On January 9, 2023, Clay Smith and I will launch Slides Create beta testing. The beta testing will be performed with schools in my district, as well as interested schools. How does Slides Create work? Why did we create the Google Sheets add-on?
History and Purpose
My junior high school has used Google Apps to create yearbooks since 2014. We recognized a problem - yearbooks were too expensive and controlled by large companies that used expensive software. Google Apps allowed our school to be collaborative AND remove pricey software.
Do students want printed yearbooks? YES. My junior high school students will take out their elementary school yearbooks during class time to share with their friends. These students are why I want the yearbook price to remain low.
The #MEX16 Google Innovator Academy helped me find non-traditional solutions to the yearbook cost problem. An innovator enters a Google Academy with a problem rather than a solution. The craziest solutions are discovered, explored, thrown out, and developed over a year. Just over six years later, my passion is still pushing innovation.
Thank you for beta testing Slides Create. Creating the central portion of a yearbook in Google Slides is easy - all you have to do is learn the graphic design tricks in Google Slides. The complex, tedious part is gathering, organizing, and adding alphabetized individual portraits by class or grade level. The Slides Create Google Sheets add-on is the solution.
Slides Create (beta) Directions
Install Slides-Create (beta) add-on
- Install the Slides Create add-on on your Chrome browser.
- Go to a new tab and type sheets.new to create a new Google Spreadsheet.
- In the Extensions menu, select Slides Create and Launch main menu.
- Click Gather.
- Select SETUP.
- Accept the permissions.
NOTE: You may have to Launch main menu a second time.
SETUP creates the necessary sheets in a Google Spreadsheet and gathers information from the yearbook designer:
- Name of the Project
- Type of Project (not limited to yearbooks)
- The max number of images across a 2-page spread
- Elementary only: Subsections
- Click here for example Elementary Subsections
As a bonus, a Google Drive folder is created to keep new files organized. Slides Create does not collect user data. Only you and those you choose to share the folder with can access student data.
An elementary school yearbook is organized by level (sections) and teacher. Click here to view an example.
A middle or high school yearbook is organized by level (sections). Click here to view a middle school example.
Our school district uses a professional photography company. Families have the option to purchase those portraits, and the school can request the yearbook photos. Yearbook photos are of higher quality than the images the district uses.
As you can imagine, the yearbook folder is huge and comes as a zipped file that needs to be extracted. This video shows you how to extract those files on a Windows computer.
Upload Extracted Files
During the setup, a main folder and a subfolder were created in your Google Drive. Slides Create developers do not have access to the information in that folder. (I say this for your peace of mind).
The folders help you organize yearbook information into one location. Upload the newly extracted yearbook folder to the Drive Images folder.
During the beta, it is very important to make sure that a txt or csv file with student names is also in the Drive folder. If you uploaded the entire folder, there should be no issues.
Beta only - Change Format of File
Because this is beta, improvements will need to be made. The file format of the student names file is one of those areas. If you use a photographer like Lifetouch that provides an Index or Master text file, you will need to convert the file to CSV. This video walks you through those steps.
Click here for an example master file with headings.
GATHER FROM DRIVE
With the school portraits in a Google Drive folder, it is time to import those images using Gather from Drive.
The beta version of the add-on takes 15 seconds to start the import. It takes approximately 3 minutes and 45 seconds to import 657 images. I will fix this in the next version.
GATHER VIA FORM
Some schools may not have a professional photographer OR they may need to upload portraits of individual students and staff. The individual may have been absent on Picture Day, need a retake, or is new to the school.
The beta version of the Google Form requires 3 modifications to the Form. No more than 3, I promise! In the future, I hope to eliminate any changes as the Form updates automatically when Sections are updated.
Submit the Form on a Smartphone
What is the simplest way to take individual portraits? A smartphone. This video shows you how to save the Google Form to your smartphone, take a photo, and complete the form. When you click Submit, the form adds the information to the spreadsheet.
You can use the school wifi when submitting new photos from your phone if you do not have an unlimited data plan.
GATHER VIA PHOTOS
Gather via Photos is not an option during beta testing but will be available in the future.
Google Photos is appropriate for adult use. For example, the Google Innovator Academy. Look at the yearbook we created for #LON19! Fellow developer Clay Smith attended that academy.
Google Photos is not FERPA compliant and, therefore, should not be used with students. I know, I miss using Google Photos to organize and edit yearbook photos. However, student privacy is crucial.
Slides Create is a mail merge. To save you time, I have created multiple templates you can modify. Each template has a different number of portraits across two pages. The templates have even and odd pages with corresponding margins.
Design the Template
Designing the template is the fun part! It is also the part that I require my yearbook students to complete. This is their yearbook, after all.
Due to time constraints, an adult staff member may create your yearbook this year. This video gives a brief introduction to designing in Google Slides. It includes
- 80+Theme color palettes VIEW | COPY
- 40+ Font Pairs VIEW | COPY
- 10 Two-page spread layouts with more to come VIEW | COPY
Learn more about graphic design in Google Slides here.
REVIEW MISSING INFO
Some imported portraits may be missing information. Use the REVIEW MISSING INFORMATION to remedy the error.
Rows missing information will be sorted to the top of the spreadsheet. Since the add-on is in beta, please check allow rows for highlights.
When you are done, click UPDATE SORT.
If a student takes makeup pictures, the student will have two sets of photos. Use this option to find duplicates. You can then manually delete the row of duplicate information.
When you are done, click UPDATE SORT.
After you use REVIEW MISSING INFORMATION and REVIEW DUPLICATES, you may want to update the order of the images and review any highlights. Click UPDATE SORT.
