Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Why Do We Need Digital Citizenship? #DigCit

This is what I have seen across social media the past few days:

One "celebrity" share a secret recording of another "celebrity" on the phone. 

Another "celebrity" stand up for that secretly recorded "celebrity" only to be attacked by others on social media and another "celebrity" posting a fake NSFW photo of her.

The wife of a candidate for President gave a speech at a national convention that was plagiarized from a speech given by another wife of a President. 

Defenders of the plagiarist have denied (lied) using the excuse that common phrases are used by many people and this is only a big deal because the other person running for President has people making it a big deal. 

A Presidential candidate was not given permission to use a song and used it anyway.   

I use celebrity in quotes because I have a hard time validating the actions of people like this with suggesting their actions should be celebrated at all. 

I refuse to tag any of these people and their tweets because I do not want to drive traffic to anything that might support them. 

I also think everyone knows exactly whom I'm talking about despite my lack of names and direct links. That is why we need Digital Citizenship. 

We are living in a world where students are exposed to more sources of information and have access to share their own information. Sadly, the crazy, mean-spirited, violent, angry, and bigoted voices are becoming louder on social media and people that are in the public eye are using these spaces to say awful things and, sadly, it helps support their "brand". It is disgusting and there needs to be a louder and better voice. 

Schools need to step up and provide strong examples of what appropriate use of social media looks like and how using it hurtful ways, or using the Internet to plagiarize, or using songs without permission is wrong and possibly illegal. Twitter does not seem able to block everyone that is being bad on Twitter, so schools need to educate students AND parents on best practices of using the Internet. 

If we do not do it, who will? 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Making with @littleBits Arduino Kit #MakerEd

I've been having some fun with the littleBits Arduino Kit the past couple of days. I've had some experience using Arduino for smaller projects, but I had never used it with littleBits before. I wasn't sure how this would all go together, but I'm pretty pumped with what I was able to come up with after I got the hang of the code.

The first project I wanted to create was a random number generator to select students in class. The concept was pretty straightforward, but I could not get the code working.

With this setup, I wanted to click the button and have the code run and give me a random number. It makes sense in my head, but it did not make sense to the bits. The button placed here controlled the power. A quick push only gave a quick dose of power. My project was never going to work. I had to make one simple switch to solve this problem. 

It was not my code, it was the button. Ugh. Now I can press the button and have a random number appear on the number bit. The number bit is not part of the standard Arduino Kit from littlebits, so you would need to get this bit from another kit or purchase it separate. You can find the entire project on the littleBits site.

My next project uses only the bits in the Arduino Kit and I think it is a fun way to show whether or not you are in the office or if a kid has left the room with a pass.

The code for this one was very simple. It was just using the Button Code found on littleBits. The servo turned on its own and the light is powered by the button. You can find the entire project here

It has been nice to sit down and start making with something fun. It has been a crazy few weeks where I have travelled and talked to other educators about the importance of Making, but I have not had much time to make. Sitting down and working on these two projects caused a little stress, but I was filled with such happiness when I figured them out and could share them with others. 

I hope others will get out there and make some fun things with littleBits or anything you can get your hands on. 

Hugs and High Fives!


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Retro Rotary Phone @Raspberry_Pi Project #Picademy #MakerEd

I was cruising Ebay yesterday and I stumbled across this interesting rotary phone. It's completely self-contained in this cool box. If something is old and self-contained, I always think of different ways I could possibly hack it. I was able to win the auction for this phone for $10.50. The shipping is going to cost more than I paid for the phone. Total: $28.00

I'm thinking that I can hack this guy with a Raspberry Pi 3 and have it set up to stream music. To do this, I will replace the speaker in the headset and the receiver with another speaker so the handset becomes the speakers for the Pi. What I really want to do is have the button that the receiver releases when it is picked up be the on/off button. In theory, that should be a simple GPIO connection, but I'm not 100% sure on that. Using the receiver button saves me from having to install a separate button or running a python script on boot. I can easily add the microUSB port to the phone for charging. I could run it through the old phone port. 

