I love Google Apps for Education the services keep getting better. There are oodles of scripts and extensions to further enhance the experience for both kids and teachers. As far as ease of use, ability for children to collaborate and a teacher to give feedback nothing beats Google.
Yet there has one been one tool that has been a niggling problem in class.
The first thing that most of the kids in my class do when faced with a classroom task is open a presentation. Despite modelling and guiding the kids in design principles, showing them other creation tools, I was still receiving multiple poorly designed slide decks.
Lots of information, bad photos, poor design and a couple of YouTube videos embedded with no context.
When the kids were giving presentations, they were reading off the slide decks. More problematically they weren’t demonstrating a high level of understanding of the concepts they had been learning.
So I took a step back and observed the children’s use of slides.
Lots of copying and pasting, not much analysing and thinking. Moreover the kids were losing sources of information unless it happened to be a YouTube video.
The problem wasn’t slides.
The problem was that slides were being overused and used as a curation tool rather than for the purpose of creating presentations. There was a need for the kids to a break up ‘research and thinking’ and the creation rather than doing a bad job of both at the same time.
So I took an unusual step – I banned the use of slides in class.
The kids were free to use any other tool. I also introduced the kids to Pintrest as a means to curate content.
It was like a light went off in the kids heads – research needs a different set of tools from creation.
The children started using their bubble catchers, they started talking about concepts with each other and were suggesting websites for their friends to visit.
When it came time to think about how they were going to ‘show what they know,’ all those other tools and apps the kids had learned were utilised. Better yet, they were planning what their content first on docs taking pictures from their bubble catchers of important ideas to remember.
Yet as we sat down for our class read-aloud, I fired up a google slides which I use as a modelling book for our novel discussions on the class projector.
“Hey Ms Stephanie I thought you’d banned slides in our class.”
I love that the kids tripped me up on my hypocrisy.
We discussed purpose of using slides during read alouds, the kids were able to identify that slides were a good tool because:
- Everyone can see the words in the board when we’re discussing and reading the story.
- We can refer back to our thinking and predictions as we read the story.
- Children can access discussions easily online via a link on our blog when working on literacy tasks or discussing the novel on our classblog.
Then I challenged the kids to think of how they were using slides and how much clearer their thinking was now they were using tools appropriate for the purpose.
A little voice popped up.
“So slides are good, but you need why you are using them.”
Yes that’s it.