Using Google Slides To Take Dynamic Notes in an Instant!

About Polaroid Notes


came about out of pure necessity! Seriously, that's what it was. Necessity. Not me being creative or innovative or just wanting to do something "fancy" with Google Slides.

It literally happened because of 2 things:

I needed to be more productive and efficient.

That's it. Nothing more and nothing less.

So, to help you understand what I mean, here's a little history.

Before I started working for the esteemed ed tech PD provider, friEdTechnology, I was a Professional and Digital Learning Coordinator for Humble ISD, a school district about 20 miles northeast of Houston, Texas, with a student population of roughly 44,000 students.

My role was to provide purposeful digital integration support and professional learning opportunities for the secondary campuses in the district.

I was fortunate (and still am) to get the privilege of attending and oftentimes presenting at a variety of ed tech conferences throughout the year with the goal of learning new trends, strategies, and best practices for all aspects of digital literacy.

The point was for me to bring new and/or repurposed ideas back to the district, align them to the goals of the campuses and teachers I served, and create deliverables in the form of face-to-face, job-embedded, and/or online professional learning.

My Old Way of Taking Notes

The Google Docs Conundrum

So with that said, for four of the six years I worked at the district, I would go to these conferences and basically type everything the speakers were saying into several Google Documents, while thinking to myself, "Wow! I can't wait to use all of these amazing tools and resources and share them with our teachers,"

only to be greeted by 100 emails, calendar drops for meetings, new projects, follow-ups on existing projects, campus visits, and professional learning commitments when I returned to work.

Don't get me wrong... I shared a lot of what I learned, just not to its full potential. Finding the time to go through all of the pages and pages of notes I had taken with all of the amazing tools and resources that I learned about seemed impossible and well, daunting.

I LOVED my job! I loved (and still do) helping and supporting campuses and teachers and providing them with high quality professional learning, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I could do better.

The Google Slides Inspiration

Our Digital Learning department had been working with a group of teachers, media specialists, and instructional coaches, aka TILT (Technology Integration Leadership Team), for about five years to build digital capacity in the district. They were our boots on the ground, and their monumental purpose was to extend the reach and impact of our small department of two.

We met with TILT around 5 times a year, and part of that time was spent sharing new tools, resources, and ideas. We called this time our Digital Playground. At the Digital Playground, TILT members could choose to learn about and practice with a variety of digital tools for a 45-minute period.

Example 1 Digital Playground Poster
Example 2 Digital Playground Poster

To focus their attention, I started making 8.5 x 11 posters in Google Slides for each tool in the Playground. The TILT members utilize the posters to learn more information about the tools and then design different ways the tools could be used in the classroom.

I had no idea at the time, but these posters would become the inspiration for my new note-taking strategy!

The Start of Polaroid Notes

In February of 2019, on the eve of the TCEA (Texas Computer Educator Association) Conference, I had a decision to make. I could keep transcribing everything I learned from each session in numerous Google Docs, knowing full well I would probably never get back to looking at even a fraction of them, or I could do something different. I decided to go with "different."

My first attempt at Polaroid Notes - TCEA 2019
I got better as I went along! TCEA 2019

Drawing inspiration from the Digital Playground posters, I decided to use Google Slides instead of Docs to take my notes.

Since TCEA 2019, I use one Google Slides deck when I go to a conference. Each slide represents a session I attend.

I focus on the big ideas: the WHAT, the WHY, and the HOW. Then, I add images, word art, color, symbols, shapes, links to resources, and even video to make my Polaroid Notes POP!

AND, by creating them in Google Slides, I now have resources that can be printed or shared digitally in an instant, just like Polaroids! Hence, the name!

Just like that,

Polaroid Notes

was born...without fanfare, without a name (at first), but with PURPOSE...

the way all great instruction and learning practices begin. I simply

  • Identified the need,

  • Evaluated the Resources,

  • Chose the best tool for the task.

Polaroid Notes

has become my sidekick, my plus one, my companion at every conference I attend.

I absolutely love sharing how it has changed the way I think, process, and apply new information.

SO, that's how the journey of Polaroid Notes began and will continue to make learning

Purposeful, Memorable, and Shareable.

TCEA 2019
Copy of E. King Notes TCEA 2019
ISTE 2019
ISTE 2019 - Polaroid Notes
Google Summit
SET 360 Google Summit - Tomball ISD 2019
TCEA 2020
TCEA 2020 Polaroid Notes - @elizabethking88