Category Archives: Digital-Age Learning Culture

GSuite in Action: GEarth

Classroom Uses

Google Earth is a free application that works as a browser for all sorts of information on Earth. It uses satellite imagery to grab, spin, pan, tilt and zoom down to any place on Earth. Students can explore every corner of the globe, measure distances, create their own virtual tours, and share their tours with others. You can also create and download layers of information and view them in geographic context.



  • Have students explore the placemarks for Harry Potter and Fairy Tales from Around the World through the Voyageur section.



  • Teach your students that mathematics is all around them: use Google Earth to identify shapes and angles, such as looking at the different shapes of swimming pools; or get a close-up view of a cafe with outside tables, and have students count the tables and the number of customers. For older students visit for great idea on using Google Earth to teach mathematics.



  • Have students explore verified locations where meteors have hit the Earth, then create a chart of the number of craters per continent.
  • Explore the earth’s terrain in 3D – Discover the world’s incredible physical geography by using the compass to tilt your perspective into a 3D view.
  • Extreme biodiversity on the high seas – Join Mission Blue on a high seas adventure to the Costa Rica Thermal Dome Hope Spot where we follow marine biologists in the field tagging turtles, tracking sharks and more.
  • Pristine seas – Join Dr Enric Sala on his mission to protect the last truly wild places in the ocean. Activities.



  • Have students pretend they are with Sir Ernest Shackelton during his adventure in Antarctica. Explore the virtual tour in Google Earth and have students write diary entries to personalize the experience. mapping, the iterative design process, and user feedback.
  • A Storytelling Odyssey – Journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek is walking the globe in the footsteps of our ancient forebears. Follow along as he reveals hidden stories of Earth’s remote corners, and of the people who inhabit them. Activities.
  • Explorers: Age of Encounter – The explorations of Samuel de Champlain, Jacques Marquette, Louis Jolliet and Renee de LaSalle opened the interior of North America to European settlement and trade. Lesson Plan.
  • This is Home – While the countries, cultures and climates may differ, knowing we all have a place to call home is a first step to understanding everything we have in common. Activity.



    • Immersive global imagery – Dive into Google’s huge library of 360-degree imagery using Street View. Just click on Pegman and follow the blue lines to where you want to go in Google Earth.
    • Using the Search feature, you can easily learn more about places around the world by clicking open the related Knowledge Card. Within the card you will find detailed information and related places to explore.





Videoconferencing on a Budget

I support all of our school sites in utilizing videoconferencing equipment in its most effective state – the classroom, with experts, other classrooms around the world (and around the corner!). Over the years we have developed special partnerships with companies like Cisco and Compugen that have brought in some fantastic VC equipment. Yet, not all of our classrooms nor school sites can afford these items AND all students should have access to the opportunity to videoconference with someone/a class outside of their own classroom. There are also organizations that offer free VC programming, you just need to know where to look!


The Logitech BCC950 Conference Cam has a full HD camera, 78° field of view with autofocus, zoom, duplex speakerphone with echo and noise cancellation and an omnidirectional microphone. With 2 USB connections, teachers just plug in this device to their laptop, get on the VC application that they need (Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, etc.), choose the proper settings and start any VC. When I show this to teachers who have not used this equipment before, they are so excited AND they are ready to go in five minutes.


Below are the various organizations that I go to in finding many substantial and relevant videoconference activities (free) for our sites. Yes, there are organizations who charge and do a great job or hosting VC events and if classrooms have the $$ to spend for them that is great too. These ones offer free VC programming and are worth it to check out!

Enjoy your VC journey!



GSuite in Action: GSites

Classroom Uses

Google Sites is a structured wiki- and web page creation tool. Google Sites can be used in any subject area at any grade level for whole class, projects or portfolios. Check out some of the exemplars on this page to get you using Google Sites!



Digital Literacy Fundamentals – citizenship and tech skills resources

Indigenous Education

Make1Change Learning Road Trip



Creating Numeracy Rich Environments in Schools

English Language Learning

French as a Second Language 4-6

Launch into edTech

L’immersion en Alberta

Math and Technology

Thinking Strategies






Harnessing Skynet for Good: Using AI in the Classroom

When we think artificial intelligence, it is very likely that we conjure up scenes from franchised science fiction thriller (Terminator) or complete infatuation with a computer (Her) or even autocorrect on our own smartphones.

Check out a basic video overview on Artificial Intelligence. (5:27)

Examples in Everyday Life article and more HERE.


How teachers can utilize AI in engaging student learning with next practice strategies?

AUTOMATION: assistance with grading. Here teachers can give quick feedback to students through a survey that is autograded. Opportunities for exit tickets, anticipatory knowledge gathering of a new concept/topic or just general interest will give both teachers and students a baseline of information to work from.

  • Chatbots like those found on Snatchbot ( can be created by students and teachers. Examples like Mitsuku, WestJet’s Juliet and Snatchbot gallery.
  • Chatbots for students – these at can be used to get organized or to have a conversation.
  • Siri is found on an iOS device in Settings > Siri & Search. Allow “Hey Siri”.
  • Cortana is a digital agent for Windows 10.
  • A caution for teachers in using Voice Assistants like Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home in their classroom. Currently these smart speakers connect with a personal account which would not use a school division’s filtering system. Once these smart speakers are able to utilize or be connected to a hosted O365 or GSuite Apps for Education teacher account, they would be more secure and safe to use.

Such as text-to-speech or speech-to-text online systems that reinforce and provide tools to remove barriers for students so that they may demonstrate their learning.


Artificial intelligence resources in education are great in providing secondary sources of information and support for learners. The above examples are a small sampling of what teachers can do to provide students with access to machine learning in a purposeful way. Yet it is important to note that AI does not provide the humanity and emotional-social support that is so important in the classroom. School staff are an integral part of making a learning environment the most engaging, safe, imaginative and creative it can be.


#oneword2019 – MAKE

Ahh, a new year has now started and I am releasing my #oneword2019. This is something that I have enjoyed choosing and thinking about over the past few years.

After eight years, I changed office spaces and in my new office (image below), I had the words MAKE IT HAPPEN put up. (Our wonderful and creative Admin Assistant in Learning Services made the letters for me.) They sit above my standing desk (you can see the “happen” sneaking in at the top of the panoramic photo. These words remind me of the supports, services and the learning that I provide and experience in order to move our important educational work forward of Student Success and Wellness (PSD70 2018-19 Ed Plan).

So, whatever I will do over the next many months, I want to remember that I can MAKE it happen, MAKE it real, and MAKE it matter.

This #oneword activity for the New Year is not just for adults! Check out the One Word Google Slides activity that @meredithakers created that I am sharing with teachers.

Go to the ONE WORD Collaborative Slides Activity link to get started with your students! You can even print the slides in color and post them in your classroom or hallway, what about in a staffroom if staff want to share their one word? Lots of possibilities.

See my:





Get Techy w/Student Creations

Becoming and developing into a creative thinker is a way for students to devise new ways to carry out their learning, to problem solve and to meet challenges. A variety of perspectives and ideas are part of this creative process. Teachers support this through structuring the learning environment to encourage this type of thinking, doing and learning.


Here are some tools that you can use to develop creative thinking skills like understanding, analyzing, open mindedness, problem solving, organization and communication. These tools offer opportunities for creative thought in the classroom from the most obvious artistic standpoint to a more highly technical one.


  • Students can compose a dialogue for a TV/radio commercial, a phone script, a talking poem or even a memoir. Flipgrid is an online video response platform. Teachers can post topics, videos or links and students respond to the prompt through video reflections. From this, using criteria, peers could choose their top 10 responses and teachers can then create MixTapes that highlight some of the creative thinking over a certain period or concept. Showcase Student Videos with Flipgrid MixTapes.

  • Storyboarding with purpose-built services like Storyboard That and Make Beliefs Comix provide good models for students to create meaningful and impactful storyboards. Watch this video to learn how to print a storyboard in Google Slides (if you want students to use paper) and then transfer it to an online environment. There are also a lot of storyboard templates found at Boords. From these templates students can then create a video speaking to this with Screencastify.

  • Once a student has brainstormed and developed a script, check out the new Screencastify for Slides add-on to create video reflection. Go to Slides > add-ons > Manage.


Learning Today in a 24/7 Connected World


Photo Credit: Kellie M. Simpson Flickr via Compfight cc

Like a traditional board game, learning has moments where all the experiences connect into some genuine learning wins while other times it seems like there are not enough resources and/or supports (like board pieces) in place to be successful. This post reflects on the many discussions, resources, and ideas that Will Richardson, renowned blogger, author, and outspoken educational advocate,  shared during his two keynotes at the BlendED Alberta 2018 Symposium in Edmonton. 

Whether in an Outreach program, learning centre, distance learning program or classroom, teachers are using the online environment to expand and extend learning opportunities, building flexibility to student learning.  The blendED Symposium is designed to share emerging practices while providing opportunities for networking with sessions that will inspire and provoke delegates to think outside the traditional learning environment.

With today’s society changing at a rapid pace in all aspects of work, life, and general society, what are schools doing to prepare students?

An important question to ask ourselves is: what is PRODUCTIVE learning?

How do we set up a learning environment that is relevant, active, engaging and supports the needs of all our students?


What is your belief? How does your school or even school division support this work?

Another book to put on your professional reading list is Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a collection of essays, many of which build on articles for the New York Times, Bloomberg and elsewhere. This book follows a similar use of evolutionary psychology as self-help as his previous two books. The world is a scary, fast-changing place, so it’s no surprise our primitive brains struggle to navigate through it. We simply haven’t evolved to cope with automated checkouts and emailing after 7pm. Harari points out that humans are endlessly creative and sometimes we solve problems by changing the question rather than answering it. Hence, the large role that lifelong learning plays in each of us!

What are the contexts and conditions for this to occur?

Teacher answers around the world:                What people never say:     










For further reading, check out Timeless Learning a book written by an award-winning team of leaders, Chief Technology Officer Ira Socol, Superintendent Pam Moran, and Lab Schools Principal Chad Ratliff who demonstrate how you can implement innovative practices that have shown remarkable success.


How do we come up with the skills to address an algorithm-driven online existence?

In Alberta, some jurisdictions are already using gradeless report cards. Our own school division uses achievement indicators in grades 1-9 as seen HERE. Joe Bower, a former central Alberta teacher, shared the many ways he went gradeless in his classroom. His blog continues to be a great “go-to” for teachers to reflect on his experiences as well as update some of their own assessment practices.

Modern Learning

Some things to ponder:

  • What is learning?
  • What is “blended” learning?
  • What is our mission? Why “blended”?
  • Are we doing blended learning or blended teaching?
  • What is the most important role of the teacher in blended environments?
  • Do we have full empathy for the student experience in blended environments?
  • Are we co-constructing curriculum with students?
  • What opportunities are we creating for students to fulfill their greatest potentials?
  • How are we a model for blended learning?
  • Is our practice in “perpetual beta”?

Compare those questions with those directly from Richardson’s 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning. What do you think about being in “perpetual beta”? Is this a comfortable way to learn for teachers and students? How can we introduce this concept in the classroom? It certainly points to showing that nothing (like learning) is ever finished, rather knowledge is a constant conversation in the modern world. Have a peek into Peter Senge’s Schools that Learn (revised and updated) book.

What is the best way to provide a framework for students to show that productive learning is worthwhile?

Let’s make a move from Genius Hour and change it to Genius Learning; from Tinkerlab to tinkering our learning anytime/anywhere. We need to continue our professional conversations and provide the most inviting learning environments as possible. I look forward to seeing the influence that the new concept-based curriculum has in not only the K-4 classrooms in Alberta and also the upper grades as new curriculum rollouts will be seen over the next few years.

So, while we all like playing a “game”, it’s really not the games themselves that improve learning, but rather smart game design and its impact on the brain. Teachers and administrators want to provide students with modern productive and engaging learning activities.