Under the Review menu on the sidebar is the option to Update Thumbnails. Why does this option exist?
Well, we are still in beta, which means errors exist. When I opened the spreadsheet this morning, the images in Column A were gone. Update Thumbnails refreshed those images.
If clicking Update Thumbnails does not work for you, try refreshing the Chrome page.
During the setup process, you added Sections, and, if you are an elementary school, you added Subsections. These names were added to the Google Form. If you need to add a Section or Subsection, you can use this option. Unfortunately, at this time, you will need to retype ALL names.
Elementary Only - Role Drop Down Menu
At the end of the 05 Gather from Drive video tutorial, I said that adding Role for students was not necessary. That Role was needed for Staff only so that the teacher's portrait could be placed first on the class page. I also said, "There was one caveat."
The caveat is if you gather portraits using the Google Form. The form includes the option for Student. You have two solutions starting with the easiest:
- Add a filter for Student and delete each occurrence of the word.
- Add a filter and sort A-Z and add the word Student to the empty cells.
When you are done, click UPDATE SORT.
RUN A DRAFT
Even if you spent hours designing the template, you should run a draft to view on the computer screen and more drafts to be printed.
- Does the design need to modified?
- Are you missing any students or adults?
- Should a picture be retaken?
- Did you find and remove duplicate photos and names?
- Should any information be updated on the Images sheet?
- Did you confirm which students cannot have their picture in the yearbook based on annual Photo Release Forms?
* I have changed the word CREATE DRAFT to RUN DRAFT on the sidebar. The video says to remove the placeholders. There is no need to remove placeholders in a draft. Instead, remove the placeholders after you create the final copy.
CREATE FINAL SLIDES
- Is the 2-page template done to your satisfaction?
- Do all students and staff have a portrait?
- Are you happy with the draft yearbook that you ran and printed?
If you said yes to all, then click CREATE FINAL SLIDES.
Add Final Touches
After you create the final slides, you will have final touches to add. Final touches may include
- Section names (titles)
- Removing placeholders
- Cropping of portraits upload via Google Forms
- Background color changes to separate sections.
- Additional decorations
- Additional photos and captions
- Combining the portraits section with the remainder of the yearbook
Learn more about graphic design in Google Slides here.
To make your own objects that can change color based on your yearbook palette, follow these directions:
- Search for svg files at SVG Silh or Free SVG.
- Use CloudConvert to convert the SVG file as an EMF. Make sure Google Drive is checked.*
- Download the converted file and open as a Google Drawing.**
You must create an account using Google to save the converted files to Google Drawings. Convert up to 25 files a day for free. Copy and paste the image to Google Slides. You can change the file color to match your yearbook color palette.
Frequently asked questions
What is the link to install the Slides Create (beta) add-on?
The Slides Create add-on is unlisted in the Google Workspace Marketplace. Click here to install the Google Sheets add-on.
I am a parent and junior high school classroom teacher, so my time is limited. Over the summer of 2023, I will improve time efficiency and add features. Then I will publish the add-on so that fellow educators can find it in the Workspace Marketplace.
Can students create the yearbook?
Yes! That is the purpose of this website! Do the students need to be trained? Of course! I have been giving my junior high school students graphic design lessons since August.
As a yearbook teacher, I simultaneously want the most professional yearbook and a student created yearbook. This means allowing students to see their imperfect designs and giving them time to correct them. I send draft copies to Duplication to be printed. When students see their printed work, we can have a discussion on design choices.
What is the difference between a Section and a Subsection?
Recently, I was asked, "Why use Section and Subsection? Why don't you use Class and Teacher?" The question is valid.
Slides Create is designed to be used with yearbook portrait sections AND custom projects such as graduation slide shows. The gathering, organizing, and creating components may even have business applications. Using the terms Section and Subsection allows the add-on to be universal.
But first, I am focusing on yearbooks. Click here to view example sections and subsections for elementary and middle school.
Why use the Master instead of the Index?
If you are in my school district, then we use the same professional photographer company. When you compare the Master file with the Index file, you will see that the Master file includes the names of students who took make-up photos on a different day. The Master file is a complete list of student names and photos and will save you time in the long run.
Why do I have to make changes to the Master file?
I am a parent and classroom teacher. I code in my free time and reach out to Clay Smith when I need help. In summer of 2022, I focused my extra time on earning a Computer Science Supplementary Authorization with CSU Bakersfield. During Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks, I focused on coding Slides Create. Then I ran out of time for the beta release. Schools in my district create their yearbooks in January and February. In summer 2023, I will streamline importing images and student names. Until then, thank you for taking the extra steps to add the needed column headers.
What backdrop can I use for portraits uploaded with the Google Forms?
While the majority of your portraits may come from your professional photographer, you may need to upload additional photos using the Google Form. At my school, we need to add 66 portraits in the next few weeks.
You could simple take the headshot with a plain wall as a background or you can get a backdrop that can be reused each year. Our yearbook class would like to use the same gray background as the professional photographers.
A few years ago, I purchased a portable photo studio, which can be purchased at Sears.com or Amazon.com. This year I will purchase a gray backdrop to match the other photos. You can purchase a gray backdrop at Sears.com or Amazon.com. The backdrop is cheaper at Sears.
I still have questions about Slides Create
Don't hesitate to get in touch with me if you watch the instructional videos and still have questions. If you still have questions, I need to revise and improve them. Part of the beta testing process is to create clear directions.
You can contact me using this Google Form. We can have a Google Meet video call if you need further assistance.
If you are a teacher in my school district, you can reach out via school email. Search for Jennifer Scott. I can give you my cell number if needed. Your feedback is that important to me. I want this add-on to help schools and students.