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!

Annotating documents in Google Classroom

As of August, 2016, in the mobile versions of the Google Classroom app (iOS and Android):

Teachers and students can draw on, highlight, and write notes on documents and PDFs in the Classroom mobile app

https://support.google.com/edu/classroom/answer/6149237?hl=en

This is a terrific feature that adds to the flexibility and usefulness of GoogleLearn how to annotate files in Google Classroom Classroom. Users can now annotate PDFs and Google Drive documents distributed via Google Classroom. How might this be used in your classroom?

  • Students can highlight and annotate their work for study purposes without the need to print it out, saving money and avoiding lost work.
  • Students can take photos and annotate them for the assignments.
  • Distribute digital interactive notebooks and worksheets.
  • For students with poor fine motor skills and difficulty hand writing, the annotation feature in Google Classroom allows them to zoom in and write in a big space rather than having to cram writing into smaller spaces which can sometimes happen with paper based activities.
  • Annotate with or without a stylus.

As other ideas come up, I will add them to the list. Feel free to share your own!

Below is a video tutorial outlining the features of annotations in Google Classroom from the student’s perspective. The document used is a Google Slides presentation.

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!

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!

5 tips for using Google+ Collections at school

Google+ Collections was added to the Google Apps family in May last year.  Google+ CollectioUsing Google+ Collections at school. Curate, collaborate and discuss using #GAFE. Find out more: http://googleappsaction.com/?p=263ns is a bit like Pinterest, and allows you to group posts together and share them publicly, with your circles, particular users, only yourself or, if you are using Google Apps for Education (GAfE) of Google
Apps for Business, just within your domain. As well as the browser based version, you can access Google+ Collections on your Android and iOS devices using the Google+ app.

I’ve kind of played around with it but this school year I plan to use it as an integral tool in my Community and Family Studies (CaFS) class. I’ve already started setting up boards for some topic areas and am planning how I will have students collaborate and contribute using Google+ Collections.

Here is an introductory tutorial on using Google+ Collections:

And now for some tips on using Google+ Collections within an educational environment.

1. Google+ Collections is only for ages 13+

Because it is part of the Google+ suite of products, the Google terms of service means it can only be used by students 13 years and over (unlike many of the other GAfE apps used by schools). Also, Google+ might not automatically be enabled within your GAfE environment – check with your administrator if you are not sure.

2. Think about privacy settings when you are creating Collections

Note: you cannot change the privacy settings once you create a Collection.

Be very cautious when setting privacy to ‘Public’. For example, would it be appropriate for the content to be published in the local paper? If the answer is ‘No’, think about setting the privacy to within the domain or to a particular group of users only.

Also, it’s a great opportunity to teach students about digital citizenship and responsible online behaviour by assisting them with the appropriate privacy levels.

3. Encourage communication using the comments feature

Users with access to a collection can add and respond to comments. This is a great way to encourage a dialogue about a particular topic or issue. For many students, it will have a bit of a ‘Facebook’ feel which would be familiar.

For example, in my CaFS Collection, I have added a link to the article You told us what it’s like being 15 in 2015. I love the black and white image with the article that now appears in the collection. I will ask students to discuss what they feel is similar and different in their experiences and why they think this is.

4. Using Collections as a research tool

When conducting research, students can use a private or shared collection to ‘park’ links of interest for a project. They could also reflect on the quality of the sources curated using comments and share the Collection with the teacher. Or, the assessment of the quality of sources could be crowd-sourced, with other students being able to provide comments.

5. Encourage small group collaboration

Currently, you cannot have multiple contributors to a collection the way you can in Pinterest. However, students can still collaborate on a Collection in small groups by working together on the same computer, iPad or Android tablet. One student account would need to be the owner of the Collection but other contributors could be acknowledged in the Collection tagline or even in a post in the collection (selfie time!)

Interested in exploring Collections? Here is a link to a Google Drawing template I created that you can use to create size optimised Google+ Collection covers:

https://drive.google.com/previewtemplate?id=17_WBfHZqvOkH9q2lurfN5vbAvzJp7yPkZFK4l1J5RrQ&mode=public

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!

Picture books made easy with Google Slides

Who doesn’t love a picture book?

Growing up, the range of story books my generation had available to us was limited compared to today. Amongst my favourites as a child were Where the Wild Things Are and The Rainbow Serpent. Oh, and of course, there were the amazing Dr Seuss books.

One of my favourites from my son’s younger years is Stanley Paste. I love the illustrations and the story always makes me cry!

Of course, the range these days is immense and so diverse. I love this list of the best picture books of 2013. Some of them look amazing.

And, these days, we have so many options to create our own story books. And not only that, we can even publish them, digitally or on paper. Picture books are a great way to encourage students of all ages to express themselves and to collaborate. Personalised story books are potentially a great way to encourage reluctant writers and readers.

As a GAfE user, I decided to create a picture book template using Google Slides and made it available on the Google Drive template gallery. The dimensions are industry standard 8×11 size. The template comes with instructions but…. stories don’t need to come with rules!

Research story book design, experiment with fonts, colours, backgrounds. Try clip art, photos, drawings (both digital and hand drawn). Just jump in and create!

Below is a preview of the template. To find it, click on the link below:

https://drive.google.com/templates?q=picture+book&type=presentations&sort=hottest&view=public

Like the template? I’d love to hear how you put it into action. Use the comments below or contact me using the link to the right.

Story Book Template Preview; click to find on Google Drive template page.

A preview of the picture book template created using Google Slides.

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

Template: Basic interactive poster using Google Drawing

For some of the subjects I teach, students are required to create a digital text (as part of the General Education for Adults (CGEA) vocational qualifications). A simple test to work out if a text is ‘digital’ is-can it be consumed in its entirety by printing it out? If the answer is ‘Yes’, then it does not meet the criteria for a digital text. Another way of looking at it is a text that is multi-media, multi-modal or interactive (alright, enough of the academics already!)

So I have been looking at ways for students to create these digital texts using Chromebooks. I was considering Prezi but did not like the idea of students having to create an account, having everything public, etc. Plus, am I the only one that gets a little motion sick with all that zooming and whirling?

So I looked to Google Drive…

I have only just very recently become acquainted with the delight that is Google Drawing. It is so easy and flexible to use. So I played around with creating a simple digital text template. Here is a preview of what I came up with:

SMLInteractive poster-basic

Yes, it’s simple but I thought it was a good starting point. From here, it can be adapted to many different abilities and outcomes and hopefully inspire students to totally reinvent the poster with their own touches and design.

I am planning to develop a more sophisticated interactive poster template to share. In the meantime, here is a link to the template for your own use.

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