Raspberry Pi Academy

I can’t believe it’s already been a few weeks since I attended the first Raspberry Pi Academy in Mountain View, CA. The organization and structure of the weekend really help IMG_0030take my understanding to the next level. The experience was everything I had hoped and more. The team really helped us the teachers now as learners begin seeing through a hands on experience the value of using such a device to involve our students in critical thinking and problem solving.

IMG_0040At the first session we were encouraged to fail by Carrie Anne Philbin @MissPhilbin author of an important book for learning the Raspberry Pi called Adventures in Learning Raspberry Pi.

From that point on I knew that we would have an interesting time of learning. I also felt supported to be a learner and not have the pressure of being graded or have to worry that my understanding of Raspberry Pi would be judged.

IMG_0048My first experience was to use Scratch to make an LED light and blink at various rates and intensities. This wasn’t so difficult and everyone in the room was able to succeed.

Later on we would slowly get into more advanced concepts and that’s where my failure rate increased but at the same time the level of support from people in the room increased to ensure that I was able to do whatever the activity that was asked of us.

After a few rotations I was paired with a partner and we IMG_0062were tasked with creating something that involved a motor and other materials that were available. We were
able to make a version of the toy eight-ball where a person would ask a question and receive a random answer.

By the end of the first day I was quite exhausted but excited by what I had learned.

All the educators did a brainstorm on things they were interesting in learning more about using post-its on a whiteboard and these were later organized for the next day.IMG_0067

The next day we were given several presentations and then we were given a further set of instructions to help us complete our final project. I decided that I wanted to do a weather station using a Raspberry Pi Sense Hat that we had learned to use a short time before.

I followed several online sets of instructions and even with no real Python coding experience was able to get the readings and display them on the Sense Hat as well as send them to my Twitter account.

If someone had asked me at the beginning of the weekend if I would have been able to do such feats with the Raspberry Pi, Python programming, and a Sense Hat I would have told them they were wrong, but there it was.IMG_0076

And at the end of the day I was a certified Raspberry Pi Educator 🙂

Make sure to check the latest listings to see if there is a Pi Academy  or check#picademy on twitter in your area. In fact as I write this there are still openings in the next USA Pi Academy. Make sure to apply now today March 25th is the deadline. I guarantee you will have one of those life changing and amazing experiences.


Who is to Blame for Wrongful Attributions for Educational Blogs and How do we Fix it?

I was frustrated yesterday as I was reading an article from one of the educational sites that I enjoy called Edudemic. I usually read what they’ve posted once a day and I almost always read articles involving ideas of how to create PLNs or guides for social media and educators no matter what the source. Yesterday I got to the bottom of the article and saw a graphic by  Silvia Tolisano that I have shared many times and itself is based on an original graphic by Alex Couros as Silvia points out on her Flickr page.

The graphic is attributed to  Teachers Using Tech and when clicked on takes the viewer to the blogger’s article on PLNs and again incorrectly attributes the graphic to another good writer Lisa Nielson.  The link is to an article on creating a PLN but the graphic isn’t on this page.

Why did I take the time to trace back this series of wrongly attributed graphic? I’m bothered when I see information wrongly attributed to someone else rather than members of my PLN who worked hard to share and create interpretations and representations of what it means to be a teacher to put it simply. Maybe I’m the only one bothered by this?

I’m bothered that I still see teachers around me using Google image and having their students do so without thinking about or sharing the source. Can’t we as educators do better than this? Ultimately I hope that some day the image files themselves will have the attribution embedded within the file.

In this particular instance we have an educator who works hard as a consultant creating an image and also licensed the graphic so it could used and shared by other educators.

Sylvia did her part, creating, sharing, and licensing so others could use it without worry. If Edudemic is considered a commercial business than they need to be more careful. Can’t those others that repurpose this content do their part?  How do we make sure this doesn’t happen?

Final ISTE12 Reflection

The ISTE 2012 conference was a varied ecosystem, it felt like a hierarchical free zone in which both the intellectual highs of research based learning and teaching pedagogy are presented and fervently discussed alongside the appropriation of hipster bravado and merriment. They coexist because learning was still extent for either approach to presenting. Just as our students need variety and a shifting of traditional learning with more accessible and motivating playfulness. It reminds me that in our classrooms we have the traditional text, a container of meaning which both students and teachers can feel is safe side by side with having our students use the Internet for finding information in which another layer of sophistication or lens needs to be applied. We have teachers wearing ties and following traditional methods but also incorporating gaming, media, remixing all happening at the same time.


