Monday, November 14, 2016

Tech Tip: Google Slides for Newsletters

Paul and I go to a lot of tech conferences/meetings as part of our jobs as Technology Integration Specialists.  We always enjoy the idea sharing and conversations we have with our fellow EdTechies, and every now and then we have one of those "Oh my gosh! Why didn't I think of that!" kind of moments.  Thankfully, our most recent "Ah-ha" moment is one that many of you have also been pondering, especially as we move to 1-1 with chromebooks.  I hope you find this little tip as awesome as we did!

Last week, we had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the MiGoogle Conference (#migoogle) at Lake Fenton High School.  During the conference, one of the presenters - Justin Knull (@Everyday_Genius), shared the idea of using Google Slides as a Microsoft Publisher replacement, specifically in regards to creating newsletters.   Finding a good replacement for Publisher has been a struggle for us as we have moved almost exclusively to the Google world since there isn't a Google equivalent for Publisher.  We have tried Google Docs, but it is hard to add all the pictures and images in a way that is flexible enough for creating super visually appealing newsletters.  We have tried Lucidpress - which is a great tool, but it's complexity is a bit more than most teachers want to tackle.

Now, enter Google Slides!  Slides is the PowerPoint alternative in the Google Apps Suite.  It works great for creating presentations, slides shows, posters, and more, but I had never thought to use it for Newsletters.  Apparently, my mind was stuck on the fact that Slides always appear in landscape mode.  Well, guess what!  You can change the size of the page to be 8.5 x 11!  Simply go to the file menu, select Page Setup.  Choose custom from the drop down menu, then put your page size (ex: 8.5 x 11) in the size box.  Make sure you select inches instead of pixels, points, or centimeters.  Select OK when you are finished.  TA DA!

You can now add images and text boxes, to your hearts content.  You can overlap images and text, and you can set a background or background color.  You can add multiple pages simply by adding another slide.  When you are all done, you can either go to the file menu and select "Publish to the Web" to get a link to the digital version of your newsletter, or you can download the file as a PDF in order to attach to an email, print, or send via Skyward.  The next week/month when you want to make your next newsletter, all you have to do is open the previous week/month's newsletter and select File -> Make a Copy.  Then input your new information.  Love this!

Here are a few example templates - feel free to use and customize, just go to the File menu and select Make a Copy:

Also, if you love Teachers Pay Teachers, many of their templates are done in PPT (PowerPoint) and can be easily converted over to Google Slides.

  

A couple other tips...

  • Name your files with the year first. Example: 2016-11-18 Newsletter.  The reason for this is because Google files things Alpha-numerically.  So if you put the year, then the month, then the day, the newsletters will go in the correct order for the school year.
  • Use the Tools->Explore to search for images to embed in your newsletter.
  • Looking for some fun, free, cute clip-art graphics?  Check out: http://www.mycutegraphics.com/ 
  • When you print your downloaded PDF, make sure you select the box that says "fit to page" that way it will add your margins in for you.
Remember, this great tip doesn't work just for newsletters/newspapers.  Have your students make posters, brochures, books, and more....there are so many ways students can use Slides to show what they know.  If you have a great idea of how to use Google Slides in the classroom - make sure you share it in the comments section!  We would love to learn from you, too!

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