FREE Google Drive templates: writing journals

One of the most popular posts on this blog in one which shared a number of free Google Drive templates. Clearly, many educators around the world are lookiFREE Google Drive writing journal templateng for easy-to-use and flexible resources to use in the Google classroom. So I thought to myself – why not offer more free templates!?!

I did a search on Teachers Pay Teachers to see what the best sellers were. Many were around reading and writing. Whilst I wouldn’t claim that the freebie I created is of the same rigour or quality as those best sellers, I thought a writing journal with picture prompts would be a handy resource for many educators using Google Drive.

There is both a blank template and a template with picture prompts. These have been created using Google Slides because of the flexibility of the layout options.

The links below to the templates are VIEW ONLY. This means you will need to create a copy IN YOUR OWN GOOGLE DRIVE to be able to edit the file and share the file with your students. To do this use the following menu path:

File > Make a copy…

FREE Google Slides writing journal template with picture prompts:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1nPbXAvzE0FM5NS_YWV1P5oM_2a_ettoYG3bNpajlz_E

FREE Google Slides writing journal template with blank layouts:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Hivyjx7bRqPnFyOnUsGLEHakzVkc-63pNimr9tSSUiE

These templates are in US Letter size as the overwhelming majority of users of my other templates are based in the USA. This does not mean they cannot be printed on A4 paper as most printers do a good job of scaling between US Letter and A4. It is based on the ebook template I created a while ago – click here to find out more about using Google Slides to create ebooks and to get the template.

How to use the writing journal in your classroom

You can be as structured as you like when using the writing journal. However, depending on your students, it may be helpful to just allow students to write without too many restrictions and conditions. Sometimes, too many rules can discourage students.

  • Use the Doctopus add-in to create a copy of the picture prompt writing journal for each student and have regular free writing sessions.
  • Distribute the template to students via Google Classroom.
  • Use the prompts to encourage students to explore a specific literary element that is being taught in class. For example, genre, adjectives, hyperbole, etc.
  • Provide teacher or peer feedback using comments.
  • A great way to document development in writing skills.
  • Encourage student ownership by having each student contribute a prompt in the blank template and then share with the class as their writing journal.
  • Customise and include other writing prompts, for example, YouTube videos, links to news items, etc.
  • Select each students’ best work, combine into one ebook and distribute as a PDF.
  • Can be used across platforms including Chromebooks, iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.
  • Can be adapted to be used in any language classrooms to develop written language schools.

 

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

Digital student workbooks with Google Slides

There are lots of different ways to use Google Create digital student workbooks with Google SlidesDrive apps in the classroom. Google Slides offers many possibilities. One way of using Google Slides in the classroom is developing digital student workbooks that include different types of activities. You can take a static, paper based, black and white worksheet or workbook and make it interactive and colourful, incorporating different ways of engaging with information and demonstrating understanding.

Items you can include in your digital workbook include:

  • words and images (I know, obvious)
  • multimedia including YouTube videos
  • links to other resources
  • short answer activities
  • drag and drop activities
  • extended response activities
  • links to a quiz in Google Forms
  • links to a Google Classroom
  • collaborative activities
  • student portfolio

The ability to create drag and drop activities is particularly appealing. Below is a short video tutorial showing you how to create drag and drop activities in your workbook that prevent student from accidentally moving the wrong elements on the page. This is done by using the “Slide > Background image” feature of Google Slides.

Advantages of digital workbooks with Google Slides

  • Free!
  • Reduce paper.
  • Easy to distribute via your preferred method. For example, email, Google Drive sharing, Google Classroom.
  • Does not require G Suite for Education (just Google Drive).
  • Can differentiate by developing different versions for students aiming to achieve at different levels.
  • Ability to incorporate different learning activities.

Free sample digital workbook

Below is a link to the sample workbook shown in the video. Feel free to make a copy for yourself and use it as you like:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1z9sfkNXCYxebr1Fe8U1A7dtuGIDzuD7RATBXnixgXuw

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

Google Drive freebies: fun, flexible templates

One thing I love as much as Google Apps for Education is freebies. And when those freebies are coGoogle Drive freebies - fun, flexible templates for the classroommbined with Google Apps – oh, happy days! I like freebies so much I’ve dedicated much of one of my Pinterest boards, The Thrifty Teacher, to free educational resources that are engaging and easy to use.

