How Google Slides Saved Me During Distance Learning

 Hey Guys!

If you follow me on Insta or follow my TPT store for updates, you know I have been HUGE into Google Slides since the start of Distance Learning in the Spring. I am not going to pretend that I wasn't a die hard Microsoft Office fan. In fact, I STILL love using PowerPoint for fancy fonts and creating backgrounds for things (such as my Google Slides activities!)... BUT when school buildings were shut down in March I needed a way to collaborate with my colleagues and provide effective instruction without any of the thousands of visuals, schedules, behavior supports and other adapted materials that I use daily with my students. I'm going to show you my top 3 favorite ways to use Google Slides for instruction which I will absolutely continue to use once we are back in person and far beyond this very, different school year. 

This year I am teaching Vocation/Careers and Life Skills across three of our Self Contained Programs at my High School. The students on my caseload are incredibly diverse. This is so cool and I am honestly learning so much since I stepped out of my shell of being strictly a self contained Autism Teacher two years ago BUT having such a big number of students with SUCH different skill sets and needs is a huge challenge. So I will talk a little about how I use Google Slides for creating my lessons to use across these diverse classrooms.
  • Group Meet Slides - I generally create templates of the lessons I'll use for each class with a Schedule, Rules, intro activities (for some classes I use a stretch/warm up, others it is a game, challenge or question of the day), class activity (I embed a theme based lesson here) and end of class activities (this may be dance videos, drawing videos, a wrap up/check in Google Form, another fun activity, points check ins, etc. depends on the class!). Check out this video for the routines and activities I have set up for one of my classes: CLICK HERE
  • Individual Meet Slides - Similarly to group meets, I set up a deck of Google Slides for individual instruction meets. The slides will generally start off with the basics (rules & anything they may need to gather for class) and then there will be an intro slide & links for each of the goals I plan to work on that day. I LOVE using even MORE Google Slides activities as what I have linked so that I can work with the student in the same slide/see their real time performance. I also do include things which I simply share on the screen for them to look at or as prompts for staff. Here is a video overview of how I am doing this as well: CLICK HERE
    • SIDENOTE: I also LOVE the number of prompts I can embed into slides within seconds if a student is struggling. One day I shared on Instagram that I embedded a number line for a learner on the Files by Year goal and guess what, I did that in less than a minute during the session by simply asking the student to stop and wait, adding in a text box and then typing the dates in sequence to be used as a reference. So text boxes are awesome for this as well as adding a circle (with the center transparent) or a bright colored arrow to show a student where to find information. 
I LOVE being able to work on some of our same independence building skills (such as following an independent activity schedule or checklist) with students virtually. Whether it is following a digital file folder activity schedule or following a digital checklist with hyperlinks, timers and checkmarks to show tasks which have been completed, it has been amazing to see how well my students responded to these activities and truly generalized the task! This is something you will also see in the video above for an individual student meet.

THIS WAS A GAME CHANGER! I have spent so many hours trying to figure out how to replicate some sense of hands on work with my students. To be honest, 90% of what I do in the building is hands on. Seriously, this is one of my FAVORITE teaching jobs because it's all the functional skills I value so much - we cook, we clean, we practice jobs within the classroom, around the building, in the community, etc. We are constantly up and moving around and getting real experiences! So in the Spring when I was suddenly 1. Lecturing, 2. Relying on verbal responses from students, asking them to write/draw a response or (eventually after lots of practice) getting students to reply in the Chat - this was still so drastically different from what I wanted my instruction to look like AND it didn't really capture the skills and abilities of all of my kids! 
Enter: Google Slides. Here's the thing guys - you can do so much with slides! The types of activities I tend to use most are sorting, assembly or direction following tasks as well as GAMES! One of my favorite ways to teach students how to 1. Find the slide with their own name, 2. Move interactive pieces around on a slide and 3. (This I only do as students are more ready) Move back and forth between the Google Meet Tab/Window and the Interactive Slide is playing BINGO!  There are examples of both Games and work activities that I set up for my students in both videos above as well :)

I hope that you have found this to be helpful! I'm glad you read this far as I KNOW I can be too wordy... Shoot me an email if you have any questions or want help setting up some slides for your classes. I am happy to give suggestions or share some screenshots of some of the ways I have worked on certain goals. 

***Check out this FREEBIE Digital Checklist for Google Slides to help you implement more interactive Google Slides activities into your lessons this week! Click Here

Now seriously, GO OPEN GOOGLE SLIDES AND GET STARTED!! (When you're ready of course) 

Take care guys!

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