Time, or more accurately the lack thereof, is the number one “pain point” most teachers experience. They don’t feel they have enough time to get through the curriculum, cover the standards, scaffold and reteach, provide timely feedback, and plan dynamic lessons.

As a blended learning coach, I spend time in other teachers’ classrooms observing, co-teaching and coaching. It is common for the first 5-10 minutes of class to be consumed by housekeeping tasks–taking attendance, explaining the lesson, and getting the classroom set up for the first task. Teachers can take back this time if they rethink how they begin each lesson and communicate the parts of the lesson to their students.

Instead of writing an agenda on the board or projecting it onto your smart board and guiding students lock-step through the parts of the lesson, teachers can create interactive agendas using Google Slides.

Creating an interactive online agenda accomplishes a few things:

  1.  It eliminates the time wasted at the start of class reviewing the agenda. Instead, teachers can train students to enter the class and immediately use their device to access the agenda via Google Classroom or a short Bit.ly link.
  2. It shifts the focus from the teacher to the students because they don’t need to wait for the teacher to cue every transition or provide materials for each activity. The materials can be embedded into the Google Slide agenda.
  3. It allows students more opportunities to self-pace through the lesson.
  4. It creates transparency about the timing of the activities and the trajectory of the lesson.
  5. It frees teachers to spend more time working directly with students instead of directing the parts of the lesson.

Two years ago when I began using Google Slides to create my agenda for each day, I created a template for each of the types of lessons I typically design (e.g., Station Rotation, Whole Group Rotation, Flipped Classroom, etc.). That way, I could decide on the type of blended learning model I wanted to use for a given lesson, then “make a copy” of that template and create my agenda for that day.

My agendas typically a few of the following elements:

  • A welcome or admission task
  • A rotation of some kind
  • A discussion element
  • An exit ticket or concluding task

I work with teachers who use one slide for each of the activities they plan to cover in a lesson. That gives them space to articulate the objectives for that task and provide clear instructions. Google Slides also makes it easy to embed media and hyperlink to online resources. Many of the teachers I coach record short video instructions and embed them right into the slides.

Shifting from writing my agendas on the board to creating interactive online agendas with Google Slides allowed me to spend less time answering the “what do we do…?” questions and spend more time working directly with my students. Instead of orchestrating the lesson, I spent more time in my role as a coach focused on supporting skill development or as an observer collecting formative assessment data. It was a simple shift that had a dramatic impact on both my role and my students’ role in the classroom.

38 Responses

  1. Hi Catlin,
    Would you mind sharing the station rotation template? I would love to see it. Thank you for sharing your amazing idea as!

  2. Awesome idea! I am teaching a blended learning class this fall and had a question. I am using mastery grading and would like to know how many assignments you assign students per standard to demonstrate mastery. I’m worried too few will not show learning and too many would seem like “busy work”. Thanks in advance for the help.

    • Hi Kevin,

      Typically, students have several practice opportunities then there is a single assessment. They are welcome to revisit, revise, and revamp any assessment to show growth and development in relation to a particular standard.


  3. […] Create Interactive Agendas with Google Slides. Time, or more accurately the lack thereof, is the number one “pain point” most teachers experience. They don’t feel they have enough time to get through the curriculum, cover the standards, scaffold and reteach, provide timely feedback, and plan dynamic lessons. As a blended learning coach, I spend time in other teachers’ classrooms observing, co-teaching and coaching. […]

  4. I love this idea! Thanks so much! I started off last year with a great plan to have a slide each day…. which lasted about a month. *sigh*
    This post has me thinking about how to do this again in the coming year… thanks again! And thank you for the math model lesson too. 🙂

    • Don’t be too hard on yourself, Lori! Do you know how many of my grand plans don’t get actualized? SO MANY 😉 That’s life as a busy teacher.

      Take care.

  5. Would you be interested in guest hosting a Twitter chat for #2ndaryELA? We would love to have you facilitate a discussion on any digital topic such as this one as the Middle and High School teachers we serve are working towards incorporating more and more technology into their lessons. We meet on Tuesday nights from 8-8:30pm and will be starting back up for the new school year in July.

