Friday, September 19, 2014


So I was extremely fortunate this past Wednesday and Thursday to attend MakerCon in NYC.  It is a conference for Makers by Makers.  It is a place where there are new product launches, information about creating MakerSpaces in cities, looking at new startups, and learning from people who have successful startups.

One discussion was how 3D printing is starting a third industrial revolution. That isn't about mass production but mini manufacturing where people are producing themselves.  It has allowed for rapid prototyping as well.  It was amazing to see some big business: AutoDesk, Intel, and GE, that were all for embracing Makers and small business, not trying to shut them out.  I love to see that they want to work with the little guy not against them. That they are thinking about how big companies need to embrace this major change in production.  That people want to MAKE things!

As I am typing I have so much running through my head SnowShoe Stamps , Greenbean, Modio, Apollo.. Oh and this:

Me with the 3D Printed Car

 I see my role in education changing, I see education changing.  How can we get students working on this quickly, teaching them how to utilize boards like Arduino, how to program various items, and learn what is needed?  It's about blending and moving away from traditional classrooms.  Its about letting them play and then teaching in the moment.  Why does the Makey Make need to be grounded?  How do you complete a circuit? Why do you need a resistor, and how big?  How much would you sell that for if you need to produce it?  What are your costs? How to advertise and make it look good? I would love to see more standards based and more project based assessments.  I am hoping to have the shift in my classes.  Most of my classes are project based, where they are assessed on the projects and their reflections. DET I am hoping to be able to have them create the processfolios where they are documenting their process as well as the final product.   I want all my students to know they are MAKERS and the possibilities are endless.

As I said my mind is all over the place and I look at the schedule from this MakerCon from the last and as I reflect.  In May in the Bay Area, the conversation was about the Maker Movement.  I was talking to Binka from MAKE and I called it a Maker Revolution.  She smiled and said she liked it.  I said I see so many changes happening so quickly,  how mindsets are shifting.  I know I wasn't the only one to call it that, but this MakerCon everyone called it a Revolution.  I like to think I have a part in this Revolution.

Check out the archive videos of MakerCon here!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What a Rush!

Today I gave my first presentation about what I do as a technology integration.  I must admit, I was nervous about doing the workshop when I found out I would be closing the day.  I spent time thinking and planing about showcasing some Digital Design and Fabrication that I do at school with all of my colleagues.  (so thankful that they let me into their classes to do some digital things)  I HAD THE BEST TIME!  I was able to showcase what we do and spread the word about all of the cool things to do with making, digital design, STEM, STEAM, in all classes not just Techie ones.  I simply explained my roll and what happens and looked at how I view technology integration.  

My main view is collaboration!  This is the key to getting any design in classrooms working with everyone colleagues, students and utilizing each others expertise to build a great curriculum.  This has started and we have had some cool projects happening in the past few years.  I am glad I was able to showcase them at NJAIS digital educators conference.

I love getting to share what is happening at the school and what my colleagues are doing in their classes.  Some things that I shared:

  • Utilizing iBooks Author for students to create a digital magazine about Immigration in various countries. This was done in World Languages so the magazine was entirely in French or Spanish.
  • Using Voice Record, Audacity, and Wikispaces for a Modern US History Oral History Project.
  • Using Scratch to create Animations about the Perfect Paragraph and different cycles in Biology.
  • Creating Commercials, News Clips, mini lessons through iMovie, Educreations, bcontext.  (side note if you upload to YouTube you can create closed caption in various languages where you have to write the text this is great for World Language).
  • Digital Fabrication with a 3D printer and 123d Design, 123d Creature, Google Sketch Up
    • Creating Plant and Animal Cells
    • Jewelry (in Art class but this could be math too where they create a business)
    • Roman Architecture in Latin classes
    • Demons in English class (They read the Screw Tape Letters)
I realized we have done so much in this short amount of time.  My colleagues are amazing as they let me in to help collaborate on the projects bringing in the tech, art, computer science, digital literacy as they work on the content.  I am blessed to work with these amazing people

I was dreading the end of summer, but now after presenting what I do I am so excited for the new year!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer Time = Curriculum Planning

It's Summer and the time when my hubby gets jealous and annoyed that I have time off.  However, I always feel that I am working.  This summer I have two curriculums to write, two curriculums to review and adjust to a new schedule and one to refresh myself on since I haven't taught it in a few years.  In addition I am taking two MOOCs one that I am seriously behind on, and attending three conferences.  This is stuff I can not get done during the school year but can during the three hours in the morning that the toddler is off to summer preschool.

The two curriculums I am writing I am excited about.  One is Designing Emerging Technologies (DET).  This is a class to come after Intro to Programming and offer students a chance to blend hardware and software together.  It really is a MAKE class.  The class will look at designing something (up to the students).  My plan is to take the girls to the Makerfaire in September so that they can see what is out there to get the creative juices flowing.  I also plan on including some Makey Makey, Ardunio components and some building of circuits.  It is a trimester course so it runs for 7 cycles, I like to plan per cycle for the courses that are trimester to make sure that we can fit everything in.   There are two cycles before the Makerfaire so I plan to introduce the major topics of electronics during this time.