So I decided to create and share three flexible, fun and easy to use templates. I’ve used these type of templates in the past so I have put them together to offer both electronic and printable options. I always find this kind of flexibility helpful as it means I have options depending on my students and the environment we’ll be in. And sharing the files with you means you can adapt them to suit the needs of you and your class.

These templates were designed to be used with the full version of Google Slides. However, I have tried them with the latest version of the Google Slides app on the iPad and they seemed to work well.  I would expect the same would be the case with the Android apps. The mobile versions have the advantage of easily taking photos to add into the templates.

To use the templates, click on the links provided. This will open the document. From here, you will need to save the file to your Drive from the “File” menu so you can use it as want.

Fakebook status template

Inspired by Facebook, this authentic looking template allows students to create a “status” update and add an image.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1s9wa_d9VuSc_YblguKjBCfESHEx9ER7MzCBA1PJrdHM/edit?usp=sharing

Newspaper template

Create your own headlines with this newspaper template.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1dczUwblNGRHH3fuJfvHRrsgpCF1l0qflJoJHY6YH0ps

Text message template

This template allows for a short “text” exchange between, well, anyone you like! You can shrink or enlarge it based on your student needs and how you will be using it. Duplicate the slide to have an extended text exchange.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1X41FQhUKg0ggvlEwNHynuqmZM2YeQn3pO51RxN9UrDc

Side note: aaagghhh, Google Template Gallery!!

I tried to upload the templates to the Template Gallery. This has always been a hit-and-miss endeavour. This time it proved to be a…. miss! Hours after attempting to submit the templates to the Gallery, I am still being advised that my templates will be visible in the template gallery “in a moment”. Maybe they mean a Saturn moment 😉

So the links I have shared are directly from my Google Drive.

Applications for education

  • Suitable for most age groups and skill levels.
  • Can be used with many curriculum areas including History, Literature Studies, Creative Writing and Languages.
  • Customise the templates to suit your needs and the needs of your students.
  • For electronic versions of the documents, distribute using Classroom, Gmail or Google Drive.

More free Google Drive templates for educational use

http://googleappsaction.com/?p=174

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

Creating mini-lessons using Google Slides in 6 easy steps

Google Slides is one of my everyday go-to tools in Google Apps for Education (GAfE) and Create interactive mini lessons using Google Slides Google Drive. It is so versatile and easy to use. As an educator, it makes it easy to put together and distribute information and content. It is also a great app for students to show evidence of learning or to curate a portfolio.

One way to use Google Slides is to create mini-lessons that students can go through at their own pace. They are also useful in ‘flipped classrooms’ and other blended learning approaches.

Mini-lessons are presentations that contain content that students need to know and include some sort of navigation, like a menu, and, ideally, some sort of activity, like a quiz, for students to complete to check for understanding.

Below is a sample mini-lesson designed for illustrative purposes and below that are the 6 easy steps to creating your very own mini-lesson as well as a video tutorial. The content in this mini-lesson has been copied from Wikipedia (not recommended!)

6 Easy steps to create a mini-lesson

1. Create your Google Slides presentation

Login to Google Drive and create a new Google Slides presentation.

2. Write your content

Don’t forget to leave a menu slide so you can go back and create your menu links when you have completed your content.

As well as text, you can include images, videos and links to external content.

As this is intended as a mini-lesson designed to be consumed by an individual rather than a presentation, you can include a lot more text than you normally would in a presentation but be careful about making it look too crowded.

3. Create your menu

Once you have completed your content, go back to your blank menu page and add buttons for links to the different topics in your mini-lesson.

To make your buttons clickable go to:

Insert > Link… > Slides in this presentation > Select the slide to link to

See the video tutorial for a demonstration.

4. Add your “return to menu” button

Create your return to menu button using shapes or inserting an image into one of your content slides. Insert the link to your menu slide:

Insert > Link… > Slides in this presentation > Select the slide to link to

Copy your button to the other content slides

Note: ideally, you would add the return to menu button in the slide layout in slide master view. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, when you view the presentation normally, the link is not clickable.