    We hope that you will accept our invitation and look forward to hearing back from you.

    Lisa Spangler & Brynn Allison
    #2ndaryELA chat co-hosts

    • Hi Lisa,

      I apologize for the delay. I am currently in a doctoral program and my classes meet during the week at night. I do not have my schedule for fall yet, so I am not sure what my availability is yet. I should know by September 1st if you still need moderators at that point!

      Take care and thank you for keeping the #2ndaryELA chat going!


    • If you already had this chat, please share the hashtag! I’d love to see the conversation! If you have another one tag me! @csmthittle

  6. Just finished reading Creatively Teach the Common Core…Grades 6-12. I mistakenly signed up for a class through USD thinking it was appropriate for 5th grade. Yes, parts can be modified, but much is geared toward high school. I do plan to buy/read Blended Learning in Grades 4-12 though, so it wasn’t an entire loss. Anyway, looking at this agenda using Google Slides, if you are doing “housekeeping” things the first 10 minutes or so, how are you also conducting “Tucker Time” with a group? I’m just trying to wrap my brain around how to do this with 5th graders who aren’t as independent as high school students.

    • Hi Kristin,

      I’m not sure I understand your question. If you are looking at my example, the class starts out with a “welcome activity or admission task” then we go into station rotation model. During the rotation, I lead one station which I call “Tucker time.” The rotation takes approximately 60 minutes and we have a 90-minute class.

      I know this may take more training with 5th grade, but I have seen this work in younger classes. Last year I coached teachers who work with 3rd and 5th grade students who use this strategy.


  7. Catlin,

    I love this idea! I will be starting a blended class in the fall and am excited to try out this idea of an interactive agenda.

    Thank you for the suggestions and the templates!

    Teresa (Mikki) Nicholson

  8. Hi,
    I’m a new teacher not familiar with using Google in the classroom. I teach high school business, Photography, and Graphic Design. I would love to learn more about setting this up. I read your posts an am still not sure how this will work in Google. All my students will have a Google Chrome book. I starting these subjects from scratch and have nothing to draw from. The school will host training in Google but not until a couple of days before school starts in August. Can you help? I’m also looking to try to complete the Google Curriculum Map.

  9. How do I embed into Canvas the slide I made and keep the links live?
    I am not sure what I am doing wrong? Can you advise?

  10. I’m a transitioning 5th grade to K-8 Tech/STEM teacher this year. I have VERYYYY limited time (30-40 minutes one time per week), and I believe this station rotation would work well. Do you have any other posts that you feel would be helpful? Also, how do you run your four corners discussions? I LOVE all of your ideas!! Thank you in advance for your time!!!

  11. I keep a running agenda through google posted in Schoology! Students love the opportunity to come in and get started! I have one template from last year, but look forward to changing it up this year.

  12. I love, love, love reading all your posts – and I love emulating some of the things you do. Could you share the template for the google slide agenda??? Thank you SO much!

  13. Hi Catlin,
    I have been trying here and there to utilize station rotations in class. I love the ideas and innovation you bring back into the classroom. How would you account for those students who come in get started, finish and say, “Now what?”
    Thanks again, for rejuvenating myself and my students.

    • Hi Julie,

      I encourage teachers to have a “next steps” or “now what” list on their front board. That way if kids pace more quickly through tasks than their peers, they know what to work on. The first item on my “next steps” is always, “if you did not finish work at a previous station, return to it.” Then I have random items, like “login to Vocabulary.com and review our vocabulary list,” “read and annotate to page 81,” and “finish your sketchnotes for Chapter 5.”


  14. Hi Caitlyn,
    I am trying to keep a running daily agenda this year. I want to link it to my Google Site so parents can click on the link and see the current day as soon as it opens. However, every time I try out the link, the original first slide always shows first. I am pulling my most current slide to the top so it is the first slide, but it still keeps reverting back. Do you have any advice?

    • Hi Tracy,

      I’m not sure why that’s happening. If you add the most recent agenda slide to the top of the slide deck, the “view only” link you have posted on your website should take them to the most current version of the slid deck. I’ll keep digging to see if I can figure out why that might be happening. Maybe others can chime in with suggestions?


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