Sunday, July 28, 2019

Enhance Student Engagement & Voice with Mentimeter Interactive Presentations


Mentimeter is a fabulous user-friendly, interactive presentation tool. Responses are anonymous, but collective responses are viewed with rankings that change as responses are submitted, so the audience can view responses in real time. The tool is great for generating conversations, testing knowledge, gathering data, and discovering group thinking/values. Audiences can use any device with an internet connection. The output tools vary so you can choose depending on your needs for an activity. You can use multiple slides and choose a presenter or audience pace. Scroll down for a bulleted list features.



View Video Overviews and a Tutorial on YouTube

Overview Video

How To Tutorial Video
Music: Royalty Free Music from Bensound www.bensound.com

Question types include:
  • Multiple choice quizzes
  • Image choice
  • Scales
  • Open-ended
  • Point assignment (100 pts)
  • 2x2 Grid
  • Who will win?
  • Q&A (ask me anything - questions appear for the speaker to answer)
  • Ranking
  • Quiz Competition
  • Type the correct answer (which will display, and is timed)
  • Word clouds
  • Quick slides to enhance your presentation



Design features include...
  • Use multiple slides
  • Choose a presenter or audience pace
  • Add interactive themes
  • Add photos and gifs to your presentation,
  • Add your logo, or create your own themes
  • Style presentations in slides and on your audience's smartphones
  • Use templates in the ‘Inspiration’ tab



Other features include...
  • Organize with folders
  • Smartphone controls
  • Translations
  • Data export



Find out what’s happening at the Mentimeter blog


Is there something you’d like to see in Mentimeter? Send them a note with your feature ideas


Connect with me on Twitter at: @nathangildart

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Wakelet - Plan & Curate Online Resources with Wakelet

Everyone from tech geek to beginner device users can experience being overwhelmed with boatloads of information on the internet and what to do with it. By now you may have heard of Wakelet or been riding the #WakeletWave on Twitter, but if you haven’t, you’ll be seeing it a lot in the future. True to the developers’ words, this is a great tool to save, organize AND share information. (oh yeah, and it’s free!) Although this is an education blog, you’ll find that it’s not just for those in the field of education - it’s for all of us! (even Coca Cola and Barcelona FC are using Wakelet)

What does Wakelet do?
No more do you have to send a document with a boring list of URLs. The beauty of Wakelet is its simplicity. It allows you to organize websites, YouTube videos, tweets, bookmarks, images, PDFs, and Drive documents into visually appealing collections that can be easily edited, updated, and most importantly - shared. Although I’m new to the tool I have been building collections that my students will be able to access on their devices. Yes, there is a mobile app as well. Although you can keep a collection private until you make it public. However, you can also make it unlisted should you only want those with the link to view a collection.


Other features in Wakelet:
  • Choose between a browser and a mobile app. (Android, iOS, Microsoft teams)
  • Categorize your collections.
  • Create ‘sections’ in a collection by adding text above your links. See this example.
  • Add Google Drive docs directly to a collection.
  • Change the image to a source if there isn’t one available (or the one that automatically generates isn’t what you’re looking for).
  • Access Screencastify directly from Wakelet.
  • Save a link quickly with the Wakelet Chrome extension
  • Embed Flipgrid so that you can access the tool directly from Wakelet. 
  • Invite collaborators without the need for them to sign-in - GREAT for classes, especially if you’re collaborating with a class in another town or country. 
  • Save items from other collections into your own in just two clicks with a bookmark.
  • Save entire (public) collections you find useful. 
  • Inclusive/assistive technology such as the text reader. (surely to continue developing over time)
  • Easily switch from one account to another. (useful for people like me with multiple accounts with multiple purposes)
  • Invite Wakelet users to add to your collections and accept invitations from others to contribute to their collections.
  • Receive notifications of updates that come out regularly. Some of the more recent ones:
  • Download a copy of your Wakelet information in a JSON format.
  • Enable others to copy any or all collections. 
  • Follow and gain followers to frow your PLN!
Here are my current (and growing) collections - https://wakelet.com/@nathangildart

Want to get started now? 
Download Wakelet’s comprehensive ebook in PDF format and learn how to quickly become a Wakelet ninja. (see page 11 for examples of how you might use Wakelet in your classes, but don't limit yourself to these!)

Use the Wakelet Hyperdoc to helps others learn. Sharing Wakelet with colleagues with a quick presentation? They’ve done the work for you with this Slides deck.

Want to an easy way to keep up to date with what’s going on in Wakelet? They walk the talk by using their own collection to share blogs posts. (but you can subscribe to have them emailed to you!)