See the video tutorial for a demonstration.

5. (optional) Add a link to the student activity

For example, this could be a link to a quiz created in a Google Form.

See the video tutorial for a demonstration.

6. Distribute your mini-lesson

Test your mini-lesson first to make sure all the links are doing the right thing.

There are different ways you can distribute your mini-lesson. These include:

  • Use the “Share” option to email a link recipients
  • Use the “Publish to the web” options to embed the presentation in, for example, a blog or Google Site

See the video tutorial for a demonstration.

Video tutorial: Creating interactive mini-lessons in Google Slides

 

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

6 tips for creating student made ebooks in Google Apps

I have long been a fan of the ebook and have often created and distributed them to support my training and teachingLearning how to self-publish ebooks in Google Slides - googleappsaction.com activities. I have also at different times published and sold ebooks (look me up on the iBooks store!). Google Apps for Education makes it easy for both students and teachers to create attractive ebooks that can be shared in a number of formats.

Here are 6 tips to help you (or your class) create your first ebook using Google Apps for Education. These techniques are just as useful to anyone looking to self-publish an ebook, including general users of the free Google Drive and Google Apps for Work users.

1. Why create ebooks, anyway?

Ebooks can fulfil a number of purposes including:

  1. Creating an eportfolio of a student’s work (or a number of students’ work).
  2. Using students to ‘crowd source’ the creation of resources and text books, created for the target audience by the target audience.
  3. Can be used by students of all ability levels.
  4. Developing relevant 21st century skills.
  5. Easily show evidence of learning to a wide audience (including parents) in an environmentally friendly way.
  6. Create your own text books and resources that you can easily update and distribute.

2. What app should I use?

The app that will provide you with maximum flexibility in terms of presentation and layout is Google Slides, particularly if you are combining text and images.

This is not the perfect book publishing solution but allows for a lot of flexibility and creativity without a steep learning curve.

3. What size should my ebook be?

There is no ‘standard’ ebook size. It’s probably a good idea, though, to set-up the pages in portrait orientation and in you standard printer size, i.e., A4 or Letter depending on what part of the world you are in.

Paper sizeDimensions (cm)Dimensions (inches)
A421 x 29.78.3 x 11.7
Letter21.59 x 27.948.5 x 11

Here is a short tutorial showing you how to change the page size in Google Slides.

4. How can I make sure my ebook looks good?

Do your homework. Investigate websites, books, ebooks, posters, etc, that you like the look of and use them as inspiration for your style, fonts and layouts.

There are also lots of online tools to help you select colour schemes that look good together and even give you the hexadecimal colour code to be able to put in your colour choosers in Google Slides.

Whilst you can have multiple page layouts within your ebook (for example, 1 large picture, 1 large column text, 2 smaller pictures with 2 even columns of text, 1 smaller picture with 2 uneven columns of text, etc) use the same basic elements throughout:

  • 1 font style for page headings
  • 1 font style for subheadings
  • 1 font style for your body text
  • 3 to 5 colours for your colour scheme
  • Make sure your inside covers are blank and you have the ‘half page title‘ to make your book look authentic.

Below is a video on how to easily create page layouts for your ebook in Google Slides (note: all images used are either my own photos or public domain imaged from Pixabay):

5. What platform should I use to create my ebook?

Although you can create your ebook on mobile versions of Google Slides (e.g., iPads or Android tablets) you will get the most flexibility and creativity using the full version through Google Chrome (e.g., Windows, Linux, Mac and Chromebook).

That doesn’t mean you can’t ‘mix and match’ devices. For example, do most of your editing using a Windows computer but use the iPad version to take photos and add them straight into the pages of your ebook.

Click here to access a free ebook template I created in Google Slides. To use it, from the FILE menu select MAKE A COPY...

6. In what format should I distribute my ebook?

The great thing is, you don’t have to stick to just one format!

  • Share the actual Google Slides file (view only)
  • Embed the Google Slides file into a website or blog (File > Publish to the web… > Embed)
  • Save the file as a PDF to easily view on most devices and platforms (File > Download as > PDF document)

PDF results in the most attractive ebook (I don’t know why, try it for yourself and see!) and, depending on the size, can be emailed or made available to download from a website or blog.

More resources

Student-Made E-Books: A Beautiful Way to Demonstrate Learning:

http://www.cultofpedagogy.com/student-e-books/

How to Create an Ebook with Google Slides:

http://www.shakeuplearning.com/blog/how-to-create-an-ebook-with-google-slides/

Free, high quality public domain images:

https://pixabay.com/

 

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

More Google Apps magic on more platforms

As the Google Drive and Google Apps for Education (GAfE) suites have matured, so have the available compatible apps across mobile platforms. This means you can do more on-the-go and using whatever device available than ever before. It also puts the power of GAfE in the hands of more people as they can be accessed on devices across many price points. And, of course, the More Google Apps magic on more platformsapps are free.

It is important to note that not all ‘smart’ devices can access Google Apps effectively – read the post Does Google Apps for Education play nice with BYOD? for more on this. It also has ideas on how to breathe new life into old technology.

Also, the mobile apps tend not to have all the features of the browser based versions; this can be an advantage. Fewer features can sometimes mean greater productivity, particularly for people distracted by ‘bells and whistles’ like hundreds of fonts (yep, that’s me!). You can potentially use the desktop versions through the Chrome mobile browser but I have personally found this to be a frustrating experience.

Sometimes, the mobile versions liberate you to do things that are difficult on a desktop or laptop. Have a look at the post Create a comic in 3 minutes or less with Google Slides (with bonus puppies!) for one idea using Slides on an iPad.

Below is a quick reference table for many Google Apps across devices. It has already changed from when I first put it together as the mobile apps have improved. Some of the mobile apps are closer to their browser based counterparts than others. You will need to do more research to find out specifically what won’t work on the mobile apps. (I tried to find the definitive Google list but I was unable to).

The great thing is most apps retain their collaborative and commenting ability.

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

Google Drive templates – because sharing is caring

Another great feature of Google Drive is the template gallery. In a Google Apps for Google Drive templatesEducation (#gafe) or Google Apps for Business environment, you can choose to share any of your Drive creations (from the core apps) as templates within your own domain only or share them with the whole world.

That also means you have free templates available for use from around the world! Some are great and some are…well, it’s nice for people to share, anyway! Here I’m sharing some of my own templates and some templates that I have found useful. Download them, modify them, use them, enjoy them!

Social media image templates

These are templates I created to the correct image sizes (at the time of creation) to fit the respective social media platform requirements. Use for your own purposes or with students as class assignments to create ‘fake’ social media images (can be used with any subject).

Twitter image template: http://bit.ly/1I2acdX

Pinterest image template: http://bit.ly/1VheQik

Google Collections cover photo: http://bit.ly/1MBuPSn

Infographic template: http://bit.ly/1MdWSJC

Written project templates

These can be used across grade levels and subjects. I find a great way to distribute them to students in a GAFE environment is to save the template on my Drive and then use Google Classroom to distribute.

Basic interactive poster: http://bit.ly/1IbOskc

Picture book template: http://bit.ly/storybook123

Fake book (in the style of Facebook): http://bit.ly/1SvibpP (not one of mine but one both my students and I have enjoyed using)

Timeline: http://bit.ly/1RH3d4X (not one of mine, nice and simple and easy to use)

Presentation templates

Can be used for any type of presentation.

Index card, retro look: http://bit.ly/1Lksb68 (this one is created by Google)

Bold, minimalist designed for few words: http://bit.ly/1IbPAnR

Ancient stone: http://bit.ly/1CJENkC

Design templates

Design-a-cap template: http://bit.ly/1JueICZ (preview will only show part of the template)

Design-a-t-shirt template: http://bit.ly/1GyzDCG (preview will only show part of the template)

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

Illustrate in Google Drawings even without a single artistic bone in your body

A picture tells a thousand words and, with the Internet, we have access to almost limitless numbers of images. However, knowing how, if and when an image can be legally used in your project can be dicey. It’s even trickier for educators who have the responsibility of educating students about copyright and responsible digital citizenship.

