GAFE Summit 2015 - Publishing Student Work with Google Slides

Last weekend, my friends and I traveled to the California GAFE Summit Weekend 1 in Palo Alto. I felt like I threw a party, my friends showed up, and the party was a success!

The second session I attended was taught by Chris Betcher. I pinky promise to tell you more about his session, Rich Media Production in the Cloud, later, but I must now focus on how his session and Michelle Armstrong's session at GET Authorized Certification Bootcamp influenced the 2015-2016 Compton JHS Journalism class.

My school was awarded a $25,000 Lightspeed Amazing Grant  in summer 2014. The bulk of the grant, which we will continue to use this Fall, was dedicated to training teachers in technology in order to improve parent-teacher communication. A small portion of the grant was dedicated to purchasing hardware and software for an elective where students used social media to improve parent-teacher-student communication.

To make a long story short, we had to wait to use Twitter and Facebook until the district officially adopted a social media policy on February 28, 2015. In the meantime, the students wrote our school newsletter and started learning graphic design via Google Documents. Eventually, the students graduated to using Canva to advertise their writing. We had professional photographer Chris Thomas of C&B Photography give guest workshops, as well as numerous guest visitors such as writer Leonel Martinez, EBHS Journalism Class, BC Renegade RIP Newspaper Editors, and Dr. Robert Arias, Superintendent of the largest K-8 School District in California. We even designed our entire school yearbook on Google Docs!

By the time the California GAFE Summit began, I was ready for a graphic design alternative. Then Chris Betcher introduced me to LucidPress. I knew then that our newsletters could go from this to an eye-popping, interactive newsletter with videos! I began spamming my new principal, Academic Program Leader, and district Duplicating Manager about this program that we could purchase with yearbook profits.

And then . . .

Michelle Armstrong came into my life. I was sitting in the back of the GET Authorized Bootcamp (for trainers), listening, taking notes, experimenting when I heard, "Don't use Google Docs for heavy graphics." My immediate reaction was - Yes, I have LucidPress now! and Wait, I used Google Docs for our school yearbook. Wouldn't do it again, but it worked.

I looked up, and there and behold, was an even better idea than LucidPress - GOOGLE SLIDES!

I watched with amazement and intrigue as Michelle showed us how to change the Page set to Custom size.

I watched with amazement as she showed us student-created poetry with their own graphic design. I would later make an e-book with my own poems.

Now ideas were spinning in my head. I was in the obsessive mode. 

Moving text boxes around, adding images and videos, and changing the Page set up was super easy; however, I needed something simpler for my students - I needed a template where students could simply select a layout and start to write. If they found that layout wasn't the best choice, they could change it without messing up the content. I decided that I had to take on the difficulty, and, thus, I opened Slide -> Edit master.

This was a foreign land, but I happen to be multilingual. I speak Spanish, HTML, and a little Graphic Design. Surely, I could manipulate Edit master land.

The only failure I had was adding our school calendar. I could make it an image, but I had to add too many text boxes with the hopes that I had aligned them somewhat. I then took our last newsletter of the year and tested the new layout template. I can't go back to the old format now that Michelle has opened my world to new possibilities.

Below is how the new layout would like using the content from our last newsletter of the year. Doesn't it look sleek? 

It is only July 15, and I am ready for school to start. My mind continues to obsess over the possibilities. Wherever you see pictures on the new Google Slides format, you could also insert a YouTube video! Imagine a school YouTube Channel, monitored by the teacher, to deliver school news! Other schools are doing it, why not Compton JHS? We could use the yearbook profits to purchase the paid version of WeVideo that allows students to use a green screen and collaborate with each other as the teacher monitors from start to finish. Now we are talking modern journalism!

If you are a techie like me, I am sure that you have figured out how to change the Page set up and modify the Edit master to create a new layout template. If you want to learn more about publishing student work using Google Slides and/or would like a copy of  the layout template I created, come to one of my technology presentations. I'll keep you posted, and I will take care of you.

Until then, dream big!


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