Teaching an Old Teacher New Tricks: How to Use Slide Templates to Create & Pace Student-Centered Lesson Plans

Just this week, I approached the cash register at a local thrift store while wearing a mask and was asked, “Are you eligible for the senior discount?” Don’t get me wrong, I feel privileged to take every trip around the sun. But at the ripe-old age of 48, being offered the senior discount nearly inspired a trip to the dermatologist for a little chemical fillers! 

When it comes to teaching, my students and younger colleagues help me to stay youthful in spirit and in mind. While this young feeling only translates to my attitude (and, alas, not to those fine-lines around my eyes), it also helps me to stay on top of new technologies. I can at times be a bit of a Luddite. Can’t we teach everything using pen and paper? It’s true, we can rock it old school when necessary, and tech free lessons absolutely benefit our students. But there are some great benefits to using technology in the classroom. 

My number one tech tool in my cross-curricular toolbox is the slide template deck. Our school uses the products from the Google Suite™, and as such, I lean heavily on slide decks that were created to be used with Google Slides™. Here are step-by-step instructions (with images!) to support you in using slide templates to build a lesson set.

Step 1: Make a copy of your slide template! This is important because you need a template that you can reuse. I highly recommend putting the words, “TEMPLATE, MAKE A COPY” as a part of the title to help yourself remember. If you work with a teaching partner, this will also help you to communicate with him/her before you lose the original template.

Now make a copy of the slide template by following these steps: Click File > Make a Copy > Entire Presentation. Even if your original slide deck includes 30 slides and you only need 10, I recommend copying the entire slide deck so that you can edit as needed. Deleting a slide is as easy as highlighting the slide and clicking Ctrl X on a PC.

Making a copy of the slide template ensures you can use the slide template deck for years to come!

Step 2: Delete any extraneous slides. When I create a slide deck, I include my Terms of Use, a video with instructions for editing the slide deck, and a cover slide. You have a few choices of how to delete the extra slides. You can click on each of the slides while holding down the Ctrl button (on a PC) and then click Ctrl-X or highlight the slides and use the Edit>Cut tool on Google Slides™.

Notice how the slides are highlighted yellow on the left of this image. You need to select the slides by clicking on them (for one slide) or clicking on them while holding down the Ctrl button on a PC. Then click, Edit > Cut

Now that you have a slide deck that you can edit and use for your lessons, let’s look at some of the ways to edit a slide.

Use the slider above to see the slide before and after changing the font. Simply click on the outside edge of the text box (or highlight the text) and click on a new font to change your fonts. Changing up the fonts on slides helps to keep students’ attention. To edit the text, simply click in the box and start typing! Typing in a text box is similar to typing on a document. You can change the text size by highlighting the words, then use the plus or minus symbols to increase or decrease the size.
Use the slider tool to see before and after the text box is resized and a new text box is created. First, click on and drag any anchor (see the red arrows) to change the size and shape of the text box. Then click on the outside edge of the text box and click Ctrl C, then Ctrl V on a PC. This will copy and paste a new text box identical to the original.
Go to the toolbar and click on “Insert,” then scroll down to “Images”. Use the slider above to see the results when I used Insert>Images>Upload from Computer to add an image to my slide.
Image Credit: Canva Pro-Premium Isolated Images by Layer-Lab.

Did you know you could add video to your slides, too? Click Insert > Video, then choose to search for a video on YouTube, link a URL, or upload a video from your Google Drive.

Here is what a slide looks like after I’ve added a video from my Drive. Use the slider to see the before and after images.

One of my favorite uses of a slide deck is to post it for students on Google Classroom™. Posting the slides serves several purposes. First, I can communicate what we are going to do for the day as a preview. I’ve had many students who were anxious upon entering class, and would ask “What are we doing today?” After a few weeks, they will check in with the slide deck after entering class, and are able to relax. Next, posting slide decks serves as a great way to communicate with students when they are absent. Finally, for my visual learners, posting the slides helps them to independently follow directions. Here are instructions for posting slides on Google Classroom™:

Start on the Classwork tab. Then click on the plus symbol and “Create”. Post the slides as a material. Next, you’ll be asked where you’d like to get the material. Click “Google Drive” then select your slide deck and click “Insert.” Give your slides a title (I often choose the day’s date) and a topic, then you can click post or schedule the slides to be posted. Note that if you are a middle school teacher with many class periods, you’ll have to schedule each slide deck for each period individually (this task is made faster by using the Create>Reuse Post tool), or you can select more than one class period and post the slides immediately.

Just looking at all of these instructions and tasks, it’s clear to me that you can teach an old dog (me) new tricks (with technology!). A realistic strategy for learning new tech tools is to try one thing at a time. Use the $3 slide template below to try some of these techniques to flex those tech muscles!

Click on the image to travel on over to my TPT store. Find slide decks like this one and many more themes for $3!

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