In August 2014, our district office asked students to create their yearbook and send it to them to print. The goal –

save

students

money.

Thirty-five to one hundred dollars for a memory book from a yearbook company was a lot of money; $10-$50 was a much better price. Besides that, many of these expensive companies used old software like Microsoft desktop Publisher! Surely, our students could

design

their own

yearbook

and print it

at the district office.

Faced with this task, I stared at the classroom computer. I imagined a nightmare scenario – one student (or worse, one teacher) would do all the work on one computer. There had to be a better way!

There was –

Google Slides.

In 2019, my students now teach teachers graphic design in Google Slides. Last March in addition to designing their school yearbook, four Compton Jr. High students designed the Spring CUE 2019 yearbook. During the process, the students improved their communication and creativity skills while gaining confidence in their abilities. Click here to see Anabelle, Elisa, Heavenly and Sandra’s completed work. If you would like to buy one from Blurb, click here. Please note that buying yearbooks in bulk saves the school (and students) money.

As we prepared for the Spring CUE conference, I imagined another nightmare – these 7th and 8th graders would have to upload each photo to Google Slides. I imagined thousands of pictures without captions uploaded one at a time. The workload seemed too much. There had to be a better way!

There was. We learned that

A bit of coding

+ Google Forms

+ Google Sheets

+ Autocrat Sheets Add-on

= Time & Energy savings

The junior high school students’ job was to create a Style Guide, the template, and move the submitted photos with captions into a layout of their choice. These skills improved their graphic design and presentation skills for their other classes and future careers.

As for the code that was designed for #CUE19, a beta version of the script is almost ready to be shared. The add-on will push student individual portraits to a pre-arranged portraits template. A similar add-on will collect photos with captions and push them to a Google Slides where students will design the layout.

To watch a 30-second video of the SlidesYearbook Add-on (beta), click here. To view the completed portraits page, click here.

Since we first started creating yearbook using Google Apps in 2014, more schools have joined us – schools in California, Massachusetts, and Southeast Asia. Phillips Magnet Elementary in Napa, California,  

printed their 66-page,

softback, full-color yearbook

for only $8.06 in June 2019.

With this price, students from low-income and wealthy families can afford yearbooks. As a plug for Fall CUE, Phillips teacher Jen Ellison learned about SlidesYearbook at the 2018 conference.

If this post has piqued your interest, then please visit SlidesYearbook.com for step-by-step lessons and activities. You can even earn college-credit with the online course.

Above all, please remember this –

Your students

are graphic designers.

Give them the tools and freedom to design their own yearbook. Their memories should not have an expensive price tag.


Jennifer Scott is an English, history and yearbook teacher at Compton Jr. High School in Bakersfield, California. She is a #Mex16 Google Innovator, a #Mex18 Coach, and a Mentor.

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