In one day I went from seeing Gary Stager adamantly pushing for the classrooms many of us desire in which invention and creativity solve all the learning goals that my students must achieve during the course of the year with authentic problem solving. In particular the robot ballerina stands out as Stager pointed out the mirroring of robot by the little girl's body movement as an important developmental cue. Afterwards I went to the Hollywood Squares session in which educators dressed as stars and the questions asked had to do with recalling or figuring out key statements made from various Youtube or TED presentations. 


One of my favorite sessions because it seemed so relevant to the needs of my own district and its inability to push for innovation outside individual classrooms was Suzie Boss's session. I loved the session because it focussed on a district's model for bringing innovation and a creative focus for the students even with a varied demographic environment.  There were principals present and she Skyped in Pam Moran the superintendent. I created a Storify session to save some of the discussion. Hopefully this sort of presentation is a harbinger of positive change for larger systems such as districts that all together embrace a different way of thinking.


My perspective overall was fairly restricted as I had family that would wait until I could get away and take them to one of the many fun family activities in the San Diego area. I would usually leave in the late morning or early afternoon so there is much I missed, but still I then would periodically check in on Twitter following the #iste12 hashtag.


The nexus for me as usual was the Blogger's Cafe, where those who are there are accessible and amenable to interaction, but the whole sails pavilion seemed to promote the informal and social type of interactions with people that the Blogger's cafe is there for. 


I had volunteered to help at the Newbie Lounge which Beth Still  had organized as well as donated to her "Send a Newbie to ISTE" project. and as a result ended up talking to various people. I spoke with an educator from South America, also spoke briefly with the founder of Edshelf, Mike Lee, and finally was able to meet @cybraryman/Jerry Blemengarten


The flipped classroom label was so prevalent that I couldn't get a sense of who was really up and modeling the best or most innovative methods, but I did meet Ramsey Musallam who has the website Flipteaching and 

who has done his graduate work on the subject and has a large set of research information accessible and linked off his website.


Along with the rockstar sessions and the discussion about who are the rockstars I had a sense that people are experimenting with the image of who a teacher is and how we represent our selves. It was interesting to see the #edubros inviting Ken Robinson to join them and their was the group  ESSDACK out of Kansas with Kevin Honeycutt and Ginger Lewman and their techtoos and lanyard/badge bling that teachers need never fear about being relevant, dynamic, and fresh to our students. 


I was glad that companies (such as ClassdojoClassconnectEducreations) who progressed under the Silicon Valley education start-up support/funding group Imagine K12 were well represented. I spoke to someone from Class dojo and saw that Classroom Connect was dispensing hugs and love to anyone who wanted it by the trolley station outside the conference. Hopefully more young startups which foster those types of direct relationships and interactions will continue to foster more innovative software or apps that we can use in our classrooms. I didn't see Voicethread on the vendor floor which is too bad.


There were a lot of people I missed either because they weren't there or because I just never crossed paths with them. These people made the conference feel like a somewhat incomplete experience by my not getting to interact face to face with them.


There have been several good blog posts that have popped up in my RSS reader or were shared. Of the posts I read so far I think John Spencer gives voice to two critical areas of need to moving more schools forward which is professional development and giving teachers the opportunity to fail. With all the cut backs and hight stakes testing we must invest time and effort in both these areas. Also Jeff Uttecht posted about the need to realistically help the systems around us evolve after listening at a conference such as ISTE to more radical proposals for change that involve revolution. I wish his ideas didn't resonate with me and that we could just dump all the useless obstructions to where we want to take our classroom, but he is right. Both these posts remind me of the importance of going back and working with the teachers around me for whom small incremental steps either with technology or student centered learning are what they need to see. We are in a system which values consistency and staying the course. Once something works there is hesitancy to change.


Responding to Vicki Davis and her #istebig3 tag requests and my top three takeaways or things I want to continue to learn and pursue


1. I love common core

At a national conference I was able to begin discussing standards that are going to be affecting almost all teachers in the U.S. Who's to say that as new ideas are created at a national level that foundations and organizations which promote authentic project based learning, that teachers cannot join together with them to create a more powerful and influential voice towards moving our classrooms in new directions.


2. I want a classroom of inventors, creators, engineers

I want to continue to work towards making authentic learning experiences in which my students are directing their learning in meaningful ways. I hope I'm able to glean more ideas from sources that promote problem solvers, makers, and doers.


