be in the room the first time you use them.

5. How to avoid unnecessary digital distraction. When we are making collaborative slides with memes or gifs in them, students sometimes get distracted from their own work because they keep flipping around to other people's work. To me, this is a teachable moment that leads to really important discussions about digital distractions at large during homework, classwork, socializing, and driving!  I want them to fail hard and fail fast with digital distractions while I am in the room to debrief about meme slides and not when they are behind the wheel going 65...

What do you think about collaborative google slides?  I'd love to hear your comments, suggestions, or questions in the comment section below! Remember, we are better together <3

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