Do Not Use Google Docs
Tongue in cheek I recommend in my presentations to stop using Google Docs. Of course, I use Google text documents but very often this is the tool of choice when other choices may be better. One of the 8 mathematical principles is “choose tools strategically” because this in and of itself is a critical thinking skill. So here are 5 reasons to use Google Slides for things you might normally choose Google Docs for.
All G Suite applications are collaboration tools, however when you want to collaborate I think Slides wins over Docs. Even when I am collaborating with just one other person in a Google Doc it is unnerving to have your text move to the next page while you’re working on it. My trick for collaborating in a Google Doc is to press enter a bunch of times first to give each person space to type otherwise you’re fighting for the cursor. With Google Slides this is a non issue. You add text boxes and those text boxes do not move when someone else is editing Google Slides.
Basically, my favorite activity is making ONE Google Slides and sharing it with the entire class. Everyone gets their own slide but it’s wicked easy to have discussions and share ideas when we are all together.
Directions: Add a slide and put your name in the speaker notes.
Google Slides is an open canvas. I can DRAG my Bitmoji onto a students slide and not mess up their writing. I can take advantage of OFF CANVAS to insert feedback and Bitmoji’s. Inserting images or text into a students Google Doc messes up the document! It shifts their text and alters the document itself. Note you can granularly comment on a word or phrase in Google Slides just like you can in a Google Doc.
With Google Slides I add a whole new slide to student work and change the background color. This gives me a “whole piece of paper” worth of room to provide feedback rather than cramming things into the margins. The student can easily find my feedback slides since they have a unique background color.
Updates for students based on feedback are easy also, they can simply add another slide.
Unlike Google Docs, you can add video to Google Slides. I use Screencastify to record video feedback that automatically saves to Google Drive and use the Insert menu to add the video right onto the slides for the student. Students can also add video to their work, adding a whole new dimension.
4. Getting Started
I would rather hit myself in the head with a brick than open up 30 Google Docs. To help students get started on something, start with a collaborative Google Slides. Make ONE Google Slides and share it with the class with edit access. WHILE THEY ARE TYPING you are more easily able to jump in and give feedback. When you see a blank slide you know a student is struggling getting started and can go over and sit with that student to help them get going. This is more challenging to catch when they are working in individual Google Docs. Students can always Control A select all, Control C copy and paste into an individual Google Doc later if I really need formalized final copies.
“Everyone, pause. Go to someone else’s slide and give them a feedback comment that helps them get better.” Critique and analysis is excellent for student learning. Teach students to provide high quality feedback. They can demonstrate their understanding of concepts through the feedback they give and just the process of having to analyze another student’s work and leave a meaningful feedback comment is a learning experience all in itself.
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5. Unique Slide URLs
If a student is responding to question 20 in a Google Doc you need to SCROLL that entire Google Doc. Everything is fine until it doesn’t scale. Doing that over and over takes up valuable time. Have students do one question per slide and then they can submit the link to just slide 20. Control L highlights the URL and Control C copies it. They can paste that into an email asking for help or submit to the private comments in Google Classroom to direct you to exactly that slide.
I do this a lot also when reviewing work. Looking at the 12th slide of something a student submitted, I Control L highlight the URL and Control C copy. Where I leave student comments I Control V paste the link to that slide with my feedback. “I left you feedback in Google Slides on question 12, please respond to my feedback.” And I paste the link to that exact slide. Or “I really like what you were doing here.” And link to the slide that I am specifically referring to.
Notice this link opens up to slide 18 https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1pKR377Gw_Z6t609SMAPqRs8-TPiIygxOcFRanBT0AHQ/edit#slide=id.g4df686c29e_1_73
Try Out Slides
Do I sometimes use Google Docs and have students use Google Docs? YES! But I start with the mantra “Do not use Google Docs” and then give a really good rationalization as to why it really is the best tool instead of considering some other excellent options like Google Slides.