A Carnival of beautiful Slides

Not everyone is artistic. That’s fine. Jimena Catalina will help you! This generous visual designer has created SlidesCarnival to provide the world with beautiful slide templates. On this page on her site, she says:

Working in design for more than 15 years I’ve learnt that, when you try to communicate a message, good design may be as important as the content. Many times I’ve seen how people get frustrated trying to arrange a visually stunning presentation without design knowledge. So I decided to create SlidesCarnival to help people create meaningful content without worrying about the appearance of their slides.

I must admit that there is also a selfish reason behind all this: I suffer a lot when I see poorly designed presentations 😉

I feel a kinship with this woman whom I’ve just learned–or learnt 🙂 –about today, during my exploration of the resources from the WVIZ Tech and Learning Conference. We both believe that pretty presentations are better-received by the viewers than their plain counterparts. I tried out a couple of her templates on the Symbaloo Apps Warehouse, and finally landed on the one below. 

If your slides are a bit boring, start using SlidesCarnival tonight. It’s incredibly simple to start a brand new slideshow, and just a couple more steps to get the designs onto pre-existing slides. It also works with PowerPoint…in case you’re into that sort of thing.

To start a new slideshow

To apply a design to pre-existing slides

Beast Mode Think-Pair-Share with Google Drawings

How often does every student in your class get to see and hear about every other student’s response to what they’ve learned? Sometimes? Rarely? Never?! With Google Drawings and Google Slides, achieving this beast mode version of Think Pair Share is simple.

The basic steps are:

  1. Let the learning happen
  2. Ss (students) combine images, shapes and text to create a graphic representation of what they learned, using Google Drawing
  3. Ss publish their work to the web
  4. Ss add a slide to the class slideshow, using Google Slides
  5. Ss insert the graphic
  6. Ss add their name and what they want to say in the notes section of the slide
  7. You project the final product, a slideshow constructed by the class, and invite each student to talk about their work.

There are tons of benefits for individual students. First, creating a mini infographic requires students to really engage with the content by selecting an important idea and finding a way to show that visually. For the presentation, since they plan and type out what they want to stay to the class, they can practice and feel less nervous about the moment they are asked to share about their slide. Because there is a giant visual being projected, it’s not an all-eyes-on-me situation, which is nerve-wracking for most students. It’s just an all-ears-on-me thing. (That is super awkward to picture literally. Imagine ears attracted to a person like magnets to a fridge. Ugh, sorry.) Knowing everyone is listening, while admiring their work, leaves a student feeling empowered and important. Give students a choice on how much the focus will be on them, by allowing them to stay in their seat and talk or get up in front of the room to speak. Either way, they will make a contribution to the class as a whole.

This type of activity definitely benefits the class-as-audience. They get a review of the content, and a different point of view, explanation or visual representation that helps them cement the idea. It is so rewarding for everyone involved to ask for students to give each other positive, specific feedback after each slide, too.

Please don’t use the excuse of “Well, I don’t know how to use that technology, and neither do my students.” Last week, my students had never heard of a Google Drawing either. I made this video to show them some basics, and they were off to the races.

The next video shows how to publish the drawing to the web, and then insert it into a slideshow. The majority of my students (ages 11-13) completed this assignment with little trouble. The ones who asked for help, just weren’t sure where to find the slideshow. Your students can do this! You can do this!

If you are using Google Classroom, follow these steps.

  1. Make a slideshow with 2 slides. A title slide, and a slide which includes your example graphic.
  2. Optional step: Start the Google Drawing for each kid by creating a blank Google Drawing (Same way you’d create a Google Doc, Sheet or Slide show)
  3. In Google Classroom, create an assignment that includes the Slides, set to “Students can edit file” and the optional Google Drawing, set to “Make a copy for each student”. You could also include the instructional YouTube videos.

    Here’s an AMAZING example of a Google Drawing, created by an 11 year old. Check out the eyes he used for o’s in look! There are at least 6 elements he selected to create this image. So cool. Please give your students the chance to create something awesome, share it with their peers, and maybe even a wider audience. I’d love to see what your kids create!

example slide made by student



Google Slides: Edit Master

Looks matter. A good-looking theme adds polish and gravity to the topic. Plainly dressed default slides give the impression that the content is unimportant. In Google Slides, creating a custom theme to fit your style is easy. Just use Edit Master!

If you’re like me, you change your mind about font or color multiple times through the creation process. The Edit Master lets us make those changes instantly on all slides at any time. It’s not too good to be true. Check this out.

If you prefer screenshots to videos, here are the basic steps. There are only 5! And one of them is X-ing out at the end…You can definitely do this.

1. First, Start a slideshow. Then, click Slide>Edit MasterClick slide then edit master

2. Click the Master






3. Click Background and choose a dark color. The reason for this is explained in a previous post, but basically, you don’t want to compete for the focus of your audience (students, colleagues, etc.) with a giant, blinding white screen. Alternatively, choose an image. Or get super creative and use a collection of shapes and images, or change the colors of the text boxes.BackgroundBackground color or image






4. Change the font color and style if you like.

5. Then X out of the Edit Master to get back to your actual slides. They will all be in the style you’ve just created!X out of Edit Master

Here’s an example of the custom theme I made for a presentation about Google Classroom, in the Edit Master view: Edit master view


And in the Slides view:

Edit master my slides


So, I’ve got my little customized Google Classroom person google classroom logo with love speech bubble hanging out in the corner of all slides except Title slides, I have a dark background with yellow title text and white body text to match the colors of the theme, and I have the ability to change it all on a whim in seconds.

Next time you create a presentation with Google Slides, try out some of the techniques here to ensure you’re communicating to your audience that the topic is important and worthy of their consideration. A thoughtful custom theme will make that impression. Using Edit Master can help you to fine-tune your slides and see instant changes across your entire show.