Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Year of Making Part 1 #MakerEd #Make52

Back in January, I decided to challenge myself to make something new every week. I didn't focus on what I was going to do each week, I just let the week happen and saw what I had created at the end of the week. I've been sharing all of my creations on Instagram with the tag #Make52.

As I look back at the things I made each week, I saw a group of projects that came from a natural passion to Make something. I never felt pressured to build something or create something for the world to see, I just made what I wanted when I wanted. I have a space in my basement that is my workroom and it is filled with various tools and I just go in and take a look at what is there and an idea strikes me. From there, I get started and I hopefully Make something that works.

This is why creating Makerspaces in schools or classrooms is so important for students. There needs to be a place for kids to go and be inspired. A place where students can just get started Making. As educators, we need to create these spaces and to implement the mentality. The Making Mentality is key to inspiring students. The Mentality is what will drive students to build and create. I am inspired by the create Makers I see daily on Twitter and Instagram. As educators, we need to be that inspiration for our students with the things we Make and share. Here are 26 things I've made this past year. I look forward to the next 26 creations.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

HUE Animation Studio Fun! #MakerEd

Hello Everybody! - Dr. Nick Riviera

I've been meaning to upload this demo for some time, but have been slammed with a myriad of things that there is not enough space on the Internet to dive into. However, now that school has come to a close, I have the time to share the awesomeness of the HUE Animation Studio.

I've had HUE Camera for a number of years. It has been an excellent camera for my computer when computers did not come with a built in camera. Then I heard about the Animation Studio and had to play with it. My students had done stop motion projects in the past and I thought this is something that would be nice in the Makerspace. I sat down and dove into the software and this is what I created in 20 minutes.

This was so much fun! If I had more time, I would have done an entire Simpsons scene with voices and everything. I could download audio as well and import it into the video if I wanted the theme music playing or actual character voices. 

The kit comes with a Book of Animation that walks the users through various projects. One that I will try at home with my son is the melting Ice Cream. Time laps photos of melting ice cream and played in reverse is a cool effect of having ice cream born from a puddle of goop. Lawn Skating is another fun project that will get you outside to take some fun videos.

Hue Animation Studio was such an easy program to pick up and use. I did not read any of the directions and the UI was very intuitive. I took the pictures, added the audio, exported the video, and uploaded to YouTube. I only needed a laptop, the kit, and someplace to point the camera. For only $70, this is a great deal for a camera and the software. If you are looking to add a but of animation to your classroom or Makerspace, you have to check out the HUE Animation Studio. You will not be disappointed. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

It's Not Just The Space, It's The Mentality #MakerEd

This week has been a whirlwind of writing for me. This will be a third post in a day that should go out on Tuesday or Wednesday. I've just been inspired to write. Also, I've finished my grading and finally have time. :-)

I've been thinking about Makerspaces lately and the role they have been playing  in my educational adventures. I have been advocating for schools to look into Makerspaces as a way to promote this creative spirit. I believe that a space can help support ideas that students have and can draw reluctant learners in to try new things, but the mentality needs to be the focus. I started to think really hard about what makes up the Maker mentality to me. I'm sure there are people that have come up with a list of things that define the mentality, but that does not apply to everyone. Making is about creating your world and I think that includes what the Mentality is for you and your learning community. Here are some things that I think make up my Maker Mentality:

1. Be a Risk Taker - Be willing to try new things that are completely different for you. Don't be afraid of what might happen or how it might end. Take those risks and do it with a smile.

2. Be Fearless - If you are going to take risks, you need to be ok with failing. The bigger the risk, the bigger the potential failure can be. Don't let fear be the blockade. Go for it and try again if you fail.

3. Be Passionate - If you are going to do something, give it your all. You will only let yourself down if you are not willing to commit all of your being to pursue what matters in the world. If you are going to Make great things, Make them with the passion found only in your heart.

4. Be Inclusive - Making is for all people all of the time. People can only be as great as the community they surround themselves. Different cultures, life experiences, ideas, and so much more can drive you to create amazing things.

5. Be a Hacker - Take things and think of different ways to use them. Remix and remix and remix again until you create something new and beautiful. Some of the best things in the world have been created by just changing things that already exist.

6. Be an Artist - We are all artist, we just use different mediums. A wired Raspberry Pi that will send you weather updates is a work of art to you and those who can appreciate the work that goes in. The Arts are part of STEM and you are the artist. Your creations make the world a more beautiful place. Never forget that.

7. Be a Dreamer - Dream big and dream often. Then take those dreams and make them a reality. If you want to remix the world, you need to dream it before you do it. Your dreams are only limited by your inaction.

8. Be True - Most importantly, be true to yourself. Making is about expressing feelings and ideas in ways that are meaningful to you. Stay true to that person, but be open to change and growth. A Maker will grow and become something different if they are open to the community. As long as it is true to who you are, everything will be just fine.

I'm sure others will have ideas that are different than this, but these are things that are meaningful to me and have become a part of the Maker Mentality with my students. Below is a quote that hangs above my door that really encompasses much of the Maker Mentality for me.

