7 Ideas for Using Google Slides for Collaborative Work

In a previous post, I shared how I use Google Slides for Reader’s Notebooks. That post describes how you can assign individual students google slides to work on.

Google slides, however,  can be a fantastic collaborative resource. In Google Classroom, you have 3 options when making assignments:

  1. View the Document – you can just give them viewing access. They can always make individual copies if needed. This can be useful if students are just reading something or may/may not need their own copy. I did this for some notetaking guides recently where students could choose which ones they wanted.
  2. Make a copy for each student – This is what I do the most often. Any hyperdoc, writing piece, etc. that I want students to complete independently is created for each student in the class. This makes grading so easy and every template is the same for all students.
  3. Edit the Document – This is what you would do for collaborative work. Keep in mind that you can make an assignment for just a small group as opposed to a whole class, so you could assign a google doc or google slides to only 5-6 students. You can also use one google slides presentation for the whole class and assign 4 students to each slide by typing their names where they need to work. It all depends on your purposes.

Here are some ways you could have students collaboratively work on Google Slides:

Click here for a link to this free resource.
  • Community Building: Use it as a way for students to share about themselves. They can each take a slide and complete a “Color Symbol Image” (image and link above) to represent themselves, post a photo of their family and caption it, post a picture of themselves, answer a prompt, etc.
  • Individual Pieces to a Whole: Students are assigned one task or one slide where each one is a similar task. Then, students can compare work. This would work well for something that’s open ended. They could explain a process, share a research tidbit, do a thinking routine response to a book such as “Sentence Phrase Word.”
  • Collaborative Story Writing: You know that idea of passing a paper and adding onto a story? You could definitely do that in Google Slides. You could have students start different stories, then add onto others. I think this could get really ridiculous really fast, but it also would be so fun!
  • Choice Groups: Post different article or story links to different pages then have them look at whichever article or story appeals. You could also assign stories, poems, etc. They can read then synthesize the most important points with their group. Someone would type their summary, and then they could look at others’ summaries as well.
  • Math Number Sense Routines: They can jump around to different slides with thinking routines and write their thoughts. For instance, a slide could be “Which One Doesn’t Belong?” where they type their name in the box that they feel they can defend. They can even add a comment using the comments feature to explain why. Another slide could be an Estimation 180 or Esti-mysteries where they post a guess. Another slide could be a Would You Rather Math question. Another slide could be Same But Different where they have to add thoughts. They wouldn’t necessarily have to do everything. You could do a virtual clothesline math where students drag and drop images/numbers along a number line/continuum. You could have several options and say they had to do them all or they had to choose 4, depending on how much time you were allotting to this activity. There are so many number sense routines that are open ended and allow for dialogue.
  • Open Ended Responses: There could be specific prompts posted on the slides. They need to go to each slide and type a response to the question. This would work well with open ended questions that require some justification. One slide could be a “Lift a Line” activity where they type a quote from what they’re reading and why they liked it. A different slide could be a minimal reading response such as an example of when a character was admirable (or not admirable on a different slide). These types of responses would be interesting to read and are a visual discussion.
  • Synchronous Learning: The above would all work for synchronous or asynchronous learning, but some strategies in google slides could be helpful specifically for synchronous learning. Have students type their name and drag it on a continuum for understanding (or they can be anonymous and just drag a star to represent one person). This could also be used for a Tug of War thinking routine – variations of which include philosophical chairs, this or that, etc. where they’re marking their opinion along a continuum. They can put a circle on the slide for WODB or some other question where they’re divided into categories such as a Compass Points Routine. All of those could give you real time feedback. This works well with a normal class size but can get overloaded with something like 100 participants.

I created one such collaborative project in Google Slides specifically for distance learning related to Science. If you’re interested in that Periodic Table project, I have it available as a Free Resource on TpT for the Periodic Table: check it out here. It’s titled “Periodic Table Group Project.”

For distance learning, we’re mostly focused on teaching reading and math, but I thought it would be fun if students could have some exposure to the periodic table for our Chemistry unit that is being cut down to almost nothing. This collaborative project is a great way to get students to read a bit of nonfiction, learn something new, be exposed to vocabulary, and see what others come up with as well!

If you have used Google Slides collaboratively in the past or have any ideas swirling in your brain after reading this, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Just post in the comments, and thanks for sharing in advance!


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