I have long been a fan of Tony Vincent and his website and resources at LearninginHand.com. Tony is one of the most creative educators I know.
One such creative project that has blown me away is his Shapegrams projects (grades 2-8), an image challenge for students to recreate images using Google drawings.
In this post, Tony will show you how Shapegrams can challenge students much like a puzzle while also teaching them technology skills.
These grab-and-go Google drawing lessons are so much fun!
Below is a guest post by Tony Vincent.
Shapegrams: Grab-and-Go Google Drawings Lessons
You might be looking for quality activities that students can do independently. The best independent activities tend to be engaging, easily understood, and worthwhile.
You might be looking for ways to boost students’ communication, creativity, and technology skills. You might not feel comfortable teaching specific drawing and graphic techniques.
I might have a solution that would work well for you and your students. I’ve made a sequence of lessons called Shapegrams. Each Shapegram challenges students to recreate a picture using shapes. Think of it like a puzzle–a puzzle that helps students level up their drawing skills.
Shapegrams are packaged inside a series of Google Drawings documents. Each contains an instructional video, design hints, and a related activity.
Shapegrams are designed to be very low prep. It’s easy for teachers to grab a link to a Shapegram and send it to students.
- Go to shapegrams.com/get and copy a Shapegram’s link.
- Send the link to students.
- Students click the link and are prompted to make a copy.
- Students watch the video and recreate the picture.
- Encourage students to put a creative spin on their pictures.
Thirty-six Shapegrams are sequenced to build students’ capabilities gradually. The first four are freely available. Students learn about fills, borders, zooming, duplicating, rotating, aligning, ordering, grouping, and flipping in those four initial lessons. They also learn helpful keyboard shortcuts.
A Shapegrams membership gets you access to all Shapegrams and gives you a license to distribute them to your students. The skills become more advanced, and students practice things like drop shadows, custom gradients, hex codes, perspective, and drawing emotions.
Membership is $35 per year for one teacher. School accounts are available for teams, schools, and districts. Membership is affordable because I believe in the importance of what students learn by doing Shapegrams challenges.
When I taught fifth grade, a new Shapegram greeted students in our Google Classroom for their morning message every Wednesday. By the end of the school year, my students could expertly draw their own clipart, diagrams, and models. Their skills are transferred to Google Slides and other apps.
Shapegrams are challenging, and students can get frustrated. That’s why I’ve included growth mindset encouragement in each instructional video.
Shapegrams can be incorporated into a student’s day in a variety of ways:
Shapegrams keep students busy, but it is not busywork. Students actively learn digital drawing and technology skills while being creative problem solvers.
If you teach grades two through eight, I invite you to get a Shapegram and give it a try.
About Tony Vincent
Learning in Hand started in 2002 as part of my classroom website. At first, focusing on Palm handhelds, Learning in Hand now encompasses anything I think might be handy for teachers.
I live in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and after 12 years of self-employment, I returned to classroom teaching for the 2018-2019 school year. I taught fifth-graders at College View Elementary School. Teaching in a classroom for the year has reinvigorated my passion for helping teachers.
Since 1998 I’ve been a pioneer in digital learning, having a classroom website before many classrooms even had internet access. In 2001 I had a one-to-one classroom with Palm Pilots, and in 2005 I started one of the first podcasts from an elementary school. After teaching fifth grade for six years, I was my school’s technology coach for a couple more. I enjoyed helping my colleagues integrate technology.
In 2006 I became a self-employed consultant. I have traveled to almost every state, Canada, Australia, England, and the Caribbean to facilitate workshops and to make presentations to K-12 educators and students.
I’ve been on a mission to help teachers be more awesome, and that often involves technology. Over the years, I have authored books, produced videos, developed an iPad app, and blogged about learning and technology—all in an effort to support great teaching and deeper learning.
Tony’s Website: LearninginHand.com
Tony on Twitter: @tonyvincent
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