3. I am a curator.

As I was thinking and documenting what was happening around me trying to collect it and keep from being overwhelmed, Miguel Guhlin posted a couple of posts about content curation tools and I realized during the school year that my use of paper.li, scoop it, pinterest, tweeted times, Zite, related to the curation and sharing of content. My sense of accomplishment and purposefulness was just as great as if I was creating new content or generating new ideas. At the conference I'm always trying to give voice on twitter to concepts that I want to remember.


I was saddened to read that all of Richard Byrnes sessions were rejected for ISTE which I'm guessing was the primary reason he was not attending this year.


Finally I saw that Chris Lehman did a short post on why ISTE still matters to him. He mentions (and I would include him in) the group of educators that have given so much to where we are and they will continue to be important leaders in where we are going. I didn't have a chance to really see many of the new voices that have emerged in my PLN this past year, but it was another ISTE conference which I can carry with me through the next school year for inspiration and to keep my passion renewed.







First Day at ISTE for SocialEdCon

My first day at ISTE was spent at SocialEdCon reconnecting with friends of my social networks in particular Twitter and Plurk that I haven’t seen face to face in a long time. I tried to follow what was happening in the unconference discussions sessions but for the most part seeing and talking to people was my primary interest. That’s one of the aspects that makes these firstSteve Hargadon facilitated unofficial sessions before the actual conference so attractive. There are moments when hearing Darren Draper leading a session on the use of social media with students would catch my attention or hearing Angela Meiers thoughts on how to make social media more meaningful. I would stop a conversation or turn my head to hear more details but it was connecting one to one catching up and confirming or asking questions about what I’d read from my PLN that was most important. For many people I recognized them by their faces, some by just hearing their voice (Peggy George) and some I had to look at their badge to make sure. Seeing someone that triggers a memory or you feel like you should know them makes for an experience unlike any other, especially given the fact that these are the people who inform, share, illuminate, clarify, question, lead much of what makes me the educator I am.

Other events that happened included getting a set of techtoos from Ginger Lewman to put on my laptop

I also created a 360 panorama from an app that I’d been wanting to try since Lucy Gray had shared using it at the Makerfaire.

And at a certain point I created a Storify event for the #socialedcon hashtag.

There’s really no way to explain an event such as this if you’ve never participated in one or don’t have a large group of friends or connections that are virtual and yet are some of the most important people you feel connected to. Later during the conference I’ll run into some of these people but this is the event that for me is a must attend event at any ISTE conference. Where else would you see a professional meeting take place in which everyone goes and gathers for a group photo regardless of what level you participated. It’s about the people. People connected in a particular moment in time.

Everyone included (Peggy George taking the picture).

Messy Learning on an Alternative Energy Project with Evernote and QR Codes Creates Community

One of the disadvantages in my district when using technology is the lack of emails for students to use. This was especially true when I tried to set up Evernote accounts with my students as I set up our pilot using Evernote for Schools. In order to overcome this disadvantage I decided to use QR codes as a way to share without using individual email accounts. I’ll post later on how I did my work arounds, but for now I just wanted to share our activities that took place over the day. Given all the issues we confronted and having never tried to group my students this way, we had a great messy learning activity that I had warned the students ahead of time was going to be “organized chaos.” 

The project evolves around forms of alternative energy (normally we are working on this in April for Earthday which just shows how far behind I am this year). I typically have students express the form of alternative energy they want to learn about, and then to create groups I have a sign up by randomly pulling names. This time I decided to try asking the students to form groups based on sharing their brainstorm ideas first and letting them collaborate with more freedom to choose their partners. I was hoping to give students that felt strongly about one type of alternative energy and wanted to create the focus of the project around their invention or solution, form groups with them being a leader.  

I asked the class to create a public notebook in Evernote that would then be shared via a QR code. We used Google’s URL shortner so that we would have a QR code as well as a URL because we can’t always get the iPads with other teachers checking them out fairly often. This way we can always fall back on the computers in our classroom if we need to. 




I teach two sections and for one of the groups over half the class created notebooks to share and for the other section only a third did so. The students who didn’t create a notebook to start the project were told that they could join the other students or wait and sign up with the random method I had used before. 

I asked the students to express their interest on a form which could also be treated as a type of resume if there was any question about whether a student could join a group or if there were too many students interested in a group I had at least an example of their expressed type of energy they wanted to focus on. Then I had them create their QR codes, grab them in Skitch, make the codes slightly bigger, add the shortened URL from Google, add some sort of annotation explaining what the project was about, print them out, and then I put them up in a place in the classroom. 

