Thursday, August 04, 2016

Experimental: Shared Google Slides with Grade 1s

Our Grade 1s were lucky enough to be my new guinea pigs - we created class Number Books using Google Slides! The exciting thing about this activity was that we were able to work in a collaborative environment, our Grade 1s have never done this before. Google Slides was a great first step for them into shared workspaces.


I set the activity up in the following way:

Before the classes happened I created a template Slides for each class, with a front cover and around 20 slides, each numbered clearly. I made all of the slideshows public, so that anyone with the link could access them. I then added the links to our grade Symbaloo so that the students were able to access it. The Symbaloo portal is a bookmark on all of their desktops and they are used to using it to navigate the web.

When the classes arrived, we first of all looked at the Google Slides UI displayed on my projector and talked about parts of it that we recognised from MS Office, such as inserting shapes and the text formatting options. They happily pointed out icons they had remembered from our previous activities. I explained that we would be creating a book together all about numbers.

A selection of pages from our number books.

The next thing that we talked about was the concept of a shared work environment. I gave each slide a number and then assigned a number to each student. Their first instruction was to go to their slide and put their name in the lower text box. We talked about how even though you could see other people working, you needed to be respectful. Assigning a slide to each student worked out really well, we had very little dabbling in other people's spaces and the students were excited but respectful.

My students were incredibly excited to see their classmates' work happening on the left of their screens while they worked in the main part. Most of them got used to the idea of shared space quickly and used this function to share ideas and compliment each other 's work.

Even though the subject material was simple, the number books turned out very well as a test run. The clear allocation of work space was perfect for this age group, just enough collaboration to get them excited but not an overload of new experiences.

The shared slides on the left with their own work in the middle of the screen showed my Gr 1s the value of shared workspaces.


The primary drawback was incredibly long loading times. Despite my plan for the students to use Symbaloo to access the Slides links, I ended up pre-loading the Google Slides in open browsers on each desktop station. Even with this forethought, it took at least 15 minutes for the slideshows to be ready and loaded. This problem was not caused by the platform but by our school's limited connectivity. Once the browsers were loaded, there were one or two cases of disconnection but they were relatively rare. It was easy to get a student back into the action since it was all hosted online.


Our students were not able to use the chat or other collaboration functions that are features of the Google platform because we do not yet have individual Google accounts for our students. When this feature is rolled out, the possibilities for future projects become even more popular. I look forward to doing a similar shared slides project but

I am super proud of my Grade 1 students and what they have achieved in their first experience of Google Slides. Below is one of the completed class books.

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