Google Slides in Music

You may be aware that I love all things Google. There are so many fabulous tools for education, and they seem to get better every day. One of the most versatile tools is Google Slides! I taught a few PD workshops this summer on the topic and wanted to share some ideas here. As music teachers, our focus is the music. Technology is great, but only if it can support the music. And that is one of the big reasons I like using Google Slides – the technology is simple enough that music remains the focus.

Rehearsal Plans

One basic use of Google Slides for music teachers, especially ensemble directors, is to project rehearsal plans. I have one slide document for each ensemble. Every rehearsal I add a new slide and put on it the rehearsal plan for the day and any relevant announcements. It is projected on the board, so students know what to expect each rehearsal. While I have more detailed plans for myself in my planbook (www.planbook.com is a life-changer!) it’s nice to have the basics all in one place. You could even take it one step farther and share the document with students (view only) so they can remember what was covered in rehearsal, find out what they missed in rehearsal, or see what is coming for future rehearsals.

Collaborative Slides

Even more than using Google Slides for rehearsal plans and similar presentations, I truly love using them collaboratively with students. In a collaborative slide document, all students have editing access. This is not as scary as it sounds! You can use Google Sides in this way any time you want all students to have the opportunity to share their work or ideas. First, create a title slide to includes the instructions. Share the document with students (who get editing permissions) and then each student adds a new slide to work with. How can this be used in music? Many ways!

  • Bell Ringer or Exit Ticket- have students respond to a prompt upon entering (or right before leaving) the classroom. This could be a reflection on a recent performance, a response to a piece of music playing, or answering a question about what they learned in class.
  • Share performance practice – have students record videos of themselves playing a piece of music. The students then upload the videos to their individual slides, adding a reflection or description as desired. Students can watch each other’s videos and leave feedback. (Note, adding videos to Google Slides is not currently available on mobile devices or tablets.)
  • Share creative projects – following a composition project, have students take a picture of their compositions to add to their slide along with a description and maybe even a video of it being performed. Take this one step farther by having students use the Flat add-on to notate the composition directly in Slides! (Not familiar with the Flat add-on? Here’s a quick tutorial.)

Collaborative Slides – Outside Your School

Another great thing about Google Slides collaborative experiences, is that it doesn’t have to be limited to only your class. Consider sharing Slides with another class, or even another school! I had a great experience with this last spring, with blogger buddy Kathryn Finch.¬†¬†Kathryn’s 4th and 5th-grade students (in the Chicago suburbs) had been studying rhythmic writing and needed a culminating project that “meant something.” My 5th-grade instrumental students (just outside Washington, D.C.) still had five weeks of school left and needed something fun to work on. Kathryn had her class create a book of rhythm exercises in Google Slides for my students to practice! Her students worked in groups to create their rhythms and come up with fun ways to practice them. The students then compiled their exercises into an ebook in Google Slides. The students in Chicago were excited to be writing something for someone, and the students in D.C. were excited to have something created just for them! It was a win-win situation.

It’s important to remember that if you are aiming to make this activity collaborative, students must interact with each other’s work. Think about the best way to facilitate this. Simply having students use the comment feature is always an option. 

Here are some additional tips for setting up collaborative Google Slides : 

  • When sharing, make sure anyone with the link can edit. This is necessary for students to add their own slides to the document. 
  • To share the document, consider sharing the link through your LMS such as Google Classroom, Canvas, Seesaw, etc. You could also share the link as a QR code – smartphones, tablets, and some Chromebooks can read QR codes. To create a QR code you just need to put the sharing link in any QR-code generator online.
  • Check the Version History (this is found the in the File menu) to see what edits students are making and when. This is also a good time to talk to students about Digital Citizenship – you would never write on someone else’s paper, nor should you type on someone else’s slide. We are always respectful of our classmate’s work. 
  • While students are working you can monitor the entire class by switching to Grid View. This will allow you to see who is working and on which slides. 

Hopefully this sparked some ideas about how you could use Google Slides in the music classroom. If you are already using Slides for something other than presentations, I would love to hear about it. Please reach out and share! 

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