Using Google Slide Templates -- Follow Up Discussion with Robert Lee

Hello colleagues, We had an excellent Zoom session with Robert Lee yesterday afternoon in which Robert outline how to use Google Slide templates to support English learners to create presentations. Thanks to all those who joined us for the session.

I'm pleased that Robert Lee can join us for a follow up discussion. Please feel free to pose questions to Robert and share your experience with using Google Slides or another program to support student presentations.

Hello Robert! Thank you for your presentation yesterday and for being with us for this follow up discussion. 

I have a couple of questions for you to get us started:

  • What digital skills do you think students need to have before you introduce Google Slides?
  • What are some practical ways to support students to build those precursor digital skills?
  • Once students have the precursor digital skills, how do you introduce Google Slides?

Take care, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition CoP



Susan, thanks for moderating such as a wonderful discussion! Thanks to all those who made time out of their schedule to participate with us! Here are my thoughts to your questions.

  • What digital skills do you think students need to have before you introduce Google Slides?

Before using Google Slides templates in a fully remote classroom, your students will need to be comfortable using their computers or smartphones, as well as Zoom or whichever platform they need for attending class. Ideally, they will also have some experience screen-sharing for when they need to work with their partners or when they need the teacher's help to troubleshoot. (Familiarizing students with screen-sharing is a great way to demonstrate how to navigate tech or help with tech issues.)

  • What are some practical ways to support students to build those precursor digital skills?

Other "digital skills" that I'd consider crucial are patience and deliberation when working with unfamiliar technology. Modelling a trial and error process to figuring how things work have been very helpful for my students as they can see that even teachers, whom they may view as tech experts, don't know how things work at the get-go. To continue to build students' confidence and refine their digital skills, I suggest normalizing technology use in the classroom. Implement tech into simple activities to give students opportunities to practice their skills in low-stakes settings. For example, if you want learners to become comfortable with screen-sharing, you can have them practice screen-sharing a photo at the beginning of each class to update their classmates about their personal lives. Sometimes, my students ask if they can share photos from their weekend travels (no names) or arts and crafts projects with their kids. Although the topic might not be relevant to the day's lesson, this is a great opportunity to give students a chance to get comfortable with the technology and associate it in a positive (and not always frustrating) manner.  

  • Once students have the precursor digital skills, how do you introduce Google Slides?

Although I use a computer to teach my remote lessons, half of students use smartphones so it is crucial that I explain Google Slides (or any other tech tool) from their perspective. Don't forget that user interfaces look different between Android and Apple smartphones, or PCs and Macs. To accommodate my smartphone users, I use screen shots (such as the ones found on this site: Before having learners design something on Google Slides, you can also scaffold by having them do it in their notebooks. Most recently, I had my learners design bar graph infographics about their families on a piece of paper and sending it to me via text message. We eventually replicated the graphs on Google Slides. This helped familiarize my learners with how to make graphs on Google Slides. Once they were ready to work on a bigger project, the Google Slide templates came into play.  

Robert, I appreciated your clear and easy to follow presentation on Google Slides for English language learners. In your response above, you said that it helps sometimes to have students create a paper version of their graph before they try to design it using an app. It reminded me that when we put together a puzzle, we like to refer to the box top with the picture. When we are looking for what section of the puzzle a red-colored piece should go, we can see it probably will go in the corner where we see lots of red in the picture. By drawing their own graph by hand, students can see where to locate the different parts of the graph on the screen of their device. It gives them a preview of what they want to create.

Hi Robert, 

Thanks for the presentation on Tuesday. I found it quite helpful and appreciated the time to consider ways to support students in giving oral presentations, skills which we see especially prominently in standards 5 and 9 of the English Language Proficiency Standards for Adult Education. Your presentation was timely for me as more and more instructors where I work, given the affordances of the virtual classroom, are taking on the task of working with learners to prepare slides and give presentations on particular topics. In light of that, here were some of my takeaways from your presentation and from your comment here:

  • Scaffolding and making expectations explicit - In your presentation, you shared how Google Slides templates can provide scaffolding for successful performance of the assessment criteria by way of different slides with generic headers for each criterion of what was to be included in the presentation. I'll echo Susan's request for the link to your presentation / those templates. 
  • Move from simpler to more complex - a classic principle in curriculum design, this idea comes through in your stairstepped example for screensharing. By helping learners become able to share screen to share photos from their daily life as part of a classroom routine, you're setting the stage for them to share screen for revising, editing, and/or presenting their slideshow. 
    • As an aside, I know some volunteer teachers who ask learners to send in photos that the teacher then adds to the lesson slideshow; it's an engagement booster inviting learners to share about themselves each class (but not necessarily every student every day) while also being a lower-stakes approach for learners to practice their oral presentation skills. It can do a lot for social presence and building a sense of community necessary for further learner-learner and learner-teacher interaction. I think it'll be an interesting experiment for some of these teachers to help get their students to do the screen sharing.
  • Digital resilience - Just want to say thanks for your comments here about patience and modeling a trial-and-error process. It encouraged me to revisit the earlier LINCS discussion about digital equity for all centered on this report by the Digital US Coalition. David Rosen's post in that thread (linked here) expands on their definition of digital resilience with some examples of what it is and what it is not. 

As an alternative to the student sharing the screen, I'd be curious to hear from folks about their experiences of the teacher screen sharing the student's slides while they give their presentation. After all, that's a practice not dissimilar to what we sometimes see in webinars and virtual conferences yet requires some different language to pull off. 

-Xavier in Virginia

Hello Robert, Thank you for your responses to the questions above. I appreciate that you emphasize the trial and error process, so learners can see that we teachers are often still learning, too!

We'd love to hear your thoughts on the following questions:

  • What guidance would you recommend teachers provide to learners to help them understand the expectations for creating slides; for example, what criteria might be on a checklist or rubric?
  • How about expectations for presenting their slides?
  • You shared with us that the students in your class are at the intermediate level. Do you have suggestions for differentiating a Google Slides project for beginners?
  • You shared some wonderful examples of student presentations during our Zoom session. Might you be able to provide us with a link to any of these for teachers who were not able to join the Zoom session?

Take care, Susan

Helping learners understand expectations for creating and presenting slides

Although it doesn't take the form of traditional checklists or rubrics, Google Slide templates can help learners visualize  expectations. Teachers can put instructions directly onto slides. For examples, divider slides for each subtopic section can be used to remind students about content that needs to be included; individual slides can have placeholders to remind learners to include graphics or text; templates can have an expected minimum number of slides; other directions, such as presentation length, can be included in the notes. For lower level learners, I highly recommend incorporating as much of the expectations or directions into the slide templates themselves. For more advanced learners, teachers can also include a more formal rubric with scaled scoring. Rubric items can include expectations for language use (e.g., vocab and grammar used), content addressed, timing, group participation, speaking delivery, and so forth.

A model of a final presentation using Google Slide templates is always a good way to help learners understand expectations, just like one would model language use or an activity in the classroom. For learners who are newer to tech, prioritize getting them comfortable with using the technology before asking to stretch their creativity.   

Adaptations for beginners

When adapting for beginners, I start by consider my learners' long-term learning goals and how that fits with my agency's curriculum. Ideally, the curriculum builds upon the same core skills for advanced and beginner level learners. In other words, there should be a continuum of language and skill development that bridges beginner level learners to their advanced level peers; adaptations should be based around bridging this continuum by grading the language and tech skills demanded of beginners. For example, if advanced level learners are expected to collaborate and present with other students, beginner level learners can practice giving instructions (like "next" and "back") to their teachers who are controlling their slides; to get beginners exposed to the technology, teachers can incorporate activities in which each learner works on one slide in the same slide deck; before learners incorporate graphics from outside sources, they can pull graphics directly from Google Slides or photos that are already in their phones.

During our Zoom session, we brainstormed some beginner-friendly topics like presenting about family or clothes. Beginners can take photos on their phones of family members or clothes and write one word or one sentence to accompany their attached photos. 

Shared student work and templates

Here is a link to the student work that I shared during our Zoom session: As mentioned, these were done by groups of adult intermediate level ELs.

If anyone has examples of student work or templates that they would like to share, I'd love to see them and try them out!


Hi Robert,

In your post of 12/20, you mentioned "When adapting for beginners, I start by considering my learners' long-term learning goals and how that fits with my agency's curriculum. Ideally, the curriculum builds upon the same core skills for advanced and beginner-level learners."

Are you referring to a curriculum that was created in-house by your local agency, or to a state-wide curriculum that was adopted/adapted by your local agency? If possible, is there a link to the curriculum that you could share?