Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A @Snapchat Project Based Learning Attempt #EngChat #PBL

I wanted to change things up for my students the week before finals and after we finished the Mock Trial of Mark Twain. My students have been doing plenty of writing, so I was looking for something a little different. Instead of coming up with something on my own, I asked the students. During our discussion, Snapchat was mentioned and an entire project grew from there.

The thing that I decided to focus on with Snapchat is that it offers a very specific point of view. The user can quickly share their thoughts on anything and any situation. They can add effects to add emphasis or even context if needed. This ability made me think about Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because the story is told strictly from Huck's point of view. What if the other characters could share their point view on events from the story? This is the foundation for this assignment.

My students are currently working on this assignment and are pretty excited about it. They are limited in time (two days), but are working hard to share their characters point of view. The students have already created accounts and their "Story" will be posted Friday morning and last for 24 hours. They will also download them and post them to YouTube so we can view them later. I encourage you  to follow these accounts to see what they create.

Boggs' Death                                     Freeing Jim

        Huck_Finn17                                      WhatThe-Huck
                                     Willbury.Madi                                    Tom.Sawyer17                             Col.Sherburn                                      Fun_Jim

Wilks Con                                        Royal Nonsuch

                     HuckFinn1995                                  TownsPeople84                       
Joanne_Wilks                                    HuckBoi_Finn
KingLuvsCash                                   DukeOfTheBilge

Here is the assignment if you want to see where I started. I think that this assignment can be used for many different stories that use first person point of view, but it not limited to that. Other stories written in the third person could still use the same assignment. I also think that history classes can accomplish the same thing. How might soldiers engaged in the same battle on opposite sides view the outcomes? There are plenty of possibilities if we are willing to go beyond the norm when creating project ideas for students. 

I do not know how this is going to work out in the end, but I thought I would share it and see where this takes us. This project might be refined based on your suggestions or it might lead to a different project altogether. Stay tuned for the Snapchat stories going live on Friday morning.


Here are the videos that students uploaded to SnapChat for the project. The students shared them and then dowloaded them and then uploaded them to YouTube. We encountered a few hiccups along the way, but the students did a great job problem solving and then provided wonderful feedback on the project.


When uploading snaps later, they upload in the order they were taken, not the order of the upload. This means the students will need to create snaps in chronological order next time.

There was some discrepancy on whether or not you have to follow someone back so they can see their story, but it was determined you can adjust your settings to address this issue.

Some students uploaded their stories the night before instead of the morning of and that threw off the 24hr connection of the entire group. That is fine the students said because you can always re-upload the story again after the 24 hours has passed if needed.


Students said they enjoyed the project as a nice diversion before Finals.

Students said it was fun, but not as in depth as the Mock Trial.

Students would be interested in trying it with other stories. Maybe Huck Finn did not lend itself to this specific project. The Great Gatsby was suggested as another possibility.


Here are a few of the videos from the project. Some of the Snaps are not in the correct order due to the hiccups mentioned earlier, but they are a valiant first attempt at something brand new to everyone involved.

The Wilks Brothers Con

The Royal NonSuch

Thursday, January 5, 2017

#ConnectedEd in 2017

I was talking with friends about the value/need of being a connected educator and it lead me to this tweet. 
Big picture question: What does it mean to be a connected educator? Do you just have to read some tweets and snag an idea for your classroom? Do you need to be part of the amazing Global Read Aloud? I wonder what level of engagement would be required to be considered a connected educator.

Slightly smaller picture question: Are students really missing out if a teacher is not a connected educator? Students are very connected as is, so are the missing anything when the teacher is not connected to other classes? There are plenty of amazing educators out there that are not connected educators and their students are doing great. Are those teachers "failing" their students by not being connected?

What do you think? Do schools need to encourage more of their teachers to become connected educators? Are students at a disadvantage if their teachers are not connected? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Exciting Giveaway with @Makerspaces_com & @HueHD


I've partnered with and Hue to kick off the New Year with a fun giveaway. If you are looking to get started with Making in 2017, my book and the Animation Studio from HUE is an excellent place to begin. There are going to be 4 winners and each winner will receive a signed copy of my book, "Your Starter Guide to Makerspaces" and an Animation Studio from HUE. Click below to enter the contest and share with your friends and colleagues. 

Giveaway Rules:

Contest will run from 1/1/17 to 1/31/17 at 11:59 pm ET.
Open to all residents US & INTL
There will be (4) winners chosen at random from the list of entries received.
The winners will be announced in the newsletter on 2/2/17

Sunday, January 1, 2017

#Make52 Challenge

Happy New Year!

I'm always looking for something to challenge me in the new year. During the first week of my break, I've had a chance to tinker again and it is such a fun experience coming back to things after being buried in work. I wanted to challenge myself to try and make something once a week. What I will make will really be up to what I'm feeling like that week. Some of my projects might just be hacks or upgrades of older projects, or they might be something brand new. They might also have nothing to do with technology at all. I might take some time to color and make things pretty. No matter what it is and how it ends up, I will share it on my blog, Instagram, or Twitter. The more complex the project, the more likely I will provide a detailed reflection here.

I would love to see others join me in this fun adventure and #Make52 in 2017. Making can be whatever you want it to be, so have fun with it. Making is the simplest doodle and the most complex sculpture. I want the world to see that Making is all around us and we are all Makers.

Write a post or add the tag #Make52 to a tweet or Instagram post so we can all share in the Maker fun this year. Hugs and High Fives!

Week 1: PiGRRL Zero

I attempted making this some time ago, but had some serious problems with the USB connection to the micro USB. It would cause the entire system to short. I spent some time today taking it apart and fixing the wiring. Once I had that squared away, I printed a new back to the case and closed everything up. I now have sound for my NerdyPi 0.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Making in 2016 #MakerEd

I have been cleaning up my Makerspace at my house and I've come across some of the fun things I've made over the course of the year and I thought I'd share my favorites. These are not in a particular order, just the ones that come to mind.

Your Starter Guide to Makerspaces

This is a still something that blows my mind. I wrote and had my book published and it has received a wonderful response. I'm still blown away that schools are using it for book study, it reached #1 in STEM Education, and people are tweeting me pictures of them using the book and quoting the book. This is one of my favorite things I've made this year.

Nerdy Pi

I made my own handheld Retro Gaming System! To top it off, I hacked the design case to make headphones work and printed a wood case! I love this project so much!

Pi Zero in a Nintendo Mint Can Running RetroPie

I was in Denver for ISTE and found a candy store that had a bunch of novelty candies. I saw this tin and thought it would be fun. I got home and was looking at it on my desk and saw the Raspberry Pi Zero sitting there and thought I could put them together. This was a fun and easy project I did just to see if I could do it. For a total cost of under $20 (The SD Card cost the most), it is a great deal.

Nerdy 9000 with Amazon Alexa

This was a project that looked interesting, but I was not sure if I was going to be able to pull it off. I wrote about the entire process on my site and you can make your own if you want.  It was something I never thought I would be able to do, but the confidence in building other pieces really gave me the motivation to give it a go and it is great. The Nerdy9000 lives in my classroom and answers all of my questions.

Poltergust 3000 from Luigi's Mansion

This was a true test of my Daddy Maker skills. Leo wanted to be Luigi from a video game he plays. The Poltergust 3000 sucks up ghosts. Mom took care of the costume and I set out to make the vacuum. With a couple of watch batteries, wire, a button, a switch, a box, and some LEDs, I was able to create a very cool prop for Leo that he has played with long after Halloween.

Death Star Ornament

I was just playing around with some wires, a switch and an LED and I thought it would be cool to make an ornament. I found a cool file on Thingiverse and made this mini ornament. Learning to make this year really helped me understand basic electronics, circuitry, and other areas of STEAM. I did this without much trouble at all. 

Yoda Night Light

This was another, "I wonder if I can..." I could and it was fun. Here is my post with all of the info on making one of your own.

Nerdy Photo Booth

This was a tough one for me and I really needed some help from the online community to make this happen. I'm glad I stuck with it because it has been a blast to use in class and at home. This was also the first code I ever published to GitHub. It was the day I felt like a true "Coder". Here is the full post with code if you want to make your own.

Old Rotary Phone, Raspberry Pi 3, and AirPlay

This was just pure silliness. I was wondering if I could turn the headset into speakers and the rest of the phone into an AirPlay using Raspberry Pi. It turns out I can do that and I even had it turn on an off by lifting the receiver. I also added an on/off light. I really nerded out over this. Full info here.

I've made tons of silly things and fun things and cool things. The best part of everything I have made is that there is something I learned that helped me with the next project. I hope everyone takes time in 2017 and tries something new. I did and am better for it.