I chose a particular day for a sort of job fair in which the students could look at the notebooks and then request to join with those individuals, be interviewed, or wait to sign up with others who didn’t see any projects they were interested in. Each student was given a sheet of paper which was a picture of my bulletin board that I had converted using my iPhone and the Whiteboard share app that raises the contrast. Students were asked to look at the bulletin board and circle the notebooks on their sheet of paper that they were interested in looking at and possibly using the ideas for forming into a group.

Students started working and looking at the notebooks they were interested in and began making choices for what they thought would be the groups that could work together. They were told to be up out of their chair talking and asking questions and interacting with the inventors and creators and not just sitting looking at the notebooks only. I also told students to look at as many notebooks as they wanted but to only choose two or three groups or notebook creators which they would actively see if they could join or work with. We only had so much time so choices had to be made. As we began scanning and reading there was a problem loading some of the QR codes even if they used the bulletin board rather than the paper to scan from. Some students quickly realized that some of the QR codes weren’t working at all either because the codes weren’t clear enough on the sheet that I had created or because the codes hadn’t been properly formatted.Some students continued to look at notebooks while some students scrambled to fix the problems.  Students were allowed to check out computers at this point if they needed to fix the sharing of their notebook as we realized that it would be easiest if we let the iPads continue to be used for reading rather than trying to create the new codes from. 


Within the first hour some groups had already gelled together and were brainstorming their focus while some students continued to struggle with choices or were trying to fix the problems with their notebooks and getting them resolved. As students fixed and reprinted their QR code I would just staple the new code over the old one. 

At a certain point we had students using both the iPads as well as laptops who were either fixing mistakes or as we discovered with the notebooks on the iPads, images and text were truncated and not completely viewable. In order to see the full notebook we had no choice but to use the laptops to also view some of the longer notebooks which were missing or we could not view the entire notebook for. The students did suprisingly well with adapting and thinking in the moment. Students that needed extra help were able to either ask me to help them or as many did they asked other students to help them get what they needed done. It was the ideal environment in which students and myself shifted between the roles of learner to instructor and back again fluidly. The lesson and learning activity had become filled with problems and barriers to getting what we needed or expected to do done. The breaking down though rather than creating a more disorganized group of students scrambling to solve their own problems or ignore others had the opposite effect and the students stopped trying to achieve their own individual goals in the activity. Instead they became a room full of concern
ed and helpful individuals join together and understanding that for the activity to be a sucess meant that we as a class achieved the end result together helping each other. We had become a community of learners and those that had needed information or knew how to do certain tasks felt comfortable stepping up to help others rather than worry about their own needs first. The role of student and teacher became blurred and dynamically changed as the need arose. The students took control of their learning environment and I was there if a solution could not be found with what they knew to do. I couldn’t have been more touched and moved by the community and fellowship of my 5th grade students.

Angry Birds in Edu | Scoop.it


I’ve collected some Angry Birds examples that have been shared by teachers and that will hopefully inspire me to continue to bring in student centered learning topics. I’m always challenged to bring into the classroom good examples of what my students are engaged and interested in and to transform whatever it is into a learning topic. I think this game at least is one of the easier to incorporate compared to something like Super Mario.

My Pinterest Edu | Scoop.it

Pinterest Edu | Scoop.it

Pinterest is so visually appealing. There are many websites discussing business or personal applications, but I wanted to stick to ideas and resources more related to how teachers or those in education might want to use it. I wonder if this tool will catch fire with those educators resistant to other social media tools that many of us have been introducing and pushing our colleagues to us. If a more traditional non-techie teacher doesn’t find a virtual representation of what they do with bulletin boards and classroom displays appealing, I’m not sure what will. 

Stop Stealing Dreams (the entire manifesto on the web) – Stop Stealing Dreams



Stop Stealing Dreams (the entire manifesto on the web)

Feel free to read and share. But don’t edit or charge for it.

If you’d like the other editions, including a handy PDF on-screen edition, click here.


if you don’t underestimate me, I won’t underestimate you

Bob Dylan


Dedicated to every teacher who cares enough to change the system, and to every student brave enough to stand up and speak up.

Specifically, for Ross Abrams, Jon Guillaume, Beth Rudd, Steve Greenberg, Benji Kanters, Patti Jo Wilson, Florian Kønig, and that one teacher who changed everything for you.

A lot to think about and digest, ultimately it’s about reinventing our schools to become what they need to be.