Monday, December 23, 2019

Some Holiday Fun with Google Earth

Stay tuned for a detailed “how to” video on the new Google Earth projects tool. In the meantime, have some fun with this Google Earth tour on the History of Christmas, made with the new projects tools!

Have a little fun with this Christmas History tour on Google Earth.

Read through and then test your knowledge with a Jeopardy game.

A little about the new tool
Since before writing people have been storytellers. Stories are the threads that weave us together, and we all have stories to tell. You don’t have to be a Geography teacher to take advantage of Google’s geo tools - and specifically the new Google Earth project tool - to get your students researching, synthesizing, and creating content while collaborating! Google Earth takes you on journeys in Science, Geography, History, Culture - whatever can be mapped is a story to be told. The tools available include searching for and adding places, navigating to Street View, using slides, adding images and videos, and embedding external websites with the HTML feature. *Note: a Gmail account or school Google domain account is necessary and while Google Earth projects can be viewed on any device, projects must be made on a laptop.

Watch your students grow into engaging storytellers with Google Earth's new creation tool!

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Broadcast Learning with YouTube Live!

The use of YouTube in connected classrooms is now commonplace. Teachers often show videos or clips of videos to enhance understanding of a concept, process, or event. Some use a flipped model of learning where students view videos at home and come to class prepared with questions and discussion topics. Some may employ tools such as Edpuzzle to make viewing videos more interactive, while others have students create content that can be consumed by others for learning, entertainment, or both. 
I would suspect that few (including myself) are using YouTube to broadcast student learning. By this, I mean actually broadcasting live via YouTube, like a television station. Although there are plans to broadcast with our local Google Educator Group in Nagoya, Japan, I have not broadcast with students. But the idea has been nagging me in the back of my mind. Before setting up your channel for live broadcasting there are some questions to consider. (please, add your thoughts in the comment box)

What’s your purpose? Demonstrating learning in your class or department? Enhancing student agency? Development of specific skills that are related to broadcasting? Sharing school news? PR for your school or professional organization?

What will you broadcast? Broadcasting with YouTube Live on your YouTube channel would help your audience if there is an overarching theme. It could be your Grade 5 class bi-monthly news or interviews with students sharing what they’ve learned recently. With an overarching theme, like “Learning in Social Studies”, you can pretty much connect anything to your live broadcast agenda. 

Where will you broadcast? In a perfect world, every school would have a broadcasting/recording studio. If you have one, you’re set. If not, think about how to transform a small corner of your classroom into a studio. What will you use for a background and props? (if you need them) Will you have an interview-style broadcast or newscasters? How will you use video? If you use an external camera and microphone you will need to study up on how to do this. (login to your Gmail account to access this short YouTube Creator Academy course to learn how. Keep in mind, YouTube Live broadcast could also simply be a slide deck that screen-shared and students explaining each slide. 

When will you broadcast, how frequently, and how long? Let’s face it, when you start a program you’ll be expected to follow through in order to be successful. Choose a day of the week and time for people to look forward to. (and ideally, a day that doesn’t have a lot of interruptions due to school holidays) This may depend on the nature of your project and purpose. Start with something manageable like once per month, giving students time to practice and teachers time to promote. Make it a celebration. When you’re organized and “professional” do two per month, etc, until you have a weekly news channel. If you don’t decide how long each episode will be in the beginning, use the YouTube Analytics feature to find out how long your videos retain viewers and adjust to that. 

So, how do you do this? Follow these basic steps or go straight to YouTube Support.

*A YouTube tutorial video will follow soon.*

Activate your YouTube Channel in your Gmail account. Learn here.
Enable live streaming. Learn here.
Create a live stream in the Live Control Room. Learn here.
For YouTube Creator Studio Beta version learn here
For YouTube Creator Studio Classic learn here
Create a live stream via webcam. Learn here
Streaming Tips can be found here

Do you want to become a YouTube ninja? Choose from a range of YouTube Creator Academy courses. 

Do you want to become YouTube Certified? Learn how to do this as an individual or a business here

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

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 -

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 -
Facebook -
Twitter -
Instagram -

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. - 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!)