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. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

My New Book: Your Guide to Makerspaces #MakerEd

I am so very excited to announce my new book to the world today.

The Nerdy Teacher Presents: Your Guide to Makerspaces. 

I've spent a few months putting together everything I have learned during my Maker adventures and wanted to share all of it with anyone looking to start their own Makerspace escapades at their school.

I was originally going to self publish this on Kindle and see where it goes, but two amazing people, AJ Juliani and John Spencer, reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be the first author to sign up with their new publishing company BLEND Education. After talking about my vision of the book and how they could support me, I signed up and they have helped me make an awesome book a little more awesomer. :-)

We are currently working on the formatting, layout, design, etc. of the book and we should have it all done by the start of September. This will be a physical copy of the book I've been thinking about doing for a year and am excited to go through the process of bringing it to life. As a small appetizer, I'm releasing the first chapter of the book to those that might be interested to see where I'm going with this book. By signing up below, you will be sent an email with the PDF of Chapter 1. You will receive updates, Maker tips and tricks, and other Makerspace goodies leading up to the launch of the book.

I thought long and hard about how I wanted this book to look and feel. I thought about the fancy art that I could get people to make for me on the cover and in the book. However, I wanted to make every aspect I could in this Makerspace book. I might not be considered the best artist in the world, but I do not care. I knew what I wanted to do and and I did it. So, I created all of the art and I will be encouraging every Maker that picks up my book to mark it up and make it their own. I want you to draw on the cover and doodle in the margins. I will give you space to share your ideas and reflect on Making in your life. This is truly going to be your book as you go on your Makerspace journey.

The book is bursting with nerdy pop culture references from start to finish. You do not have to be the biggest nerd in the world to get my connection to Star Wars, Battletoads, McGyver, or Buffy Summers, but you will get an extra giggle or three out of the book when you see them. Since I do not have money to license images, my artistic interpretations of some of the references are simply beautiful.

Nerd or not, the book is filled with everything you need to know about Makerspaces and bringing them to your school no matter what grade level or content area you might teach.

Feel free to share this with your friends and look for the rest of the book in physical form in early September.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Student Projects to Make You Smile

My students had an open ended project where they had to compare two character from The Catcher in the Rye to two character from anything we read this year. They also needed to find a shared theme between The Catcher in the Rye and another book. They were allowed to use any medium of their choosing to demonstrating understanding. Here are two that stood out.

I've always suggested to students that they do interpretive dance as a project choice and students always laugh it off. After 15 years, I finally received my first Interpretive Dance project and it was worth the wait. Sit back and enjoy.

This next one shows how any medium can be used to tell a story. Two students wanted to use Sims to to show their understanding and it was awesome. I just love seeing the creativity in my students and the excitement they have when they get "that" idea that is going to drive them in understanding and sharing that understanding with class. 

These are just a couple of reasons why I teach. Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

To the Class of 2016

Congrats! You have made it. You have managed to make it through four years of high school. It was not an easy journey.  Let me be one of the first to say, "I'm sorry".

You are entering a world that is hurting is many different ways. The economy, wars, civil rights, and so much more are just all over the place. This is the world we present to you. Our bad.

However, I'm not scared. I've been lucky enough to teach many of you and I know one thing for sure; you got this. How do I know? Here a just a few reasons:

You have scars. Don't hide those scars because they are battle scars. You earned them. You fought the good fight and you made mistakes, but they have made you who you are today. These scars are a testament to your willingness to stand up for what is right. We need you to keep fighting and rack up a few more scars if you want to see the changes we need happen. These scars are a symbol to others to let them know that you are a fighter. It will inspire them to fight alongside of you.

I have watched as you have strived to be inclusive and speak out against bigoted behavior. You are no longer the silent Freshman scared of standing out. You are a powerful adult that will not let the vocal minority tear down others. You stand with your peers and shout down the hate and show love and compassion. You give hope to everyone who thinks it is hopeless.

You love so much and so hard. You love all of the things in the world that matter to you and your friends. You love them completely and honestly. You love the unloved and let others know it is ok. You put your arm around your classmates and you let them know it is going to be just fine. You have so much love to give and the world needs it more than ever.

You are failures. You are embracing this word and seeing that it means so much more than not be successful. It means you tried. You wanted to do something and you went for it. It might not have worked out the first or seventh time, but you will not give up. You know that you will build on those failures and not let the world judge you based on those alone. You will continue to try and fail until you get what you want. Your willingness to fail is going to be the one of the most important things needed as you try and change the world.

You are makers. You see a world that needs so much and do not want to wait for someone else to come along and solve the problem. You are getting your hands dirty and trying your best to make something unique and special. You are driven to make the world better and know that you can do it with some hard work and a creative spirit. You have embraced the idea that everyone can make something and you will collaborate with the world to make it happen.

You are happily connected. You are aware of the world around you and are connected to it. You ignore the eye rolls as you scroll through your phone. While others think you are liking a bunch of selfies, you are working on code, or watching a video on how to break down plastics, or brushing up on Physics, or anything you want because you know that your phone is a gateway to unlimited knowledge and you are going to use it. Those connections shrink the world and allow you to see everything around you. It doesn't just create a bubble it breaks bubbles and makes it possible to collaborate with the world.

Lastly, you have already changed the world. Do not let anyone tell you anything different. Do not let anyone tell you that you can't or that you are less than. I've seen you do amazing things and change the world in small ways. These little changes might not seem like they matter to the world, but they matter to those people you have impacted. You made their world a better place. If we can all make the world a little better for our neighbor, we will have succeeded where all others have not.

You know that the world needs change. You know that it can be better for everyone. You know everything that needs to be addressed. So, I leave you with one question,

What are you going to do about it?

Monday, June 6, 2016

#ISTE2016 Maker Challenge with @AmazonEdu

Hello everyone! I'm excited to share with you and awesome event I have been planning with Amazon Education the past month. We are hosting a Maker Challenge at #ISTE2016!!! Here is a cool graphic Amazon Education put together with some important details. 

We already have a collection of awesome Master Makers that are going to participate in the event, but there is a way for you to get in and get your hands dirty. Our Master Makers are looking for novice Makers to be their teammates. That's right, you can join the fun and it is really simple to do it. All you have to do is tweet why you want to participate in the event and use #MakerChallenge. We are looking for teachers that are willing to take risks and try something new. 

I'd like to introduce the Master Makers for the 2016 Maker Challenge. 

David Saunders @DesignSaunders
Diana Rendina - @DianaLRendina
Colleen Graves - @GravesColleen
Bill Selak - @BillSelak
Jeff Branson - @SparkFunEDU

Please tweet these awesome people and let them know why you want on their team and use the #MakerChallenge tag. 

This event could not be possible without the support of Amazon Education, littleBits, SparkFunEDU, SAM Labs and Dremel. Check out their sites for awesome information on their products and how they can be used to create amazing products for home or with your students in the classroom. 

Come and join the fun at #ISTE2016 and see what Making is all about. 

Awesome Sponsors