Google Slides 101: Tips and Tricks Every Teacher Needs To Know

Everything you need to become an expert in no time!

Animate Image of Google Slides

Google Slides is a favorite teaching tool for many educators, both in person and online. With a huge selection of free features and options, this powerhouse allows teachers to create dynamic, interactive presentations that really engage their students. Whether you’re new to Google Slides or are looking to up your game, these resources will help you make the most of it.

Start with the basics

If this is all new to you, watch this video to see how to create simple Google Slides. It walks you through the process one step at a time. Plus, grab a free Google Slides Cheat Sheet from Shake It Up Learning.

Share slides with your students

Google slides activity sheet

You aren’t limited to using slideshows to accompany in-class presentations. Share them with students to use when studying, assign them as homework or for asynchronous learning, or create interactive slides (more on that below). Assigning Google Slides to your students is easy in Google Classroom. Teaching With Jennifer Findlay shows you how it’s done.

Use themes and templates

Google Slides themes are a pre-set group of colors, fonts, backgrounds, and layouts.  You may sometimes see themes called “templates”—these two terms are interchangeable and work in the same way. Themes/templates allow you to enter your own information but save you a lot of time by taking care of the overall look and layout for you.

Here goes your title screenshot

Doodles Theme from SlidesMania

You’ll find a variety of themes built into the program itself (watch the Google Basics video above to see how to use them). You’ll also find thousands more available for free or purchase online. Using them is generally as simple as clicking a link and then choosing “Use Template” to customize.

Add sounds to Google Slides


Google Slides Fluxing Well

Adding sounds like music or narration can make your slide presentation a lot more interesting. Play bird songs in a lesson on ornithology, listen to a concerto as you discuss Mozart, or even create your own read-aloud. Narrated slides are terrific for asynchronous learning situations too. Learn how to add audio from Fluxing Well.

Don’t forget video

The nice thing about embedding a video directly in your Google Slides presentation is that you (or your students) don’t have to worry about clicking over to another window or website. Instead, you can simply set the video to play automatically (or once the Play button is clicked). You can use YouTube videos, videos from other sites, or those you’ve created yourself. (Pro tip: You can set a video to start and stop at any time you like!)

Make your Google Slides interactive

If you think a slideshow is something for students to sit and watch passively, Google Slides is here to prove you wrong. Have kids click on correct answers, type in text, and a whole lot more. This in-depth video demonstrates the entire process. Get more info from Super Sass and Science Class.

Choice boards are a popular way to make slides interactive. This video has the quick how-to.

Drag-and-drop slides are another terrific way to draw learners into a slide presentation. It’s amazing how much of a difference this makes in student engagement!

Link to internal slides and external sites

Adding links really ups the interactivity of your slides and turns them into self-directed activities in a snap. You can link kids to other pages in the slides for self-checking assessments or to external sources like websites or Google Classroom docs. This is one (easy) skill every teacher should master.

Check out Google Slides add-ons

Google Slides itself has lots of features, but you can also get lots of (often free) add-ons to make certain tasks easier. Add-ons are available to make diagrams, find better images, and display math equations … just to name a few. Ditch That Textbook has a list of 20 add-ons all teachers should try here.

One add-on teachers swear by is Pear Deck. It makes it easy to drop in formative assessments and evaluate student progress. The basic program is free for all users; learn how it works here.

Get in on the Bitmoji classroom trend

Those Bitmoji classrooms that are all the rage are right at home on Google Slides. Learn more about these virtual classrooms here, including how to make your own.

If you’re really ambitious, you can “animate” your Bitmoji to create a cool effect that kids will enjoy. It takes a bit of time, but as this video shows, it’s really not that hard to do.

Teach students to use Google Slides

Learning to insert a textbox screenshot

Once students know how to use the program, there are all sorts of awesome assignments they can take on. Even elementary kids can learn how it works. Two Boys and a Dad has an awesome free project to get them started. Once they’ve got the basic skills, here are a few ideas to try.

Teacher's guide to google classroom screenshot

Challenge your students to create an e-book using slides. Have them illustrate their creative writing, or try it for a different twist on a standard report. Get the quick tutorial from Shake Up Learning.

Google slides activity sheet

Digital interactive notebooks make it easy for you to monitor student progress, online or in-person. Plus, no more worries about kids “forgetting” to bring their notebook! Two Boys and a Dad shows you how they work. Make your own, or find ready-to-use templates on the web like this one from Student Savvy.

Looking for more ways to use Google Slides? Learn How Teachers Can Plan and Use Virtual “Stations” Online.

Plus, 30+ Virtual Learning Platforms and Tools for Teachers and Kids.

Google Slides 101: Tips and Tricks Every Teacher Needs To Know