My Rough outline so far looks like this:
Cycle 1:  Electronics
Cycle 2:  Ardunio Play
Cycle 3:  Plan a Project to create
Cycle 4, 5, 6 Create Project
Cycle 7  Wrap up with a display and possible mini project.

The second curriculum is Computer Science Principles (CSP).  This course is based on the proposed AP course Computer Science Principles. Therefore it already has lots of ideas out there and in fact, I am right now taking a MOOC that is all about CSP.  This is the MOOC, I am massively behind but I am hoping to catch up since there is also a break coming up in the course.  This course I am still wrapping my head around as it is teaching abstract ideas of Computational Thinking with using very little of a actual programming language.  This is a full year course and the idea is to blend the six big ideas of the course together in units. The six big ideas are Creativity, Abstraction, Data and Information, Algorithms, Programming and the Internet.  The idea of the course is to be collaborative and project based.  I am looking forward to designing it but am still gathering information before I outline the course.  I am hoping the MOOC and the Collegeboard conference will give me some good ideas for the units and activities.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

This past week I spent three days enriching my Make skills.  I went to MakerCon and Making Possibilities workshop hosted by MakerEd, in the Bay area of California.  It was fantastic.  I got an incredible amount of ideas and am looking forward to implementing them.  Now I just need to catchup on all the work I missed, and the Eastern time zone...

Lessons Learned this year with the 3D printer...

Last may the school got a 3D printer.  We were all excited about the printers capability and for the most part have enjoyed it!  The students are creating various types of objects in classes.  We have created Roman architecture (Latin Classes) , plant and animal cells (7th grade Science), jewelry (8th grade Art) and demons (9th grade english).  The demons was my favorite this year.  They read the Screw Tape letters and had to design their own demon then write about why they designed it the way they did.

Anyway I have found that knowing the software can add supports is fantastic but MeshMixer is even better at cleaning up the 3D prints.  MeshMixer has allowed me to build supports that have less cleanup.  It also has imported easily into the software for the printer.   I also build the raft so that the prints are easy to remove, a pastry scraper has also been beneficial to lift the prints from the painters tape.  The painters tape is also a must in the room. Unbelievable the uses for painters tape.

I have come to hate rain and humidity.  I find the rainy days printing doesn't go well since the PLA doesn't like humidity. Also I have found that it takes a long time for items to print.  Students need to learn patience when printing.  They need to realize that it will take a long time for an item to print.  Our average prints have been 3 hours.

I have also figured out how to level the build plate takes practice that light amount of friction is hard to find.  There are tools out there that can help you get the right measurement.  But If you find someone who knows how to level the plate and ask them to let you run the paper through afterwards you can get the feel.  Once it is level and you don't really move the printer its good.

Don't worry about the mistakes.  There are lots of them and it is okay to have them.  I have many in my basket.  This happens as well as rafts.  I always use one so I can get the print off the bed easier.

This is my thought as a newbie just entering into the 3D printing territory.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

3-D Printing Cells

This past year the school got a 3D printer, and started me on another learning curve.  I got to design, print and explore the uses of 3D printing.  It has been a fun learning experience! Our first major project was 7th grade printing Cells.  The girls had plant or animal cells that they designed and printed.  We worked with 123d Design on the computers vs. the Web App.  The downloaded app allows some free drawing of faces which gave more opportunity for the girls to draw the parts that they wanted.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year Resolutions....

At the beginning of the school year, I always start with vigor and excitement.  Then as the school year becomes busy and hectic and some of my ideas seem to get placed on the back burner.  Winter break gives us a chance to rest and regroup.  Then New Year gives us time to think of resolutions.  I decided to make a few as an educator.

I resolve to:

Experiment, and Explore:  The past two months, I keep remembering something my daughter's pediatrician stated to me at her last check up, "You have to let her be herself."  Students need the time to be themselves and learn for themselves.  They need to be able to experiment, explore and learn on their own.  They need to be able to try things and if it doesn't work ponder why.  Students need the time to discover on their own and be themselves.  I resolve to give my students time to explore, try things, learn from their mistakes.  In addition, I plan on taking risks with my teaching and trying new projects.

Reflect:  Often we spend less time on the reflection than we should.  Students need to reflect on their own work.  They need to be able to evaluate themselves effectively and spend time learning how they learn best.  Reflection allows them to start becoming independent learners.  As they start to reflect on what works and what doesn't work as they are learning, they can then help begin to develop their own learning plans.  I also plan on spending time reflecting on my teaching and lessons in order to refine my own skills.

Find Balance:  Everyday over break something crossed my path about having balance in life.  Taking time to be with family, how to get organized to spend less time cleaning, how not using technology at times is good thing, how exercise can help in more than one way.  I think it is important to help students find balance and relax.  They often stress over the demands of school, parents, classmates, college acceptance, tests.  I would like to help my students find balance with their work load and I can start with mine.  I resolve to have check ins with my students about the work load, remind them if they miss a day or a homework assignment it isn't the end of the world.  They need to know that it is okay to not work some days and have some fun.  In fact we, as educators need that too.  We need to demonstrate in our own work days and loads that having balance is important.

I hope by making only three I can uphold and maintain them.