Writing Stories In Slides

“Since taking my first jump into the world of all things Google, I can’t help but smile every time I heard that word as I see another way to make use of Google Forms and all that it has to offer, and today was no exception!” - @_MrSykes_

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Since taking my first jump into the world of all things Google, I can’t help but smile every time I heard that word as I see another way to make use of Google Forms and all that it has to offer, and today was no exception!

As I stood at my desk that morning and asked my Year 8 class to make sure they had completed their GCSE option forms ASAP I was handed a few pieces of paper by different pupils,  - each one providing the information from which the next chapter in these pupils’ education would be formed. I looked down at the desk in front of me to see a plastic wallet filled with folded; torn and juice-stained A4 pieces of paper. Surely this isn’t the smartest way to work? 

I took it upon myself to see what I could come up with to try and make this process a little smarter, and not harder for the pupils, guardians, form tutors and SLT involved. Naturally I went to Google Forms and the (working) result can be found here / embedded link.

The first question asks users to enter their email address, a feature within the GForm settings:

Having an email address will mean you can send a confirmation of the options choices to the pupil’s guardian automatically! (We’ll come to this later)

The second question asks the pupils form they are in. The response they gives takes them to their form-group register. This process can be done using these 4 easy steps:

1. Add the numbers of sections to match how many tutor groups you have & name them accordingly

Now, your students can start to build out their story. I recommend starting with the title page. When students are ready to add more pages, you can simply copy their title page and move elements as needed. More advanced students might want to edit the master slide, but this is not necessary.

Quick Tip 1: When searching for images on Google have students add .png to the end of their searches. This will pull up images with transparent backgrounds, which are easier to layer and will give the books a more polished, professional look. In my title page, after I changed the slide background color and added a white rectangle to show a snowy ground, I found and added a .png file of a polar bear and added another .png file of snowflakes falling. When layering images you may have to change around the order. Simply right click the image and click order. From there you can move elements backward or forward.

Quick Tip 2: We always want to practice good digital citizenship so have your students filter their image searches to find free-to-use photos.

Simply right click the element you want to hyperlink (in this case we are using text, but you can also link an image), click “Link”, and underneath the “Slides in this presentation” drop down select the specific slide you want to link to. In my example, I have two slides that ask the reader to select how the story continues, but your students could have many, many more in their stories. The hardest part is remembering all the different story lines, which is why the story map students sketched out originally is so important.

As I mentioned earlier, students might have decided to chose to write “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories. Students should build out all the slides to tell their multiple storylines and add choices for the reader to click on to drive the story onward. In my example, the polar couldn't decide if she wanted to go fishing or sledding. I added two text boxes that said “Mountains” and “Water” and turned these into hyperlinks to other slides in my story deck. You have probably inserted hyperlinks to other websites before, but in Slides you are also able to insert links to other slides in the same deck. 

When the stories are complete, students can download them by clicking File>Download as>PDF Document (.pdf). Students can share their stories with their classmates via email or Drive. Teachers can also post them on Classroom for all students in the class to have easy access to the stories. Last, the PDFs can be uploaded to a blog or website to be shared with a larger audience.

While this post focused on students writing their own stories, teachers can also use this to create their own stories or textbooks to share with their students. 

Another application could be digital flashcards. For example, students studying the chambers of the heart could add a diagram of the heart to the first slide and then have the names and functions of the different chambers on subsequent slides. Need to get back to the first slide? No problem. Just add a Home textbook on each subsequent slide and have it link back to the first slide.

"The possibilities are as endless as our students' imaginations."

Michael is the STEM Initiatives Manager for Chicago Public Schools. He is a Google Certified Innovator and Trainer and an educator collaborator for Science Friday.  He’s a vocal advocate for technology integration and using design thinking in the classroom.

You can follow him on Twitter: @MrKosko.

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