Of course, there are legally free images available through Creative Commons and in the public domain but quality can be variable and, like the song says, you can’t always get what you want.

The solution? Create your own images!

Okay I hear you… you can’t afford hundreds of dollars of software, the steep learning curve this software often requires and you might think you’re not artistic.

Have you tried Google Drawings? It’s part of Google Drive / Google Apps for Education. It’s:

  • Free for GAFE and the general public (low cost subscription for Google Apps for Business)
  • Easy to use and learn

Okay, so you won’t become a graphic artist but you can start by creating simple silhouette illustrations you can use in your other Google Drive projects (or anywhere else for that matter). If you can Google a picture and click a mouse, you can create your own silhouette-style illustrations in Google Drawings. Full disclosure: the mouse clicking might take a little practise to get quick and accurate (you’ll know what I mean once you get started).

Not sure how to start? This video tutorial shows you how you can get started creating your own illustrations in Google Drawings even if you don’t have a single artistic bone in your body.

 

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

Why Slideshare when you can Google Slide?

Slideshare is great! It’s an opportunity to share what you know and what you’re passionate about as well as the chance to improve your knowledge and explore new horizons. It is a great way to expand your personal network and to develop your professional brand. You can also embed Slideshare presentations into websites, blog posts, etc, and they can be accessed by most devices.

There are limitations in the file formats you can upload and share in Slideshare. Also, sometimes images can be distorted or you loose the fonts you so carefully chose once you upload your presentation or document into Slideshare. And, of course, there’s the matter of yet another social network login/identity to manage.

In an educational environment, we might want to share information or have students share information in a similar format to Slideshare but you might not necessarily want to jump through the Slideshare hoops (opening an account, creating a presentation in, say, PowerPoint, uploading the presentation, spitting chips because all your fonts have been lost, etc.) If you are using Google Drive, you can share content and embed in a similar way to Slideshare straight from Google Slides. Some of the advantages are:

  • Create and share straight from Google Slides
  • You’ll see exactly the fonts and layouts you used
  • After embeding, can be viewed on multiple platforms (e.g., Windows, Mac, PC, iOS, Android)
  • You do not have to create a different account with yet another service provider (plus, Slideshare has age limits depending on what country you are in)
  • You can add links to any slides you wish to (Slideshare limits which slides you can add links to)
  • You can limit who sees (and protecting students’ provacy) what by, say, embedding in a Google Sites website within your domain

Below I have embedded a Google Slide presentation demonstrating how to embed a Google slide presentation in a similar way to Slideshare presentations (yes, I know, that’s all a bit Matrix like but, trust me, it’s pretty simple!!)

By the way – if you like the template I’ve made it available in the Google Drive template gallery – click here to preview.

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

Create a comic in 3 minutes or less with Google Slides (with bonus puppies!)

Who needs paid-for comic making apps or subscription services to online comic creators? With any smart device, installed with the Google Comics with bonus puppiesSlides app, you can now quickly and easily create your own comics on the go! You will need the latest version of the Google Slides mobile app, which now allows you to add your own pictures and photos.

Still not convinced? Have a look at the short video below where I demonstrate exactly how to do it on an iPad Mini in less than 3 minutes (it will work similarly on an iPhone or Android tablet or phone). Thanks to Mike Petty who gave me the idea during a presentation he made during a Google Education on Air session.

The tutorial co-stars my puppy, Spike, who patiently slept the whole afternoon while I made the video.

Applications for education

  • Create a single cell or a whole comic book
  • Great for BYOD/BYOT environments because the app is free in both iOS and Android
  • Can also work with Chromebooks (portable devices make taking pictures easier)
  • Great for creativity and literacy
  • Can also be applied to other subjects, e.g., for history, provide a series of pictures around a historic event in a Google Slides document and have the students create a comic
  • Use instead of posters, narratives, etc.
  • Encourage collaborations in pairs, small groups or even the whole class
  • For greater scaffolding, provide the pictures and had students add the captions

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!