I wanted to share the very beginning of this project because I thought it was cool and to ask for any suggestions on using a button to turn the Pi on/off. I'm happy to accept in coding help if you have an idea about the button. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

It's All About The Community. #MakerEd #Making

I was very lucky to work with some awesome people at ISTE2016. So many crazy things happened, it is impossible to shine a light big enough to cover them all. So, I want to write about something that really inspired me and made me excited about the future.

Making has become a bigger part of my educational life the past couple of years. I have been diving into Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Python, etc. As an English teacher, it has been a trippy journey. I never thought I'd write a book about Making or Makerspaces, but I have one ready to go in September. I mention this because I never could have done any of this without the support of the Maker community. I'm not talking about the Educational Maker community. They are awesome and I love them too, but they are part of the larger Maker community. They are dedicated people that want to make things and help people make things. In other areas of life, there can be a "this is mine" or "do it yourself" mentality, but that is not what you tend to see in the Maker community. I have had so many questions about how to do things and every Maker forums I've been to have been filled with support. It is awesome to be embraced for the Nerdy things you are doing. At ISTE, it was taken to another level. 

I've been following rockstar education Makers for some time, but felt like I could not match their awesome level of Maker knowledge. I was able to meet these amazing people and realized that I am not even close to possessing a fraction of their knowledge. That's ok though because they were more than happy to share what they knew and I know I can go to them if I have questions or ideas. The community is crazy strong and it extends to those companies that "get it" when it comes to Making in education.

I have been a total fanboy over Ayah Bdeir after watching a video of her conversation at SXSWEDU. and her TED Talk. She is an amazing and passionate person trying to take littleBits into every classroom so all students can feel like inventors and creators. I was lucky enough to run into her at the littleBits booth and talk for a minute. She was awesome and I shared that on Twitter. Her response floored me. #NerdHeaven

This really cool moment was just one example of meeting someone in the Maker community and having them quickly embrace what you are doing and they want to know how they can help. Ayah was awesome, but I also want to say that the entire littleBits team was awesome. I just love seeing people that are passionate about what they do and just full of smiles even when they are exhausted from hours on the showroom floor. Check them out to see what I'm talking about.

I also had the pleasure of getting to meet Collen Graves, Diana Rendina, Jeff Branson in person. These are three all star Makers who rocked it at the Maker Competition. I had never met them personally, but I had followed their work. Watching these three Masters at Making go to work was awesome. It was so interesting to watch thinkers think like I think. I learned just from watching them and they were eager to share with anyone that came to their table. That is the beauty of Making and these three amazing Makers are examples of what the best of Making looks like. Check them out! I do not want to leave our my friends Bill Selak and David Saunders. I've known them for a few years now and we have met multiple times. Their contribution was amazing to the event as Master Makers. They are great people and amazing friends. 

I want to encourage everyone out there that is thinking about Making or starting Makerspaces to reach out to the community. They are awesome and passionate people just like you that want to see more people Making. Get out of your comfort zone and get Making!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Back to the Beginning #ISTE2016

I am back where it all began.



Where has the time gone? The last time ISTE was in Denver, I was attending my first educational conference. Today, I'm an ISTE veteran and cannot wait to see all of my peeps. My first ISTE connected me to a group of people that I once called "Internet friends" and now view as dear friends. They have all impacted me in one way or another and I'm so grateful for their friendship.

For those of you attending ISTE for the very first time, please make sure you spend it learning in great sessions, but more importantly, making connections with the wonderful educators roaming the halls. These people can make a difference in your educational career.

I have no idea what is going to be happening over the next few days, but I know that it will be fun, exciting, exhausting, educational, silly, crazy, smiley, high fivey, and generally awesome from start to finish.

If you are around and you see me, please stop by and say hi. I would love to connect with new people as well as reconnect with my old friends.

I hope everyone has an amazing ISTE and I can't wait to see what this event holds for me and my friends.