Tag Archives: google slides

Explore Tool in G Suite for Education

explore tool

The Explore Tool is in the lower right corner of any Docs, Slides, or Sheets document.

Google Apps for Education recently announced that it will now be known as G Suite for Education. Along with the rebranding, some other updates were made. Most notable for teachers, the Research Tool has been eliminated and replaced by the Explore Tool, which has some benefits and but also a significant shortcoming.

First, the bad news. Gone is the ability to add citations and footnotes directly into a document using the Research Tool. For teachers and students, this is an unfortunate setback. Being able to easily and quickly identify sources is an essential research skill. What used to be an onerous task, was made simple by the Research Tool. One click on Cite automatically inserted a citation and footnote. We hope that Google will reinstate this function soon. In the meantime, in my next post, I’ll include some online citation makers that create a citation with the click of a button!

The good news is that you can still search without leaving the document. Spending less time switching between apps allows students to focus on the assignment and its content.

In Docs, clicking on the Explore Tool offers three options: WEB, IMAGES, and DRIVE.

Enter a topic into the search box. WEB results include a title, URL, and short snippet summarizing the website. Clicking on a link opens a new browser tab.
explore search results

Clicking on IMAGES offers a gallery of pictures related to the search term. To insert an image into the document, simply drag it where it is to be placed. It will, by default, be in line but text wrap can be changed by selecting the image and choosing Wrap text.
explore tool images

Selecting DRIVE looks in your Google Drive for files that include the search term.

If the Explore Tool is opened when there is already text in the document, instant search suggestions are given based on the contents. Google calls this ‘insight’ and it does seem to work quite well.

The Explore Tool is consistent in Sheets and Slides. In Sheets, use the Explore Tool to ask questions about data using words if you do not know how to construct a formula. Formula and formatting suggestions are offered based on the content of the spreadsheet. In Slides, the Explore Tool also offers design suggestions as well as search results.

The research recommendations, design tools, and insight capability of this new tool make it an effective and productive update to G Suite for Education.

Trace a Photo to Make a Cartoon

Not sure how to draw? You can trace images in photographs to create cartoons using Google Slides. Try it!

  1. Create a new presentation in Google Slides. Rename it trace.
    If asked to pick a theme, pick Simple Light. Click OK.
  2. Click Layout. Pick Blank.
  3. Add a picture as a background to lock the image you will trace:
    a. Click Background. Beside Image, click Choose.
    background dialog box
    b. Click Search. Find a simple photograph that you can trace.
  4. Search for an image.

  5. Click the Select line arrow . Pick Curve or Polyline.
  6. Click around the shape of the object to trace it. TIP: Do not click on the same spot twice!
  7. Trace around the object.

    To edit, right click on the shape. Select Edit Points.

  8. Make the other shapes and adjust the object order. Add details to make it look great!
  9. Add shapes to the cartoon.

  10. Click Background. Click Reset to remove it.
  11. Trace a photo.

  12. To save it as a picture, select Download as from the File menu. Pick JPEG.

This is the “Trace a Photo to Make a Cartoon” Extension Activity from the TechnoGallery technology project. Check out the project to see how young students can use digital art tools to create a gallery of fun, original masterpieces.

Do’s and Don’ts of Slide Show Presentations

public speaking
When students share a slide show presentation they have created with the class, prepare them for success with a discussion of effective public speaking strategies. A few basic guidelines can turn a presentation into an engaging, interesting, and compelling learning experience for both the speaker and the audience.


  • Rehearse by yourself, to a friend, or in front of a small group and ask for helpful suggestions.
  • Prearrange for a friend to signal if you are talking too fast or using distracting gestures.
  • Take a breath to relax before beginning.
  • Greet the audience and smile.
  • Use a clear voice.
  • Speak loudly enough for others to hear.
  • Change the pace and vary your tone.
  • Speak in an upbeat and energetic manner, indicating your enthusiasm in the topic.
  • Let the audience know they can ask questions at the end to encourage them to listen carefully.
  • Add information that is not on the slide: extra details, personal anecdotes, or examples.
  • Make eye contact with a variety of people in the audience.
  • Pause occasionally.
  • Be confident! You are the expert on the topic!


  • Read the information on the slide or speaker notes to the audience.
  • Use distracting gestures such as twirling hair, pacing, or fidgeting.
  • Turn your back to the audience and look at the screen.
  • Maintain focus on only one member of the audience or at the back of the room.
  • Speak in a dull voice or monotone.
  • Talk for too long – try to fit in the time limit you are given.
  • Start sentences with “So…” or repeatedly say “You know” and “Like”.

Competence in public speaking is a valuable asset. It can contribute to success in relationships, school, and careers. Give your students a head start by helping them build this essential skill.

Animation Workshop for Google Slides

Try these three fun ideas and sharpen your animation skills with Google Slides!

In a previous post, I described a new TechnoKids project for Google Apps for Education. TechnoToon inspires students to write in a comic format. The graphic format of the writing with images, callouts, starbursts, text boxes, and word art, really hooks student interest. The final project is animated and shared with peers.

Here are some creative animation tricks to make any presentation unique and engaging.

Sign in to Google Drive and create a new Google Slides file.

Ghostly CreatureMake a Character Appear and Disappear

  1. Click Layout. Select Blank.
  2. Insert a ghost or other clip art image you want to use as a character.
  3. Place it in the center of the slide.
  4. Select the clip art. From the Slide menu, click Change Transition.
  5. Make the ghost appear: Click Add animation. Select Fade in and pick After previous.
  6. Make the ghost disappear: Click Add animation. Select Fade out and pick After previous.
  7. animation workshop

  8. Click Play to watch the ghost appear and then fade away. Click Stop.

animation workshop

Take the challenge! Make it appear as if the ghost is floating around the scene.

  • Add a Fly in from Right animation. Set it to After Previous.
  • Add a Fly out to Right animation. Set it to After Previous.
  • Add a Zoom in animation. Set it to After Previous.
  • Add a Zoom out animation. Set it to After Previous. Play it!
  • Have fun! Combine any IN animation with an OUT animation to make the ghost fly!

Car RaceAdjust Timings to Make a Chase Scene

  1. Add a new blank slide.
  2. Insert two clip art cars onto the screen.
  3. They should be driving in the same direction. If they are not flip one.
  4. From the View menu, pick a magnification that lets you see the scratch board.
  5. Place the cars off the canvas on the LEFT.
  6. Make the car drive: Select a car. Add the animation Fly in from right. Select After Previous. Drag the speed to Slow.
  7. Make a car pass another: Select the second car. Add the animation Fly in from right. Select With Previous. Drag the speed to Medium. Play it.

car animation

  • Change the second car to After Previous.
  • Adjust the speed for both cars to 0.6 seconds Fast.

Fly a SpaceshipCrop a Picture and Group It

  1. Add a new blank slide.
  2. Use your skills to add a spaceship and a person clip art.
  3. Crop the person to show only their face. Crop the face into a circle.
  4. spaceship animation

  5. Place the face over the spaceship to make it look as if the person is looking out a window.
  6. Select the spaceship and person. Right click and pick Group (or use CTRL + G).
  7. Make the spaceship fly: Add the animation Fly in from right. Select After Previous. Play it.

    TIP: Rotate or flip the spaceship to make it fly in the right direction.

spaceship animation