Have a look at the Wakelet playlist on YouTube.

Once your Wakelet ninja skills are honed, apply to be a Wakelet Ambassador.

Wakelet Online
Ride the #WakeletWave via these online platforms:
Wakelet - https://wakelet.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Wakelet
Twitter - https://twitter.com/wakelet
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/wakelet

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Sustainable Development Goals: Why we must teach them and resources to help

We only have one planet and we’re not doing a great job protecting it, nor many of the people in it. By now,  there aren’t too many people who would disagree with this. So the question is about how we can shift the habits of adults and develop sustainable habits in children - our future. This post is less about what we have to do, and more about how we can do it in our classrooms and model sustainable practices ourselves. Feel free to skip to this Wakelet collection of resources
But first, a little bit about the UN Sustainable Development Goals. (also known as the Global Goals) 

In 2000, the UN set eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with the aim to eradicate poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and disease. The goals were specifically targeted but faced criticism for omitting some critical areas. In 2015 a multi-year process involving civil society, governments, the private sector, and academia culminated in the SDGs. The aim was to account for the shortcomings of the MDGs. The new SDGs - 17 in all - are more comprehensive and have set targets for the year 2030. Learn about the SDGs in this short UN-sponsored video and at this specialized UN website for SGDs. Here is another short video from The Global Goals on YouTube. 

How about a few classroom project ideas? Our classrooms are a great place for educators to do their part at every grade level and any age range. The resources available online for educators (and individuals) is immense. One of my classroom applications have included student research on a popular brand that culminated in a ‘report card’ that assessed the ethical practices of a brand with consideration of SDGs and World Fair Trade Organization principles. (the final action was a public service announcement campaign in which students posted their videos around the school using posters with QR codes) Another was a World Health Summit in which students had to research one disease outbreak and present a power-pitch to a hypothetical sponsoring entity, trying to convince them that their disease needed funding. The power pitch had to include a consideration of SDGs. We also had an election campaign simulation in which students had to consider SDGs while developing their party platforms. We’ve done a letter writing campaign as well. While I’m still on my ‘teaching SDGs journey’, I’ve quickly found that SDGs can be incorporated into pretty much any unit of inquiry. 

The remainder of this post is to give you some starting points for your classroom. 



Teacher Learning & Advocacy


Microsoft-sponsored course for teaching SDGs - A program “designed for educators and all those who would like to teach children and young people about the Sustainable Development Goals, commonly known as the Global Goals.” It includes a wide range of resources from the World’s Largest Lesson. 

Participate Courses - A series of online courses that will empower your teaching of SDGs.

TeachSDGs website - A website with a “goal of actively supporting and enhancing the work of the United Nations' efforts within K-12 classrooms…”. A wealth of resources for the classroom. Check out their Ambassador Program and mission. 

SDGs on Twitter - #TeachSDGs, @TeachSDGs@WorldsLargestLesson, #worldslargestlesson



Activities & Resources


170 Daily Actions - A great list of actionable ways to live the SDGs. Great for anyone. Tweet one per day. 

The Global Citizen Project - Join the movement to Think Global, Act Local and empower your students as global citizens. Whether you just want to stay informed or take the monthly Global Goals challenge with your students, complete the form and let's be changemakers!

Go Goals Game - A downloadable board game to help familiarize your students with SDGs. 

Skype Lesson Plans - See how you can employ Skype (or another video conferencing tool such as Hangouts or Zoom) in your classroom.

The World We Want - A pdf booklet that will give you some ideas for elementary and middle school learners. 

Thomas & Friends Life Lessons - Thomas & Friends have a series of videos that help educators and parents teach young learners about SDGs. 

SDGs in Action app - You and your students can download the SDGs in Action app on your mobile or iPad device through Google Play or the App Store.

World’s Largest Lesson - Scroll through the resource library. It is age-specific, has comics, animated videos, Global Goals games and more. There is a Student Action tab with practical activities and ideas for students to apply what they’ve learned. 

Globalgoals.org - A site with quick access to information and ideas.

Action for Sustainable Development - An organization that highlights activities worldwide with an interactive world map. The “Leave No One Behind” initiative intends to empower all, especially those marginalized and not benefitting from the Global Goals initiative. 

Communication and media downloads - These come from the United Nations and include the SDGs colour wheel, printable SDGs posters, and printable icons of each of the 17 goals.  



Other Resources

SDG Fund
UN Library on SDGs
SDG Action Campaign

Monday, May 20, 2019

Building an Inexpensive Class or Education Website is Easy!

