Sunday, January 29, 2017

What do we do? #EdChat

On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order banning travel from specific Muslim countries for 90 days and prohibiting refugees from entering the country for 120 days. That signing brought protests around the country and responses from other countries. This is the #MuslimBan many have feared. 

As educators, we cannot hide from the world around and teach from the textbook. Depending on where you teach and the support from your administration, it might not be wise to dive into this political dumpster fire at the start of Biology class. So, what can we do?

The most important thing educators can do is be present. Students need to know that we care and we are there to support them as they try to unpack the complex emotions they are experiencing. We need to be as empathetic as possible for our students. Educators around the country are going to be working with students who might not be sure their family will be allowed to come back to the United States. They are afraid to leave because they might not be allowed back. Educators need to make sure that schools continue to be safe havens for all students. When a teachable moment arises, it is imperative that we jump on it and help students understand what is happening in our country.

Outside of school, you need to contact your representative. Check out Who Is My Representative, enter in your zip code and it will give you representatives. Call every day. Write every day. Show up at town hall meetings. Our government needs to hear your voice to ensure that proper checks and balances are being followed. As a country, we are going to have our ups and downs, but it's how we, as a nation, respond to the downs that define us. 


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

GIF Camera Fun #MakerEd

For those who have been harrassed on my Twitter feed with tons of random GIFs, here is the post that explains what I was doing for the past couple of weeks.

In a recent edition of MAKE:, I saw this really cool project for a GIF Camera using a Raspberry Pi Zero. You can find all of the details for that project here. It took me a few hours to wire everything up, but it was pretty easy to do with the soldering skills I've picked up over the past few projects.

I used my Dremel 3D40 to make the case for the camera. I have a spool of glow in the dark filament that I thought would be fun to use for this project.

I had fun with my camera and posted a few GIFs of students being silly.

I started to tinker with the idea that it might be cool to add different lenses to the camera, but I could not find anything that would just clip over the camera lens the way I needed. So, I started designing.

I designed over and over again and used the Dremel 3D40 to print many different prototypes until I finally found the right size for everything.

Here is a link to my Tinkercad file and here is the lens kit I bought from Amazon.

This was just another fun project that would be great to bring into your Makerspace. Total cost without the lens kit is around $50. The most expensive piece was the Pi Camera. You can tons of fun with the design of the case and hack that as needed and possibly add other features for more advanced makers. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I'll reach out.

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.