Monday, March 2, 2015

Adding Symbols!

Over the years I’ve added symbol support to my Animated Step-by-Steps in several of my classrooms. It is not unusual for the teacher to be addressing a literacy agenda using the regular version on the interactive whiteboard, while a student is viewing a symbol-supported version on their laptop.  Typically this individual is being assisted by a para who is assigned the task of making sure the computer version is keeping pace with the Interactive Whiteboard version. Now that I know there’s a Microsoft PowerPoint app the possibility exists for using the iPad to present  a symbol-supported version to a student in need of symbol support. Symbol supported versions are primarily used with students needing lots of exposure to symbols with the hope that this exposure will translate to greater understanding and use of picture symbols for communication. 

So how do you get the symbols embedded in the files that you’ve downloaded from the Teachers Pay Teachers site.

It is important to note the Animated Step-by-Steps were designed to accommodate picture symbols.  As you can see in this illustration, there is sufficient space between the lines of text to add .8” symbols.   I have not added symbols to the downloaded TpT  files primarily because there is so much variation in the symbols people choose to use and the color coding they prefer. Illustrated below are two commonly used symbol sets: SymbolStix and PCSymbols (the latter is depicted with two variations of color coding). Feel free to add your symbol set of choice and whatever color coding system works best for addressing your needs.

Step 1 Convert the Animated Step-by-Step file to an editable format

Convert your downloaded PowerPoint Show file (.pps) into a regular PowerPoint Presentation file (.ppt). Simply change the tag .pps to .ppt.   It will now open as an editable version of the file. If you are using a Windows computer you may need to set your computer to display file types.

If you are using a more current version of PowerPoint (.pptx), you may wish to upgrade the file to this more advanced version. To do this simply open the file, then select File on the menu bar …. the save as function  …. then PowerPoint Presentation (.pptx) in the dropdown menu.

Step 2  Make the symbols

If you are using Boardmaker symbols, create the symbols that you will need to symbolate your file. I typically symbolize only the content words, not the high frequency ‘little’ words like ‘a’ and ‘the’. I do symbolate words like ‘in’ and ‘on’ because the symbols do suggest their meaning. As you can see my symbol template (on the left is designed for 2” symbols and each cell has an xxxxx text placeholder. When creating symbols, it is helpful to establish consistency of font and font size. By using a template with text placeholders this consistency is assured within a school.  With the text tool selected,  place your cursor in the xxxxxx, double click to select  it, then ‘type over’ the xxxxxxx (do not delete it).  This procedure ensures that you will have the same text across all of your converted files.

Step 3  Transfer the symbols to your PowerPoint

Transfer the symbols you’ve made to your PowerPoint file. Click the cursor on the inside cell (not the text or the symbol) of the first symbol you wish to transfer. A dotted line will appear around the cell. Copy the symbol to the clipboard, then open the target page of your Animated Step-by-Step and paste the 2”symbol on the page. Unfortunately this process must be done symbol by symbol. If you try to select a group of symbols they will copy and paste as a group rather than individual symbols.

Step 4   Size  your symbols

You will need to adjust the size of your symbols to fit beneath their corresponding text. When you paste the symbol into the file it is much larger than the .8” square size that you need.

Right click on the larger symbol then select Format Picture from the drop down menu.  This opens a dialog box. Select size from the options on the left hand panel.  Lock the aspect ratio and type in .8”.

I typically paste all the 2” symbols that I need on the page and then ‘batch size’ them as a group . To do this click on all the symbols consecutively while holding down the shift key … then right click on one of the symbols and apply the sizing.

Step 5   Position your symbols on the page

Position the symbols directly under their corresponding text. I always try to position the symbols a bit closer to their line then the line below.

Step 6   Expediting Future Assembly  
If you are planning to ‘symbolate’ a lot of Animated Step-by-Step files, consider copying and pasting your .8” symbols into alphabetized word documents.  I established a word file for every letter of the alphabet and over the years have routinely pasted .8" symbols into their corresponding letter files. This greatly expedited the process of adding symbols to Animated Step-by-Step files as it completely bypasses the need to make and size symbols that you’ve already created.

Hope the task of symbolating your Animated Step-by-Steps goes smoothly.

... ’til the next post …

© 2015 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.