In my opinion, Google Slides is the most versatile app of the G Suite arsenal. In fact, I've dedicated an entire website, Google Slides: The Swiss Army Knife of G Suite, to things you can do with Google Slides that go beyond presentations. 

While the slide templates available in Google Slides are pretty limited, there have been many sites that have popped up in the past several years that provide additional resources to spice up your presentations. Click here to see several I have curated in my Google Slides site.

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post on the extensive array of Canva templates for creating any type of multi-media content needed for students to make their learning visible. Within this list, Canva has included presentation templates divided into a wide variety of categories. Within each category, there are plenty of options from which to choose. Some are better suited for education/student purposes. A few of my favorite categories include:
  • Cool
  • Creative
  • Education
  • Keynote
  • Pitch Deck
  • Technology
Because I primarily use Google Slides beyond just presentations, I find the use of Canva's extensive list of imaginative templates, which are easily customizable, to provide many creative options. I like to use Google Slides to recreate my own 'Thinglink"-style interactive graphics. In order to do that, you can customize your slide background using one of the presentation templates and customize it to your specifications such as this example created for The Cay

Check out the list of presentation templates, let your imagination run wild, and create a "cherrylicious" design.
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I discovered the Plotagon app several years ago before there was even an educational version and I was amazed as I watched students creating their plots, writing their scripts, and making adjustments along the way. You see, the unique thing about Plotagon is, it helps students visualize their writing. As they write the dialogue, build their plot, and create a setting that is meaningful to the storyline, Plotagon creates an animation of their work.

Plotagon Education provides a safe environment for students as this version has eliminated the social media component of the app. They continue to add new features such as characters, actions, scenes, sounds, and music. It also provides for Google and Microsoft logins so students can begin creating immediately!

It is an app that must be downloaded from the Plotagon website. Click here to get your download. It's available for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Chromebooks that support Android apps.

This app could be used for all content areas and provide opportunities for students to write about the content while incorporating some fun elements.

Below is a sample video I made in 5 minutes! It's such a cool app to add to your lessons! Students will love it!

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I love Canva! It is a great site where anyone can design beautiful graphics with little to no design skills. They have a great list of templates students and teachers can use to craft quality work. Click here to view the extensive list of templates. There are additional templates under many of the categories.

Another feature Canva offers is design inspiration created to build your design skills. These lessons are hands-on and cover a wide variety of design topics. Click here to take advantage of the tutorials offered. Canva even keeps up with your progress!

There is a multitude of ways to use Canva in the classroom, but here are my top ten:
  1. Brochures and Newsletters-this is a great way for students to show what they know and Canva provides templates for both.
  2. Social Graphics-I love this simple template that could be used in many different ways such as creating a graphic to represent something they've recently learned.
  3. Infographics-These are hard for students to create initially. They require much critical thinking to be able to visually represent information. Canva makes this task a little easier.
  4. Presentations-Let's face it, we can all make our presentations a little more visually appealing. Canva has a template that can be used as the slide background, the background for a Thinglink or Padlet, or more beautiful graphic organizers.
  5. Magazine Covers-Students can design professional looking magazine covers that could rival the real thing.
  6. Posters-The poster template provides just the right size for poster creation. With all of the free design assets located in Canva, students can create works of art! Again, there are many types of poster templates as well.
  7. Flyers-Similar to the brochures and newsletters, students can create dynamic flyers detailing their learning or any related information.
  8. YouTube Channel Art-Since most districts are now Google Apps for Education Districts, for secondary students, that includes their own YouTube channel. Additionally, they have a template for the YouTube Thumbnails. What a great way to help students learn about branding and who knows...there may be some budding YouTubers in class. There are also templates for Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.
  9. Photo Collages-While most think they can craft photo collages, to get one that is pleasing to the eye and well-balanced takes skill! They have templates for these collages in a wide variety of topics.
  10. Resumes-This is something all high school students need to learn to do, and if it's visually appealing, it will stand out from the others! They have many different types of resume templates from which to choose.

So basically, if you or your students need to design anything, Canva is the place to go!

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Not too long ago I wrote a post on rubrics. While at SXSWEdu 2018 last week in Austin, I got an opportunity to attend a session on MetaRubrics presented by a team from the MIT Teaching Systems Lab. This session allowed us to create a project, design a rubric, then evaluate the rubric we designed. It provided lots of discussion on the dynamics, the value of rubrics, and whether or not the rubrics really assess the learning goals. The materials and activities we used are all online and can be downloaded from the MIT Teaching Systems Lab website. It's pretty self-explanatory so check it out! This is a very valuable endeavor that should translate into crafting much better rubrics in the future. Below is a video that describes the procedure; check it out, go through the exercises, then begin to implement more dynamic, on-point rubrics!

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