Over time, I’ve found many teaching peers say they would like to build a website but are ‘stuck’ on how to do it. Some want a classroom website for students and parents, or as a place to house their educational resources, or a simple blog to share their thoughts and grow their professional learning network. (PLN)

Well, it’s really not that difficult, nor expensive, anymore.


Gone are the days that you have to know code to make a good looking website. Yes, coding is a good skill to have, but if that’s not your cup of tea then this blog post is for you. Either read on or skip now to this Google Slides deck to learn how. (yes, it’s 51 slides but packed with animated gifs to guide you through the process) The focus of this deck is Google Sites, which is very user-friendly and the features continue to evolve. Additionally, you can connect a custom domain name for less than $20 USD.

Before you begin, a little thinking.

First, identify your purpose. Are you reinventing something already out there, or starting a personal and unique journey that you will enjoy and maintain? It could be a class website, a place for student e-portfolios, a resource bank for your school or professional organization (like a GEG or Edcamp), your teacher musings, an online resume….anything, really!

Second, identify your audience. Is it your students, parents, or your PLN? If you target a specific audience with content that is relevant to their interests they are far more likely to follow you. If it is too broad, it may be more difficult to build a following. (if that is what you want) Admittedly, this Learning Light Bulbs blog is very broad - anything related to teaching and learning. I knew this when I started it, so I feel less pressure to share each week.

Third, explore your options. What works best for your interests, time, and sense of expression. Companies such as Wix, GoDaddy and Squarespace (and others) are popular. While you don’t have to know code to build from their platforms, they do have a steeper learning curve. The (New) Google Sites is very user-friendly relying on simple clicks and a drag-drop method to building your website, even compared to (Classic) Google Sites. Blogger is another Google option but is more complicated. (FYI, this blog is built with Blogger)

Finally, set time aside to get started and follow through! A good idea is to look at some sample sites made with (New) Google Sites and online support resources before you begin.

Good luck, have fun, and paste your site or thoughts in the comments section if you have something to share!



Xu Chu’s Group

Preesh Network

Jivrus Technologies

Joshua Pomeroy

GEG Nagoya

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Google Innovator Academy - Why you should apply!

Have you thought about becoming a Google for Education Certified Educator? If not, I hope this post will encourage you to do so. Before explaining the process I give some of the benefits I’ve experienced through my journey using G Suite for Education and from becoming a #GoogleEI in 2013. You’ll find links embedded in this post and listed below. 


  • Working with a challenge. An inherent part of the Innovator Academy is to come with a problem that you aim to work with. The design cycle is used to work through your Innovator project. (and there are a lot of really cool project ideas - see some of them here
  • A massive growth to your PLN, locally & globally. Innovators are a dynamic community of educators and dedicated lifelong learners. They share, support, and engage with each other. It’s an active and enthusiastic community. 
  • Access to solutions. When I don’t have an answer to a problem (mine or a colleague’s), I ask an Innovator (and the Trainer community as well). Without exception, if I post a question I get multiple responses and almost always walk away satisfied and with new ideas and/or tools.
  • Opportunities to present. Although I’m a regular classroom teacher I have been all over the main island of Japan presenting for schools and at professional development events. I’ve been to the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand as a presenter/workshop facilitator. These opportunities have allowed me to develop my skills in this area. (and meet a whole lot of interesting people!) If you live in the United States, there are many opportunities! (I'm admittedly envious of how much is happening in the United States)
  • Opportunities to test. From time to time Google will reach out to Innovators and Trainers for assistance in testing products or participating in/supporting initiatives before the launch. (often under NDA) It’s quite flattering to be in the loop before most people know there is a loop!


So how do you become part of this inspiring group of people?


  • Study for the GCE Level 1 & 2 exams. Complete the Google Certified Educator exams, both level one and level two. Be sure to study - just using Google doesn’t mean you’re a Google for Education ninja. Use the online study guides to support your learning.
  • Be detailed. Look over the Innovator Program application requirements carefully. In doing this you will have to think about a problem that exists in your educational context. 
  • Identify a problem. While finding a real-world problem you should interview people in your context to discover the nature of the problem. Equally important, find out if your ‘problem’ really is a problem. Don't make a problem that doesn't exist - you may find that you’ve been way off the mark, but hopefully discover what real problems exist. Your goal should be to have a positive impact that affects change, not the Innovator badge.
  • Be thoughtful. Craft your responses carefully. It’s a competitive application process and you’ll want to demonstrate creative thinking.
  • Craft your vision deck carefully. You use a Google Slides deck to create your “Vision Deck” that outlines your vision in 6 slides. Get feedback before submission. Ask any current Innovators (and other educators) to give you advice. 
  • Be active on Twitter and other social media. When doing this, don’t simply retweet. Focus your tweets on useful ideas, articles, videos, etc. If you want to be heard, say something worth listening to. Do this regularly, not once a week. Demonstrate your commitment to sharing and reaching out with meaningful posts. When applications are vetted your social media presence will be assessed. While this is not the be-all-end-all of your application those who are reaching out and sharing stand out. Quality and originality are better than five million retweets. 
  • Plan your application video. While amazing video production isn’t expected, a good video that focuses on the heart of your stated problem is essential. Avoid the one-take video of yourself talking. Use a Slides deck with narration, or a series of video and images that reflect your application. Have a look at some successful application videos on YouTube and use #GoogleEI on Twitter for inspiration and ideas. (and stick to the prescribed length of time - less is more!)

