Mr. Kamrowski

"Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children." –Sitting Bull

How To: Spice Up Your Syllabus with Google–Part 1

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The start of school is right around the corner and I’ve been spending time preparing for the first few days.  They are crucial days as the tone is established; relationships develop or don’t and procedures are put in place.  Within the first few days, I have several objectives:  make my class unique, build relationships, establish an expectation of self-directed learning and communicate basic class procedures and expectations.  While I have consulted many resources (Check out this resource built around Alan November’s first five days project.) and planned some great activities, the presentation of the syllabus remains a challenge.

The syllabus is a necessary document to distribute and present so students understand the basic expectations and procedures for the class.  It also allows an opportunity for students to ask questions and ensure everyone is on the same page.  However, the basic presenting of the syllabus is so passive and dry that it is almost a waste of time.  I want to do something more interactive and engaging.  The following is the first step of my plan.

Google Slides For Creation

First, this year I will create my syllabus in Google Slides.  I am doing this over a word document program for several reasons:

  1. It will be distributed digitally rather than through paper.  This provides the opportunity for it to be accessible at any time by anybody.
  2. By using slides, my focus will be on visual appeal as well as content.  I have found visual appeal is an important factor to consider with today’s students.
  3. Slides allow for single page views rather than a continuous scroll such as Google Docs or other web based word document programs.  This fact allows for focus and segmentation of the syllabus.
  4. Slides allow for linkability to other pages within the presentation–giving a web page like feel.
  5. Slides allow for multimedia such as YouTube videos to be embedded in the document.
  6. Finally, Google Slides allows for a certain amount of portability with my syllabus.  I can embed it in my current LMS and know that changes made in the document will be reflected wherever the syllabus is embedded.  For example, if I have four of the same classes but my LMS is set-up as four separate courses, they may all have the same syllabus.  In this situation, a change to the Google Slide document will be reflected in all four LMS courses.

For an explanation on how you could make an e-document using Google Slides, see my post titled How To: Create An Interactive Book With Google Slides.

The following is an example of how to embed the Google Slide document in an LMS, web page/blog, etc. (A YouTube video of the same thing can be found here.)

Embed a Google Slide in Schoology

A pro tip:  When embedding the presentation, and this works for any embed code, change the width from whatever it is to 100%.  This makes the width of the document change to fill the screen of any device.  I typically change it to 90% to allow for a little white space on the edge for my students to scroll on an iPad.

The following is the result:

Gamifying & Assessing for Understanding

Merely placing the syllabus in a digital space is not enough to engage students in viewing the document nor to ensure their understanding of its content.  Therefore, in part two I will show you how I plan to use Google Forms to create a situational game for students to show their understanding of the class basics.

Question:  How do you roll-out your procedures and expectations?  What questions do you have about using Google Slides as an e-document creation tool?  As always, thank you for posting your thoughts and questions in the comment section.

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Author: Rob Kamrowski

My name is Rob Kamrowski and I have been a high school social study teacher of some years. Recently, I have accepted a position as an 8th grade American History teacher. I have taught a range of subjects from American History to Personal Finance to AP European History. I earned my Bachelor Degree in 2003, my Masters Degree in 2008, and strive to earn the respect of my students, colleagues and family every day of every year

4 thoughts on “How To: Spice Up Your Syllabus with Google–Part 1

  1. Pingback: How To: Spice Up Your Syllabus with Google–Part 2 | Mr. Kamrowski

  2. Pingback: How To: Google Forms To Choose Your Adventure | Guildway

  3. Thank you for sharing this idea, Rob! We look forward to trying this with our teachers 🙂

    Like

  4. Pingback: How To: Google Forms To Choose Your Adventure | MJ Linane

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