If you want to know more about setting up Makerspaces for your district, school, or classroom, please email me, pick up my book, Your Starter Guide to Makerspaces, on Amazon, or send me a tweet. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Using @Evernote to Organize Your Educational Life #dChat

I've been a huge fan of using Evernote in my classroom for many years. I've documented the use in many different blog posts. I thought I would do a quick revisit to share how I have been using it lately.

Below are screenshots from my phone. My phone is the number one tool I use to access Evernote. It is super convenient as a classroom teacher to have all of my lessons at my fingertips.

Here is a screen shot of some old lesson plans. I love to write things down and then snap a picture to save it in Evernote. If I want, I can always annotate the picture in Evernote.

Here are some lesson plans on my The Catcher in the Rye Unit. I type up what I want to focus on based on the kids discussion and go from there. The nice part of having everything stored digitally with Evernote is that I can add or change anything I want as needed. Since I spend time reflecting after each unit, I can make changes or add notes to make the lesson stronger. Since everything is accessible on my phone, I love adding ideas to unit wherever I am when I'm inspired. There have been times when I've been waiting at the Doctor's Office or in line somewher and I added a new idea to Evernote. 

I love Evernote because it can hold all of my lesson plans in all of my classes. After teaching 15 years, that is a ton of lessons. Organizing everything into Notebooks is simple and the search feature allows me to find anything that does not jump out at me right away. Evernote truly keeps me organized and cuts the paperwork clutter down to nothing.

I can quickly add a notebook or jump to the notebooks I have been using most lately. Little details like this make using Evernote a seamless part of my day.

If you are looking for a way to become more organized and move away from your paper dependency, check out Evernote and sign up for a free account. I guarantee you will upgrade after a few months. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Going to #ISTE2017? Here are some tips. #EdChat

It is that time of the year and people are getting ready for ISTE. There are some of you that this might be your first time and others might be coming back after an extended break. Having been to ISTE for the past 8 years, I would love to share some tips with all of you to help make it the best experience possible.

1. Wear comfortable shoes. You will be putting miles on your feet over the next few days and you need to take care of your feet. While wearing nice shows while you present or go out after the conferences is nice, you need comfy shoes to walk the halls and the exhibit hall. If your feet are sore after a day, the next couple will be painfully difficult to get around.

2. Stay hydrated. This is particular important for ISTE this year. For those of you who do not know, but Texas gets hot. San Antonio will be very hot at the end of June. Keep hydrated. Drink water all the time, especially if you will be drinking non-water drinks at night. You will not be able to concentrate and you will feel like a hot mess if you are not properly hydrated.

3. Eat. This one seems silly, but it is so easy to get wrapped up in the day and not have a good lunch or breakfast. You need energy for the day and these meals will help you get through the hustle and bustle of a conference. Eat healthy and carve out time to do it. Enter it into your planner and follow it. Your tummy will thank you later.

4. Find Kyle Pace (@KylePace) and give him a hug and tell him it is from The Nerdy Teacher. 

5. Do not be scared to say hi to people you follow on Twitter. We are all educators and are dedicated to making education better for all. Just because someone has more followers than another person, does not make them more important than everyone else. Say hi. Ask a question. Connect. This is why we are at ISTE, so don't be afraid to do it. Maybe avoid talking to them in the bathroom. :-)

6. Find time to unpack. I don't mean your suitcase, I mean what you learned that day. Find a quiet spot and just reflect on what you saw and how you might bring that to your school, district or classroom. Make some notes to yourself so that you can look back at them after the conference and remember what you were thinking when everything was fresh in your mind.

7. Check out the conference sessions and try to plan accordingly. I'd love it if you came to my sessions. I'm doing some fun sessions on student engagement, Makerspaces, Raspberry Pi, and the Maker Mindset. However, these might conflict with some other amazing sessions that are going on at the same time. Look at the schedule and add the sessions that interest you most. If there is more than one session you want to attend, see if there is a friend going and get their notes. There is never enough time to see everything, so it is important to plan ahead so you do not miss everything.

8. Visit the vendors. I always like to take time to visit the vendor hall and check out anything new and to just say thanks for the cool and innovative things they have brought to the classroom. I always end up with a couple of new gadgets I want to bring into the classroom or want to explore. They vendors help make ISTE possible, so please stop by and check them out.

9. Vote with your feet. This staple of edcamp is important at ISTE. Time is limited and you do not want to waste it in a session that is not what you hoped. Get up and go. You will not be offending anyone. You need to get the most out of your time at ISTE and sitting in a session for an hour not learning anything is not a good use of your time. This is why it is good to have a backup session for each time slot in case you have a bad one. If you can't get into a back up session, go to one of the lounges and connect with others. Some of the best learning happens in the hallways.

10. Go out and have fun! After each day, there is fun to be had at many of the restaurants around the convention center. It is a great time to connect and talk about the things you have learned and make new friends. Some of my closest friends were made at ISTE. Getting together and celebrating an end of a school year and the cool things you have learned is a must. Do that with other great educators at the end of each day and you will have a great ISTE.

If any other veteran ISTE attendees have other tips, please add them to the comment section. I hope all of you will take the time to stop and say Hi if you see me. I'd love to connect with all of you and learn something new.

Hugs and High Fives,


PS - Seriously, ask Kyle Pace for a hug. It's the best part of ISTE. :-)