Good luck! We want you on the team!

Google for Education Innovator Academy Information & Application
Google Certified Educator Level 1 (click Fundamentals Training for the course)
Google Certified Educator Level 2 (click Advanced Training for the course)


More on Google for Education Certifications
Google Certified Education Trainer
Google for Education Teacher Center
G Suite Certification for Students (a new program for students!)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Note-Taking Skills: What methods work for you?

*This post will eventually be linked to an additional post with digital tools for note-taking.

Note-taking is a skill students should learn. What we may not be doing clearly enough is deliberately teaching students a range of note-taking methods and how to identify when one method may be better than another. Moreover, having a wider note-taking toolbox allows for differentiation and supports a range of learners and learning styles. Note-taking also helps with memory, organizing ideas for pre-writing, and review for tests/exams.

Note-taking is an active process, helping us concentrate and keep us engaged with our task - when conducting research, when listening to lectures, or when we discuss or debate. It helps us focus. This allows us to keep a permanent, condensed record of what we researched, heard, or independently thought for later review. Note-taking can help us organize ideas and processes, while not having to write down everything. As we actively process our thinking we can better understand what we’re learning, or question what we don’t understand. If taking notes from a lecture, we may learn information and ideas not found in a text.


Click the image to access a downloadable and editable Google Slides deck.
*It is admittedly text-heavy - please modify to your needs.

What should good notes have? 
(this will vary depending on what you are taking notes for)

  • Key concepts and main ideas
  • Examples
  • New vocabulary and definitions
  • References that may help you later
  • Questions, things you don’t understand
  • Your thoughts, ideas, and insights
Tips

  • Decide on simple drawings, symbols, abbreviations and acronyms for quick note-taking
  • Use colours, underlining, circling to highlight keywords and concepts
  • Paraphrase so you understand what has been written
  • If taking notes on a computer master the keyboard shortcuts you could use most

These are what I’ve found to be the most common forms of note-taking. (see the Slides deck designed for in-class use though it is admittedly somewhat text-heavy)

---------------------------------------------------

The Sentence Method
A basic method that writes all details in a chronological order.
  • Helpful when you don’t know the structure of an investigation or lecture
  • May be helpful for fast writers, but not for slower writers
  • Good for taking notes on a laptop

What’s the structure?

  • Start with a main topic written as a heading
  • Break main topics down into subtopics
  • Focus on the main ideas and supporting ideas only - not every detail and anecdote
  • Separate main topics from each other

Outline Method
A method that separates major to minor points.
  • Works well when there is a clear structure of a discussion, lecture, piece of text
  • Highlights the key points
  • Simplicity allows you to focus
  • Less time needed for reviewing and editing
  • Simple structure leads to better organization/scaffolding

What’s the structure?

  • List key ideas into a list of notes, scaffolded with subheadings and sub-notes (major points to the far left)
  • Indent each point as you go into greater detail
  • You can use letters of the alphabet and/or Roman numerals or decimals to further organize/scaffold
  • Go back and highlight/underline/circle keywords and concepts
  • *Easy way to remember is: main topic > subtopic or key concept > supporting detail or evidence > further detail or evidence/elaboration

Cornell Method
An organizational framework to take notes.
  • Separates major to minor points
  • Provides for noting keywords and questions

Focus is on

  • Recording information
  • Recording extra comments, questions, thoughts about the information
  • Summarizing the main ideas

What’s the structure?
Page is divided into three (or four) sections
  • One row at the top for title and date
  • Two columns in the center - the left side for keywords, concepts, and questions; the right side for a list of notes, scaffolded with subheadings and sub-notes (like the outline method in the previous slide)
  • One row at the bottom for a summary

Table / Chart / Matrix
A method that converts linear notes into a chart format.
  • Simplifies long notes or detailed topics notes into topics and categories (for example, when studying a historical event in detail)
  • Helps to be concise, emphasizes relationships and patterns, helps to identify gaps in the information
  • Helps with large amounts of information and specific details such as statistics
  • If you know there are only two topics, perhaps a T-Chart will work best (which helps with comparisons)

What’s the structure?

