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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Another GAFE App Smash: Docs & Slides

On Matt Miller's blog, www.ditchthattextbook.com, he recently published a series of "App Smashes" featuring Google Apps for Education. The idea for these is to help teachers to fuse together various GAFE Apps to create lessons and classroom solutions that are exponentially better than teaching from a textbook or passing out worksheet after worksheet. Below are the links to each post.

I was able to collaborate with Matt and share a GAFE Smash in Part 1. Below is another GAFE App Smash that I thought I'd share with you using Google Docs and Slides.


For me, Google Slides is the most versatile app among the GAFE products. Don’t agree with me? Matt Miller has two EXCELLENT posts about it (10 Google Slides activities to add awesome to classes & 8 interactive Google Slides activities for classroom excitement) you should check out!

This GAFE Smash is pretty simple. A basic description of the purpose of this smash is to use a Google Doc as a “homepage” to provide the links to students’ Google Slides document they are using as a digital journal. This allows other students to view and comment on these journals to promote peer collaboration and reflection in the classroom.

The steps are simple, but how you decide to facilitate it is entirely up to you!
  • Create a Google Doc with the names of your students. Here is a simple example.
  • Create a Google Slides Template for students to use that will fit the task. Here is a Slides template I made for a reading response journal.
  • Share the Slides Template with your students and have them make a copy or distribute it using Google Classroom. That is what I did. (If a new blank Slides document  will do, have students create one.)
  • Now for each students’ Google Slides document you need to get the shareable link to it with the permission “Anyone with the link can comment”.
  • Add this shareable link as a hyperlink to the student’s name in the Google Doc (highlight name, Ctrl+k to add the link, Ctrl+V to paste link, Apply).
  • This will need to be done for each individual student's’ Google Slides document and name. What should happen is when you click on Student A’s  name it will take you to Student A’s Google Slides document. When you’re finished you’ll have something like this.
  • Find a home for your Google Document for easy access for your class. For me, I would put it in the ABOUT section of Google Classroom, but a class website could work too. Just make sure the sharing setting of the Google Doc is “view only” or students may accidentally make edits you don’t want.

The inspiration for this GAFE Smash came from a digital reading response journal I set up for my students when we were reading the novel, The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare.

I created a Reading Response Journal Template using Google Slides (see above) and a Google Doc that would house the prompts students would be responding to. You can see it here. (Note: I didn’t provide all of the prompts to the students all at once. I added prompts to it as we read through the book.)

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I housed all the documents in Google Classroom as an assignment

Both of these documents were included into a Google Classroom Assignment. The Reading Response Slides I selected “make a copy for each student” and the Journal Prompts Doc I chose “students can view file”. After creating the assignment, I created another Google Doc. This Doc was the one that contained the hyperlink to the students’ digital reading response journals.
What was great was as students responded to the latest prompt they just duplicated the response slide template and typed away. Then since I had the Google Doc with the hyperlinks to classmates’ reading journals, students could go read their classmates responses and use the commenting feature to leave feedback. (One thing I instructed my students to do was not to resolve the comment thread).

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Screenshot of Student work and comments from their reading response journals

However, this setup is not limited to a reading response journal. With a little tweaking this setup can work in many ways some examples could include:

  • Provides an alternative to a public blogging site or at the very least if you want to get your students into blogging publicly, this would be a great way to teach how to write and comment on blogs.
  • Document results of science experiments. Students can take pictures, add them to the slide, and write a quick reflection about the results. Classmates can then comment about their experience and ask questions. This could be done for a whole unit or the entire year.
  • Journal Writing. I remember having a writing journal in 3rd grade. My teacher would give an interesting prompt to write about and respond to. (One I’ve remember all these years was, What would you do if you had a wallet that never ran run out of cash?”) Students could use this set up too as their journal. When the year is over, publish the journal as a PDF and share with family.
  • Working on math? How about have students keep track of the different types of problems they have learned to solve. They can take a picture of a problem the solved correctly insert it into the slide and add a short explanation or reflection of it for future reference.

What other ways can you think of to use this smash? Did you try out this smash? How did it go? Let me know in the comment section below or connect with me on twitter @SEANJFAHEY.

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