Monday, March 27, 2017

Lunchbox Raspberry_Pi Computer #MakerEd #Make52

I woke up Sunday and thought it would be cool to put a computer inside my lunchbox. I'm not sure the exact reason why I wanted to, but I wanted to. I'm sure I saw something on the Internet about doing this months ago and it worked its way through my subconscious and out of my brain on Sunday morning. 

So, I went downstairs to my basement and my Makerspace and got to work. I grabbed pieces from around my workshop area and realized I had everything I needed. Within a 90 minutes, I had a working Pi powered Lunchbox Computer. Here is an Instagram post with full pictures. It is perfect for my #Make52 Challenge this year. Check out other posts I've made on Instagram for each week of #Make52.

My dream is that schools will be designed/reorganized to support students with similar desires or impulses to make. Public school is so important because it can offer all students a chance to chase their dreams and make anything a reality. How, as teachers, can we make this possible?

A post shared by Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) on


Nerdy Project Thoughts:

I ordered a two keyboards. One is a Bluetooth collapsable keyboard and another is a rollup keyboard. Both will fit in the lunchbox, but I'm not sure which one will actually work best long term. I can use the other keyboard for another project. 

I'm actually typing this post on the lunchbox right now. It works great and I couldn't be happier. However, like most projects, there are some things that I would tweak for a second time around.


I would re-think the tether system I used to keep the lid in the open position. I've added some hot glue to keep the screws and the fabric in place, but where I connected them doesn't fully work for me. I tried placing the fabric on the side, but the screws I had stuck out too far and would not allow me to close the lid. 

My lunchbox is a little stinky. I never noticed it before, but it's a bit stinky. That is an easy fix with some cleaner, but I did not notice it until after I finished the project. 

There is still room for the Thermos. I would be awesome if the Thermos could be turned into the batter source. If I could have room for the Thermos and the keyboard, that would be amazing. I will have to wait and see after the keyboards arrive in the mail. 

Share any thoughts you might have on the project below and maybe it will be something I can work into the current project or the next one I build. 

Hugs and High Fives, 

@TheNerdyTeacher

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Finding A Teacher/Maker Balance #MakerEd #EdChat

Feeling pretty good today. Another moment to sit and think about stuff. I know, super specific right? I've been thinking about my Maker journey lately. I've been so busy with teaching, grading, and travel, I have not had time to dive into some Maker projects that have been sitting in my workspace for a few weeks. It can be a bit frustrating not working on things you are excited to Make, but that is part of the full-time teacher deal.

I'm still getting tons of great feedback from people all over the world who have purchased my book. It is very humbling to hear from someone from the UK that has loved my book and it has inspired them to create a space for their students. However, I feel like a bit of a fraud when I have not had much time to support more own making our the Makerspace because of papers to grade, projects to assess, etc. I get stressed when I do not have the time I want to commit to helping every student that wants help. I'm not sure if this is a normal feeling for others, but I also do not know how many other educators are full time HS teachers trying to balance an awesome learning environment in the classroom for 150 students and an environment for Making in a high school of over 1600.

I feel the obligation for the students that sit in my class, but I also built a Makerspace for students to connect and pursue things that matter to them. Have I failed because I can't do both at the level I feel is needed? Is this just a normal part of being a teacher that does as much as they can to support learning? It's frustrating.

Life is about balance and I'm committed to finding the balance that will allow me to support the Making culture in the school and the learning environment in my classroom. It's a lofty goal, but I feel like it is a worthy one because of the positive impact it can have on students.

Hugs and High Fives,

Nick

Friday, March 24, 2017

More Than A Programming Club

Yesterday was the weekly meeting of the Programming Club I advise. It's a small collection of students who want to learn to code and create something fun. I tend to sit back and let the students organize their ideas and chime in when I think they need a suggestion here or there. This post is not going to be about forming a Programming Club or the different types of programming. This is about the value of this club, and any club, for all students.

The students gathered in my room and could not stop joking around between ideas for the RPG game they want to create. Discussing current memes and inside jokes, this group was happy to have time in a space to just be themselves. The students were comfortable and all smiles. This is key for any club.

I'm glad to give up my classroom for an hour or more after school every Thursday so these students can get together, nerd out on the current games they are playing, talk about the plot and design of the game they want to create, and just have a good time. As teachers, it is important that we create spaces for students in our classroom where students feel good about sharing their thoughts, even if it is a minority opinion. Choosing to advise clubs is another step teachers and school can take to support students and give them a place before or after school where they can explore topics that matter to them. These clubs could be chess, yoga, checkers, basketball, video games, comic books, or any other type of club that lets students come together and see there are other students that love the same thing they love. Making those connections can help some students get through some very tough times.

While taking time out of a teacher's day can be tough, I'm happy to give these students an hour of my time after school so they can just be kids doing something they love. I want to create the best environment for all of my students during class and after school. Advising a club is one simple way to do that. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Parent/Teacher Conferences and Student Relationships

Tonight (or yesterday by the time this is posted) was Parent/Teacher Conferences at my high school. They take place after teaching all day and we meet with parents from 5-8 at night. It makes for a long day. On top of that, the wifi crashed and I was not able to pull up specific grades for the students. I was stressed that it was going to be a long night.

What the night turned out to be was very light on student grades and more about relationships. I was able to focus more on the connections I had with students, what I knew about them outside the classroom, and where I think they were heading as a person, not just a student. I could see the reactions from the parents were much different than the times that focused on their grades with only minor commentary on the student as a person. By being forced to flip the focus, I found much more to talk about and to connect with parents. I've always lamented that the parents I see most often are the parents of students who are already excelling in class. I realize now that those parents are not there to just hear that their son/daughter is amazing, but to see how they are as a person in class.

As a father who son is now in Kindergarten, I can see that. I know how Leo is doing in school and I have a handle on what he is and is not learning. When I meet with his teacher, I am going to want to know about his interactions with peers, his behaviors in class, whether or not the teacher knows my son. It will be the most comforting part of the meeting. I need to keep this in mind when I'm ready to take out the digital gradebook and focus on the numbers and not the person.

I've told my students that they are more than a letter grade year after year. It's time for me to remember to reinforce that with the parents during conference time.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Refocusing

It has been too long since I've posted on here. No excuses either. I just cut my reflection because I was busy. That's not to say that I have not had ideas and reflection in my head, I've just told myself I've been too busy and nobody would care anyway. The "nobody would care" part is such a silly excuse and a huge cop-out. Reflection should always be about inner growth. If that reflection leads to great understanding worth sharing, that is awesome, but that is not always the case. The core of my blogging has always been about getting ideas out of my head and onto digital paper.

I need to refocus and reflect more on my site. I have my Anchor channel which is a nice and quick format to share ideas. There is always time if you make the time and I need to do that more. Look for more rambling reflections in the coming days and weeks and I try to refocus on my practice and reflect out loud.

Hugs and High Fives,

NP