Ed Tech

30 collaborative Google Apps activities for schools


4. Shared presentations

Create a presentation with one slide per student and give students permission to edit it. Then assign an activity — some quick Internet research, a writing prompt, an image search to find an example, etc. When they’re done, show the presentation on a projector. It’s student work instantly on display. Want some more guidance? Check out my post on student collaboration in shared Google Slides for step-by-step instructions and ideas for using them in class!

5. Virtual art gallery

This goes for any creative student work — poetry, video, visual art, etc. Display the work in a presentation via text, image or video. Share the presentation with permission for anyone to add comments, or embed a live version of the presentation in a website for others to see.

Kick this assignment up a notch with a Google Earth and Slides appsmash! Google Earth is a visually stunning experience, giving users a first-person view of life from places around the globe. Google Earth is great for giving virtual tours, but there’s a simpler and faster version of it. Take screenshots of scenes from Google Earth and paste them in a Google Slides presentation. Add a title and/or some text description. With lots of slides, a virtual tour can happen quickly and meaningfully.

6. Collaborative “Caption This” activity

When you add a speech bubble or thought bubble to an image, you let students speak or think for the subject of the photo. Understanding different viewpoints is also a great way to delve deeply into a topic. When students can take the place of the person in the image, it helps them see what’s happening in a whole new light. When students work together in groups, the conversations around what the characters should be saying brings the “Caption This” activity to a whole new level.

  • Select a set of pictures that either introduces your current lesson focus or is key to your subject for the lesson and let students caption them as a group. You can add the images to a Google Slides presentation and share the same set of images with each group of students through Google Classroom. OR, you can have students create a new Google Slides presentation share it one another and add the images themselves.
  • Add a thought bubble or speech bubble to each of the pictures. Give students a prompt for filling in the bubble, or give them freedom!
  • When they’re done, have students turn the image into you via Google Classroom (or however you collect digital work) and share each group’s presentations with the class. Have groups share why they chose their captions, how it differs from other groups, and how they came up with it as a group.

7. Create a class yearbook

This idea comes from Jennifer Scott, an English teacher, and technology leader in California. Rather than pay companies for high-priced software, students use Google Slides to create their own Basic Yearbook. Think of Google Slides as a blank canvas waiting for student graphic designers.

To create a unified look, students create Layouts with Image templates. These layouts can be duplicated and their images replaced with images shared either with Google Drive or Google Photos via Google Classroom. In the example below, the image templates in the Word Art Yearbook layout are replaced with photos from the #Mex16 Google Innovator Academy. Captions are written to preserve memories.

A layout like this…

Layout from Jennifer Scott shared in her guest blog post “Create a low-cost, printed school yearbook in Google Slides.”

…becomes this.

Example from Jennifer Scott shared in her guest blog post “Create a low-cost, printed school yearbook in Google Slides.”

SlidesYearbook.com was born in December 2016 and continues to grow. Easy-to-use directions are available on the website in both English and Spanish. If creating a yearbook from scratch is not an option this year, feel free to use already created templates. Start with a class yearbook and move to a schoolwide yearbook next year.

8. Digital brain dumps

Use a more brain-friendly way to study! Retrieval is the practice of studying by pulling information from the brain. That’s different from traditional studying methods, like re-reading chapters and reviewing notes. Retrieval can be done with a brain dump, where students write down everything they remember about a topic. A collaborative brain dump lets students do that writing on their own slides within the same slide presentation. Each student gets a slide for his/her own brain dump. Then, as a group, the class can identify what the class knows well and what each student left off of his/her own slide.

20 juicy questions to ask students (#5 will REALLY get them talking!)

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