  • Divide your sheet into columns
  • Option one - columns only: Write a separate topic for each column and beneath these write key points (if you have too many columns, write a new set of columns below)
  • Option two - chart: Write a separate topic for each column and beneath these write key points.; you can also create a chart, and fill in categories both horizontally and vertically
  • Option three - a T-Chart: Set up a two columns with the one topic at the top of each column and write the key points under each relevant topic


Boxing Method
A method in which all notes that are related to each other are put into the same box or shape.
  • Good for isolating independent ideas
  • Supports organization
  • Visually separates ideas
  • Helps focus when reviewing (one box at a time)
  • Doing it digitally? Use iPad, Padlet, Google Drawing, Google Slides, Google Keep, etc. 

What’s the structure?

  • Identify your topics with the intention of grouping each one into a single box
  • Draw a new box as you enter into a new topic BUT don’t draw the bottom line until finished that topic (or leave it open in case you want to add ideas)
  • Depending on the topic (an event or a process) consider using chronological order
  • When reviewing draw lines or arrows to make connections




Mind Maps / Concept Maps
A graphical way of organizing your thoughts and showing how concepts are related or different and helps critical thinking.

  • Used to organize information, facts, concepts, equations, theories, etc
  • Breaks down difficult and/or detailed topics
  • Can be used to make connections between key concepts
  • Great for visual learners

What’s the structure?

  • Starts with a central idea with “nodes” that branch off into more related “nodes” with short notes - choose your central theme or topic and write it in the middle or top of the page
  • Determine your key themes and write them into separate branches called “nodes” (and decide a way to highlight them so they stand out as different from the other nodes)
  • Add keywords, ideas or concepts into sub-branches
  • Continue this until you’ve reached the core of the topic or subtopic
  • *integrate visual cues, such as diagrams, arrows, or colours, to emphasize concepts and connections
  • *use numbers or marks (ie) asterisks to help organize



Sketchnotes / Image Journaling
A method that involves bringing more visuals compared to typical note-taking.

  • Use images and text in a logical flow
  • Helps you to focus, listen actively
  • Helps you to remember
  • Images/sketches are simple and quick to draw - you don’t have to be an artist
  • Taps into a part of the brain that is ignored when only writing

What’s the structure?

  • Try to think of a structure or pattern in the beginning (a little difficult if it’s a lecture and an outline hasn’t been given)
  • Start in a top corner (doesn’t matter which one) or in the middle
  • Continue writing notes and drawing simple visuals, but keeping with a pattern that can be followed later (though sketchnotes can become wild and random)


Monday, January 14, 2019

ThingLink: A media-rich tool with endless classroom applications!

If you're into app smashing - the practicing of using multiple apps to create projects or finish tasks - then you will love media-rich ThingLink. (your students will love it as well) Teachers and students can easily create interactive infographics, maps, their own (scanned) drawings, as well as 360 videos. Create audio narration, images, videos, and quizzes. Why not take students on a 360° virtual field trip to a place outside of your country? ThingLink is available on smartphones, tablets, and desktop/laptop computers.

You can easily create projects that connect to developing digital literacy skills and addressing Common Core reading and writing standards, ISTE, and others.

Remember - it doesn’t have to be 360°! Click the image for a tutorial video, and then check out some of the ideas below.
Click the image for a tutorial video.

Here are a few of my ThingLink tours. Note the YouTube, image and text integrations.

Sensoji Temple Complex 浅草寺 | Tokyo, Japan

Graves of the 47 Ronin at Sengakuji Temple (泉岳寺) | Kanagawa, Japan

Mitsumine Shrine 三峰神社 | Chichibu, Japan


How about some other ideas?

  • Create virtual tours of places.
  • Create a campus map. Use icons to show if a hotspot is a video, or a particular kind of information. 
  • Create a kind of ‘hyperdoc’, but with a media-rich platform.
  • Create an interactive map of your community with popup images. Take a screenshot from Google Earth and use it as your base. 
  • Curate online resources for a project.
  • Have students annotate an image to demonstrate learning. (for example, a primary source document in history)
  • Annotate an image that shows a process, numbering the hotspots to guide the viewer. (ie) the volcanic process
  • Create a timeline of events in a story or event in history. 
  • Create a floor plan.

ThingLink is also updating regularly and has a new Tour Creator feature.

Keep up with the ThingLink blog for educators. (they have one for businesses as well)