Fourth Graders Go Google for Book Talks

posted Jan 26, 2012, 7:33 PM by Eric Curts   [ updated May 4, 2014, 10:32 AM ]
Book Talks are a popular project for elementary students. They give the students a chance to read a book; to determine the characters, plot, setting, and such; and to present this information to their classmates. Recently our fourth grade teachers at Northwood Elementary converted their tried and true Book Talk project over to Google Presentations.

Much like Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Presentations is a multi-media slide show tool. With it students can create an excellent Book Talk with slides covering all the needed information, bulleted lists, images, animations, and a variety of design themes.

Since this was the first time the students has used Google Presentations, we decided to create a template for them to use. Instead of creating a presentation from scratch this gave them some helpful structure and eased them into the program. You can see an copy of the template we made here:

We also made one finished sample presentation to show the students what it might look like with all the information, images, animations, and transitions entered. This helped them have an idea of how much text to put on each slide and options for what they could do in Google Presentations.  You can see a copy of the sample presentation here:

Next we did a short training session with the students, covering how to access the program, edit text, insert images, add animations, name their presentations (so the teachers easily could identify the students), and share them with their teachers. The students were very excited, had no fear of technology, and asked many great questions (more than we even had time for).

Over the next few weeks the students worked on their presentations in school and at home. The teachers say the students were very engaged in the project, and amazed them by how much their skills grew and what they were able to discover in the program. There was also the benefit of having the presentations saved in Google Docs, so there was no need for flash drives or worrying about the kids losing their work. One parent commented that her child loved the program so much, he started making presentations on all sorts of topics just for fun!

The only tricky part was if the students did not have a modern web browser on their computer at home. Google Presentations works best with the Google Chrome browser, but some parents still had an older version of Internet Explorer, which does not work as well with this program. We were able to instruct those parents to download Chrome for their computers which fixed the problem.

In the end the students had a great time, and learned a lot about their books and making a good presentation. Below are a couple sample Book Talk presentations that the students created: